I got a pretty good response to my last post on adult content and being a gaming parent, which focused on the new Assassin’s Creed II title, and whether it was appropriate for kids. (Answer: not so much.)
So I thought that I would try to post, at least once a week in the new year, a brief review of a video game that I’ve actually played, the overall quality of the game, and whether or not I would recommend it for a kid.
This week, we’re going to talk about Dragon Age Origins. If you click the link in the last sentence, you’ll notice that you have to put in your age to even get to the official website for the game.
That should pretty much answer the “is this appropriate for my kid?” question. But just in case you’re still debating, I have two words for you: virtual brothel.
Dragon Age Origins bills itself as a “dark fantasy epic about violence, lust and betrayal.” That pretty much sums it up from an adult content perspective. It’s much like a darker, bloodier, sexed-up Lord of the Rings.
The game is from Bioware, the company that also made Mass Effect, Jade Empire, and the Knights of the Old Repubic series. Bioware games are known for gorgeously realistic graphics, intricate and interesting storylines, and some of the best voice acting in video games. They’re really, on the whole, like playable science fiction or fantasy movies–and well done ones, at that.
But they are aiming squarely at the adult gamer, and their products reflect that, in two key areas that affect parents buying for kids: moral choices, and sexual content.
One element of most Bioware games is the option to go through the game either as a “good guy” or a “bad guy.” You can win most of their games by making thoroughly morally reprehensible choices. The games reward consistency of character, not quality of character. On milder games, like the KOTOR games for original Xbox, this can actually be a good conversation starter about the consequences of moral choices, our influence on others, and other topics. You can even get into an interesting philosophical discussion with your spouse on whether or not “virtual” choices have real moral weight. (But that’s sort of a sidebar.)
For our purposes here, Dragon Age Origins is a morally complex game. Some of the time, neither of the available options could be considered morally right. There is a lot of “choosing the lesser of two (or three) evils in Dragon Age.
On to the sex!
The cute “romance” subplots of the KOTOR games have evolved into Xbox 360 “Achievements” that basically equate to unlocking a sex scene. While those scenes aren’t graphic, and are fairly laughable to an adult who has an actual sex life, they also don’t leave much to the imagination. As a parent, I wouldn’t recommend them for a kid who wasn’t allowed to watch R-rated movies with sex scenes, or even for adults who might be struggling with porn addiction or similar issues.
Additionally, if nudity is a concern for you, there is a whole class of enemies, “desire demons,” which are rendered as essentially busty, topless women with horns and tails.
Which brings up another issue with the game–this is a “dark fantasy epic” which means that it contains depictions of magic, demons and the occult, so if those things are not cool in your household, take a pass on Dragon Age Origins.