*An Open Letter To BioWare And Its Developers/Writers/Actors*
To any individual who has ever worked on or acted in a Dragon Age game. You will more than likely never read this letter. But I need to get it out there about how much you mean to me, you saved my life. Literally.
Let’s start with my discovery of the game. I discovered Dragon Age through a close friend of mine. She always raved about how huge of a game it was, how in depth it was. How the writing was fantastic, and the characters so in depth. I finally fell victim to Dragon Age Origins in January of 2015. The start of the darkest period in my entire life.
In January of 2015, I had lost two of my best friends to petty drama. I was devastated, they supported me and cared about me and were always there for me. In late 2014, they pushed me to date this one guy I was interested in. When I actually started dating him in January, they all of a sudden stopped talking to me. They decided I wasn’t good enough for them anymore. I felt betrayed, I felt lost. I had no one else to call friend.
Later in the month, I received my first full time job in Loss Prevention. I love this job so much, I put my fullest effort into it every day. I thought things were finally getting better! I had a video game I loved, a guy by my side. But happiness for me never, never ever lasts. In late February, it came crashing down again. I was dumped by the guy I THOUGHT had feelings for me. Turns out it was all a lie. He used me. After that, I had no one. I was genuinely all alone. I had no friends, no one to call my own. I fell back on addiction that night. After several years of no self harm, I felt the unending urge to do it again. I couldn’t stop it. I felt like I was worthless, I felt like I had nothing. I felt like my life was falling apart.
And then it kept getting worse. My financial struggles started in about March 2015. I still make the same amount of money, but bills and student loan payments keep racking up. My cat had an emergency $600 surgery, I had to get new prescription eyeglasses, my student loan payments started. I felt like I couldn’t keep my head above water. I felt like I was drowning.
And then it just gets worse. In June 2015 I found out I am in jeopardy at my job, and might lose it soon. I have until the end of July 2015, that’s when I find out if I keep or lose my job. That on top of my financial struggles, is not helping my depression.
Then there is the struggle with my family. My family does not support or approve of many things I do. As an Atheist in a Christian family, things are far from smooth. They don’t respect me, and leave me out of many things. Especially devastating news. Just a few days ago I get an email from my dad saying, “Your grandpa has Stage 4 Prostate cancer.” Apparently they received this news quite awhile ago and I just now found out. They don’t even respect me enough to tell me my grandpa has cancer. I got that email at work. I nearly broke down in tears in the break room. I went back to the office, and nearly cried at my desk.
To sum it all up: Imagine the worst day of your life, multiply that by about 50, and make it your every day for six months. That has been my life.
But what BioWare has done for me, without realizing it, has changed me for the better. It saved my life, literally. So many times in the past six months when things just kept getting worse and worse, Dragon Age was always there. Instead of relapsing on an addiction, I grabbed my Xbox controller instead. I would just marathon Dragon Age until I fell asleep. So many times I could have made the choice, I did not. I had the inner strength to tell myself no.
Dragon Age Origins was the first thing that was able to help. I made a Dalish Elf, her name was Lythil. I finished the first play through in two days. What did I do after that? I just kept creating more and more characters. So many I had to borrow elven names from Lord of the Rings. Morrigan’s character taught me to not take any shit that’s thrown at me, and to be confident in all that I do. Alistair was my best friend and always supportive of my actions. Zevran, no matter what I did, always loved my character for expressing herself no matter who she was. I know they are just fictional characters, but the writing of them has helped me deal with real life issues.
Dragon Age 2 taught me how to deal with oppressors. As a goth/punk and an Atheist, I am not accepted or tolerated by many. And as such, Anders and the mages in Kirkwall taught me to never back down. I am able to stand up for myself now, I don’t care about how I dress or what I believe (or don’t believe in). I dress in what makes me happy, and choose to believe in science and reason. I don’t get trampled down and treated as a pushover anymore. Fenris, he taught me that no matter how terrible your life was in the beginning, that you can escape your past and move on and fight for what you believe in. And last but not least… Varric. He is the only dwarf I genuinely like in any fantasy that includes dwarves as a race. I hated dwarves, even Oghren, before Dragon Age 2. Then I met Varric. He was and still is my best friend. He may not always share or show it, but he genuinely cares about my Hawke until the end. He cares and genuinely supports me in everything I choose to do in the story.
Then came my Xbox One and Dragon Age Inquisition. That game is what really made a difference in my life. Much like my Inquisitors, I came from humble beginnings. But then it all went to shit, my life changed in an instant. I got responsibilities, issues, problems, and mental disabilities I didn’t even ask for. I didn’t ask for this financial struggle, I didn’t ask to be born with my mental disabilities, I didn’t ask to always be a recovering addict, I didn’t ask to belong to a family who doesn’t care. Much like my Inquisitors didn’t ask for the Anchor on their hand, they didn’t ask to be swept up in an Inquisition, to be betrayed by a close friend in the end… yet they were anyway, and in the end came out on top. They defeated a huge and terrifying evil. They lead many people into hope and victory. That game changed my life the most. I had my closest friends always by my side through every battle. I’m currently fighting through adversity and depression, to hopefully come out on top in the end.
Cullen, a former templar going through withdrawal. I personally know the pains and horrible feelings of drug withdrawal. I know his pain, I’ve seen and witnessed and done things I wouldn’t even wish on my worst enemy. Growing up was hard, I’ve been through harshly traumatizing experiences, yet I keep on fighting much like Cullen.
Dorian, a mage that keeps on fighting for what’s right. Dorian’s father does not accept him for being gay. Dorian’s father tried to “change” him by using magic to make Dorian straight. To make him the ideal child to lead the Tevinter Imperium. When I found this out for the first time, I had to pause the game because I was crying so hard. My parents try to force Christianity on me all the time, they force me to attend church and force me to pray. They try to get me to change myself to be the perfect child. They try to get me to dress like a “normal” person so I don’t embarrass them when we go out. But I am proud of my beliefs and happy to be who I am, despite what my family thinks. Dorian is happy with who he is, even if his family disproves.
Seeker Cassandra, she taught me that I need to be comfortable with who I am. She’s a tough nut, and doesn’t mind showing it. Yet deep inside she is sensitive and caring for those close to her. She is comfortable with who she is as a person, and is confident in her decisions. I look up to her, to know that I can be comfortable with who I am and also be confident in myself.
And then last but far from least… my favorite character in Dragon Age history… The Iron Bull. I am obsessed with the Qunari and the Qun. I joke with the gaming community that I would be a Viddathari if the Qun was real. I believe that the Qun is important, and works well and creates order for a lot of people. The Qun makes everyone equal, it creates a place for someone who has nothing. In the game, it makes sense and would make my character feel like they belong. In the Qun I would always have a place. The Iron Bull is also part of the Ben-Hassrath. My professional job is in Criminal Justice. So I really enjoy having a character that is part of a similar profession. If I could choose a rank in the Qunari, I would be in the Ben-Hassrath myself. Also, the thing I enjoy most about The Iron Bull is his demeanor. He does what he wants, he acts how he pleases. If you don’t like that about him, he doesn’t care. And despite his tough outer appearance and attitude, deep inside he does care about things. He and my Inquisitor always get along, he always supports and agrees with my decisions. And in short, he always ends up falling for my Inquisitor. He admires my Inquisitor in every play through. He is my favorite, and my closest friend.
In short, BioWare and Dragon Age gave me the support and friends I didn’t have the last 6 months. I played the three games so much, I always forgot how bad life had gotten. I was able to lose myself in a fictional place and be happy even if it was just temporary. I was able to smile, genuinely smile, for the first time in ages.
Growing up was not easy for me. I was always told I was too fat, too lazy, not good enough, not smart enough. I ended up growing up unhappy every day. I’ve been through some tough shit and terrible trauma in my 23 years on this Earth. And in that time, I never thought I’d be able to say I have inner strength.
This game gave me happiness, it gave me friends, but most of all it gave me inner strength. It gave me the strength to keep on fighting even when faced with the worst situations in life you could ever have. It gave me the inner voice that keeps saying “Just keep going.” Even though life still hasn’t gotten better today, I now have inner strength I didn’t have before. I keep pushing, and trying harder and harder every day to improve.
And that is why BioWare and Dragon Age mean so much to me.
A Most Thankful Gamer