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Thursday, 27 June 2013

Dungeons, Dragons, Bunkers & Badasses

So recently my housemate Tom has acquired - and damn near completed - the Borderlands 2 DLC, Tiny Tina's Assault On Dragon Keep. If anyone saw the hilarious trailer, they'd realise it was a DLC area set up to mimic (and lightly mock) tabletop RPG gaming, as well as various other RPGs and aspects of nerdistry.

This gets a little bit meta. While the main characters of Borderlands 2 are roughing up an enemy agent, the main characters of the FIRST Borderlands engage in a pen-and-paper roleplaying game wherein they play...the main characters of Borderlands 2, in a quest to rescue a queen, defeat a (handsome) wizard, and save the day.

Along the way, there's some cheap laughs (and some quite subtle ones) at various and sundry staples of RPGs, the fantasy and scifi genres, at popular games such a Dark Souls and WoW - and less obvious targets such as Disney's "The Black Hole".

However, it does several things really well.

It's the most emotionally engaging of all the DLCs, ironically. I won't go into why - but it deals with loss and acceptance. It also directly addresses a trait that both the video gaming and role-playing communities display: exclusionism, and its partner-in-crime, geek becoming cool.

To address the second - we get to witness both sides; the "jock" discovering his geeky side (and being disparaged by "true" nerds such as, weirdly enough, Lilith the Siren) and the hardcore geek who's always been there (who feels her territory is encroached upon by the same type of individual that used to beat her up in school). And we probably take just a moment to realise: hey, that's pretty well-observed.

Most people playing the game will be one or the other. Most will be familiar with one of these two points of view. To be reminded that the other side is just trying to get along with something they enjoy is, perhaps, something we need. Even if geek is cool it still takes a big step to go from being outside of that circle to inside - just to be met with a hipster-like dismissal through some percieved lack of authenticity. Don't feel threatened when people like something you do. Celebrate that other people can potentially see the same wonders you saw, and you can share in it. Humans are at their best when collaborating.

The first?'ll have to play it to find out.

Suffice to say I was impressed.

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