Lead Writer of Dragon Age II Discusses TV Adaptations

GZ: When I was playing Dragon Age: Origins, I was reading Game of Thrones at the same time. Now, Game of Thrones is being translated into a television show on HBO. If a television company was to come up to BioWare and ask you the direction you would want to see for a Dragon Age television show, what would you prefer to see taken from your story to replicate into an adaptation?

David Gaider: I don’t know. It’s a tough call. Are you talking about an adaptation of Origins, the game?

GZ: To you, what makes Dragon Age, Dragon Age? With Game of Thrones, it was the politics and I saw some of that with Dragon Age with the dwarves. Less, “Here are the orcs and here are the elves, and they’re fighting.”

DG: We still have those elements. All the older fantasy trappings are there, but I think our idea was to take what’s familiar and subvert it a little bit. Elves as a downtrodden race have been done elsewhere, but this is a little dash of realism in our fantasy and I think it’s a flavor that I like and it got a good reception.

In terms of a TV show, I think I would suggest to them that they focus on the elements that are uniquely Dragon Age. There are things that are fantasy, and you could do a generic fantasy story with the Dragon Age world. But why would you?

GZ: Like Legend of the Seeker?

DG: I have come across that on television and watched about five minutes and thought, “Okay? I don’t know what’s going on here.” I always loved fantasy shows that didn’t bother changing their Californian blond hair. That’s cheap.

But anyway, I would suggest that they focus on things that are unique to Dragon Age. For instance, the whole Mage versus Templars thing. The Mages have this whole element going of the freedom of the individual versus the necessity to protect the public. That’s a very timely thing as well, if you look at the issue of terrorism. Security versus freedom is a hot-button issue. The plight of the elves, like the Alienage or the Dalish. The dwarves, for instance. Our dwarves look like dwarves, but as soon as you go into Orzammar you see that they’re very different from your standard fantasy dwarf, which was on purpose. You can sum up a standard fantasy dwarf as very honorable drinkers. I think a lot of people were surprised that we presented dwarves as being this Byzantine city of infighting backstabbers more interested in self-aggrandizement than actually working for the good of the whole. As a matter of fact, they may even be dying off in that direction.

I think there are things you can focus on. I would say don’t try to focus on everything, because I don’t think you could in the space of a show. But pick something, especially the ones I like, too. My favorites ones are those elements like the Mages and the elves where you can say something about modern issues. A little bit of a disguised commentary, perhaps.

GZ: How about you shoot me your favorite character from Dragon Age II that you can speak of and why any of the side-stories that particularly should be revealed.

David Gaider: Aveline was a bit of a surprise, really. When we first started off, she filled this fighter slot and initially we didn’t know what to do with her. She very quickly grew. It’s one of those situations where if you have a group of writers and they’re all talking and throwing around ideas, eventually you can stumble upon something that gets everybody very excited. Luke Kristjanson wrote her. He’s been working here for a while. He wrote Minsc. He’s been with us since the very beginning. He’s a great writer. He took her and gave her this strong, sisterly vibe and it was really cleverly done and I’m really, really happy with how it’s turned out. A lot of times, it’s very easy for characters to fall into a mode. Sometimes you don’t even intend that. You start writing them in a certain way and then very quickly you find yourself following this familiar path with them. If you see it soon enough you can pull yourself out of it, or sometimes if you don’t go far enough people say, “Well, that’s an archetype.” Sometimes that happens. I think with Aveline, we actually got a nice, solid, strong female character that is neither bitchy nor overtly sexual. I really like where Luke took her. I don’t think people have seen anything like her.

GZ: Thank you for your time David.