About a month ago, I finally gave up trying to finish Dragon Age: Origins and just skipped straight on to Dragon Age II—and Maker’s breath, am I ever glad I did, because it was amazing. A character-driven, darker and grittier sequel set in one unholy mess of a city over the span of ten years? You can keep all your epic quests and your goofy Grey Wardens, I’m going to go hang out with the gang in The Hanged Man for the rest of my days.
Naturally, one of the first things I did once I finished was to go online and try to find all the memes and fanart and things that I’d scrolled past in confusion before playing the game, but which would now finally make sense. Coming straight out of a playthrough that had dominated my free time for the entire past month, it was pretty jarring to discover that, of course, not everyone had the same playthrough as me. Most of what I found was Garret Hawke/Fenris shipping, or people drooling over Anders, or Cassandra and Varric Dragon Age: Inquisition stuff that was confusing at best and spoilery at worst.
What I was seeing wasn’t my playthrough; the warrior Marian Hawke taking names and snarking at people with Varric at her side, who sided with the mages at every turn out of undying love for her sister, and who really thought she could’ve smoothed out everything with the Arishok bloodshed-free if he’d just come by The Hanged Man for a drink or nine.
Ultimately, I was left grumpily pondering one of the fundamental questions of fandom, especially with interactive media: what made my playthrough any more or any less legitimate than all these others?