Powerful elderly characters in video games: Flemeth of Dragon Age [Full text]
Elisabeta Toma 
|Abstract: As games are becoming an increasingly popular medium in various demographic and professional strata, scholars are discussing their content and how they shape society. However, despite an increase in gender analysis of video games, little has been written about orienting games towards an elderly audience, or game representations of aging and older persons. Games specifically designed for older persons are focused on improving cognitive functions, starting from the assumption that the elderly are in need of special games in order to repair age-related deficits. This repair-focused design philosophy comes at the expense of pursuing a broader understanding of quality of life and non-programmatic entertainment. Games-for-fun that also explicitly target the elderly as an audience are almost invisible. In this article we turn our attention to a powerful elderly feminine character in an AAA game designed for entertainment without a serious mission, namely Flemeth from Dragon Age. We discuss how the game depicts and models older characters: What repertoire of portraits has Flemeth as an old woman, in the Dragon Age games? How does Flemeth contribute to an enlarged repertoire of portrayals of old women in video games? We conclude that Flemeth’s gender and age displays in Dragon Age do not impoverish her portrayal but, on the contrary, turn her into a powerful and complex character, thus offering a model for game design to represent and invite older players.
Keywords: Representations of the elderly, subversive stories, gender and age displays, gender and age tropes
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