A draconic look at games

Published 7:01 am Sunday, February 8, 2015

Last week, I wrote a column on the new “Dragon’s Dogma” video game and how excited I was for it to come stateside. Upon further review, I’ve come to a realization.

Not only are dragons cool, they’re often in cool video games.

Throughout history, dragons represented adversity, or evil, or an unstoppable natural force man must conquer. They fit nicely with many of the conflicts man must face on a literary level, and they’re an important part of our earliest mythology.

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In ancient Sumerian myth (which predates Christ by a few thousand years), the god Marduk defeats the terrible dragon Tiamat and created the universe from her remains.

This relationship of conquering dragons is repeated throughout western culture — Gilgamesh vs. Humbaba, Adam and Eve vs. the serpent, Sigurd vs. Fafnir, Beowulf vs. the dragon, Hercules vs. the hydra, etc. etc.

Chinese dragons and dragons in other eastern mythologies are decidedly less adversarial and more a force of nature to be reckoned with. There’s the dragon gods who control the seas, the dragon spirits that inhabit various shrines and plenty of legends involving divine dragons who either help or hinder mankind.

With such a wealth of dragon lore, it’s no wonder video game developers have taken a shine to the mythological beasts. From early games like “Dragon’s Lair,” dragons have been integral parts of fantasy games, role-playing games and even some silly, fun platformers.

You can fight dragons in games like “Skyrim,” “Dragon’s Dogma,” the “Final Fantasy” series and the “Dragon Age” series. They’re often powerful enemies that make you quake with awe and a little bit of fear. In some games, you can partner with dragons, such as the “Drakengard” series or the “Panzer Dragoon” games. There’s nothing quite like playing a destructive beast and raining fire and chaos down upon your enemies.

Of course, sometimes your protagonist is a dragon, or has dragon-like powers, in games like the “Breath of Fire” series or “The Legend of Dragoon.” And who can forget Spyro the Dragon in his various platform iterations? Spyro was awesome to play on the Playstation 1.

There are plenty of examples of great dragons in games, which take their cues from the myths we’ve built over the ages about these great beasts. They continue to serve as an awe-inspiring force of good, evil or neutrality, depending on the game. Plus, they’re just darn cool.