A Stylistic Approach to Dragon Age Inquisition Official Trailers

Dragon Age inquisition cover

I believe that nowadays because of the technological progress the multimodal discourse is of high influence as a result of people’s interest in technology and technological entertainment. A stylistic analysis of such a discourse will reveal the way in which people are emotionally influenced by it. For this purpose I have chosen to analyze Dragon Age: Inquisition (DAI) official trailers.

Following Beard’s contextual framework I will focus on the developers, the trailers, the viewer, the comments, and the language (aka, Beard’s the writer, the text, the reader, and the readings).

Checkout the trailers in the Webography section

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The Writer’s Context

Taking into account that the series of trailers represents a multimodal discourse I will speak about the producers (developers) of the game in order to enhance the way in which the writer’s context influences the new game, and punctually the trailers of it.

Bioware and EA Games are two game developers known worldwide. Bioware is a Canadian developer founded in 1995. Later on, it was bought by EA. EA games (Electronic Arts) is a developer, publisher, marketer and distributor of electronic games from USA. Many popular games were launched under the two developers.

As such, people are already eager for a new game. Moreover, the game to be released, Dragon Age: Inquisition, is the sequel of two other RPG games launched in the previous years, Dragon Age: Origins (DAO) and Dragon Age II (DAII).

Not only the popularity of the developers, but also the marketing strategies they have implemented for this game are of high importance and they have ultimately lead to a large number of gamers to be eagerly expecting this game.

All the players expect another full-of-story-game as both DAO and DAII contained complex and interesting stories on which the entire plot of the game was based. Even more, the same producers released similar games such as the Mass Effect series, the Need For Speed series, and Neverwinter Nights. All of these games have been deeply enjoyed by a large public.

Another important fact is that the goal of the creators is to make money by selling the games, therefore the enthusiasm aroused by the trailers must lead to influencing them into buying the game. Thus, the enormous amount of intertextuality I will further explain.

The Text’s Context

The trailers announcing DAI complement one another as the information released through them is always adding a great discovery about the game and this makes the public more and more enthusiastic. This is called gradation.

There are four main trailers for DAI, but there are also side trailers which I will not take into analysis. The four trailers are, in the order in which they were released:

  • The Fires Above,
  • Discover Dragon Age,
  • The Inquisitor, and
  • Lead them or Fall.

The Original publishing language is English, yet the trailers have been translated into various languages due to the worldwide spread of fans. In addition to the trailers, the official website of the game, www.dragonage.com, was recreated, mapping the world the game (re)creates.

The game’s Youtube channel has over 29 000 subscribers and the most visualised trailer, The fires above, has over 800 thousands views and over 5000 likes, as a prove of the fans appreciation and eagerness for the game to be released (info accurate in 2013).

The information given by the trailers do not coincide, but they all help contouring the idea that Dragon Age: Inquisition is the most expected 2014 game. The game was initially announced for the 2013 fall, but summer 2013 the producers announced that the release of the game would be delayed because of its complexity.

Since then, they started a marketing campaign that includes the official site, Facebook pages, trailers, and other written press. The trailers constitute a very powerful device in creating this marketing campaign. Their relationship with the other texts (articles, images, web pages) is complementary and sometimes they overlap, but they all have a common goal: to persuade the readers or viewers to buy the game.

All of the trailers have as a visual base cinematics from the game and, for the last of them, actual gameplay footage. This is important because seeing actual cinematics as well as gameplay helps immersing them in the game world and already creating a bond between the viewer and the game, regardless if they have played the previous games or not.   

The reader’s context

The previous experience of the viewer with games is important in understanding the trailers because of their intertextuality. The majority of the viewers have previously played games produced by EA games or Bioware, and this influences their mentality and expectations about DAI.

Even for those who have never played a game developed by these two producers, they have most likely played other games so they have a fair background to properly receive the trailers. As a simple viewer anybody would be suited to watch and enjoy the trailers, but only a person who had previously played both DAO and DAII would truly understand the intertext the trailers are based upon and would be influenced enough to buy the game. The viewer should have at least played one of them, or another Bioware or EA Games game to feel the connection with that world.

The bond between the viewer and the game is animated by the similarities with DAO and DAII. The similarities between DAO, DAII and DAI have the role to create an emotional bond which is often used as a basis for influencing someone to purchase something in marketing. The gamer who has previously felt emotionally connected with the games is more likely to instantly create a bond with their sequel.

All of the elements that appear and make reference to DAO and DAII are called intertextual elements. They are of critical importance in persuading the viewer. The landscapes, the gameplay, the appearances of the characters, and most of the details are extremely similar with the older versions. Even though they are brand new models, they seem to be higher quality representations of those in the first two games.

Moreover, the auditory sense is also stimulated both by the background music which was created for this particular purpose and by the voices of the characters. In The Fires above the viewers hear the voice of Claudia Black who interpreted Morrigan both in DAO and DAII. In The Inquisitor there’s Claudia Black’s voice along with Brian Bloom’s voice. Brian Bloom has interpreted Varic in DAII.

The character’s sense of humor and sarcasm are also present in his speech: ‘raining demons out here’ and this appeals again to the viewers’ memory and emotional connection with the game. The trailers’ appealing to the viewers’ memory is boosted by the use of the map of the world the game shows on the official site.

The visual and auditory reminders lead to the kinetic bond with the game: the gameplay. No matter the interface the viewer has previously used (mouse and keyboard or joystick depending on the platform the gamer played the game on), they are going to have a strong emotional response when seeing and hearing the images that resemble the enjoyment they felt while playing any of the previous Dragon Age games.

This is reinforced by the the familiar voices and background sounds. The desire to experience the same enjoyment again is what leads the viewers to buy the game.

The trailers are suited for all people no matter gender, sex, race or class, but they are intended only for public over 18 because violence may be implied.

The readings context

The reading context can be seen from the comments on the videos. Most of them belong to very eager gamers that are expecting the game to be released and which have very positive and enthusiastic opinions.

The Language Context

The way language is perceived by the viewer, or more punctually, the hearer, is influenced by the voice. For the first trailer, Morrigan’s voice inspires trust as she has the authority to speak about the world she belongs to. Her first words, I’ve seen more of this war than you can imagine, have the role of making the hearer curious about the chain of events that lead to the catastrophic state the world is in. The syntax of the language used is very formal: None shall be untouched by the fires above.

The words used are stylistically important because they recreate the way in which the character used to talk using uncommon words: Our fragile alliances crumbled to dust as this world is torn asunder. The use of short sentences has the role of enhancing the visual:  Fate lies in ashes; Darkness closes in. More than this, using a rhetorical question, Will you stand against it or lead this world to its bitter end, after five declarative sentences invites the hearer to promptly respond emotionally and buy the game. The text announces the name of the game and the date when it is to be released, fall 2014.

The next trailer, Discover Dragon Age, has less text, and it is more visual. What is to be noted is the use of noun phrases and of relative that clauses: The beautiful, the dangerous, the ancient places where no one walks alone.

The Inquisitor is the most complex trailer from the point of view of the language used. Not only it has more voices to emotionally connect the hearer with the speakers, but it seems that it addresses the hearer as the second person singular is used: You walked out of the fade and our soldiers found you, the only one who escaped the blast that killed thousands. And you have no idea how you survived? It also begins with a declarative that makes the hearer curios: It is difficult to bare what happened here.

The use of if clause is intended to make the hearer decide which is the best method to be approached, handing him the responsibility: Unless we act it will swallow the world. The use of the first person in plural has the intentionality of integrating the hearer into the world.

The last of the trailers to be analyzed is called Lead them or fall and what is of interest from a stylistic point of view is the repetition of the sentence the world is tearing itself apart from The Inquisitor. This way the idea of the chaotic world that needs saved is underlined and the hearer is invited once more to be part of it and save it. Another important element is the date of the release which is now established as October 7.

Great strategy?                                   

The developers (writer) of the game have created a marketing strategy (reading) to influence the viewer (reader) to buy the game. The trailers (text) serve this goal basing their influence on the language used and have a deeply emotional impact on the viewers.

I believe such trailers ought to be analyzed more frequently from a stylistic point of view because the intertextuality used is very specific to the socio-cultural features of the contemporary era.  

Interestingly enough, but not unexpectedly, Dragon Age Inquisition has won over 130 Game of the year awards, so we can only conclude that that marketing strategy was godlike!

Bibliography and Webography

  1. Beard (2001): Texts and Contexts, London and New York: Routledge



Dragon Age: Inquisition – Official E3 2013 – Teaser trailer – The fires above

I’ve seen more of this war than you can imagine. None shall be untouched by the fires above. Fate lies in ashes. Our fragile alliances crumbled to dust as this world is torn asunder. Darkness closes in. Will you stand against it or lead this world to its bitter end?<Morrigan> Dragon Age Inquisition. Fall 2014. www.dragonage.com

Dragon Age: Inquisition – Discover the Dragon Age

Our search will take us to every corner of this land. The beautiful, the dangerous, the ancient places where no one walks alone. This is the world we are trying to save. Dragon Age Inquisition. Fall 2014. www.dragonage.com

Dragon Age: Inquisition – Gameplay trailer – The Inquisitor  

It is difficult to bare what happened here. You walked out of the fade and our soldiers found you, the only one who escaped the blast that killed thousands. And you have no idea how you survived?. At this moment you are the only threat I see. (female) The world is tearing itself apart, but they say I can stop this. (male)

We call it the bridge. It grows larger with each passing hour. (female)

Unless we act it will swallow the world. (male)

Might wanna watch yourself. Raining demons out here. (Varic)

We will close the bridge, we will find those responsible and we will restore order. (female)

Whatever we were before we are now the Inquisition. (Varic)

Dragon Age INQUISITION. Pre-order today to receive the flames of the inquisition pack. October 7, www.dragonage.com, actual game footage

Dragon Age: Inquisition: lead them or fall

Let those who will destroy us step into the light. The world is tearing itself apart. Chaos has left its mark upon me. I am hunted for the power I wield. You will… I will die first (Lelliana)

Further read