The fantasy genre, for all its traps and tropes, is still one of my favorite forms of fiction. I enjoy sci-fi stuff quite a lot too, don’t get me wrong…but the majority of the sci-fi stuff I’ve read just still strikes me as self-important and belittling of what’s current. It’s overall very pedantic, even if it’s trying to convey a message or feeling that’s relevant or important. It’s like someone blasting e-cig vapor in your face while also trying to tell you about how to create an FTL drive.
One of the parts of fantasy that still makes me smile is the existence of dragons. Either implied or straight-up actual, dragons are some of the most fascinating creations in fiction. The fact that dragons persist through ancient cultures around the world across entire spans of time kind of means something. They’re the stuff of awe and fear, of power and wisdom. The anecdotal immense personal challenge that frees one from the shackles of fear.
Though this can perhaps be true or false depending on implementation, the idea of battling a dragon as the penultimate challenge is one part of gaming and fiction that I look forward to. Taking on a dragon in a game has been met with varying levels of success for me, but overall they still make me stop and steel myself inwardly for what I hope will be an epic match.
Also, there’s still points of dragon-ness (totally a word, shuddup) that haven’t really been tapped by my favorite media. For example, there aren’t many instances where the dragon is a source of power or wisdom. Something that has been able to survive in a world that just doesn’t seem capable of sustaining them in the food chain must carry immense levels of knowledge. It’s one of the things I haven’t really seen applied to games or books terribly much. There’s still some potential there…maybe even a game where achieving levels of knowledge actually makes one transform into an actual dragon.
Of course there’s those who try to take on the ideals and characteristics of dragons into their own persona. From Dracula to Billy and Jimmy Lee, there’s plenty of folks who want to be dragon-like, but actually reaching a level of ascendancy that one becomes a dragon is something that I think would be pretty fascinating.
I agree that in some instances the dragon thing is pretty overblown. Guild Wars 2 has hedged its entire story about Elder Dragons, and the actual fights against same end up to be some of the most unsatisfying engagements in my personal gaming experience. In an MMO setting, I think a dragon is one of those few beasts where hordes of players rushing at it would still be considered conceptually believable…but at the same time I feel like something that large should be allowed to one-shot you. There needs to be more challenge applied to these beasts if we’re going to fight them.
It’s one of the parts of the Monster Hunter series of games that appealed to me the most. Taking on some of the really big bad beasties was no mean feat, and while they don’t exactly one-shot you, they do hit like an absolute truck. You need to come in prepared, both with brawn, gear and brains to come out on top. Not many gaming dragon encounters get that right, I will contend.
Ultimately, I am perhaps a bit biased. My partner is from Wales–a region whose history in part is a source of Arthurian legend. The power and history and awe of these beasts still makes me smile, though admittedly not spin into a tornado of delight. And I’m not one of those who believe that these creatures are completely tapped out. There’s still some possibility and potential there, in all sorts of fiction and media….and I like to think that I’m not alone when I say that they’re still damned impressive.
You go on, dragons. You keep on being badass.