I really, really enjoyed writing my article on Welsh representation in gaming; it felt damn good to write about two of the things that have shaped my life most: Wales and the video games industry. I felt like the article was comprehensive enough – covering big hitters such as Assassin’s Creed IV and Ni No Kuni, as well as some lesser-known games, people and companies. It seems, however, that I missed quite a few neat cases of Welshness in the industry. Many people in the community reached out to me on Twitter and Reddit, pointing me to check out some of the examples I missed, so check out I did. Here’s a little more representation of Wales and the Welsh in video games.
My first article highlighted The Witcher series as a key player in representing the Welsh and Wales, but I failed to mention how deeply developer CD Projekt RED rooted the Welsh language and history into their RPG behemoth. For example, in the lore, Elder Speech – the oldest language in the mythos, spoken by the elves – draws heavily from the Welsh language. Many words and phrases are adapted from Welsh: there’s bleidd (wolf), which derives from the Welsh word blaidd; the word for fortress, kaer, is the based on the Welsh word caer; and the dialect borrows the Welsh word for white, gwyn – the list goes on. The coolest part for me, though: Geralt’s name in Elder Speech is Gwynbleidd, which literally translates to white wolf in Welsh. Bad ass.
There are many, many other examples peppered throughout The Witcher‘s wild, wicked world. The name of the series’ playable card game, Gwent, is even named after a Welsh county (it was a kingdom in the Middle Ages). Also, a few of the third game’s characters are voiced in a Welsh accent, including the three evil Crones – AKA the Ladies of the Woods – who sound remarkably like my late grandmother (sorry, Gran!) Some of the characters in the game, and the novels on which it was based, are undoubtedly Welsh in origin as well, such as Cahir Mawr Dyffryn aep Ceallach. If that’s not Welsh, I’ll eat my leek-shaped hat.
It seems as though RPGs, in particular, can’t get enough Cymru in their creations – Western and Eastern RPGs alike. Regarding the latter, there’s a location called Porth Llaffan in 2009 Japanese RPG Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies. For a start, porth is the Welsh word for port. All the villagers in the town use many Welsh-language references, including bara for bread and bach for small. There are colloquialisms too, such as them saying “by ‘ere” instead of here, and turning every statement into a question, isn’t it? There’s a load of Welsh names in there as well: Dylan, Jones etc. On that note, one of the main protagonists in Telltale‘s narrative-driven Tales from the Borderlands is called Rhys (my name!). And it’s spelt the Welsh way. Tidy!
Civilization V also has a pretty neat example of Welshness – one that is deep rooted in real-life Welsh history: Boudicca, the queen of the Brittonic Iceni tribe who led an uprising against the Roman Empire in AD 60, is voiced in a Welsh accent. The game even has a Steam achievement titled ‘Longest. Name. Ever’, which the player is awarded for adding the city Llanfairpwllgwyngyll to their empire. This is a nod to Welsh village Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch – the longest place name in Europe. It’s even funnier phonetically; just check out Channel 4 forecaster Liam Dutton’s top-knotch pronunciation below.
Lord of the Rings Online has a fair few of instances of Welshness. One of the raid bosses, for example, is called Ddraiggoch, which literally means red dragon in Welsh. It’s a devilishly tongue-in-cheek little reference; after all, there’s one of those on our bloody flag. This should come as no surprise for Tolkien aficionados: the author famously based many of his fictional cultures and languages on real-world syntax and mythology; hell, he even outright stated that Elven language Sindarin is based on Welsh.
When it comes to video game music, Tim Wright is a pretty-big name. The Welsh composer has been making kick-ass video game compositions for over 25 years. His long-standing, eclectic career includes the euphonic music from Shadow of the Beast, Lemmings and Wipeout. More recently, his compositions for 2014 nostalgic shooter Gravity Crash are absolutely fantastic, and his separate 16-track remix album for the game is well-worth a listen too. Read about my favourite video game soundtracks.
On the media front, there’s GamesRadar+’s Global Editor in Chief Daniel Dawkins. This Welshie has had a long career in Future’s UK games division, providing insightful, thoughtful commentary on the industry throughout the years. Dan also hosted the immensely popular Grand Theft Auto V podcast GTAVoclock. Oh, and his Twitter page is great; his Tweets are perceptive, hilarious and packed with gaming-related wisdom.
Did I miss anything else important? Give me a shout on Twitter if you reckon so. @DragonGamingDG. Alright, boyo?