You can't have an ginormous fantasy epic without at least three different races - elf, human, dwarf, etc. - and you can't have elves and dwarfs without racism according to fantasy standard-setter J.R.R. Tolkien.
In typical BioWare fashion of reinventing the plot wheel, Dragon Age: Origins aims to redefine the fantasy genre; and it'll start by rearranging the racial tension between your standard fantasy stock types.
Normally, say BioWare headmen Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk, high fantasy like Tolkien's dictates that elves are creatures that "sashay through the countryside" – they're very pretty, very aloof and very, very elitist.