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Skyrim, or how to lose a month of your life

by on December 21, 2011

I’ve been a bad blogger lately. My posts, in addition to being few and far between, have had a certain lackluster quality about them. There’s a simple explanation for this, and it can be summed up in one word:

 

Skyrim is a video game released just over a month ago, and possesses the ability to glue your ass to the couch for hours on end. It’s part of a series of games dating back to 1994 called The Elder Scrolls, and this is the fifth installment. The first two games, Arena and Daggerfall didn’t garner as much popularity and critical acclaim as they should, but that all changed with 2002’s Morrowind. With increasing computer technology, more and more things were possible for game designers, and Bethesda utilized those advances fully. They created an entire world full of forests, mountains, swamps and dungeons to explore. The world was populated with characters that you can interact with, monsters to fight, businesses that supply weapons, armor, magical artifacts, and all sorts of other curiosities. There are guilds that send you out on quests that bring you fame, loot, fighting prowess, and most importantly influence among the people of the land. There was also a central storyline, however you didn’t have to follow it if you didn’t want to. It was all up to you.

Morrowind

 

The fourth installment in the series, Oblivion, was released in 2006, and people who weren’t hardcore gamers took notice. It was wildly popular; building on Morrowind’s free-world idea but making it even better. For one they cast Patrick Stewart of Star Trek fame as the voice of the king of the land. Mad props. They made the central story much more dramatic and more interesting, while still giving people the option to do their own thing. The new land to be explored was much bigger than in previous games, the NPCs (non-player characters) were more real; harboring grudges, remembering nice things you did, holding actual conversations with other NPCs, going home to sleep at night. I spent dozens of hours exploring every piece of Oblivion, becoming a highly ranked member of all the guilds, building my prowess in fighting, lockpicking, magic, archery, and many other skills. The game was so immersive that I could get lost in it for hours, while not charging by the hour as MMORPGs do.

Oblivion (yes you can climb those mountains)

 

On the 11th of November (11.11.11), Skyrim was released. Set in the same world as previous games, Skyrim takes place in the frozen north, in a land full of trolls, snow and alcoholic people. Living in Iceland, you can see the appeal this has for me. The land is caught up in a bloody civil war. One side fighting to retain their way of life, the other fighting out of duty to a king who rules from thousands of miles away. As usual, you are an unkown traveler, not really sure how you got there, and have no clue what to do, but at the first sight of a fire-breathing dragon, you know to go the other direction.

Skyrim

 

While the main storyline is compelling, what these games are all about is the total immersion into the culture and secrets of the land you’ve been thrust into. I just recently narrowly made it alive out of a cave I found while on one of my nature hikes around the countryside. A group of vampires had made the cave into their home, and they kidnapped local travelers and bandits and made them fight each other in an arena to the death. Those that survived went on to round two, against a pack of hungry wolves. No one made it to round three. The vampires weren’t quite pleased when I snuck into their cave and started looting, so I was forced to knock them rather forcefully on the heads, take their clothing (it was quite nice clothing, sold it for a pretty penny), and skin their wolves. That’s what I did last night.

Silly zombies, brains are for kids!

 

As you can see, the sky’s the limit in Skyrim, and even there, dragons can be seen and they’re not on your side. You’ll see mammoths being herded by giants, idyllic farming villages ravaged by a nearby haunted burial site, werewolves on the prowl. You can buy a horse so you get around quicker. You can sneak around stealing from people, you can kill everyone you meet (although people will like you a lot less if you do), you can be the austere knight and help all your fellow travelers. I’ve logged over 40 hours since I started playing, and probably around 4 of those hours were spent on the actual main story.

One could argue that these games are a replacement reality, a way of escaping your normal, mundane life. I say can you blame us? Skyrim is badass.

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From → Video Games

One Comment
  1. athena permalink

    My needy self has felt the loss of you since you started this game *sigh*

    aaaand I am totally kidding.

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