Game: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Released: Bethesda Games, November 11, 2011
Game started: December 25th, 2011
Amount completed: (Chip) Level 25 Harbinger of the Companions, Listener of the Dark Brotherhood, just fought Alduin, and now I suppose I have to catch a dragon in Whiterun. (Laura) Level 17 Kitty-Cat Vampire Lord, running around with a topless elf dude.
In the past, when I would play a game with a character creation system, I inevitably made a virtual copy of myself as which to play. Whether I traversed the ruined cities in the Capital Wasteland or repaired the world as a Sentinel of the Starry Sky, I always tried to imagine what decisions I would make in every game situation. However, as Laura and I began our quest into the world of Skyrim, we decided to take a different approach to character creation for this title: we would make our virtual children and send them off into battle.
For my game, I created our daughter, the headstrong Wood Elf, Zoe, while Laura produced our reckless Khajit son, Locke. How does a couple make an elf child and a cat child, you ask? What can I say, genetics are a tricky business (my grandfather was a Khajit warrior, while Laura’s mother is a powerful Wood Elf tracker, duh). With our children born and raised from the outset of the game (thanks, Bethesda!), we gave them a bit of money for the horse carriage, and sent them off into the world. What sort of advice would Laura and I impart unto our brood as they sought to fufill their destiny as Dovahkhiin(s)?
The first advice I gave our daughter as I pushed her out the door with the family helmet was a classic line every parent feeds their child: ‘You can be anything, as long as you put your mind to it.’ I was surprised when she took me at my word quite literally, and became the Harbinger of the Companions, Listener of the Dark Brotherhood, a servant of several Daedric Lords, and a werewolf, too! One would think being a member of so many guilds and noble houses would fill up a schedule rather quickly, but it seems that there is no pressure to finish any request with urgency in Skyrim. Zoe has several contracts and jobs that are well beyond their prime, but no one seems to take issue with poor punctuality anymore. Sigh, the youth of today have no scruples.
As I am getting on in years, I find that making lists and notes to remind myself of tasks is important. That is why I would tell Zoe to take a page from her brother’s book, and save her progress often. So many letters to home from my daughter have some complaint of losing hours and hours of work due to her forgetting to save. You would think that Skyrim would have a robust auto-save system to deal with this problem. I know that most games seem to autosave with the frequency of a hummingbird’s wing-flap, but only saving at major doorways is a bit ridiculous when exploring a massive dungeon. It would be nice to at least have a quicksave button, instead of paging through three menus to perform a hard save. But a moment’s preparation can save hours of lost time, so I hope Zoe can learn to save more often, even if it is an inconvenience (and breaks immersion, hard).
When I was young, my father taught me the importance of proper manners and ettiquette when meeting new people. That being said, I would warn Zoe not to be put off by the vacant, sometimes dead stares of the citizens of Skyrim. True, their expressions are better than the denizens of Tamriel, but one can still be unnerved when the eyes of a new friend pierce into your very soul. Also, I have noticed that the local militia all seem to have a similar dialect and vocal inflection. While I am sure they must come from a very large family with a pride for defending their homes, such a relation doesn’t explain how they all seem to suffer from the same war wound of an arrow to the knee.
Finally, I would tell my daughter to always appreciate the blessings of having steady work. Sure you have to kill every majestic dragon you encounter, but at least you get to hear a fantastic theme song every time you murder a graceful mythic beast. I know you would rather make peace with the dragons, and try to make the world a better place with their ancient knowledge and power, but you simply do not have that option (unless you download a mod, I suppose). Back in my day, we used to be lucky to even see a dragon, much less get paid to slay them, so I don’t want to hear your complaints, young lady!
Good luck, my darling girl, and remember what your grandmother used to say, “Always check for traps, pookie!”
I have now officially quit playing Skyrim about 7 times, I think. Each time I get frustrated, put the controller down, saying that the game is too hard or I’m an adult, I don’t have time for this. I have more important activities to attend to, like yoga, or cleaning, or pinning things to my various Pinterest boards. Then I dramatically vow to never play it again. But low and behold, the next week ( j/k, j/k the next day), there I am again, controller in hand, trotting along.
Despite how little I normally play games, this is the sort of game I love. A big, open, fantasy world with lots to explore and many adventures to have at my leisure. And most importantly, I can have a dog. However, when I watch Chip playing this game, it occurs to me that we approach this type of game in very different ways.
Chip will kill things without thought or discrimination, while I will try to sleep with everyone without thought or discrimination. Our amorality is quite polarized in this way. This is why Skyrim is more suited to Chip than it is to me. I can’t rampantly seduce in the same way that Chip can rampantly slaughter. It is my only real complaint about the game (also I would rather be friends with dragons rather than slay them). So while Chip’s needs are met by the Dark Brotherhood, I have to make due by refusing to allow any of my questing companions to wear clothing. So poor Faendal gets to scale the mountains of Skyrim in little more than a loin cloth.