I vaguely remember someone shoving gifts and glasses of egg nog at me, but I may be wrong. Wait, it’s not 2012 yet, is it? Did the world end? The last thing I remember is opening this:
That’s right. I’ve been spending the last few weeks running wild in the upper half of Tamriel in the fifth installment of the Elder Scrolls series of video games, Skyrim. I spend all my waking hours, the ones not spent at work, running around the realm of Skyrim, in a vain attempt to discover all the locations, kill all the dragons, learn all the shouts and spells, talk to all the people, buy all the houses, lead all the revolutions, marry all the merchants, wear all the armor, craft all the weapons, do all the… All the…
I’m sorry. Sometimes when I talk about Skyrim, I get this intense pain in the center of my brain and then my nose starts bleeding. I’m okay, now.
This game is seriously expansive. I’ve heard people say it’s too expansive, that there is simply too much to do. I call those people quitters. The fact of the matter is that Skyrim is a game that is so huge, with so many minute details (I’ve spent twenty minutes rearranging books on a bookshelf. IN A VIDEO GAME.), that by the time you finish an entire day’s worth of gameplay, the game is nowhere near completion and you go to bed feeling and looking like this:
Someone told me that they completed the game in a day and I called them a filthy liar, directly to their face. They explained that they focused only on the main quest, did no miscellaneous missions, did no exploration of the world map that did not involve the main quest storyline, and completely ignored speaking to any character that they were not instructed to speak to further the main quest. I then told them that they were no longer a liar, but that they had missed the entire point of the game.
In my experience, there are two kinds of gamers:
First, there are the gamers who view video games as a sort of time trial. We’ve all seen the YouTube videos of people completing level 1-1 on Super Mario Bros. in -12.5 seconds. They play these levels over and over again, obsessively trying to map out the quickest way to finish it, ignoring enemies and power-ups alike, until they can claim they do it faster than everyone else with a smug sense of self-satisfaction. I’m not saying they don’t deserve to be smug, I’ll be the first to admit that, yes, I’m impressed that you’re able to finish the first dungeon in Legend of Zelda quicker than it takes Link to pull his tights on in the morning. But think of all you’re missing out on. That brings me to the second kind of gamer, the kind I most identify with.
The gamer who spends an unnecessary amount of time searching a cave or dungeon, to make sure they don’t miss anything cool. I’m guilty of this offense, myself. I’d rather search every corner of a dungeon for chests or possibly enchanted trinkets and be in that dungeon an extra half an hour than rush through it and miss that ultimate weapon just hanging out in a darkened corner.
But see, even that mentality is a problem in Skyrim. I’m at the point where I’m actually avoiding the main quest because I look at my open quest log and go LOOK AT ALL OF THIS OTHER SHIT I STILL HAVEN’T DONE OH GOD I NEVER DELIVERED THAT GUY’S LETTER BRB. So I get caught up in even the most mundane “quests” (I’m not kidding about delivering a letter. Apparently being the Dragonborn doesn’t mean you’re too good to deliver the god damn mail.) and lose all sense of time.
I’ve spent an entire evening slaving over a hot blacksmith forge, crafting iron dagger after iron dagger, just to get my smithing to a level where I can spend even MORE time crafting even MORE things.
I’ve purchased a house, plus all the furnishings, and then spent over an hour organizing where I store all of my unneeded weapons and other items. “Oh, I’ll keep all my scrolls in this end table. Then I’ll keep all my weapons in this chest. All of my alchemy supplies go in the alchemy lab (DUH). Armor will go in this wardrobe over here. Ooh, is that a bookshelf?! GOODBYE, REST OF MY NIGHT!”
I understand the people who use the sheer size of Skyrim as the basis of their “I don’t like Skyrim” argument. I really do. I mean, there are moments in playing the game where I have to stop, look around the room and say “Really? Am I- Am I really still playing this game?”
I also understand how Skyrim could spell trouble for a relationship. That’s where I’m covered, actually. My wife-to-be also plays Skyrim. in fact, we share a character (we are so adorable, you guys), so I leave for work and tag her in. When I return home from work, she yells “LOOK AT THIS AWESOME SWORD I GOT FOR US” or “I STOLE A HORSE”, only now she’s shouting both of those things in the context of a video game, which is much less alarming than all of those other times she shouts those things.
But this game is a way for us to spend time together doing something that we really love doing. We laugh every time a guard says he took an arrow to the knee, we use teamwork to solve puzzles, we even both mourned the death of Lydia, an NPC that follows you around early in the game (not a spoiler, her death is not related to the story in any way and is actually random). We also learned that we were not alone in that mourning.
If you like wasting time running around an imaginary landscape, discovering locations and slaying dragons, Skyrim is for you. If you’d rather maintain a grip on reality or spend more time with your family or something equally lame, then you may want to avoid it.
Me? I’m lost in it. I’m lost in this game and I’m loving every god damn minute of it.