When I started drafting this blog post, I instinctively started writing some pseudo-intellectual drivel about how Skyrim presents a rich and engaging experience. I was hoping to find something new and insightful to say, but writing those introductory paragraphs bored me in way that seems disrespectful to a game that I had a pretty good time playing. I can’t even imagine how dull it would have been to read. So I deleted them. Don’t worry, it was for the best.
Instead, I just want to tell you about my time in Skyrim.
I’m a khajiit named Ad’unath, and I spent a few dozen hours sneaking around the countryside and shooting arrows at bandits’ heads. It was an enjoyable experience, and it was well worth my hard-earned American currency units.
I’ve always been a bit of a homebody, so my first life goal after escaping execution was to save up enough money to buy a little house in Whiterun. It took some time and effort (i.e. killing more dumb bandits) to save up the gold, but it was so worth it to have a place to call home. Small and unassuming, Breezehome suits my aesthetic sensibilities in nearly every way. I feel most comfortable in spaces that are simple and efficiently designed, whereas I strongly dislike large, decadent homes that filled with evidence of commercial excess (hence my fascination with the tinyhouse movement).
What is a home without a family, though?
One of the first things that I wanted to do when I bought my house was adopt an orphan named Lucia that had been wandering around Whiterun, and then much later, I opened my home to another girl named Sophie. I felt some Biblical responsibility to be a father to the fatherless. Perhaps it’s silly to look to a video game for some humanity, but those moments were more important to me than fighting dragons or using my Shout of Unrelenting Force to push zombies off of a cliff. I’m not trying to say that killing shit isn’t fun. It is fun, and I spent quite a bit of time doing just that. However, I find that Skyrim is at its best when it is offering me—the player—some humanity. And that’s funny because I’m a khajiit, not human at all.
In spite of the fact that Skyrim is almost 3 years old, the game still seems to come up when I talk to my students about video games, and the conversation is always full of adventures that I didn’t embark on or epic weapons that I didn’t even know existed. I played the game for at least 30 hours, and my story was still wildly different than most people that I talk to, which speaks to the malleability of the Skyrim experience. Your (virtual) life is what you make it, and there’s always more to do. It’s no wonder that the game still seems to have a huge following. Just hearing about some of the quests that I didn’t take on has me wanting to reinstall the game and resume my daily routine of sneaking around and shooting arrows at bandits.