To my dear reader,
Video games have never been of great interest to me. When I was much younger, the concept of a simulated world that I could see on a screen but not physically interact with seemed like a waste of time. This is a little counterintuitive, as I was such an avid reader of fiction, but the difference to me was that video games were not known then for being feats of narrative genius. I was also put off by the excessive violence I saw in many video games, which I saw as unpleasant and upsetting.
I feel no shame in saying that the only exceptions I held to this were the computer adaptations of the Harry Potter series and the film Lemony Snicket’s a Series of Unfortunate Events. Keep in mind that even I, with my limited video game experience, knew these were not particularly well-crafted games. But I enjoyed them by association with Harry Potter and Lemony Snicket, two of my childhood (and quasi-adulthood) fascinations. What really changed my mind was the video game The Elder Scrolls V: Skrim.
According to the debatable information found on the interwebs, this is one of a series of open world fantasy games revolving around a collection of magical worlds, including the country of Skyrim. The premise of Skyrim is built on the unexpected arrival of Alduin the World-Eater, a monstrous dragon prophesized to consume and destroy the world. The main character – which the player can design, selecting from different races (i.e. human, elf, troll, etc.), appearances and abilities – is revealed early in the game to be the Dragonborn, a non-dragon mortal born with a dragon’s soul and abilities. The game is spent travelling Skryim, bettering the player’s abilities and going on quests, all the while learning of how to defeat Alduin.
I first came across this game this previous winter break, which my sister Hannah has installed and convinced me to try. I was skeptical in the beginning, dismissing the game as silly, but it was not long before Hannah and I were up slaying dragons and collecting ancient talismans until the wee hours of the morning. Begrudgingly, I was enamored.
There are many reasons that I became so enthralled – reasons which I assume I share with my video-game playing peers. Video games provide a world in which impossible things may occur. They allow for easily tangible, single-minded goals that the player is notified when completed. They award the player for achieving small tasks, and mistakes can be done over an infinite number of times until they are rectified.
What I like best, however, are the Followers.
Followers are characters that can be found around the Skyrim who, if you save them or perform a favor for them or sometimes just ask very nicely, will be your companion. They will follow you, carry things for you, defend you and remain by your side until they die or you let them go.
Imagine if life were like that! You could just be sitting in Starbucks, drinking your mocha when someone taps you on your shoulder. “Excuse me,” they say, “but my father has been murdered by an ancient and unfathomable cosmic power and I am on a mission of vengeance. Would you like to follow me on my epic quest?”
The blind faith alone in such an action is staggering! Of course in today’s world, such an action would be foolish, impractical and extremely dangerous. People also don’t go on many missions of vengeance, I suppose. But consider the possibilities! What fun life would be if we could simply pick up chivalrous quests at the grocery store, if we could begin epic journeys at the supermarket!
What I mean to say is that the world seems such a cautious and guarded place, and something about the way that the Followers in Skyrim willingly dedicate their lives and hands to the player’s journey seems so full of possibilities – exactly the reason I like the game so much. The world of Skyrim is complex and intricate, and Followers are just one example of such a world of possibility. As I’ve said, such a world might be impractical, even dangerous. But I’d like to think that one day, I might be sitting in Starbucks, drinking my mocha, when someone will tap me on the shoulder and request my help on an epic quest. And when that day comes, I shall take after those Followers, put down my mocha, and begin something remarkable.
With all due respect,