In a game as realistic, massive, and free as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, it’s understandable how people can get lost in it. With miles upon miles of wilderness to explore, hundreds of NPCs to talk to, and a seemingly endless amount of quests to complete, it’s easy to see how people can have over 500 hours in the game, and why the game can become an obsession for some, much like MMOs do for others.
So when I found myself thinking about Skyrim during a normal, routine part of my day, and almost got my realities switched, I shouldn’t have been as surprised as I was.
It was a simple stop at a local video game store. I stop here often, even though I already own every game known to man thanks to Steam sales, just to chat with the guys and see what’s new. Inevitably, and probably unfortunately in their eyes, I always bring the conversation back to Elder Scrolls. On this particular visit, I happened to mention how much time I’d been spending with Skyrim lately. Well one of the employees apparently is failing at life, because he scoffed at me and made some rude comment about how that game was “just stupid.”
To their credit, the other two employees who were standing around when he said that slowly began backing away, and whether it was because they were afraid I was about to snap, or because they didn’t want to be associated with this doofenshmirtz, I don’t know. Either way, my rage was focused squarely on this poor Khajiit. Despite the fact that a dragon was circling overhead, all I could think about was eliminating this fool. I reached into my pocket and grabbed a potion of true shot, because this guy was getting an arrow to his knee, and I did not want to miss!
Ok, so I wasn’t truly that upset at his comment, I mean come on, I write opinion columns for you guys and 90% of you disagree with me most of the time. I’m used to it. But the fact is that for a split second, I really did go through that thought process. I wasn’t really going to shoot him with an arrow (my parents never let me play with weapons as a kid), but I noticed that I was still stuck in my character’s mindset for a brief moment.
It was awesome.
But here’s what I learned from this experience: every choice we make has consequences, good or bad, both in real life and in Skyrim. You see, the other thought that went through my head when I was deciding which kneecap to aim for, was that if I let loose an arrow on this twerp, I’d have the guards on my butt so fast and I’d have to hit quick load to fix the situation. Except in life there is no quick save or quick load. The choices we make and the actions we take are permanent, and we have to live with the consequences.
Life Has No Quick Save/Quick Load Feature
I got to thinking about it a little later. Despite Skyrim having a quick save/load feature, making it easy to play the way want every step of the way, it’s very clear that by making poor choices, my game (life) can really get screwed up. At the risk of getting too heavy, I’m not proud of certain moments in my past, and I’d love to hit F9 so I could roll back to a previous save, before I made a poor decision. Unfortunately, I have to live with my past and accept it, and hopefully learn from my mistakes. So while Skyrim didn’t necessarily teach me this, in my moment of frustration at the video game store, I was certainly reminded of it.
Choices Have Consequences
Have you ever made a decision in the game that left you feeling bad about it afterwards? One of the first quests you encounter in Riverwood – the love triangle between Sven, Faendal, and Camilla – no matter which path I choose in that quest, I always feel sick about it. I’m not sure who to believe, and I’m not sure either of those two deserve Camilla. This is true in life too, where decisions are not always black and white. It makes things difficult, and sometimes we choose wrong. Even if we mean well, sometimes the right choice is not always the obvious choice.
This ties back to the point that decisions you make in Skyrim, and in life, have a consequence one way or the other. The consequences may not always seem obvious at first, and you may think you’ve made the right one, but years down the road you may realize it was not the best decision for you. The problem isn’t so pervasive in the game, as if you get caught stealing or attacking someone, you go to jail or pay a fine, and then you steal all your stuff back out of the evidence chest. But still, that is the consequence for making certain decisions. A good reminder that life gives you choices as well, and hopefully you make the right one more often than the wrong one.
Take Time to Stop and Smell
(or Pick) the Roses
Perhaps the most important thing people can take away from an Elder Scrolls game, particularly Skyrim, is how important it is to enjoy the simple things in life. Aside from just staring at the gorgeous visuals and enjoying the beauty of the mountains, this game lets you pick flowers and catch butterflies for crying out loud. And don’t you think that I haven’t spent hours doing just that, just for the heck of it. It’s a lesson I wish I would implement into my own life a little more.
For example, I’m just going to be honest. I hate the town I’m currently living in. It’s small, it’s boring, and unless you’re a college student intent on going to coffee shops and bars for your main source of entertainment, there’s nothing to do. But if I truly sit down for a moment and open my eyes, there are some beautiful parts of this town too. Main Street looks beautiful when decked out with Christmas lights and snow falling. The university’s campus is stunning, and is truly unique from any I’ve ever seen. And it’s one of the few places in the world where you can go snowshoeing in the morning and play 18 holes of golf later that afternoon.
My wife and I have gone back and forth with how much we hate this place, and believe me, the first chance we get to move our family somewhere better, we’ll be jumping on it. But while we’re here, I hope we can appreciate the simple things that are all around us. Maybe catch a few more butterflies, or pick a few more flowers. Just because we can.
So I would encourage you to think about your own life a little bit. Especially for you younger players, who are just starting out in life. Don’t end up like me, wishing you still had a good save you could F9 back to. Make decisions and stand by them, and for Talos’ sake, stop and smell the roses once in a while. Enjoy the beauty of nature, or even the simplest of things around you. Not everything can be as gorgeous as Skyrim (or San Diego), but certainly if you look hard enough you can find one thing of beauty in your life. You may have to try really hard (believe me), but there’s gotta be something there.
So forgive me for the heavy column today, but after the week I’ve had, this was a bit of self-therapy for me. Thanks for tagging along. I’m still ready to jump ship on this town at the drop of a hat, but while I’m here, I’ll try to make it a little bit more bearable. And I promise I won’t be shooting anyone in the knee with an arrow (although if I do I’ll be sure to take a screenshot of it!).
[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://gamingwithfury.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/cropped-photo1.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]In real life, Brian is a Nord archer – I mean, a writer for a philanthropic cause, and is a habitual Steam sale partaker. If he’s not in-game, you can follow him on The Quest Gaming Network here: @silentfury007, and can be followed on Twitter with the same name.[/author_info] [/author]