Why do I keep playing Elder Scrolls? It’s a simple question. The answer, however, is deceivingly complex. I asked myself this question yesterday during my livestream after I realized that I had recently created my 6th Skyrim character. After thinking about a possible answer for the next 10 minutes, I decided it might be better explored through this article. And so, dear readers, I hope you’ll find this puzzling question as intriguing as I do. Ready?
The remainder of this article requires an assumption that must be formulated in order to provide the proper contextual background. And that is the definition of ‘unigamer’. I admit, it’s not a real word. So for the purpose of this article, let us define ‘unigamer’ as follows:
Unigamer (n): A gaming individual who, despite possessing multiple games, continues to return to a single game to play repeatedly.
Pardon the rather informal definition, but I believe it suits our purpose. It’s simple enough to help formulate the remainder of this piece. With that crucial assumption defined, I wish to now address the question posed originally.
Why do I keep playing Elder Scrolls? Surely, there are other games, great games, out there in the market that I could enjoy and play to my heart’s content. And yet, there is something about this series, an intangible quality which lures me back time and time again. In order to attempt an answer (for I believe none truly exists), I will subdivide the original question in several child questions which may assist in our analysis.
Is it the Personal Story?
True, Elder Scrolls games have amazing, personal stories. You can take part in the main quest, faction quests, or try your hand at a myriad of other side quests. To say that TES games don’t have well fleshed-out stories is just simply wrong. But, there is a problem here.
One need only to look at Mass Effect, Bioware’s Sci-Fi epic trilogy. Part (if not all) of the allure of this game is the incredibly personal story it weaves. Your choices literally shape the outcome of the game. The characters are amazing. The writing is fantastic. The entire game is one superbly balanced package. In fact, if you so choose, you can create a character in Mass Effect 1 and carry him all the way through Mass Effect 3. I honestly don’t know how you can get more personal than that.
No, I don’t keep returning to Elder Scrolls because of the story. That’s not it.
Is it the Graphics?
You all know my stance on graphics. Graphics mods are 99% the reason why I switched to PC. When I play Skyrim now, I do so humbled as I run around the wilderness staring at the beauty of it all.
In case you are wondering, that screenshot has roughly 30 mods running to give it that quality. But if you want amazing graphics, what exactly is the problem with Battlefield 3?
This is a game that is truly optimized to take 100% advantage of the PC. Playing this game with every single setting cranked to Ultra will lead you to question if what you are watching is a game or a live-action film. Yes, it is that gorgeous. The way the light behaves, shadows play on objects, characters look and act, the entire package is mind-blowingly photorealistic.
With games like Battlefield 3 blurring the line between reality and graphical prowess, graphics can’t be the reason why I constantly return to Elder Scrolls.
Is it the Freedom?
Freedom is at the very essence of Elder Scrolls. These games are famed for their flexibility in allowing you to do whatever you want, whenever you want, however you want. Bethesda drops you off in the middle of a giant world, leaving your fate in your hands.
To this day, it still blows my mind that I can walk to the top of that mountain in the distance, turn around, and look back at the very spot I started from. And between here and there lie so many quests, caves, and locations for me to discover. But, if freedom is your desire, one only needs to look at Fallout 3.
Yes, this game was developed by Bethesda. But this game contains that same sense of freedom that is so engrained in every Elder Scrolls game. I mean, just look at that picture. It screams “do what you wish”. So if freedom is what you want most, well, there are other games that do it just as well as Elder Scrolls.
What is it then?
Like I said at the beginning of this article, the answer is deceivingly complex. I honestly don’t know if one exists. Why do I keep playing Elder Scrolls? Why do I consider myself a unigamer?
Well, perhaps the best reply I can provide is this: Elder Scrolls games allow you to live another life in another world. They are immersive, beautiful, captivating, fantastic, imaginative, and most of all, fun.
So then, there may not be a single reason why. Maybe it’s a culmination of many variables, all coming together to provide a perfectly balanced equation wherein lies the answer.
Perhaps the more relevant question to ask is, does it really matter?
Shadow hide you