Modern means of winter storytellingBeverly Godfrey column: I’ve been getting a lot done during these cold, dark days of winter. I got my illusion and alteration up to 100. My archery is at 96. My restoration is lagging at 68, but when you’re as tough as me, there’s little need to heal oneself with magic.
By: Beverly Godfrey, Duluth News Tribune
I’ve been getting a lot done during these cold, dark days of winter. I got my illusion and alteration up to 100. My archery is at 96. My restoration is lagging at 68, but when you’re as tough as me, there’s little need to heal oneself with magic.
I’m talking, of course, about a video game — “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim,” to be exact, the only game I’ve played much in my post-“Guitar Hero” days.
The game was released in November 2011, and, at first, my husband was concerned about the “Mature” rating. But learning more, we realized that trouble doesn’t come looking for you too much in “Skyrim,” and it’s pretty easy to avoid anything you don’t want to see. My 9-year-old daughter spends her time gardening and giving presents to her kids. Not every day has to be filled with spider caves.
This seemingly solitary activity has become a group activity, with each family member playing his or her own character but sharing tips and funny stories. The kids still laugh about the time I punched a horse — accidentally hit the “power attack” button.
A lot of my gameplay amuses them. When I started my character, I quickly grew suspicious of the main quest. I bolted, ran up a random mountain path, found some people lying on the ground and took their armor.
“You got elven armor on Level 1?” my kids exclaimed. “How did you do that?”
My penchant for alchemy was a bit of a family joke until everyone saw how rich I was getting by selling potions. They help me fight, too, making up for some of my notorious wrong-button-hitting.
You could say video games are a waste of time, but I’d only agree insofar as entertainment is a waste of time, and so, actually, I don’t agree at all. My whole family has enjoyed lots of games together, something that crept up on us. My firstborn was subjected to a lot more worries from me about “screen time” than my last.
But over time, the games have changed, too. People my age were on the forefront of video games. My family had an Atari “Pong” console. Too many hours spent playing that game would concern me. Where does your brain go?
But games today are a lot like movies. Their plots could be right out of a novel. I can’t believe the amount of skill, study and work it took to make “Skyrim.” The task of writing alone seems impossible, with so many characters and storylines and so much dialogue. I don’t feel like we’re wasting our time admiring it.
And even though it’s pretend, the game is a way to express myself. There are thousands of ways my character could have looked and acted, and I’m making those choices at every turn.
I accept the consequences of my choices, too — except when my character’s husband dies. Then I’ll cheat, go back in time to save him, reloading the game at my last save and continuing from there. I might be the head of the Dark Brotherhood assassins and Thieves Guild, but I’m still a devoted wife.
I feel pretty tough running up mountains while carrying 300 pounds of gear. I can jump into icy rivers and swim in the ocean without ill effect, too. Call it an imagination run wild, but there are days I find this fantasy more fun than being the real me struggling to drag a 20-pound bag of chicken feed through the snow. And I’m pretty sure nothing I own looks half as cool as my vampire-hunting armor.
Beverly Godfrey is a News Tribune copy editor and columnist who dual wields ebony swords. You can reach her at email@example.com.