It’s a world where you can be an sneak assassin who shoots fireballs from your hands and collects gems to adorn to a spacious mansion overlooking a quiet lake, which is often the site of a visit from a lumbering giant or a snarling pack of wolves. It’s a world where you can slay dragons and wear their bones as armor, a world where you can decide to join with a rebellious faction determined to gain religious freedom or a crumbling empire in an uneasy alliance with a group of pretentious elves. It’s the world of Skyrim, and for many, even years after it’s initial release, it’s a world that offers absolute control over their characters and stories.
Skyrim, developed by Bethesda Game Studies, was released in 2011, and is the fifth installment of the Elder Scrolls series, which is set in the fictional continent of Tamriel. The game’s main quest-line follows the story of the Dragonborn, a hero prophesied to defeat an ancient and powerful dragon said to bring about the end of the times. The game is open world; the player is not limited to sticking with the main story-line, as Skyrim offers seven major quest-lines and over 200 quests, which the player can complete at their leisure.
The environment boasts stunning visuals, from snowy mountain ranges to clear blue streams and lakes dotted around green forests full of foxes and wolves, and dusty plains, which are home to mammoths and giants. The player can travel anywhere in the game at any time, completing quests for villagers and rulers, exploring dark caves and dungeons full of undead warriors and ancient powerful beings, killing bandits, hunting trolls, dragons, werewolves, vampires, and other monsters that inhabit the game world. At the beginning of the Skyrim, the player can customize his or her character, choosing gender, race, and appearance. There is no class system, meaning that players can choose whatever skills they want to level up at any time, and can adapt any play style, from a sneak archer to an unarmed warrior monk, to a bloodthirsty vampire Lord.
For some gamers, the freedom of choice is among one of the game’s most intriguing aspects. For Justin Farley, 18, from North Carolina, Skyrim offers the freedom to go anywhere in the game and do what he pleases.
“What sets Skyrim apart from other games is the feeling of immersion I get while playing it,” he writes. Farley adds, “I get in the zone with their (the characters) personalities and developing their stories. I have an Orc character name Darbus Gol, an elder…who travels around Skyrim in the hopes of seeking fame and fortune.”
Another player, Jacob Fyrciak, 24, from Michigan, has an extensive backstory for his character, a red-headed Imperial named Aries, who was born outside of Bravil and kidnapped by slavers when she was 13. “When she was 18, she was turned into a full blooded vampire, captured by the Legion, and taken back to the Imperial City where she was jailed for seven years,” he writes.
The ability to create your own story and and develop choices as you go along is also a draw for Tao Toms, a 21-year-old gamer from England.
“Usually I play practicing my morals and make the character quite similar to myself,” she writes. “I’ve seen people make builds and backstories, and allowed their past to influence their decisions in the game.”
Over the years, several YouTube channels have been created for the purpose of analyzing Skyrim, recording playthroughs, and creating personal backstories and builds which are then shared with subscribers. One channel, FudgeMuppet, has amassed over 400 thousand subscribers and over 100 million views. The channel is ran by two best friends, Michael and Scott, and is based out of Sydney, Australia. Their videos feature character builds and discussions about game lore, all based around Skyrim.
“Our channel is dedicated to making videos for the sprawling fantasy world that is Elder Scrolls. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a game that allows you to play any kind of character you want and explore a wide range of possibilities. Be a self-loathing vampire fighting for Skyrim’s freedom from a crumbling empire or be an aristocratic mage who spends all his time in his own home, practicing spells and potions perfecting his crafts. It’s a type of escapism different to other games or movies because you are controlling the experience, it isn’t dictated to you.” writes Scott, who says that the massive game lore and extensive world can be overwhelming, but the channel exists to help players navigate that world and connect with fellow Skyrim lovers.”
Skyrim has continued to gain popularity over the years, and has won several awards, including “Game of the Year” and “Reader’s Choice Award”. Since it’s release in 2011, it has sold over 30 million copies, and thousands of mods have been created by users for PC, Xbox One, and Playstation 4, which range from adding entirely new quest-lines and characters to updating and adding graphics.
For gamers like Nicole Marie Howard, 17, Skyrim is important and popular, even six years after it’s release. “It’s still very relevant today–I think that’s because it really embodies what an open world game should be.”
Do you have any fun character builds you have created? Let me know in the comments!