Deep down, I’m a real big sucker for this kind of thing. Mash-ups in general: definitely. But gamer-mash-ups especially: drool…
I was browsing the Steam Workshop, a creative hub of sorts for people who — not quite satisfied with the game as it stands — have pieced together modifications that can be blended into the original and add new features or tweaks to the game play. Or maybe they’re just exercising their creativity in an otherwise restrictive consumer experience. Either way, Steam and the makers of The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim (hereafter just Skyrim) not only openly allow this, they facilitate it by providing tools and a venue (ie, the Steam Workshop) to make it easy and manage-able.
Some of the early tweaks I had found and added, way back when I was playing more often, were mods that improved the sound packs, or tweaked some of the user interface. But in the eight or so months since I more frequently played it seems that folks have been getting more creative with their mods.
Subscribe to the MinerFriends mod and next time you log into the Skyrim game an unassuming marker appears on your world map. Explore, wander or fast-travel your way over to the new location and you’ll quickly find yourself in something both uniquely jarring and downright epic.
In fact, I having fast-traveled to the location marked simply as “Craft’s Mine” quickly found myself in the middle of a pitch battle, being attacked by none other than a rogue zombie and a sprinting creeper (neither commonly seen in the snowy mountains of Skyrim, though quite common in the wastelands of my Minecraft server.) Fortunately, between myself and my new buddy Steve we were able to dispatch the pair of baddies with a few brisk swings of the battle-axe… but I was a bit slower on grabbing my screenshots.
Familiar or not with either Skyrim or Minecraft, you might be able to tell from the art that something doesn’t quite fit with the other thing. Hint: The over-saturated blocky-ness of the Minecraft universe stands out quite abruptly from the earthy-toned, oil-painted-esque hues of Skyrim. Thus, a mash-up is born.
I don’t want to gush… at least not too much. The mod — the concept, the execution, the mash-up as a whole — is pretty awesome, and as you might be able to surmise from the screenshots there are a few nifty gems pulled from the familiar pixelated world of Minecraft and plunged into the quite disparate world of Skyrim that had me clicking the screenshot key and pondering writing herein all sorts of ideas here about the nature of art, and the blending of styles, and the very concept of layering games together.
But… well, I’m not really an expert on any of that.
Rather, I’d like to just — perhaps maybe — leave it hanging there as a kind of philosophical question on the nature of art. I mean, some folks would have a serious problem with adding this kind of obtrusion to their game play. Not me, but some. Some folks might call this a break from what an artist — if I can use the term to describe someone who designs the look and feel of a game world — intended. And sure, that’s the question, isn’t it? How do we react when someone, say, rewrites Jane Austen to incorporate a zombie apocalypse? Or name any musical mash-up, movie parody, or, well, whatever…
This isn’t the first. It’s not the last. Think about it. And ultimately? Well, it brought me a little bit of joy on a quiet Thursday evening. So, you know my vote.
Down to the real problem: I’m not sure who owns the art on a mash-up like this. Who do I credit for the screenshots? On the one hand, the world comes courtesy of Bethesda and The Elder Scrolls. On the other, Minecraft and the artwork dubbed over is probably owned by Mojang. But then it’s all been pieced together in the Minerfriends mod in the Steam workshop by a guy alias’d as poisu555. And finally I composed and snapped them. Whoever? I just took some screen grabs using F12, so… share and enjoy.