It was well over a year and a half ago now when I found myself completely obsessed by the open world fantasy role playing game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I’d downloaded a release day copy for my PC through Steam and over the span of about three or four months played far more than a mid-thirties guy with a kid and a job really should have.
Insert Abrupt Pause Here…
And then spring arrived. And some running goals fell into the mess. And that darned thing called life got in the way of a perfectly good video game.
I’d poked my head back into the vast and expansive world of Skyrim once or twice since, but my career as a dragon-slaying Nord-ess ended fairly abruptly as my priorities shifted. And, picking back up where one left off after such an extreme shift in engagement… not as easy as it sounds.
But then not completely forgotten, either.
About a week ago the Internet was ablaze with the release of the latest installment of the Grand Theft Auto series. GTA:V, as I understand it, is another vast, open world game, but that’s where it’s similarities to games like Skyrim end. And it’s also where my discussion of that game ends: with me saying the GTA series, as much as I’ve played past versions, are just not my cup-of-tea.
But back downtown, near where I work, is a video game shop in the mall. And on one particular morning last week, when I happened to wander by, a few dozen guys about my age, most in neatly pressed business attire, were patiently lined up waiting to grab their copy of the much anticipated “five” pre-ordered and waiting to be loaded into Playstations and Xboxes across the city and around the world.
“Impulse Shopping” Meets “Been Thinking About It Anyhow”
I decided to be different. Not deliberately, mind you, but when I wandered back to the store at lunch there was a pre-played copy of my long lost friend Skyrim — but for PS3, not PC — for little less than twenty bucks.
- for those who will first off say I’ve downgraded going from a PC version to a console version on the PS3, you are right. But what I’ve lost in graphics and control finesse, is more than made up by the fact I can play on the couch on a giant HDTV instead of in the basement, in a squeaky office chair, on a monitor less than a quarter the size.
- unlike last time when a four-year-old Claire was a little bit too young to even watch me play, the six year old Claire that lives at our house now LOVES the game and, in fact, told me she made up her own game to play during recess at school where she runs around fighting dragons and doing pretend magic in school yard. I’m still the one who actually plays the video game though.
- having decided to deliberately make different character and plot choices — some as early as minutes into the game — I’m surprised at how similar the early stages of the game are to the last time I played.
- it is just as addictive the second time through. Whatever perfect combination of game-play and simulated feedback the game designers stumbled upon in creating this piece — or whether it simply found a gaping hole in my brain to crawl into and set up home forever, I can’t tell — it’s like the obsession bloomed right back into full life only a couple hours after starting up the new adventure.
- I still don’t think it’s cheating to use the game guide and I pulled out my –only slightly dusty– copy almost before the game had finished downloading its initial installation updates.
- my updates are going to be far less interesting here because I cannot do screen grabs on the PS3… so you’re stuck with whatever old or stock imagery I can dig up elsewhere.
To quote another fantasy franchise: Winter is coming. And apparently that means juggling some dragon slaying in with my ongoing marathon training… provided I get to use the TV once in a while.