rambling

Three Years is Way Shorter Than I Remember

This is what I picked up at a midnight release three years ago:

As cold and compelling as ever, old friend.

As cold and compelling as ever, old friend.

I have a fond relationship with Skyrim. Three years ago, I was at a pretty low point in my life: I’d been out of work for a little more than a year, I had almost no money, and my final semester at the local community college offered little in the way of hope for the future. Oh, an Associate’s Degree in English? I’m afraid that won’t help you get the edge over this applicant who actually has, you know, experience. Anyway, bitter recollections and cynical snarky crap aside, Skyrim gave me something I desperately wanted back then: escape.

Yeah, I’m an escapist. I’m never quite sure how to handle my real-world problems, so I find the easily-managed, endlessly predictable virtual worlds of video games immensely comforting. Skyrim was released at the best and worst time for me: it was the best because I was in sore need of some good pixelated entertainment but it was also the worst because I become obsessed with other worlds. Obsessed. It could be a crappy-but-honest name for a cologne; you want other people to be obsessed with you? So do we, buy our product!

Anyway, I played Skyrim for what felt like a good half a year straight, booting it up every day and exploring the seemingly endless caves, crypts, and cities, taking in every detail like a piranha takes in unwary swimmers. I was voracious. It didn’t take long for my family to realize I was in love with the game; my sister got my mom to buy me the following gift for Christmas in 2011:

Not that I was gonna use this thing, anyway. I was a real explorer, man. I walked everywhere. What is fast-travel, anyway?

Not that I was gonna use this thing. I was a real explorer, man. I walked everywhere. What is fast-travel, anyway?

Of course, I didn’t really use the guide for anything in-game, but man, the pictures are real pretty, and I’m a word junkie so having a veritable tome filled with Skyrim knowledge just sits right with me. I had to haul it off my shelf so I could get a good look at it again; it really is beautiful. Too bad it’s out of date now, what with all the add-ons – d’oh!

As you can see, Skyrim was a big part of my recent life. Did I play it every day for three years? Well, no. Hell no, actually. There are other games, after all. I don’t even play Animal Crossing every day – I go through phases, playing every day for months on end then dropping the game completely for a while. Same thing with Skyrim: six or so straight months of playing, then whoosh, I hardly even remember it. A guy I met right around the time I put Skyrim away for a while started asking me questions about the game and I heard the machinery in my head whirring, trying to get the relevant information to my conscious mind so my mouth could put it in the air. About a year and a half ago, when I started at my most recent ill-fated job, I dropped random tidbits of Skyrim knowledge to the one “nerdy” co-worker I had just so we could have good conversations about the game. Skyrim is like that: it ebbs and flows, kissing the shore of one’s consciousness before retreating and playing coy. So what do I want to do with it now, three years after it first graced my sad, tired brain with its presence and pleasant distractions?

I'm gonna go with "Yes" and press A.

I’m gonna go with “Yes” and press A.

Yeah, I’m gonna continue from my last saved game. I’m in the midst of one of those flowing Skyrim phases, and the cold crisp air of the November nights meshes with the cold crisp air I imagine blowing through Skyrim while I run from town to town, hunting vampires and gathering ingredients for my mercantile alchemical endeavors. There’s always something to do in Skyrim; it’s an Elder Scrolls game, after all! Here’s to the past three years, and probably the next three as we await word on Fallout 4 and pray that The Elder Scrolls VI comes around before too long.

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