The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim came out on way back when in November 11, 2011. That was a little over four years ago and that makes the phrase "time flies" really hit home. The moment it came out, I knew the game was going to be something special. At the very least I knew it was going to be special to me. It was my first Bethesda game and you always remember your first, right?
The Start of A Great Adventure
I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but the second I started playing I couldn't bring myself to stop. There was too much to do, too many people to save, too many chickens to kill and all that jazz. I was hooked and, according to Steam, I sunk in about 200 hours into the game. I'm not so sure that number is accurate because I could have sworn it was a lot longer.
My first character was a Nord because I had it in my head that I wanted to make one. She became a Companion and then subsequently lived that werewolf life 24/7. As I kept on plugging along, I started taking screenshots of her. I was proud of the character I had made and wanted to tell a story about her through pictures. After a while, though, I found the "base model" of the game to be lacking.
I wanted better looking armor but the game wasn't doing it for me. That's when I first discovered the modding community and the armor sets they were pumping out. Yes, there was a sea of "sexy" armor that I had to wade through, but there were some genuine gems buried in the pile of fetish wear. I wanted to make my character feel like she was going to regulate on some fools with utmost impunity and that she gave as little f*cks as possible.
Getting Hooked On Mods and Visuals
Once I had the armor, well, it was time to slap on a good ENB to make the lighting and general ambiance just a bit better. I thought I was done until I realized someone had made texture mods to make the buildings look better, someone else made a mod to make water look prettier, then another made grass look crisper, and so on and so on. I pushed my mid-range computer to its absolute limit to make the game as pretty as possible for no other reason to take pretty pictures. Of those 200 hours, how much of it do you think was spent actually playing the game and how much of it was setting up screenshots? Honestly, I couldn't even tell you.
Eventually, We All Write Our Own Stories
As I was playing, I was writing a story about her in my head. I made up facts about her and why she did things the way she did. I made up characters in game that existed only in the stories I told myself as she walked around Skyrim to the next shoot location. The actual game itself had suddenly faded into the background in favor of the story I was writing in my head.
She wasn't the Dragonborn anymore, not to me. She was just a woman who was caught in the wrong place at the wrong time and saddled with the disease of lycanthrophy. She was found by the Companions, taken in, and treated as one of their own. She trained her body and her mind with their help. She learned how to better control of herself and the wolf that rested in her heart. She was her own person with her own ideas and things she wanted to accomplish.
The Real Beauty of Skyrim
That was the beauty of Skyrim to me, to be honest. There was the game at large, but it let me choose my own adventure both in general gameplay and in the way it let me interact with the world. Well, with a little help from the modding community, of course.
I've since gotten a new computer and, through a catastrophic hard drive failure on my previous rig, lost all of my screenshots save the ones I posted online. I've never had it in me since to pick up the game again to try and rebuild the experience I had a few years back. Part of me thinks that it wouldn't really be the same anymore. That old magic had come and gone, but I had real good times with it while it lasted.
So thanks, Skyrim, for helping me stave off boredom for the better part of three years. We'll always have those good times.