A long time ago, I bought Skyrim. That wasn’t the mistake. Probably. I bought Skyrim when it first came out. I did not open it. Until Friday night. That was (probably) the mistake.
At the time I bought Skyrim, there were a lot of things going on in my life. Among them, I was trying to finish a book I was writing. Knowing myself quite well (all my life, as a matter of fact), I knew that opening Skyrim at that time would be a bad thing. Very bad. Horrible, in fact. See, I have a bit of an addictive personality. I can’t drink one glass of tea; if left alone, I will drink the entire pitcher. Same with food; one cookie? Maybe two? Okay, I’ll have six. If I like a tv show, I’ll get the DVD’s and blow through them in a matter of days, watching episodes back to back without pause.
This (and some other things) is why I don’t drink.
Probably the best example of my addictive personality taking hold can be illustrated through the words ‘World of Warcraft’. I purchased and installed WoW within a month of its release, and quickly became obsessed with the game. I played it every free moment I had. Great if you’re trying to level your Pally, horrible if you want to… you know… do anything else at all in the world…
My evolution with gaming began with the same system a lot of people had – the Atari 2600. I played the hell outta that thing. Still have it in the closet. And the games. Haven’t tried to hook it up in…a really long time. Hrm. Anyway, from there, I had a Tandy Color Computer II. Sort of a computer/game console hybrid, the Color Computer II had cartridge games you could buy and play, which I did. I remember the baseball game. Dots on the screen. But in color! Unless you had a black and white television. Which I did. In which case, not in color! But still – games! Lots of games, apparently:
And then it happened. The Nintendo Entertainment System. Mine had Duck Hunt. Yours probably did too. That would’ve seen me through except there were a few games I wanted to play that weren’t available for the NES – only for the Sega Entertainment System. So, yes, I bought a Sega. Sonic! My friends and I played those two systems to death. One friend spent the entire weekend at my house so we could beat Metroid (we didn’t). Don’t even get me started on Tetris.
When the Super NES came out, bought that, too. And a Playstation. And the N64, which possibly had the strangest controller every developed. Ever. It was part controller, part gun, and possibly part vibrator, all in one. Very strange.
Then I started getting away from console gaming. I had my second PC (the first one kinda sucked. Come to think of it, the second one wasn’t much better…), and there were some cool Star Wars games out there. I bought them. And I played them. A lot. Over and over. As I upgraded machines over time, I got more and more into PC gaming. Another favorite was Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon. You were in control of a five man team doing various missions. I always took personal control over the sniper, set the rest of the team to hide in some trees or something, and then went and did the whole mission alone… Yeah…
That’s the theme here – I spent a lot of time playing these games. Obsessing over these games. Now I have an XBOX 360. I bought it, what, six years ago? Five? Something like that. And there have been games I’ve been obsessed over, like the recent Batmab/Arkham games. But nothing had grabbed my attention the way WoW did.
I remember reading Twitter and Facebook feeds about Skyrim when it first came out. Jokes went something like this: Genre fiction editors are showing an uptick in genre fiction writers missing deadlines due to Skyrim.
I believe it.
I finally cracked the plastic seal on my copy of Skyrim Friday night. I hadn’t played any games in a while, and felt a little itch to do so. I used to play these kinds of games all the time. Final Fantasy, Dragon Warrior, Faxanadu, Zelda – the more deep and complex the story, the more I was into it. And then something happened about ten years ago. Like a switch going off in my head, I became really bored with those kinds of games. With the exception of the Clancy game mentioned above, (and Duck Hunt, of course), I was never a fan of first person shooters. Then came Halo, which has a mix of OMG BLOW SHIT UP and story. And games like the BioShock franchise, which combines the first person shooter with story and puzzles.
Skyrim has such a nice balance that it kept me entirely engaged and suddenly, it was Sunday. I’d played the whole weekend away. Yikes!
So, I think I made a mistake opening up Skyrim.