Ill-Considered Thoughts on Skyrim

By Ta-Nehisi Coates

So I've played some over the last week or so. It really is an impressive achievement--the customization is absolutely amazing. I could spend hours just designing different characters.


But I won't be playing it much for two reasons, neither of them particularly objective:

1.) As indicated in my early sentiments I'm a bit of computer RPG snob. Skyrim follows in that tradition of Dragon Age where PC RPGs really feel like games made for the console and imported on to the PC. 

As graphics have improved we're seeing so much more . This should be right up my alley--and yet I sort of don't care. I almost never believe the attendant characters  are actual people. The stunning graphics don't make up for that for me. I'd actual rather "see" and "hear" less, in terms of detail. I'd rather let my imagination fill in more of the blanks.

2.) Which leads to the second reason. Writing a book--and particularly writing fiction--is a rather all-consuming experience. You think about it all the time. And it absorbs you in a way that I can't really explain. I was watching Inception the other night and thinking about this. Writing a novel feels like being lost in the dream. And as surely as the extractors were obsessed with how dreams work, I've become obsessed with how stories work. It's shocking how many of them--genre aside--simply don't work, and how often they're just repeated over and over.

This means that rather than enjoying entertainment with story-telling elements, I find myself ever picking it a part. I can't get lost, because I don't believe. I'm having a hard time with Skyrim for the same reason I'm having a hard time getting into Vampire Diaries. (Certain members of this household have a degree of affection for that show.) I think, circa 2007, it'd be a lot easier for me.

This is not an objective review--or even much of a review at all. On the contrary, I'm assuming a lot of you are currently lost in Skyrim and loving it. I'd love to hear about that. I am where I am. I find that elements of geekhood--comic books, hip-hop, video games--are slowly leaving me. But with the major exception of how these genres treat women,  that's mostly a statement on me, and less on the genres themselves.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2011/11/ill-considered-thoughts-on-skyrim/248712/