Hey everyone, long time, no talk at. Anyway…
Back over the Christmas holiday, my friend Phil bought a game for me on Steam called The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Skyrim is an amazing game produced by Bethesda Game Studios. I’d never heard of it, I’d never played any of the previous four games, but he was enjoying it and thought I’d really like it and he was right. It’s one of the most beautiful video games I’ve ever played, as you can see by clicking the image below:
Well anyway, I became obsessed with this game and have put in just a shameful amount of hours playing it. It’s got some flaws, the biggest being an incredibly easy final battle, which is followed by an amazingly unsatisfying ending. But the game up to that point is so much fun to play that I wound up playing it all the way through with three different characters. Of course as I got more and more familiar with the game, I became less and less overwhelmed by how beautiful and awesome it was and, as is usually the case with me, started paying more and more attention to the more mundane and minute aspects of it. This, I’m happy to report, still didn’t ruin the game for me. This should be taken as a huge compliment by the people who made it. My fucking brain ruins 90% of all entertainment for me, be it video game, movie, TV show, or book. I over-analyze and dissect shit to a point where I can’t put it back together again in order to actually enjoy it. Again, Skyrim managed to keep my brain from doing that, but the second time through the game I started to feel like there was something a bit off and it took a while for me to notice what it was. First, though, just a small (you know when I say “small” it’s different than when other people say it right?) amount of background information to set things up for you.
Skyrim is the name of the game but it’s also the name of the part of the world where the story takes place. The natives of Skyrim are called Nords, who are basically vikings. Skyrim has been occupied for centuries by the Imperials, who are basically Romans. Some of the Nords are fine with the Imperials but some of them want them out of their country. These folks are called Stormcloaks (just fucking go with it). Eventually, you’ll be given the chance to join either the Imperial Legion or the Stormcloak Rebellion. In addition to joining one of these factions, the other groups you can join are: The Thieves Guild, The Mage’s College, The Companions, and The Dark Brotherhood. There’s also the Bard’s College but that story arc is so fucking ridiculous and lame that I won’t even bother talking about it.
The Thieves Guild story arc is one of the most fun in the game. I won’t go into details but I will break the main story down. Oh…spoiler alert, I suppose:
- You’re recruited by the guild and upon completing your first assignment, are told you show amazing potential.
- After completing a few more assignments, you’re introduced to the leader of the guild, who’s a bit of a cock.
- You uncover a plot against the guild by an old member of the guild who killed the previous guild leader.
- Except that, it turns out she’s innocent and the guy who really killed the previous guild leader is the current guild leader.
- You hunt down and kill the current guild leader.
- After some more shit happens and the guild has been restored to it’s former prestige and success, you’re made the new leader of the guild.
Hey man, that’s awesome, you’re totally the leader of The Thieves Guild, what a great story and man, was it fun to play through those missions.
Next up is the Mage’s College. The college is hated by the people of the surrounding area, mostly because the surrounding area was devastated by this huge natural disaster brought on by some fuck ups from the college a hundred years ago. The college is lead by the Archmage, who seems totally indifferent to the fact that the college is dabbling in shit that’s way too dangerous to be doing near populated areas and who also doesn’t give a shit about the college’s negative reputation. Here’s the main story:
- You join the college and in your first field trip, you uncover a dangerous ancient artifact.
- You run around trying to figure out what the hell it is for a while and are told by some monks that shit’s about to get real and that you’re the only one who can deal with it, because destiny blah blah blah…
- One of the people at the college is really a spy (!) and has taken control of the powerful artifact and in the process has killed the Archmage.
- You run to get another artifact that will help overcome the first one and in the process find out that all of this shit was caused by the Archmage’s youthful arrogance from decades past.
- You return to the college, kill the spy and are told by the surviving professor’s that you’re the new Archmage.
Which is fucking ridiculous, you’ve been there a week. The only way this story works is if you treat it as comic relief and treat the various wizards as the Marx Brothers.
Then there’s the Dark Brotherhood, which is a shadowy group of assassins for hire. This, for me, was the most fun part of the game but that might have something to do with the fact that you get to assassinate the emperor and my seething hatred for our current elected leaders here in the real world. Whatever, here’s the story:
- You’re recruited by the brotherhood and you prove you’re not a douche by killing a few people.
- You’re then contracted to kill the emperor, which is, of course, a huge undertaking.
- In the process you wind up being set up and betrayed by…(you’ll never guess) the leader of the brotherhood.
- You kill her and then kill the emperor, fulfilling the contract and restoring the brotherhood to a level of greatness it hasn’t know in centuries.
- The remaining members of the brotherhood turn to you and inform you that you’re their leader now.
Okay, at this point, a pattern is more than developing but I really didn’t give a shit since I got to kill the emperor. God that was awesome.
Finally, there are The Companions, who are a bunch of drunken viking mercenaries. This is a really great storyline too but it kind of fucks with the pattern of the previous story-lines in that they claim not to have a leader. Which is kind of bullshit because there’s one old guy they call the Harbinger and there’s totally another guy who’s like a second in command and then there are three others who are clearly in positions of leadership (like some sort of sword and sorcery version of middle management). Both the harbinger and the second in command die and guess who gets named the new Harbinger?
This is where your success ends though. You’re the leader of The Thieves Guild, The Dark Brotherhood, the Mage’s College, and The Companions and that’s all you get. Of course you get to save the world from the giant dragon who wants to eat us all but you never get to become king or anything. Which is fine.
Okay so now that we’re all caught up to speed and on the same page (and if you think reading all that took too long to get caught up to speed, trust me, it didn’t), here’s the question I have:
What the fuck is going on with the upper management at Bethesda Game Studios? I’ve played a lot of these games in the past…a LOT of them. And while the story arc of your character showing up to some place, learning the ropes, and eventually taking over is hardly a new one, to repeat it three or four times in the same game is just kind of odd. It’s like a cry for help from the Bethesda employees.
The scary thing is that I’ve worked for all three of the bosses listed in the examples above. I’ve worked for the boss who actually doesn’t give a shit about anything but himself and is secretly willing to let his company go to hell as long as he can make a few bucks off it. I’ve worked for the boss whose intentions were good but was genetically incapable of making a good decision. And I’ve worked for the boss whose selfishness and apathy have left him capable of doing little more than attending meetings. Fuck, ten years ago, I was working for all three of them at the same company.
If only one of these scenarios had been put in the game I might never have noticed but for all of them to be there…that just seems like a bit more than coincidence.
So there’s that.