Back in 2011 Skyrim returned to the roots of the hero’s journey proving that perhaps the old styles of story telling are still the best. The most cherished game of the Elder Scrolls stands out as a gem amongst a sea of games that seem to fail to fully captivate modern gamers interest, yet does so in the simplest way.
Skyrim is follows the basic rendition of telling the hero’s journey. There’s the prophesied warrior, dragons, a council of ancient old men who teach the hero the ancient ways of a great race, an evil villain determined to destroy everyone, and even has an empire. Arguably the biggest hit of 2011, Skyrim stood out amidst all other games at the time, and was one of the most anticipated games of the year. Which makes us wonder, how did a game with a very simple concept manage to have one of the biggest impacts in the field of video games of the last decade?
If we look at the top ten best-selling games of all time list, we see that Skyrim comfortably sits at #10. In a sea of Nintendo games and sequels of beloved franchises, Skyrim stands alone. And it still continues to be popular to this day on STEAM. In fact, many gamers will turn on their PC or Xbox just to play Skyrim every now and then.
It’s amazing that the oldest and simplest method of story telling continues to have such an impact on today’s audiences. We’ve all seen it before in beloved franchises like Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Kingdom Hearts, Mario and even Game of Thrones.
Skyrim came out in 2011, so why am I writing an article about it in 2017. Well, this article is more about how the hero’s journey is still very important to the structure and release of video games currently.
It’s more or less about the new release of video games, and how current RPGs just don’t seem to register with players like Skyrim did. Not always, but I think that if the industry wants to learn how to be successful outside of rehashing sequel after sequel (looking at you Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty), they should look at Elder Scrolls for guidance.
The main problem seems to be with action games. Action games are fun, and we all love playing them. But now they seem to have become repetitive. “Oh look, another game where I just go around and kill zombies? What a total unique and original concept,” he said sarcastically while typing. That’s not to imply that zombie games can’t be fun, but it just seems like game developers are just churning out the same product with improved graphics and slaping on a different label it. And how many more games based on Call of Duty or being an assassin are we going to get?
Those games can be fun to play, obviously, let’s not take anything away from them. But it get’s old. Though the whole hero’s journey trope is older, it is the far more appealing trope. The thing is, we don’t get tired of the same old story. Some people may say that they do, but the truth is, they aren’t.
The hero’s journey is a way to tell a story, while zombies and assassins are a prop or setting in which the story takes place. And unlike the world of Skyrim, new worlds are always unique in their own way. So though fantasy may have been done a million times before, every time a writer creates a new world, that is something new. And that’s the genius of Skyrim.
What Skyrim did was revolutionize the way an RPG is played, and introduced the industry into a whole new method of player mechanics. Players had a vast new world to explore, full of different races, side quests and the ability to just mess around if you
wanted. You can get married and have kids. Rather than just play as a character, the player become immersed in the who the character is.
That’s what makes Skyrim stand out. Because it gives the player this world that is completely their’s. Most players can play for hours on end with new and exciting possiblities behind every corner. And the game encourages it. The game constantly has the player going on quests to long distances that take a long time to complete. This is the perfect way for a game to have their player completely immersed in the game’s world. A player can get lost, but Skyrim is so well done that behind every corner is something. And even if a player does get lost in the world, who knows there may be a band of thieves or a dragon around the corner. Something to snag their attention.
Skyrim may not be the biggest open world out there, but it certainly is the one that holds the most content. The possibilities are endless, and it gives players a reason to return.
It’s so peacful for a game to allow the player to just sit there and digest. Especially in a fast paced society where it seems like everyone has to be busy doing something. Skyrim takes the opportunity to slow down and really let the player get the feel of the game, and digest what’s going on around them.
But what makes Skyrim truly stand out is how the player becomes the hero. The player doesn’t just play the story of Dovahkinn, the player becomes Dovahkinn.
It’s a very simple concept using the most basic method of story telling, but it works. Future games can learn a lot from Skyrim’s model. Even though the concept is basic, it works. Sure, having great stories is good, but they don’t have to be so overly complicated and filled with hours of extra material just so the players can fully grasp what’s going on *cough Final Fantasy *cough. Sometimes, less is more and slow and steady is really what counts.
A multi-ethnic, racially confused hermaphrodite commonly referred to by his online alias "A Bad Password" - real name Kevin - slightly selfishly and completely uncreatively named the gaming news and related content website ABadPassword.com after himself.