Last week, I wrote about how I was saying my goodbyes to my loved ones and getting my affairs in order, as I was about to embark on an epic journey through a newly released video game called Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
Today, as a bit of a follow-up, I would like to tell you about how Skyrim, which I played all weekend, has made me feel like an idiot by toying with my emotions and turning me in to a huge pussy.
Skyrim is one of those games that you can play for 100 hours and still be surprised by how little of the surface you’ve scratched. All of my closest friends purchased the game at the same time as I, and each of us is experiencing that incredible feeling that we get when we talk to each other and hear each other’s tales of epics fights, strange encounters with weird characters, and interesting places we’ve discovered.
It seems that all of my friends have purchased homes in various cities around Skyrim, and some have already taken advantage of a new feature to the Elder Scrolls series introduced in Skyrim: marriage. If you meet the right man or woman, you can marry them, own a house with them, and your spouse will even start his or her own small business and create a steady stream of income for you. They’ll even cook you meals when you get home at night!
Hearing about this from my friends made me feel like every 30 or 40 year old female main character in shitty romantic comedies that feels her life isn’t complete until she’s living the idealized dream of “normalcy” that society has convinced her is the key to all happiness. Hearing about my friends settling down, owning homes, and getting married, made me envious; I felt I was losing connection with them because they were living the married life and I was still alone, fighting dragons and killing innocent people for no reason – you know, the single life of an eligible bachelor.
Mind you, this is a game in which I regularly shoot fire from my hands and punch mammoths for fun. Now, all of a sudden, I want to find the right woman and crawl in to my own bed after a long day of dragon slaying and dungeon crawling just to cuddle next to my baby sweetums.
A video game has made me crave for the life society has told will make me happy — married life — even though I started playing the game so I could vicariously live the life I’ve always wanted – that boyhood fantasy of being a badass, magic-wielding adventurer that wanders the dangerous landscape as a lonewolf that has, at least in my mind, severed all ties with any and all personal relationships and has fully embraced a life of violence, glory, and solitude.
The thing is, I’m feeling this in my video game life and not my real life. In real life I couldn’t care less about marriage and settling down. I’m far too young for that. But in the digital life I visit to escape the doldrums of real life, I now find myself caring more and more about establishing a deep, personal connection with someone and sharing my life with them, even if that life is limited to walking in to my fake house and eating a fake meal whipped up by my fake wife and sleeping beside my fake wife in my fake bed.
This isn’t a game like The Sims, in which the entire purpose of it is to create a “normal” life, and such concepts as “winning” and “losing” are almost entirely subjective and are primarily dependent upon the quality of your avatar’s relationships with fake people. A game like Skyrim is pure escapism. Here’s a fantasy land filled with dragons, magic, wizards, trolls, elves, and more dragons. You’re supposed to enter this world so you can leave yours behind for a few hours and forget your real world even exists. (Within reason). Yet, for some reason, after hearing about my friends’ home purchases and weddings, I want that life, too. I went from being a cross between Indiana Jones and Aragorn from Lord of the Rings, to some kind of disturbing Jennifer Lopez/Kate Hudson/Katherine Heigl single-girl-looking-for-love-in-The-Big-City hybrid — that shoots fire from her lonely hands when all she wants is to have a ring slipped on to her finger!
My only fear now is, if I do get married and purchase a home in the game, will my fake wife complain that I care more about adventuring than I do about her? That I spend more time getting in to life-or-death situations than I do with her? Will I have to play damage control and take her out on a date and re-woo her with a nice, quiet dinner and a bubble bath? Will she threaten to leave me if I don’t give her a plausible explanation for why I haven’t been home in twelve days? (I don’t think “I forgot I bought a house and got married” will be an adequate answer). Will she ask me if she could tag along when I search for treasures in some far-off cave filled with trolls and bandits, even though she should understand that killing trolls and bandits is “me time”?
I guess what I’m trying to say here is, I need to get the f*ck out of my house for a few hours.
The other thing I’m trying to say here is, my god, video games have come a long way since Burger Time!