Skyrim taught me that gaming had become mainstream.
With the 10th Anniversary Edition of Skyrim coming out soon, I have been thinking about the game and the legacy that it has left behind.
During my teenage years, I was always really behind the time when it came to technology. My game consoles were always a couple generations behind all my friends. This means that I didn’t experience new games at the same time as everyone else. To me gaming was always a fun hobby that was specifically enjoyed by a niche group of people. It was always “nerds” (for a lack of a better word) that were really into video games.
So it was a surprise to me during my junior year of high school, when everybody was talking about this new game called Skyrim. I had never even heard of it. I was still playing the Gamecube when Skyrim was released. I was living under a rock and had no idea what they were talking about. Later on I would put it together that it belonged to the same series as Morrowind, which I had played before.
The weird thing was is that the people who were really excited about Skyrim being released were people that I wouldn’t have expected to like it. These students would’ve made fun of someone for playing World of Warcraft, but here they were enjoying a game with many of the same fantasy elements. What set Skyrim apart? What made Skyrim so accessible to people who weren’t nerds like me?
It wasn’t until 2014 that I finally bought an Xbox 360 and a copy of Skyrim. I bought it at Hastings Entertainment, which is sadly a relic of the past now. I took the game home and booted it up and from the moment the title screen appeared I was blown away. I realize that Skyrim has now become a meme in a lot of ways. Even when it came out, there were games with better graphics and smoother controls. Skyrim was really buggy and would freeze or crash sometimes. But in spite of that… it still managed to capture the hearts of gamers.
Not only did it capture the hearts of gamers, but it managed to break through to the mainstream. Skyrim was a game that gave a lot of people their first exposure to an Open-World Action RPG style game. Many people who just picked up the new versions of Madden or Fifa every year took a chance on a fantasy themed game and it won them over.
There was something about the openness of the world and the level of interaction you had with the NPCs that made it a really fun experience. And even though the graphics aren’t as impressive as current generation games, the landscapes are beautiful. I’ll always remember that first time I ran from Riverwood to Whiterun and looked out over the massive plains around the city. Jeremy Soule’s amazing music in the Elder Scrolls series is tough to match and it set the perfect atmosphere.
The video game industry is generating more and more money every year. More people are playing games than ever before. It wasn’t always like this. Skyrim was the game that helped me realize that gaming was not just a niche hobby anymore. It was a full blown form of entertainment to respected as art. No more did Jocks make fun of nerds for playing games with dragons. Now they were enjoying it too.