Game Of Thrones Makes Me Want To Play Skyrim
On a slow news day, I figured rather than trawling through the drudgery of the internets I would use this opportunity to share a thought with you all, as titled above.
The truth is that whenever I watch Game of Thrones, I can’t help but want to play Skyrim and whenever I think of Skyrim, I can’t help but also think of Game of Thrones. The two are so intertwined in my thought process. Also you would note I said ‘think of’ Skyrim, that’s because a friend of mine has had my copy of the game for months, but I digress.
I’m currently playing the Game of Thrones RPG, which is for all intents and purposes based in the same universe but follows characters different to those we are familiar with. Their exploits aside, the game is pretty decently done and the combination of the codex entries, the presentation of each chapter and the non-playable characters interacted with all really bring together the game into a nice, neat package. Look out for the review in a few days, if you wish to learn more of it.
But the combat and character interactions notwithstanding, the game really doesn’t inspire the same sort of feel in me that the series did, insofar as the political intrigue and lore of it all. Sure there are elements of it here and there, and it’s great to actually stroll through famous locations such as the Wall and the Red Keep, but for whatever reason there is another game that seems to do Game of Thrones better.
And that game is Skyrim.
Let it not be said that I don’t know what I’m talking about here. I’ve watched series the likes of Rome, The Tudors and Spartacus so I know that Game of Thrones wasn’t the first to do adult-oriented swords-and-slavery storytelling. Furthermore, I have since read through the first and am currently on the second of the books in the series A Song Of Ice And Fire, for the more pretentious among us who only accept the words of those who have experienced the original content, as if that makes someone more eligible to have an opinion or something… I wouldn’t so much call myself a fan of the series as someone who has taken an interest in it to the point that I’ve decided to indulge myself. Just like I wouldn’t call myself a fan of World War 2, dinosaurs, evolution or quantum theory.
With that said, you all know as well that (after consulting with other Skyrim-playing staff at the time) I gave The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim a Perfect rating in my review. Truth be told, I stand by that review and will continuously, until I turn blue in the face (and not from the cold), assert that if you aren’t unfortunate enough to experience mass bugs and glitches (I had one, in 150 hours) then your only other criticism of the game; that being your irrelevance to the overall turnout of the world even after you took on not just the world-eater Alduin but the warring factions of the Imperials and Stormcloaks, should not matter. After all, you got to experience so many different stories, from the College of Winterhold (if you’ve got the aptitude) to the Thieves Guild to the excellent Dark Brotherhood and more. There were even those splendid Daedric artifact quests that forced you to indulge your darker side for material reward. The game had a lot to do and up to today, people still constantly ask me for help in this, that or the other quest which they are currently busy with. It’s inspiring, how many people are still playing Skyrim. Standing testament that perhaps the game really was timeless after all. Keep in mind: these people don’t have the Dawnguard DLC, recently released for Xbox 360. They’re just going through the standard fare, which took me some 150 hours to complete. And I remember every moment.
What has drawn me in about the Game of Thrones series — and I refer to it as that because, let’s be honest, more people have watched the HBO ten-parter than have read the books, say what you will as a commentary on post-modernism — is that, regardless of one’s opinion of the series in its entirety (in truth I don’t rate it as highly as most fans do), the political intrigue is second to none, and I find myself constantly wanting to find out what happens next. It’s no concern of mine how battles play out or who eats what (and there is a lot of eating to be found), if I wanted that I would look to Lord of the Rings, which does combat oh so sexily. All I care about is the dynamics of who is stabbing who in the back and who is secretly making a pact with who for what reason. Spoilers don’t really matter to me, either. I spent the entirety of season two’s broadcast schedule shying away from watching the series until I had all the episodes so I didn’t have to wait a week to see with my own eyes, what happens next. A fucking week, and I couldn’t wait. I read quite a few spoilers, impossible to avoid thanks to social networks, but I didn’t care because I watched for the characters and the intrigue of it all. I was drawn in by my personal favourite character, Tyrion Lannister (whom I fancy myself as similar to in every way except physically) as he first navigated his way around the Seven Kingdoms and then navigated his way around the Red Keep, which I won’t say more on in case there are some of you who actually do care about spoilers. I will say, though, that given George R. R. Martin’s writing style, you don’t really expect him to keep anyone alive do you? Maybe Joffrey. That cunt.
Back to Skyrim, what drew me in about the game, again wasn’t always the combat sections nor finding out more about the overarching main quest line itself. Hell I didn’t even care about the dragons half the time. What drew me in was the story, the character interaction and the way I had to tip-toe around the powers that be, appeasing both sides of the civil war in order to achieve my own ends most of the time. The civil war quest line in fact, forms the true meat of the game’s story, more so than the main quest which might boast some of the most memorable locations you will ever find in an Elder Scrolls title, but still dulls in comparison to the politics on show back in Castle Solitude or in Windhelm. The civil war quest line was actually the absolute last thing I did in the game because for the life of me, I couldn’t pick a side. Each had valid reasons for going to war and I wracked my brains before eventually conceding to a coin-toss to decide my allegiance. As Harvey Dent says in The Dark Knight: “The only morality in a cruel world is chance.”
It’s that sort of storytelling genius that makes me liken the two. The continuous quest for dominance and supremacy between others as a proclaimed power sits the throne, meanwhile everyone around them is doing their best to not only survive but better their rivals and stay ahead of them at every step. But it isn’t just that aspect, even though it’s the most prevalent.
What Game of Thrones and Skyrim also share is a beautifully crafted world of exploration and wide-eyed wonder at the marvels on offer. Whether it’s Riverrun and the Trident in the Game of Thrones world or Markarth and the Reach in Skyrim. Seven kingdoms of Westeros, nine holds of Skyrim. It’s basically the same thing, but with different names. Did I mention that both stories start off with beheadings? And what of dragons? Oh right. Them! I didn’t quite enjoy the introduction of dragons in either, because I found it took away from the storytelling, but you cannot argue that whether it’s in Game of Thrones or Skyrim, the dragon encounters are always memorable, almost cinematic encounters (in the former they kind of are). Each game also happens to have a Dragonborn. Why not? Dovahkiin and Dovahqueen, anyone? … what?
If you’re a Game of Thrones fan and you’ve not played Skyrim… just, how dare you. More so if you’re a Skyrim player who’s not watched Game of Thrones. Sample both, and then try and tell me the one doesn’t make you think of the other. Failing that; my arrow, your knee, come at me adventurer.