Skyrim and hopelessness


I’m starting to calm down. Might be the meditation that I’m attempting, or the fact that I’ve started reading books again, or how my sleep schedule is a little more normal than it used to be (though I’m messing it up again as I type).

“There are some things in life that are impossible at the moment,” is what I tell myself. “You just have to be patient.”

It might also be because I started playing a game called Skyrim. There are many impossible things in that game. But I assume they won’t be impossible forever. Just like life, in a way. Perhaps I unconsciously realized it, at some point or another. I(t may be that I) fetishize control, and it might show through how I’d rather stay home than go outside. I used to stay home because I was afraid of getting bored. At least at home, I might find some distraction or fun, but out on public transit, I might be stuck bored with nothing to do. But it’s never happened to me yet, since I started being afraid of it.

It became apparent to me that I’m in love with direct, instant control when I decided that I didn’t like Skyrim. I can say exactly why I (think I) don’t like it. It’s because the system of combat is arranged in such a way that I believed my skill alone could have me conquer its world. But, though skill is some factor of it, (it seems to me that) the deciding factors in most confrontations are what gear you take to a battle, what level you are (and therefore, how much damage you can put out), and how you choose to fight. Not how well you fight, but your combat style.

For the first few hours, I hated the game. But I kept at it and gradually got into the groove of it. (Well, actually, it’s all part of a longer story involving me massacre-ing an entire town, save for the people in there who I liked or knew I couldn’t kill. Interesting story that brings up a lot of scary questions. Gotta tell it one day.)

I guess Skyrim isn’t so far from life, though. (Maybe) You can’t really decide one day to go kill the dragons circling your city. You can try, and sometimes you’ll succeed, but most likely, you’ll need to take the time to grind. That’s a little depressing.

Thing is though, I don’t think the analogy of Skyrim fits entirely with this aspect of life.

In a video game, people (or at least, I) come for the control. I’m in for the journey, most often, ignoring the destination. Point A and Point B are irrelevant to me. Therefore, when a game like Skyrim comes along, where I don’t find the journey as engaging as I’d like, I tend to walk away because boring.

But in life, I tend more to think that I walk in order to get somewhere. As long as the destination is something I’ll cherish, I tell myself that any journey is worth walking.

This brings up an interesting point, though. I’m actually starting to like Skyrim because, as I progress my character, making him stronger, I start to feel like I have more immediate control. And now I’m reaching for more because I crave that control. But in the end, do I really receive it?

Is life like this as well? Are my destinations illusions? Am I right to crave control?

I say that, in life, I wouldn’t mind walking any journey as long as the destination was nice. But in reality, I don’t think it’s really working. I have so many destinations lined up and all of them look pretty, but it doesn’t seem like it’s been enough motivation to get me walking.

People say happiness isn’t a destination, maybe I can’t move because I’m treating it like one. Maybe I need to walk the way I’d like and let God and coincidence take me wherever I might go. (I’m not apologizing for sounding like a hippie tonight.)

One more question, I guess. Is it so wrong for a game to force a grind like some games do? To dangle a carrot in front of a traveler, having them walk earnestly down a road that’s neither challenging nor rewarding…

Sometimes, I almost feel like Skyrim is really a game. This is usually in the times that I’m crafting armor or weapons, learning spells and enchantments. Selling and buying foods, potions. Making friends. “This will help me survive,” I say. “I’m making a decision that will impact my future. I have control.”

But in the heat of the moment, when death and dying stare me in the face, and I stare back, I no longer feel like I’m in control. I find my life in the hands of who I used to be, the one before me, the one who thought he knew what to expect but could’ve been wrong. Might’ve been wrong. Often is wrong. I can struggle and I can fight, but ultimately, I’m small.

Maybe if the game was less personal. Maybe if I traveled the world as an eye looking over the dragonborn’s shoulder, I wouldn’t be so distraught. But no, I am him and he is me. I see the world through his eyes.

And in those hopeless moments, I can’t help but think to myself, “I’m trapped in the past once again. I can only die or run.”

Victories don’t feel earned. Every defeat feels inescapable.


Edit: LOL. Did I just write that? Lol.


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