Warning: this post contains spoilers for both the game of Skyrim and my novelization of that game, The Song of Deirdre. Also, it’s probably a lot of abstract drivel. To avoid that, just go read the novel. It’s free, after all, and several people tell me it’s not drivel.
One of the great things about Skyrim is the impressive number of ways you can choose to play it. It’s an open world, so you pick which quests to follow, or none at all. In the opening scene, you create the character you will play throughout the game, choosing from two genders and ten races. You can marry either available gender and
any of the ten races,¹ choosing from among the game’s eligible marriage partners.
This means you can play as a hulking Nord who runs around bashing everything with his hammer, takes on the mantle of the Dragonborn, prevents the end of the world, and then comes home to wear the Amulet of Mara (propose marriage) to his Altmer (High Elf) boyfriend. Or you can play as a dual-wielding Dunmer (Dark Elf) thief who doesn’t want to get herself involved in the impending civil war and doesn’t believe the dragon-god Alduin will destroy all of Mundus. No, you just want to sneak around pickpocketing and grabbing whatever wealth you can, and then spend it on a particular Orc you have your eye on.
Here’s another intriguing option: to play the game as a pacifist. Several players have recorded their peace-making efforts on video, and the Wall Street Journal even ran a piece on it. For some players, this was just an “I can beat the game with one hand tied behind my back” kind of trick. For others, it was a philosophical and ethical approach to the game. With all the talk of video games either promoting violence or offering a safe release for violent instincts, this approach offered a third way: to pursue the possibilities of peace in what at first seems a typically bloody world based on medieval Europe.