If the blame needs to be placed somewhere, put it on The Awesome Son. He moved in with me while he was in his mid-teens, bringing with him something that stirred an overwhelming hunger inside me. The addiction began slowly, as most gripping ones do. Before I knew it, almost all of my waking hours were spent running around the wilderness: dodging rouge critters, looting mines and caves for treasure, finding portals to hellish realms.
The Elder Scrolls series. If you are not familiar, approach it with my warning. I’ve never been much into video gaming, but that all changed with the third installment in the series. Morrowind. Just go to urbandictionary.com and search the word. You will find numerous definitions; most alluding to the fact that you will never again have any genuine social contact in your life. You will spend your time with graphic adventurers and bandits, running with beastfolk (lizard and cat people), and encountering elf politicians & law enforcement officers.
When the fourth game in the series, Oblivion, was released, I played it compulsively as well. And with utter abandon. One of my friends was at my house one day, watching me play the game as my character (an Orc brute) crushed enemies with a sword and an axe, generally destroying everyone or thing in his path. My friend was mortified. And here I was, laughing raucously and swearing at the characters and the creatures as my Orc annihilated them. Not too characteristic of a peaceful, friendly guy in his early 40s.
Skyrim, the fifth game in the series was released a couple of weekends ago. The Awesome Son and I were beyond excited. Anyone who plays the series was also probably foaming at the mouth before the date. Since the game is a single-player one, my son and I cannot play at the same time. But that is no matter. He and I shared adventure stories from the previous two games.
Both he and I took a vacation day on the release date of Skyrim. I traveled to Louisiana to spend the weekend with him and the Fiancée. He and I played all weekend, in shifts of two-hour turns in front of his huge TV screen (talking about total game immersion).
Our gaming style said a lot about our personal styles.
- My son’s character of choice was a Nord, sorta like a Viking, big and brawny. The son’s style? Crushing enemies. Running through dungeons and obliterating the undead, picking and choosing which chests and containers to check for treasure. Running all over the landscape, slaughtering any hostile animal or human. The Awesome Son is a gusto kinda guy.
- My character was a Wood Elf, short and slight. My style? Sneaking past enemies. Creeping through dungeons and picking off enemies with a bow, checking every container for treasure. Cutting a wide berth around any aggressive being. Harvesting ingredients for potions from flowers and plants. The Queer is a slower moving kinda guy (as least in relation to my exuberant son).
The weekend flew past. Finally Sunday morning, I was brought back to reality. I received a message for My Extraordinary Nephew mentioning that I hadn’t posted to my blog in quite a while.
So here I am. Back to reality for a while. Resolved to only play Skyrim one hour a day. Everything in moderation. Even diversion.
On the drive back to Houston , I was alert. Checking the roadside for sources of alchemical ingredients, watching the horizon for saber-toothed tigers, checking the skies for dragons. I probably will have to push toward reality with a bit more might.
(P.S. I've logged in almost 70 hours playing this game in less than a month now. See you at the Asylum)