Games You Should Be Playing: Skyrim

Skyrim Logo
I play video games. And yes, I am a girl.

I’ve been playing video games since the day my parents brought home an Atari 2600. My brother and I made forts in the den, rolled out our sleeping bags, and played Pac Man all night long. From that day on, I was hooked. The fact that I became an avid gamer at such a young age still astounds me because my parents have always been technologically challenged. Case in point, they only got cable television five years ago.

Get with the times, Dad. Internet TV’s where it’s at.

There’s a widely held misconception that women don’t play video games. That’s crap. I have a lot of cool female friends (who aren’t ugly toads, virgins, and/or live in their parents’ basement) who play video games. We’re rare, I’ll give you that. There are few things funnier than being the only girlfriend who is invited to the boys’ all-night gaming party.

Don’t worry. I’ll bring the beer and kick your ass.

As times have changed, I’ve noticed more women are open to video games but they don’t know what to buy. Girls want different things in video games than boys do: We want to feel rewarded early on, we want to be able to play for shorter spurts and still get things accomplished, and we want an avatar who isn’t a gross exaggeration of our sexual features. Most importantly, we want to kick ass, too. But games are generally marketed to men — how will we know where to start?

Let me help.

Skyrim In-Game Banner

Skyrim is a game that would have caught your eye in the store or with online ads, except that their logo shows a big hairy man surrounded in mist, clad in armor, and covered in dirt. And maybe all the boys get excited about a big hairy, dirty dude. I don’t. So I went and made us an avatar that we might be a little more excited to play:

Awesomesauce

I named her “Awesomesauce”. No, really. That’s what I named her. She shoots fire and lightning bolts from her hands. In fact, here’s a shot of her lighting everyone on fire! Sadly, that includes the guy who is helping her escape. I was still working on my aim:

Awesomesauce Lights Everyone on Fire
Is it warm in here?

And in case you’re wondering, my level 20 warrior is named Pumpkin. She kills dragons. Bad ass.

In Skyrim there are lots of races and you can choose to play either a male or female character. What’s funny about the character creation is that there are a plethora of customizable options — one could spend hours creating a custom avatar, but in the end you’re going to stick a big hat on their head and you’ll mostly be looking at them from behind. So don’t waste too much time on it.

The game starts out in this long, exhausting sequence where you discover you’ve been captured and are being sent to the chopping block for execution. As you get down on your knees and the axe is lifted, a dragon shows up.

Dragon!
Hi! I was just wondering if I could borrow a cup of sugar?

The dragon starts breathing fire all over the town and, naturally, no one is concerned with you anymore. You get up and run for it. This is where your story begins.

If you haven’t played a lot of video games and you’re worried about your skill level, let me assure you: modern role-playing games have implemented systems so that you always know what to do. If you have a quest, an indicator will float above someone’s head so you know to talk to them. If you are on a journey, a map indicator will tell you where to go. In that regard, Skyrim is no different. So if you’re an experienced gamer or a novice, Skyrim will help you along.

In the screenshot below, you’re still a prisoner and need to escape the town and the dragon. Notice the indicators above both doors (yellow circles are mine). Here, you have a choice to make: escape with the soldier or with the resistance.

Choice: Enter the Keep

Two options! Compared to games of old, this seems like a lot! Back in the day, games only gave you one choice! (And get off my virtual lawn, whippersnappers!) But to be honest, this is as restrictive as Skyrim gets. Once you leave the town, you are given the opportunity to continue the game’s main quest line…

…or you can forge your own path.

No, really. That’s not just a tagline. The world is immense and open. There are dungeons, towns, quests, stories, books, trainers, guilds, giants, monuments, treasure chests, etc. in every direction. In fact, you should forget all about the main story and do whatever the hell you want. Just pick a direction and start running. You’ll bump into fifty other things to do. Skyrim dungeons are so different from one another that you’ll never get bored. There are times when I feel as if I’ve entered the ruins of Atlantis, or I’m Indiana Jones in search of lost treasure. As you go, you’ll increase your skills and level up. You could decide to be a warrior mage or a thief who wears heavy armor so you can take a beating in combat. The talent trees allow you to customize your character any way you want.

It’s called an open world, and they mean it. You could become an assassin AND a notorious thief AND a hero AND a skilled tradeskill master AND a bard…

Vampirism

…and apparently a vampire. And I’m not talking the kind that sparkles. I should probably get Awesomesauce to a shrine and get this fixed, but I’m curious to know what will happen next — which is the most exciting aspect of Skyrim.

The bar for open world RPG’s has been raised. Girls, if you’re looking for a game that you can sink your teeth into from time to time, pick up Skyrim and create your own tale.

Your boyfriend can go get his own damn copy.

7 thoughts on “Games You Should Be Playing: Skyrim

  1. You may not believe it, but I’ve totally been the one girl at the LAN party.

    And me and my brothers started out with a Texas Instruments, playing games like “Hunt the Wumpus”.

    And if I get into a game, I’ve been known to stay up until ::mumbles an ungodly hour:: playing it.

    I don’t know if I can hold out too much longer before this one becomes mine…

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  2. Jen, this is GREAT! Erin picked up Skyrim at Redbox this weekend and wanted to play non-stop (including ’til 5am Friday night/Saturday morning).

    I just can’t get into these games….boring me only plays SkipBo on my phone. LOL

    Although, I do want Super Mario Bros for our Wii….or Tekken for our Xbox. 🙂 See how old I am? heehee

    Awesomesauce is a fantastic name.

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  3. I played all kinds of video games as a kid. Mario, Donkey Kong, Jurassic Park. I, uh, even participated in a video game test session and went home with a free copy–diabetes educators created a video game to teach kids how to manage their diabetes. You got to play an elephant running through obstacles, shooting pellets out his trunk to kill the evil weasels…and periodically stopping to check your blood sugar and make sure you don’t grab too many items of food floating in the air like coins.

    ANYWAY. This game sounds like so much fun. I’m worried I’d get lost in it, though, and forget to live my life!

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  4. So, I loved Morrowind and Oblivion…but I just can’t get into Skyrim 😦 I think, once I started playing Fallout 3 & NV, a lot of the “Well met!” stuff lost its appeal for me.

    Now, let me tell you about a personal problem I’m having…after playing the shiitake out of some Fallouts and Bioshockses, I have nothing to look forward to until Bioshock Infinite in December. So tell me Video Game Diva–what should I play next? Also, that should totally be a weekly feature 😉 I heard that RAGE sucked and that I wouldn’t like Borderlands…I’M FREAKING OUT HERE!

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    1. That’s tough. I liked Borderlands a lot, but I guess it’s more of an FPS than Fallout is.

      Right now, I’m in the middle of a gaming crisis, too. All of the highly-anticipated games of 2012 are things I’m still waiting for — Guild Wars 2, Borderlands 2, Torchlight 2, Diablo3… I wish I had suggestions, but unfortunately I don’t. Do you like any other genres that might help? Casual adventure games, strategy, MMO, RPG…?

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