Living in Skyrim

  • Edwin McRae

This is a train of thought it looks like I'll be riding for some time. It could be as long as the Trans-Siberian Railway...I don't know...but I'm still determined to see where the journey ends.

Where does my train ticket say I'm headed?

A place with the strange name of "What is gaming doing to us?"

Yesterday I met a man about my age, perhaps a little younger, who had clocked 700 hours on Skyrim. I consider myself a gamer yet I've personally never spent that amount of time playing any single game. I think my longest time investment into one game would be up to 50 hours on Civilisation 1 or Pirates! The closest I've got to those numbers since would be 20-30 hours on Bioshock Infinite.

And that number, 700, unsettled me. I wondered what else could be achieved in 700 hours. Let's see...I can write an average of 500 words per hour if I'm working on a novel, be it interactive or otherwise. 700*500 = 350,000 words. That's three standard novels, or three Choice of Games interactive novels, or one Japanese-sized Visual Novel.

This guy is also a relative 'hobbyist' when it comes to Skyrim. A quick investigation of YouTube and the Steam community revealed people clocking in anywhere between 2000 and 3000 hours.

I'll put that in a writing context again, because that's the one I know best. 3000*500 = 1,500,000 words. To put that in perspective, here's the word count of George R R Martin's Game of Thrones series.

A Song of Ice And Fire - George R. R. Martin
A Game of Thrones: 298k
A Clash of kings: 326k
A Storm of Swords: 424k
A Feast for Crows: 300k
A Dance with Dragons: 422k
Total: 1M 770k
≈ 1,770,000.

3000 hours would leave me only 270,000 words short of the entire Game of Thrones series! This is the level of 'devotion' that gamers are showing to Skyrim.

Why are gamers doing this? There are no answers at this particular station on the train trip. Although the concept of 'godhood' is mentioned quite a bit in the discussions I've looked over.

Right now, I'm just asking questions. I'm hoping there are a few answers waiting for me at the stations further up the line.


About Edwin McRae

Edwin is a narrative consultant and mentor for the games industry.

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