There’s stiltons of replay value.

Alright, let’s keep this quick. I’ve got a game of Skyrim to get to and I’ve spent enough time dawdling already. I started this game about four years ago. If you’re one of the few people who plays fantasy RPGs and hasn’t played this game, I’ll keep the synopsis brief:

It’s huge.

Seriously, the possibilities for this game are near endless. There are countless videos of people playing the game just to do weird shit. It’s entirely possible to become a huge cheese baron. I’ve seen clips of people who’ve filled houses with nothing but rolls of cheese. I’ve seen people stack this cheese atop a mountain and perform their own Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake. The game isn’t merely about cheese. In fact, the game isn’t about cheese at all, some people just happen to have their priorities in place. You can get married, buy houses, create potions, forge armour and all sort of other handy professions. Did I just call marriage a profession?

Anyway, I didn’t get very far in this game. I was on maybe the second quest where I had to ascend a huge mountain and meet these Greybeard fellows. I got a little distracted and wandered away from the main quest. It’s an easy thing to do, one minute you’re following your destiny and the next minute your destiny gets sidelined by the whimsical fun of hunting game with a bow and arrow. Then you find yourself in a barren wintry landscape being hunted by the undead. Then you stumble upon The College of Winterhold, an erstwhile Hogwarts. You ascend the ranks, outwitting, outlasting and outcasting until you are given the title of archmage. Then you help out the Companions of Jorrvaskr and get turned into a werewolf. Then you roam the countryside for a while, enticing giants to destroy bandit outposts so you can loot all the bandit corpses and steal all their stolen goods. Then you find the Dark Brotherhood and embark upon assassination after assassination. Suddenly the Thieves Guild sounds like a fun group to get involved with, so you become somewhat of a bandit yourself.

Then your girlfriend comes over and you pause the game. She’s tense and the conversation is terse. Strands begin to unravel as you realise that the relationship you’ve been building together for the past two and a half years has an unavoidable conclusion. At the end of the day, you’re the one thing standing in the way of the relationship succeeding. Neither of you says anything barbed or hurtful and in a way that cuts even deeper. You knew it would happen, but the fantasy felt comfortable while it lasted. She leaves and you stand there, stunned. Your heart feels like it’s mired in quicksand and your mind races frantically to think of a solution. Words and phrases echo through your brain, things you could have said. Every line rings of futility. Soon enough you’re unable to think over the physical embodiment of heartbreak. Your throat begins to constrict, your eyes well up and soon enough your cheeks hurt from crying. You sit down on the only chair you own, seated in front of the computer. Your game is still paused, but somehow immolating a bandit barge is lacking in immediate appeal. You save, then close the game. It always feels too soon. The game feels intimately tied to the experience.

Over the next few months, those strands begin to come together again. You realise the only impediment keeping you in New Zealand has disappeared. You reapply for your Canadian citizenship, then buy a one way ticket. The next three years pass by in a blur. You close off your attachments to home one by one. You put yourself out more, test your identity and grow. You leave home, meet innumerable people and experience life with a fervour you haven’t felt for years. You forge a new life and build community around yourself. You find intimate connections of both a friendly and sexual nature. Love finds you and your perspective widens. You start to realise what happiness feels like.

Then one night you’re looking for something to play. You search through your folder and find Skyrim. You wonder what happened to that thieving werewolf assassin mage. You open the game and he’s ready and waiting for you. It dawns on you that finally, you’re ready for this again.

Or you can skip all that and just become a cheese monger. It’s pretty open ended.

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