The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Editorials

We have a couple of new Skyrim editorials to send your way this afternoon, starting with this piece on Kotaku that seeks to explain why Bethesda's latest is "the pinnacle of short attention span gaming":
I played through the story missions up to Whiterun, I defeated the first named dragon outside the city, I absorbed my first dragon soul and was revealed as a Dragonborn. "Go see the Greybeards at the Throat of the World," they told me. And I tried, really I did! I went all the way to Ivarstead, I talked to some folks about the climb to High Hrothgar, and I got on my way up the mountain. Then I ran into an Ice Troll, who kicked my ass so hard that I turned right around and walked back down the mountain.

That was when I started walking.

I've played plenty of hours since then, but most of them haven't even been spent doing sidequests, they've been spent doing. well, not much of anything at all. I've joined the Thieves Guild, I've tracked down the Dark Brotherhood. I'm also a member of the Companions. I have some quests from each of those factions, though I don't feel particularly compelled to "do" them.

These days, I mostly just wander around. And it's great! This isn't a complaint. But I don't believe I've ever played a game where I would forsake the story that's been written for me, or even the sidequests that can help me level my character, in favor of aimlessly wandering around.

And then we move to Eric's latest piece on Gamasutra that examines the game's morality system and player choices:
The political landscape of Skyrim is defined largely by two factions, the Imperials (or more particularly, their military branch) and the Stormcloaks, a rebel army attempting to regain Skyrim's autonomy from the Empire due to perceived wrongdoings. On the surface, it's easy to see what Bethesda was going for here. While the Imperials are generally well-meaning and ensure equality for all under their laws, their philosophy also sees the individual concerns of smaller communities fall by the wayside in the name of the Empire, while the Stormcloaks, though fighting for a justifiable cause, do so often with cold-blooded murder, led by a man who seems more intent on proving his own superiority over others than truly saving his homeland.

In the mix of this are the Thalmor, a group of High Elves who control the Empire following the Empire's defeat in a prior war. This on its own presents a far more interesting situation than just the two groups, because the Empire is largely being manipulated by the Thalmor, and many of the things the Stormcloaks fight the Empire over, such as the now-illegal worship of the god Talos, are in turn dictated by the Thalmor instead of the Empire, not out of malevolence, but because the Empire will be wiped out if they don't adhere to the terms of their treaties. In many ways, the Empire is set up to take the brunt of aggression from the Nords of Skyrim, and they can do little about it without risking their own annihilation. It's a definite "between a rock and a hard place" scenario.