The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Editorials

While we wait on further news on the release of patch 1.4 which should apparently fix the framerate drops and the Creation Toolkit you may want to read these two editorials on the title we have rounded up from you.

BitMob analyzes the game's races and in-universe racism:
The Redguard race is particularly problematic. As Bitmob community writer Matthew Anfuso explains in his comment below, games like Oblivion and Morrowind tied magic skills directly to intelligence and willpower, traits the Redguards were extremely deficient in.

"I didn't think anything of it then but now it just seems rather racist," Anfuso says. "By assigning a numerical value to a statistic called "intellegence," it is implied that a higher value equals a smarter person. Because Redguards have their intellegence severely limited as an inate racial characteristic, they cannot perform magic very well, so they are too stupid to do magic."

Thankfully, Skyrim has made steps to avoid this by doing away with these stats so that even a Redguard can become proficient in magic.

But I understand why developers do this: acutely defined races and stereotypes are practical. If character traits were random and race merely cosmetic, things could get confusing. In an interactive game world of one-dimensional characters, the developer needs to unpack an absurd amount of information within a limited window.

So, racism becomes a literary tool, a shortcut to characterization when you don't have time for nuance.

While PopMatters likens playing the title to a day of office work:
Seen from this perspective, Skyrim'˜s choice of presentation of the (quest journal) common to games is quite repellant to me. A nicely and neatly organized list of quests with subheadings that indicate the relative importance of the tasks beneath them is exactly the kind of list that I have to write for myself in real-life in order to figure out just how I am to accomplish what I am to accomplish today. Oh, and talking to or hearing from someone just adds another and another line to this mounting list.

In this sense, sitting down to a game of Skyrim feels like the unending job of clearing my inbox, but clearing it, of course, (for the greater good.)

All of this business is funny to me, though, given that I tend to really enjoy open world games (I might even call it my genre of choice in gaming). However, there is something about the distance that a map with some icons that indicate some places that I have to visit (but doesn't contain a description of what I need to do there these are things that I will discover when I get there) that somehow feels less sterile, less occupational than a well organized list does.

It might also be the nature of the tasks themselves, though, too. Deliver these ingredients to the alchemy shop, have a word with a man who is giving another woman in the office (did I just say office? I meant, in the village of Riften.) a hard time see if you can work it out, go see if you can find this thingamawhatsit for someone, etc., etc. Sure, these are fetch quests, busy work. This is medieval filing and sorting. It is so very, very white-collar.