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game analyses

Interactivity in Skyrim

Sometimes the real world is a little lacking with interactivity between human and the world surrounding the individual.  There are so many times when we enter a building, only to really be allowed to walk in one direction to a certain spot.  However, this rule of interactivity, or rather no interactivity, does not apply to the video game world.  This is especially true with role playing games like Skyrim.  Skyrim gives the player complete access to the world, and this opens a lot of doors to the person holding the controller.

It seems as though Skyrim’s world map was created for purely for the use of the ability of the player to interact with his or her surroundings.  When traveling across the map, say from Riften to Solitude, one is going to pass through many things.  These include, but are by no way limited to, other major towns such as Whiterun, crazy networks of tunnels and caves like Labrinthian, and many other little details in between.  The player is meant to stop, maybe not at every single landmark found, but at least a couple times on the way to the destination.  There one can find monsters, people, and treasure left behind.  This is something that clearly is not going to happen in the real world.  If one was to travel on foot from Amherst, New York to the city of Buffalo, not nearly as much excitement would happen.  Sure, the person would pass through Kenmore, but there would be no treasure and it is likely that not a single person will stop to talk on the way.  The land of Skyrim was made to be a place that can be explored and the player will be rewarded for taking the time to pay attention to every single place found.

On top of the specific locations of the map, the entire ground and sky can be interacted with.  There are constant ingredients that can be picked up along the way in the form of herbs, plants, and fungi.  Along with that, butterflies can be caught, birds can be shot out of the sky, and deer can be easily hunted down for other potion ingredients along the way.  This is simply not possible in reality.  Even if one was able to use everything found to cook with or have use of, there still would not be much.  I cannot say that I have ever randomly came across even one fruit, vegetable, or any sort of plant that bare some sort of object on it that can be picked, simply by casually walking around.  There is simply not nearly as much detail that I could interact with in my own personal life.  Even if I was to walk in a forest, I would find mostly grass, trees, or bushes that do not even have any flowers or anything worth picking.  This does not even include the fact that I simply would not be able to fit thousands of herbs in my pockets without them filling like one can easily do in Skyrim.  The land that the game takes place on is meant to be paid attention to.  It is meant to be looked at, analyzed, and interacted with, unlike each individual thing found taking a stroll on planet Earth.

Even when going into a town, there is still more to interact with in the game world.  This is because there are much less social rules going on in the land of Skyrim.  When walking the streets of the real world, it is simply not socially acceptable to stop and talk to every stranger one sees, and if anyone was to try this, they would be seen as bothersome and would anger people very quickly.  In Skyrim, the player can stop and talk to every single person and almost every single one will stop what they are doing to have a conversation.  Some may have pointless small talk, others will tell gossip about neighbors, while others will give tasks to do that the player knows will be followed by some reward that can be very valuable depending on the difficulty of completion.  The game promotes attention to detail of people through a system of rewards.  Some of the most interesting and exciting items can be found by completing quests given by random NPCs on the street, so the player is encouraged to speak to everyone.  This type of behavior is considered crazy by real world standards.

Once out of the street and into any form of building structure, the same rule of interactivity still applies.  Every item sitting on the floor, hanging from the wall, sitting on a table, or inside a chest or cabinet can be interacted with in some way even if only in the matter of taking it and putting it into your own personal inventory.  This makes it worthwhile to take a look inside the houses around you.  You never know who may have some iron ore that you can use to smelt into a sword or possibly some potions to take that will heal you in battle.  The player can just walk in and the world is still theirs to interact with.  Many of the NPCs that own the house will not even object to you walking in their house as long as you did not pick the lock to get there.  This is something that obviously cannot be done in reality.  A person cannot just walk into a random house and expect nothing bad to happen.  We walk by or drive by a new neighborhood and all the houses lined up on the side of the road are not there for us to interact with and explore.  To the stranger, they are only there for scenery, and that is all they will ever be.

It seems to be that one of the points of Skyrim is to allow the player to roam free in an entirely different world.  There are very few places that are completely off limits and the player is allowed to interact with as little or as much of the world as he wants to.  They key, however, is that the player has the option.  Our own real world is full of limits.  We can only interact with what belongs to us or what others allow us to.  Everything else is for the eyes only.  Skyrim lets us explore the curiosity in us that reality does not.  This seems to be a major point of the game.  The player is allowed to learn and grow in a world that is limitless, and because of this, knowledge of that world also becomes limitless.

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