The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 20, 2012

Joe Hadsall: Real world could learn a lot from ‘Skyrim’

By Joe Hadsall
Globe Features Editor

JOPLIN, Mo. — Before you groan about another column on “Skyrim,” know this: The latest episode of “NCIS” featured a joke from the video game. That means “Skyrim” is now mainstream and deserving of repeated columns and geeking-out.

If you’ve been following my blog at www.joehadsall.com, you know that I’m slightly obsessed with “Skyrim.” I haven’t played any other game since getting that and “Uncharted 3” as birthday presents from The Lovely Paula Hadsall. I haven’t even opened the case to “Uncharted 3.”

That’s how epic “Skyrim” is: There is so much to do and explore that it doesn’t get old.

In a nutshell: “Skyrim” is set in a fictional, Scandanavian-style medieval world. The player takes on the of role of the Dragonborn (“Dovahkiin” in the game’s dragon language), a unique character with the ability to absorb the souls of the dragons that terrorize the land’s towns, farms and castles.

I’m not the only one at the Globe addicted to the game: Reporter Kevin McClintock and graphic artist Jay Judah are fellow brother Nords. Almost daily we will catch up with what we have found, killed, accomplished or otherwise conquered.

Another Globe graphic artist, Brian Huntley, says he plans to get the PC version of the game. The rest of us are eager to hear about his experiences (especially the mods that we can’t get because we play on PS3 and Xbox).

Judah and I have been in an unofficial race. I have a higher level, as of this writing, but his skills in smithing are much higher. That means he has a character that can survive anything except magic.

While I’ve accomplished more in the game, and have a maxed-out one-handed attack, Judah has much cooler armor than me and can survive a giant-clubbing (in one of the game’s better death scenes, a single swing from a giant will knock the character hundreds of feet up in the air).

My 12-year-old stepson has even ripped himself away from “Black Ops” to trounce a few frost trolls. He’s much further in the main story, but is appalled by the large number of quests I have running in my game.

The world of “Skyrim” is so vast that it has the entertainment value of three separate games. Usually, I can be done with a game’s main storyline in 20 to 30 hours, if I’m having a hard time.

I have logged more than 100 hours of time playing “Skyrim,” and the game is still fresh. The promise of downloadable content from Bethesda is even more exciting, and means that I’ll likely play this game until my next birthday.

The real world could learn a lot from “Skyrim,” too. There are many ways that “Skyrim” is better than real life, and the real world could learn a few things from the Dragonborn:

True gender equality. There are no gender-specific roles in “Skyrim.” There are beautifully-rendered caves, homes and castles, but none of them have glass ceilings.

Women run shops, fight dragons, lead troops into battle, guide religious orders, are crowned as kings (not queens) and beat the heck out of the toughest Dovahkiin. The player can also choose to be male or female without sacrificing any skills or abilities.

Whether you’re male or female, you’ll get paid the same for completing jobs, you’ll build the same amount of sword-swinging muscle and the same amount of limber dexterity (or lack thereof). And the dragon souls you devour will taste just as sweet whether you check Reddit or Pinterest.

By the game’s end, you’ll be responsible for resolving a civil war and saving Skyrim by slaying the game’s final boss, a large dragon named Aldouin.

True marriage equality and devotion. In “Skyrim,” you can marry someone of the same gender and no one gives a crap.

Just like real life SHOULD be.

Further, whether you marry a man or a woman, your spouse will cook you a meal a day, share profits from the market and fight dragons with you. They’ll either wait at home for you, or stay by your side throughout the roughest wilds of the world.

That’s devotion. (I know TLP wouldn’t hesitate for a second if I got attacked by a dragon -- she’d be out there throwing lightning bolts and haulin’ ax. She’d do that for me, and I’ll gladly handle all the frostbite spiders for her.)

Learning is so easy. “Skyrim” is a learn-as-you-go game. There are 18 different skills you can build in the game, and each one can be built in a lot of different ways. Reading books, paying others, earning bonuses -- even getting smacked around and injured builds skills. You can even dive into higher education ...

Going to college is easy. Tuition is simple: Just run dangerous, life-threatening errands for the college masters. No tuition fee increases from the High King, oh no! Bad news: You can only study being a bard or mage.

The world waits on you. True situation from the game: Delphine tells you to meet Malborn in a tavern. Malborn will sit in that tavern and wait on you forever.

You can explore caves, gather ingredients for potions, smith a few jeweled necklaces or even go on a “The Hangover”-inspired bender with a god-like deity. You can even go in, look at Malborn, talk to him, yet not start the main mission, and he’ll keep waiting on you.

Wars wait for your arrival. Dragons sit around and twiddle their thumbs waiting for you to show up. Pirates, bandits and other marauders crouch for days hoping to ambush you. If only the real world could be so accommodating.

Free health care. Recovering from sickness and injury is as simple as drinking the right potion or casting the right spell. True, those without gold stay sick, but if you have the right resources, you can get all the care you need.

Huh. Maybe that’s more like the real world than I thought.

Cargo-carrying without pockets. There are plenty of quirks that don’t translate into real life -- you can basically freeze a fight to eat an apple pie, five salmon steaks, raw rabbit and a crapload of apples, for instance. One of the most humorous is your equipment: You can carry 300 pounds of stuff while almost stark nekkers.

Seriously. Try it yourself: Grab some armor, then deselect it. You’ll keep the stuff, but you won’t wear it. Your character will be wearing nothing but a loincloth. Hooray for immature fun!