Sunday, July 3, 2011

Why I Can No Longer Play Morrowind

After a good year of Morrowind, a relapse into Oblivion, the discovery and descent into Mount and Blade, and Dragon Age, I've come to terms with my condition. I am too greedy to play such free-flowing RPGs. Here is a brief illustrated narrative of my path to ruin.

First, the character questions.

Talk about an existential crisis. Do I want to virtually assume a strange and unfamiliar gender? Stick to my roots?

Then you get to designing the character. This is somewhat time-consuming for me…

Once I've spent a good many hours matching the facial proportions of Queen Latifah or Patrick Stewart, I still have many important decisions to make. Rogue or Paladin? Skills? Weapon points? Do I want to be ironic—a small framed woman with a greatsword? A wood elf Arnold Schwarzenegger? This typically takes another hour, and often results in me going back to alter the face to accommodate the class.

Finally I’ve been released into the game world. I’ve selected a rogue, or a mage with all my skills in secrecy and lockpicking. I bypass the first friendly guard who tries to approach me with a plot relevant quest, break into the first hut I see, and loot their meager life possessions. Then I trade the plates and sack of potatoes for a few coins and keep at it until I can buy myself a sexy suit of armor or weapon, both of which will make it easier for me to loot.

I spend hours prowling from house to house searching for chests of jewelry left untended. Slowly but surely I build up my small stash of coin using varying levels of thievery from Robin-hood style to shanking them in the street for a brass bracelet.

After days of stealing from the NPCs, I find I have no more strength to hold my gains. I put more points in strength the next time I level up, but I can’t keep up with the burden of my riches. So I kill someone that lives in a likely looking house and start dumping my ill-gotten gains there.

This pleases me to no end for roughly 80 hours. Then I start to feel guilty every time I pass the friendly guard, the reminder that though I’m at the top level and have raided every tomb and slayed many a creature, I still haven’t taken care of the rats back from the beginning of the game.

The guilt starts to eat at me. “Well, maybe I should just talk to him,” I think. But I procrastinate. There’s a new area to explore! I can go all the way north by this ship! Finally I’m squirming with guilt and I approach him for the quest, to find out I’d killed the rats and the owner of the building and stolen her pitiful payment in the same swoop as I stole her dress.

Only then I start asking myself important questions. Like what exactly I achieved by owning all magical glass armor and the highest level enchanted battle ax. I hadn’t spoken to my grandparents in days, written a paper, or made my bed. I didn’t follow the plot of the game, so I wasn’t even any nearer to accomplishing an imaginary objective.

What I learned from this experience? 

Not much.