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A brief update.

I guess I need to update this festering blog. Festering, but also maturing as well, like an expensive wine or an aged single malt. I can read back on posts I have written over the past five or so years and see how things have developed, from the personal posts about being rejected and suffering homelessness, feeling a sense of being outcast and scapegoated, to my occasional game and book reviews along with some deep, soul-searching poetry too. My best writing is contained here on wordpress – some really personal posts, especially the one about loosing my Mother as well as briefly mentioning my adoption and the effect that had on me (leave alone tracing and finding my natural parents). More I am beginning to realise needs to be written regarding these issues, a much more soul searching post on what it took to find my natural Mother – the complete confusion and emotional highs and lows it involved. It really hit me like an emotional sledgehammer back during the late 1990’s. I had a breakdown from it which I have not mentioned here. But maybe I should make this public, not just to write and understand what happened to me (need to exorcise those demons), but also will hopefully will blame some of the people who made what should have been a beautiful experience into a living hell for me that I believe caused a permanent scar that effected me mentally and socially – and still stays with me nearly fifteen years later. It feels like something is still haunting me from back all that time ago.

This is not meant to be a proper post about anything in particular, its just that I woke up in the early hours of last night and opened my curtains to watch the night sky on my bed with my cat asleep next to me – saw a very bright shooting star and I made a wish – I wished upon a star and then said a prayer (which I do not do that often). Its now just gone 7am and I writing this directly online using wordpress instead of Open Office, which I usually use so I can edit better. But I felt this morning I needed to say something after a restless nights sleep. So, objective for this blog and my writing is to try and update more often before the end of the year – I guess my new resolutions do not work that well (if you read my last post), but maybe just occasionally posting something here might also make me try and do something more worthwhile with what is left of my life (health issues at only 43 – maybe I  will tell more later regarding that). So please, if you follow this blog, dont despair! More is most certainly yet to come – and I will attempt to try and make it interesting as well. Thank you.

 

 

i) Emotional scars ii) End of the year iii) Some final thoughts.

Some famous author once said that you have to have a degree of talent to become a writer, but much more important is the ability to remember every scar inflicted upon you in this life. Each one of us has a small amount of baggage that we lumber around in our day to day lives; some of us have a huge weight to bear, some deeply rooted scars that, whilst being scars and hence have healed, still retain the marks of their being inflicted on your soul in the first instance. From whence these scars came from, for they being scars of some emotional pain or some great loss or hurt, is the most defining aspect of our existence. And we can, as this famous author once said, if we have a degree of literacy, put these unsettling experiences into words. This I believe can make your stories, poems – your creative writing – stand out from the crowd due to the power and intensity of your personal life experience and what made that wound so deep to leave behind a scar in the first instance. There is also a saying that each of us has a book inside, our lives being unique and individual that we all leave a blazing trail of a comet behind us in our relatively short time on this planet. Our time on this Earth I believe is meant to try and shape our future, to try and leave behind a better world for our children to live in whilst we learn from our own personal scars what hurt us and not to try and make our offspring suffer the same fate. Progress and healing seem good enough words to use to try and understand our existences here, what our material plane of being means in the grand scheme of things. Some of the most powerful authors whose works reside in our library’s and bookshops – some of the most intense novels – are usually the ones whose authors lives were marred with a tragedy or whatnot; some upset of an event they witnessed that made their creative writing convey a sense of depth, understanding and contain a humane outlook. I deign to mention any such authors here however, there are so many that I feel I would be doing a disservice to the ones I missed. Perhaps another post for another time to discuss the power of emotional distress and the authors who managed to put their experiences into form. So, each one of us has some unique aspect about our lives or families, that we all have the capability to actually try and creatively craft words to describe this uniqueness, this individuality – the very thing that may have caused a scar to form.

Its December, hence the final month of another year. 2014 inevitably approaches and again I am pondering just what I have done this year, like the one prior, and nothing really comes to mind. My days sometimes become so hazy that each one carries no unique or different life experiences, they all seem the same like a groundhog day that has lasted for me for nearly three long (but relatively speaking, short) years. I think also this is one reason why I stopped regularly blogging here on WordPress; I felt I wrote what I needed to make clear about my life and there seemed not a lot else to say from what I had written down here. So it seemed that if I did carry on blogging, nothing new would be said, the song would remain the same so to speak, and for this reason I stopped because there was no new experiences to write about, or any part about my past that felt I needed to explain and make clear, originally stemming more from a sense of defence that someone somewhere had slighted my character or did something terribly wrong behind my back. I have a high level of intuition and also, especially when I was younger, an innate sixth sense (and sometimes that is never such a good gift to have) which is why I picked up on things. Its hard to explain. So, a new year rears its head in the next few weeks and I did actually give up making resolutions years ago, I took a fatalist outlook and just accepted that I wouldn’t make anything worthwhile from my life; there appeared to be too many obstacles out there to trip me up, and hence, carrying this fatalist self destructive attitude within me allowed me not to try and put my life into some modicum degree of order and discipline. Perhaps I will try this coming year to try and rectify this.

I have been deeply thinking a lot about the concept of time. Maybe this is due to being in my middle-age; also it could be because I have a lot of spare, wasted time on my hands; possibly because I have always been fascinated with History and Archaeology – digging up the past and discovering how we lived centuries and millennia ago held a deep fascination within me, something I always had from an early age. Its obvious I believe that we are a progressive people, that the whole purpose, as I mentioned above, of life appears to be some form of evolution or maybe intelligent design. We have an actual purpose in our world and that purpose, to me at least, seems to be to develop ourselves and evolve, to progress. I believe that our ultimate aim, like the Age of Discovery inaugurated in 1492 by Columbus, is to explore the universe, to reach for the stars so to speak. It must be. It seems the only logical conclusion to our existence on the Earth, on our home planet. But whilst this may seem a lofty ambition or goal, we must also not ignore the suffering that this world contains, the poverty and starvation, the conflicts that displace people, as well as our unbalanced eco-system. This surely must be the main priority that we face, more important surely than reaching for the stars? I need to think and read much more about this. Maybe for the new year?

Crusader Kings II.

Paradox Interactive games have evolved a long way since their first game, Europa Universalis (EU) released thirteen years ago. Essentially, this Swedish game company deal in grand, real-time strategy, and when I mean grand, I mean probably in an epic sense of world conquering proportions.I became a great fan of these games since Europa Universalis 2; at face value they are all strategy map games, but underneath the hood, there is some very interesting complexity occurring as the game runs in a real-time environment. Forget turn based moves, this game runs with the clock (unless you pause), with the games AI making decisions for all other different countries that are on the map. Musically, with EU2 at least, it was stunning, containing nearly two hours of period music of the later middle-ages, right up to the late 18th Century. Since EU2, Paradox produced many other games, dealing with different periods of history such as Victoria (19th Century), Hearts of Iron (WW2), Rome (self-explanatory) and Crusader Kings (Middle-ages), and for a history geek such as myself, these games and this company became the holy-chalice and saviours of grand-strategy gaming.

Paradox’s latest release (well, its over a year old and this review is well out of date) is Crusader Kings 2 (CK2). There is an evolution in gaming that is quite interesting to observe with the development of better hardware and technology, especially over the past fifteen or so years. Instead of the old 2D graphics that the early titles used, Paradox went with a proper 3D map which makes CK2 a visually pleasurable experience. The most defining and unique feature however is the character driven plot of the Crusader Kings games. Instead of just running and conquering different countries and dealing with their economies, CK allowed you to play as a King/Queen/Duke/Duchess/Count/Countess and develop relationships with other characters included in the games, such as marrying (either into your own relations or marrying another countries leaders daughter or son, creating a rather large family tree that could last the game time – 1066 till 1453 – the beginning and end of the Middle-ages). For instance, marrying your daughter into the family of, say, the King of the Franks would then create an alliance with that country and also, if played cleverly, could possibly gain a foothold and claims to that country later on. You need reasons to declare war with a valid Casus Belli, you just cant wage war on anyone, you need reasons, and claims to their land or throne are the only ways to gain power. Also, it could mean the opposite and then the King of the Franks, say in a different generational time span, could then lay claim to your country too. And the game allows you to try and use subterfuge and plotting and counter plotting (I think CK2s most defining and interesting, but rather bloody, feature) to try and influence who you want on the throne, usually by paying assassins or creating a plot amongst your vassals and courtiers to depose of someone just to get their power. And so on. The game has a large amount of characters, all with different character traits, skills (which are important to whom you want as your advisor’s, for instance a Spymaster to be effective would need a high Intrigue rating to uncover plots, steal technology etc), to make a very interesting and dare I say alternative gaming experience.

UntitledKing Harold and family

Since its release in February 2012, CK2 has grown from strength to strength with added DLC which has expanded, both the games time span (with the latest expansion the game date starts at 867 AD allowing you to play as the Vikings with a foothold in Jorvik, or any other Pagan country in Europe; even the Zoroastrians are playable) or now to have the ability to play either a Republic as a Doge or the Hansa; an Islamic add on allowing you to play as a Muslim ruler along with changed rules (multiple spouses, decadence rules and so on); or even try and heal the schism in the Western and Eastern Church playing as the Byzantines. There is a whole load of different DLC for this title, and it really has changed the game since its release quite drastically and very impressively. What I find the most defining feature of CK2 is the intrigue and plotting going on in the background with its character driven database. You can actually start to become attached to your ruler and their family inheritance and so on and inflict serious punishment on others who assassinate or plot against one of your members by sending to prison and stripping them of their lands and titles. Most new titles today will include DLC and this I believe adds to a games longevity and replayability. This is especially true in the case of Crusader Kings 2; well over a year after release and I am still putting in the hours with the greatly enhanced and expanded game. That, with the relative low price of the expansions, makes this game very good value for money.

One last word to say, the most challenging aspect of this game is the succession crises that invariably occurs when your current ruler dies. CK2 incorporates all hereditary laws, and one time per ruler you can change this; gavelkind, primogeniture, elective monarchies et al are here, as well as agantic and cognatic, allowing female characters to inherit if no sons are eligible. If you play the Basques, then that is default anyway, with female inheritance only, whereas with all the other nations, male preference is standard (as it was historically). Back to the succession crises; if you have a large ‘empire’, then usually civil war breaks out, maybe from a disinherited son who starts a faction, or vassals with different agendas or of a low opinion of you. Its part of the game, and when your ruler starts to get old, then you start to worry about the independence split or the call for a different heir to the throne. Another defining aspect of this title. Out of ten? I would give it a nine. It is immeasurably addictive with a fantastic feel for the period it is set in, great music, graphics and concept. If you a history fanatic as well as a gamer, then this really should be up your street or avenue.

ck2 2013-06-27 11-23-15-77Religious diversification

A new post for the beginning of summer, having unfortunately missed spring (you can see how this blog has developed if you look back at the dates I posted updates; sometimes it was several times a month, slowly progressing into monthly posts and finally big chunks of not updating it at all. I guess it can be seen as a mirror of my continued struggling existence, stemming from the depression and other ailments I experience). Even now at the moment of writing this, I am beginning to question my motives whether it is wise or correct to continue making the occasional update to my blog. Its not so much an online journal or diary, rather I think it could be more like an expanded status update about my life and what I felt I needed to write, to make clear. I was toying with the idea of turning the blog into a daily journal, describing my emotions and daily activities, but when I decided to give that idea some thought, I quickly realised that I have no social life or any interesting daily activities, so I quickly threw that idea into the recycle bin, hoping that a better idea can be formed from the rubbish. I hope so.

I started reading again. Of an evening, I started to stare at my books piled high against my wall in an unruly fashion; the seven different towers of literature seemed to be imploring me to love them again, to take notice of their unloved state over the past twelve months, to find solace within the pages of history of a different epoch, or find a story about fictional people in fictional settings. So I tidied up my stacks, brushed the cobwebs off and showed my books some love, as well as add to the collection. I find the literature social networking site ‘Good Reads’ (now owned by Amazon) a good place to hang out and review the books I read as well as get recommendations for new books to buy. I have a few reviews over there as well.

The biggest emotional roller coaster ride and upset, apart from loosing my Mother as a teenager and being ditched by my wife, was finding my natural parents. I may have mentioned this to my readers on this blog, or even on twitter once or twice, but I was adopted when I was two years old. I managed to trace my natural Mother about sixteen years ago now, not an easy process and very time consuming too, but I eventually traced her. It was just incredibly emotionally upsetting, letting loose some very complex feelings and emotions. In many ways, what happened to me after I met her a year later was the equivalent of opening a pandoras box, a box that split me spiritually down the middle, a feeling of being torn asunder in an emotional storm that messed with my mind so much. The feelings of finding your natural mother are just too complex to coherently write about I believe; when I look back to the late 1990’s and what happened all those years ago, then it is with great regret that I ever wanted to find her, the Woman who gave birth to me forty two years ago. What happened subsequently was the equivalent of your life ending up in a hijacked and robbed train wreck, and that is a statement directed at everyone involved who messed with my emotional feelings. Do I suggest search for your natural parents if you are adopted? If you have a degree of stability in your life and if you have several months worth of professional counselling, that your relationship with your adopted parents will not suffer as a result, then by all means, satisfy your curiosity. But be warned of the ups and downs and the danger to your emotional feelings. If you are of a sensitive disposition, then I would truthfully not recommend it.

When I was studying Social History and Sociology in Swansea University, we studied a subject about ‘self fulfilling prophecies’. I fail to really remember what it was about (something to do with class and education and that poorer children just believed they wouldn’t succeed), but basically it dealt with the belief that a prediction will come true because you believe it will. For instance, the fear of failure is actually reinforced and will happen because the person who believes it makes it happen from the very fact of believing it in the first instance. This is one lecture and essay I wrote in Swansea that stuck in my mind all my life, because I believed my life would be a failure, I would never succeed in anything I attempted. My life became a travesty and a failure because I think outside people reinforced this belief, this attitude within me. Its hard to explain at times, maybe because I was incredibly sensitive all my life ( but rather less so since the homeless incident in 2008), but I thought it worth mentioning here.

Next week/month/whenever I will try and work on something here that I have been planning for a while, that is some sort of travel blog, or least a post about where I live, which, even though I do not do so much here, I still love the history behind where I live. We have a greatly preserved Norman-built Castle, an Abbey- its ruins lay in testament to the Reformation and great countryside. Thanks for reading!

*Edit – I just noticed that this is my 42nd post on WordPress, and just turned 42 years old three days ago! Happy coincidence.

Scraping off the mould.

Well, here we go for the first post of this year, and it is the penultimate day of February 2013. My last post was November 2012, and prior to that January the same year, so really my blog has gone slightly stale, a bit mouldy around the edges, the bulk of its ‘meaty’ content being during 2010 and 2011. Lets try this year to rectify the blank pages of the previous twelve months, although I think I need to try and take a different approach to blogging, that is to focus less on the life situation and personal soul-searching posts and try and broaden my blog out into less emotional subjects. I believe I have said enough about myself, and by that I mean that when I re-read previous posts I began to cringe at what I wrote and not only that, I also have doubts about just who has read it as well. That is another story for another time however. I enjoyed writing what I wrote however and it all begin really when I was on myspace (and that must have been around 2005) and started blogging on their groundbreaking social network site. I think also that the reason I studied the creative writing course was to learn how to write better and increase my literal ambitions which it did so to a large extent. I recommend studying creative writing classes for anyone with an ambition to write, either for themselves or even for the modest goal of getting written work published (and in these times, with the advent of e-readers such as Kindle, really is not such a major hurdle as it was prior to the internet becoming fashionable).

I believe I am what could be described as an eternal student; there is something in me that has an unquenchable thirst for studying and learning, whether that be still studying what I was taught in University or increasing my cookery skills that I was taught when I left school and so on. I love knowledge and developing myself intellectually and recently I am striving to try and develop myself spiritually as well, although maybe that is just an age thing, the fact that I am at the doorstep of those middle age years is constantly on my mind; I have never felt so mortal and vulnerable to the vagaries of age. Time has never looked, for me in my present state at least, so valuable and precious and yet still I think I waste it where I could be doing a lot more with the time I have remaining here. Perhaps it was because of my previous relationship, that I spent all those formative years with my ex-wife; maybe I did spend too long in college; possibly I did waste my twenties doing things, that when I look back, were a waste of time. However, whatever I did that maybe could be construed as being a waste of time and wrong, I still learnt lessons from the experience, and I would also wager and argue that I developed myself more than any of my peers mainly through the aspect of struggling without the support or guidance from parents. Again, these are issues that I might later write about on wordpress, produce a new post later on in the year. Avenues of thought.

Blogging as I have done since December 2008 was also a therapeutic experience, allowing me in my mind to deal and write about issues and events that had occurred in my life and were a cause of emotional upset, both from loosing my Mother and also spending the best, most healthiest and active years of my life living with a Woman who then estranged me to a great extent, not only from her, but also it has had repercussions amongst my own family as well. However, one thing I am glad about is that I still see my two sons almost every week which is a blessing, especially recently as my youngest son has been diagnosed as having special needs and he is probably the most sensitive of them both. I fear for his secondary school years so much. Again I want to cast a stone here, but I will drop it instead. But what am I writing? I started this blog with the intention of not writing so personal issues, but again its deteriorated into a self-obsessed post about ‘me’ again. Sigh. Maybe I need some counselling over this. They say your subconscious is the most telling aspect about you, that what you write, what you paint or draw – what you craft creatively really speaks volumes as who and what you are and have experienced in this life. I wonder if this is why so many artists have emotional issues/produce great works?

Right, wordpress and personal blog – I will try and update once a month, maybe more, but will try and get some more posts down this year about really anything. It was hard scraping off the mould, but once its removed, it looks a little more palatable. Even better if its toasted too.

Its been a while, yeah? I suppose after an eleven month absence from wordpress, I decided to try and brush away the cobwebs from a slowly decaying personal blog, a blog that for me is extremely personal, honest, open and soul searching about my life; its trials, tribulations, hardship, struggle and interspersed with a little romance too along with some quite personal poetry. I feel I had to say some of these things about me, just to make it clear to those who disliked me and let my life go down the drain that I was and still am (minus excessive alcohol consumption) underneath a good, caring, concerned, educated, intelligent soul. I may have personal problems, I may (almost certainly) have issues within me, I may not be very good in social situations, but I know I could not intentionally hurt folk either emotionally or most certainly physically. My Mothers influence stayed with me for most of my life, she really was a guiding light that did burn bright through some very difficult times I went through. I believe that your upbringing, your childhood, the love that you receive from your parents really are the most important things that have a great impact on how you turn out, how you develop, your morals, beliefs, attitudes and so on. Perhaps parenting skills should be on the national curriculum, become as important as Maths and English for both sexes. Just a thought.

I believe I have hit quite a serious problem with my alcohol consumption; I am now at a stage that I need a drink, not every day, but I do still feel the need to drink. It has become so bad that I have started to say some pretty questionable things on my twitter feed whilst I have, well lets be honest, been totally smashed out of my head. I wake up then the next day and totally regret what I typed in my alcoholic stupor the evening prior. I suffer that ‘cringe’ feeling, you know the one you get when you have been out the night before, drunk too much and did some awful thing. The feeling of ‘oh no, what I have I DONE!?’, and just want to pull the covers back over your head and hope that either the memory is distorted or that it never happened. I expect most of us have been there at some stage in our lives. It is like this for me and twice now I have temporarily deleted my twitter account in the vain hope that no one has read it, but I know they have, and so that makes it a worse guilt to bear. I will be honest – the outbursts stem from a few things:- 1) Having no social life or any meaningful friends where I live, and this I believe stems from my inability from not being that sociable , or finding it difficult to form friendships other than via the internet. Remember, I became addicted so much to the internet that, even though I became an IT professional person, I think it had an impact on my social life and maybe that stems from my late teenage years living on my own; 2) becoming so angry against my ex-wife and her family when she decided to make my life a living nightmare. I lived with this Woman for fifteen and half years and I actually married and had two children by her for seven of those years. Since I was twenty one years old we cohabited together and experienced a whole host of life events and so on. So this did screw with me emotionally to an extent that I found hard to forgive her after I ended up in an homeless hostel where I was assaulted, robbed and other things I do not wish to mention on here, and 3) being a total idiot, loosing my sense of rationality, décor, public politeness and so on. I hope, to those who I would have hurt (and I know I hurt a few who followed me), you can forgive me for being such an idiot. A drunk one.

I hope to blog a little bit more than what this year has not shown. It has been a rough year for me, stemming from a complete disintegration of my literacy, lack of reading books, a slow hold that alcohol has surely gained over me, trouble with my eyesight (my right eye has lost focus and I am not sure why this – I now need glasses), emotional feelings, a sense of being outcast and so on. Sorry for the hurtful comments on my twitter account (I fail to remember many, maybe thats good) although some comments that may even be just…be just slightly justified. x

Skyrim.

I wrote a sentence a while back on this blog, I believe it was for my review of Bioshock that stated ‘games come and go…’ and so on, meaning that really there are very few games that hit the excellent mark and really impress a vivid indentation upon the gaming world. Skyrim I would like to suggest hits this mark, quite spectacularly to say the very least. Skyrim is an Elder Scrolls game, a fantasy RPG that was initially developed for the PC during the 1990’s, and this is its fifth incarnation and I personally started playing this series with Morrowind, released around 2001. The main feature, or at least the most defining feature these RPG games had, were its open world design. Instead of having ‘levels’, these games were a first person perspective in a designed world whereby you could travel anywhere on the game map without having to complete levels as most games require you to do. Bethesda, the game company that created the Elder Scrolls games, created a open world game that was impressively dynamic rather than using scripted events to push the game along. Obviously some aspects, especially in Morrowind and Oblivion (the third and fourth games in this series) were scripted, but the whole concept, the major design ethos from this series of RPG games were its freeform map, its dynamic interactions with various NPCs (Non-Player-Characters), the trading system et al that made the games stand out compared to most RPG games during the late ’90s and early to mid 2000’s. Again, the games were quite a niche market – a fantasy first person perspective Role Playing Game set in an alternate universe created from a group of D&D gamers that went into game design – or at least this is what I have read about the company and how I understand its initial creation. It became less of a nerdy niche market I believe with Morrowind and most certainly Oblivion – especially Oblivion in fact as that game was coded and ported over to the Xbox and PS3, hence creating a larger market than they ever would have probably had if it had been just exclusively a PC game.

Now Bethesdas latest release in the Elder Scrolls games is Skyrim. I doubt if anyone has not heard of this title, it was impressively marketed and advertised, showing off some spectacular graphics. What you saw on those adverts, or what you have read about the game are not unfounded – it probably is one of the nicest, graphically spectacular game I have ever played on a PC. Again, it is an open world dynamic design, scripted only in the sense of the quest line (that you can start at any stage in the game, so in effect you could just play this title as pure sandbox and advance the main plot when and where you want to) and various task you have to do, but dynamic in the sense that it utilises Bethesda’s ‘Radiant AI’, creating missions off the cuff depending on things you have done and so on. The NPCs carry out their tasks as the day progresses; some are traders, some work – and they all have set times that they start and finish work, go to the inn after work and then go home to rest for the night. Scripted in the sense that they do things at certain times, but totally dynamic in the aspect of their daily interactions and so on.

All the misgivings and dislikes I had about Oblivion, such as the levelling up method (whereby every creature levelled the same time as you making the game very challenging at high levels) and using about five different voice actors (I think it was five…please don’t quote me on this) for all the NPCs have been eliminated with Skyrim. Again, as in Fallout 3 the voice acting is becoming something so impressive with modern games – we had Liam Neeson and Ron Perlman in Fallout 3; in Skyrim we have Max von Sydow. Christopher Plummer and Joan Allen to name but a few of the many talents included in the game. Musically Skyrim has the most impressive soundtrack I have ever, ever heard for a video game, with a four CD box set you can buy separately composed by Jeremy Soule who also composed Morrowinds and Oblivions soundtracks, but this time he has excelled. It is the same as movie standard. Graphically the game is beautiful – just travel to the top of any mountain and witness blizzards, with snow being cast from wind over the tops of rocks etc, or witness the Aurora Borealis, as Skyrim is set in the north of Tamriel, the world created for the Elder Scrolls games. What I found the most impressive however, and yes the game looks stunning visually, the AI is smart and interesting, but this game was designed with our current hardware, utilising the power and capabilities of current console systems and PC systems. You do not always need to have the best to make and code and design a game with the most modern specs in mind. This I think Bethesda did well, despite some glitches on some systems. A two or three year old PC, as long as its relatively half-decent, can run this on quite high settings.

When I first played Skyrim, I was initially dumbstruck at just how good it looked – I was completely taken in and hooked. After just under 100 hours into the game (and probably have only uncovered maybe twenty percent of the whole country of Skyrim) I still have to stop at certain locations and take in the awesomeness of the scenery and listen to the placid, spiritually sounding soundtrack – it is really that impressive. I remember also posting an article on my blog a while back about video games, and I stated then that I believed that we had reached a pinnacle in game design over the last several years, gaming has really began to become something interactive, social, important (with certain games at least) and this really has come from the advent of modern console systems and online gaming. It has altered the way we game too, although I do not want to go into FPS games – there are deep pros and cons over some titles and their levels of violence. However, with RPG games that require you to make decisions based around your own personal moral beliefs that I find the most interesting, it does make gaming slightly more than solving puzzles and shooting the bad boss at the end of the game. Fallout 3 I think held the ‘Karma’ system together really well, whereby doing evil deeds took a hit with your character you created. Unfortunately with Skyrim there is no such moral system in place, or at least it is not the same (you can join with the Imperials or Rebels, but the Rebels hold racist assumptions, hard to weigh up in many respects). Bioware (another game design studio) I think started this with its Baldurs Gate games, whereby decisions you made during your game had an impact on the end game and various events as the game progressed – really trying to encourage you to role-play your virtual character into something saintly or dark. Your choice.

In summary then, Skyrim really hits a top mark, probably really upping the bar of gaming for sometime to come. I am also amazed at how popular this title has become – whatever the cost of designing the game, I am sure that Bethesda have surpassed their initial budget in sales. When I first started playing Morrowind back nearly ten years ago, I doubt even then I could ever imagine a fantasy RPG ever becoming so popular as it has now become, especially an Elder Scrolls game. Kudos to Bethesda.

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