Courtesy Bethesda Softworks
This world is what you make of it.

He worked the bellows, breathing more life into the forge’s fires. Any moment the flames would be hot enough for him to begin beating the iron into the appropriate shapes. He wondered if any of the early morning passers-by in Whiterun found it odd that their thane was spending his time thusly, and at the smithy run by a woman, no less.

It was a passing curiosity. He really didn’t care what people thought. He deeply respected Adrianne for building her own future, both with these tools and her shop. Apparently she was married to the oaf behind the counter inside. He shrugged. He wasn’t one to pry.

He took the length of iron, drew it from the fire and laid it on the anvil. He raised his smithing hammer high.


He stopped, looking around. Where had the disembodied voice come from? Were the Greybeards summoning him again?


I turn and look at my wife. Her eyebrows are raised in that incredulous way.

“I thought you were going to bed ten minutes ago.”

“I was.” I feel a bit sheepish, but unashamed. “I got distracted by smithing.”

“God, it hasn’t been this bad since World of Warcraft. Go to bed!”

What can I say about The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim that hasn’t already been said? Read any review and you’ll know what it’s like mechanically. Read this blog and you’ll get a sense of its wide-reaching adventure. Read forums and tweets and people will tell you about some hilarious bugs. The bug I’ve found, however, is the one I’ve caught.

I knew Skyrim would be the same sort of open-world RPG as the previous games in this series, as well as Fallout 3. What I didn’t know was how quickly and completely it would suck me in. Not long after the first scripted sequence, I was wandering around the world, just exploring points of interest because they were on my compass rather than for any specific objective. I found myself wanting to mine up my own ore to more cheaply raise my smithing skill. I look at my map and find myself prioritizing visits to the college and other holds over main quest objectives.

I have also encountered the random things others have mentioned. Adrianne, the aforementioned lady smith, ran up to me and handed me a book as a gift. I thought it might have meant more, but then discovered she’s married. I’ve been jumped by an assassin of the Dark Brotherhood, accosted by a wandering Khajiit soothsayer and gotten my heartstrings tugged by the ghost of a little girl burned to death in a house fire. And all of this was from nothing more than walking around with my eyes open. The main quest is pretty good, too.

It really has been a while since a game has drawn me in this completely. It’s built in such a way that any means of playing it is rewarding. You can stick with just using the quest objectives as goals, or come up with your own. Fling magic, loose arrows, swing swords or any combination of the above. Deal fairly with folk or break into their houses to nick their stuff. Skyrim isn’t just a part of Tamriel created for this game – it’s your world, and it becomes what you make of it.

I think that’s why I’ve caught the Skyrim bug. “Here’s a new part of this world,” the game says, “and here are all the tools to build your own story out of the game. We have one to tell, sure, but if you want to tell one too, go right ahead.”

Don’t mind if I do.