Presentation Title

Spriggans, Atronachs, and Elemental Magic: Representations of Nature in Bethesda Studios' The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Document Type

Panel Presentation

Keywords

video games, nature, games, digital media, new media, play, magic, ecocriticism, ludology, Skyrim, The Elder Scrolls, role playing game, landscape

Biography

Jonathan Nance is a graduate student in the English Program at Marshall University. His academic interests involve video game studies and ergodic literature. Being in a unique intersection of traditional literature and video games, he gets to bridge the gap between these two different forms of text.

Major

Literary Studies (Graduate)

Advisor for this project

Dr. Jana Tigchelaar

Start Date

21-4-2017 9:15 AM

End Date

21-4-2017 10:30 AM

Abstract

One of the most remembered aspects of Bethesda Studio’s open-world, role-playing game, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, are the locations and immense variety of natural locals. In this paper, I am focusing on the representations of nature within the game world Skyrim using an eco-critical theoretical lens while implementing ludological theory to understand the way players interact with nature and how the ludo-devices enhance the experience for the player. Nature within this world can be a friend or foe: on the one hand, elemental magic allows players to use the forces of nature to help them subdue their opponents while also using knowledge of the landscape to plan quick escapes and gain advantages over enemies, and, on the other hand, foes such as spriggans, and the elemental atranochs, use nature against the player alongside natural hazards such as cliffs, waterfalls, and dangerous animals threaten the player character at every turn.

In addition to examining how nature helps or hinders the players of Skyrim, I will also discuss ways in which nature is interacted with by the player, and how these interactions enhance and deepen the experience of playing the game. Learning to have proper understanding of this pseudo-Nordic landscape is key to survival in Skyrim. And by forming a close bond with nature inside the game world, the player learns to both fear and embrace nature in similar ways to how we have come to have fear and reverence for nature in the real world.

 
Apr 21st, 9:15 AM Apr 21st, 10:30 AM

Spriggans, Atronachs, and Elemental Magic: Representations of Nature in Bethesda Studios' The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

One of the most remembered aspects of Bethesda Studio’s open-world, role-playing game, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, are the locations and immense variety of natural locals. In this paper, I am focusing on the representations of nature within the game world Skyrim using an eco-critical theoretical lens while implementing ludological theory to understand the way players interact with nature and how the ludo-devices enhance the experience for the player. Nature within this world can be a friend or foe: on the one hand, elemental magic allows players to use the forces of nature to help them subdue their opponents while also using knowledge of the landscape to plan quick escapes and gain advantages over enemies, and, on the other hand, foes such as spriggans, and the elemental atranochs, use nature against the player alongside natural hazards such as cliffs, waterfalls, and dangerous animals threaten the player character at every turn.

In addition to examining how nature helps or hinders the players of Skyrim, I will also discuss ways in which nature is interacted with by the player, and how these interactions enhance and deepen the experience of playing the game. Learning to have proper understanding of this pseudo-Nordic landscape is key to survival in Skyrim. And by forming a close bond with nature inside the game world, the player learns to both fear and embrace nature in similar ways to how we have come to have fear and reverence for nature in the real world.