Skyrim - metaphor for life

Dragons are invading the land.  People are dying.  Lives are being consumed.  What to do?


I received Skyrim for Christmas.   While I like fantasy literature, I've never been a big fan of fantasy role playing games, but I like this game because it is so much like life - it is open ended and not scripted; its progress depends on the choices you make.  Skyrim looks to be an interesting gaming experience.

Like life.


This is a game with a major crisis- dragons are invading the land.  And you find yourself in a politically divided environment and are asked to take sides.  You can choose the noble road and make ethical decisions.  You can play as a thief.  You can even play as an assassin and murder. There are skills and talents you are born with, some that you can learn, all that you can develop  but like life you must chose which ones to focus on.  You can play the game and become a great character, a hero, or you can avoid the main quest completely and only play the side line quests.  You can focus on becoming rich and buying lots of houses and you can focus on serving the need of the community by tackling the crisis.

Like life.

When we enter the world of adult life we find ourselves with lots of choices to consider.  We have a life to build, a character to develop.  We are all talented at something, usually more than one something.  Even those of us who have struggled through school, whose life experience as a teen was not that great, who people would describe as not having much going for us, do have something going for us.  Every human being is gifted.  We are not all good at everything, but everyone is good at something.  It may be mostly potential, but it is there.

As we stand on the landscape of our life looking at the world around us waiting to be discovered we realize that in the unknown there is an element of risk and danger.  Will we step forward into the world with courage or will we be timid?  Will we go out looking for the opportunities and the treasures for the world is full of them?  Or will we stick to the well traveled roads and the path of mediocrity?

As we progress through life, it won't take long to realize there are many problems and crises in the world around us that we can become involved in.  In Skyrim you can learn a spell that will heal others.  (And yourself).  It is a valuable lifeskill to learn how to heal from wounds both physical but more often of the heart and soul for life has a way of wounding us, sometimes at our core.  But there are those who develop the skills to reach out and heal the hurting around us both in body and in spirit.  That is a noble life road.

And like the game, you can choose to play as a very noble person, or you can become a very bad person or something in between.  It is one thing to be a thief and make your way sneaking, taking advantage of others, and stealing anything you can.  But in Skyrim, even the noble person can take advantage and pocket a stolen trinket or two when people aren't looking without getting in trouble with authorities.  Like life.  But unlike the game, when you steal or take advantage of another person it is not just an electronic avatar that will respawn fully whole later.  When we take from others we diminish them; we hurt them.  

Will we play the game of life in such a way that we add to life or diminish it?

And what shall we add?  Shall we focus on treasures and houses for one can ignore the greater quest of Skyrim and focus on looting ancient halls and accumulating gold to purchase houses and jewelry and clothing?  In our own lives which will dominate our time and energy, our focus?  Will we focus on personal riches or will we utilize the things of the world as tools to enrich life and not only our own?  Will we own the temporary things of the world and utilize them to enhance lives or will the things of the world own our temporary lives and consume our days upon this world?

And the world we find ourselves spawned into is a world in peril.  It is filled with glories to be discovered but some fairly rough places too.  It is filled with places where people are dangerous.  There are real life monsters waiting to consume other out there.  There are factions trying to buy your allegiance for their own gain.  Will you become a pawn in someone else's game of life or will you think for yourself and make your choices, choose your friends, and  determine your allegiances based on life enhancing values?  Even in my middle years, half-way through my game of life, I find these questions worth pondering and reviewing.  Perhaps I need some course corrections.

What sort of character will we become?  Have we become?  What course do we choose now?  


Will we dive into the deepest challenges of life where the greatest risk is, the greatest effort required, but where we are called to become the noble hero?  Or will we stick to the side games - the safe areas - but the mediocre parts.


But finally we realize too that a video game is unlike life in that in the game every person who plays can become "the hero", the savior of the world.  In Skyrim an ordinary person happens to be born with a talent that in the midst of this crisis can lead him or her to become such a savior.  


Some people are a bit more gifted in some areas than others.  Sometimes you see someone who is a master, who naturally gifted has developed that gift to extraordinary levels.  Most people are on similar skill levels to others.  And life situations impact our choices, the scope of our ability to make impact.  Some people find themselves due to forces beyond their control (and sometimes due to constructing a path) at the center of influence points in life and able to rise to positions of great influence. The story of President Obama is such an example.  Or Hillary Clinton or George Bush.  


Almost everyone will never be president.  But I believe that there are many people out there who are gifted and if given the opportunities could have been as good as or indeed better in their service than those who have come before.  We are limited to the choices the game of life hands us, but looking at great people we realize that there is an element for shaping our own path and destiny.  When we strike out with purpose, courage, and informed decisions we can shape our own destiny.  

And just maybe you will find yourself in a place where for another person, another group, who knows maybe a nation - you could be a hero for a danger has arisen for which you are gifted.  But to become the hero, to help others, will entail personal sacrifice, a choice to develop your character and your skills to tackle the problem, a choice to devote yourself to the service of others.  

The world is full of problems.  If we look we find that we have talents inside us waiting to be developed and applied to help make life better for ourselves and those we live with. 


But we don't have to be president to have a profound influence for the good or for the evil on the world around us.  Especially in our zone of play.  What we do, who we are, how we interact with others - it shapes not only our life but the lives of others.  




How shall we play? Will we play small or large?  Will we spectate?  Or will we take the risk, dedicate the effort, and for someone become the hero?