Dragonborn no more: How immersion in Skyrim fails

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Just once I would like to wait in line at Belethor's General Goods store.

I would like to be annoyed at farmer Hvolik's indecision over purchasing a healing potion or a stamina elixir. Yes, I appreciate that the shops all close at night and that everyone has a home and bed to spend the wee hours of the night in, but something as sutble as waiting in line would complete the illusion of a living, breathing world more than any simulated weather or cycle of day and night.

Realistically, the heroic Dragonborn's greatest contribution to Skyrim is not killing dragons, becoming an arch-mage, or even slaughtering the entire Imperial army. Instead, he should be remembered for his commerce — for single-handedly keeping the entire country's economy afloat.

I mean, have you ever seen anyone else buy anything? Any goods or services rendered other than through the Dragonborn?

It's these small details that start to erode Skyrim's realistic realm.



I put my wolfskin hide on the same as you — one leg at a time.

Take, for example, the number of staged conversations you eavesdrop on when entering a town for the first time. At first, they make you feel the world is in motion, and you're simply arriving in the middle of the action. That sense shatters when those same people abruptly turn around and slowly grind up against a horse until they awkwardly find an alternate path around the animal.

Not everyone wants to stop and talk with me in the cold Canadian city where I live. And I'm OK with that. But they all know how to walk around a horse.


Yes, I am the Dragonborn…but wouldn't anonymity be a more realistic (and frankly more interesting) approach to such a realized world? I would love to conceal my identity as the legend of the Dragonborn grows to unrealistic proportions.

"Ten feet tall, wielding five axes and shooting lasers out of his eyes," the locals would say as they recount the latest dragon-slaying. And I would smile in my mead, hooded and cloaked, and reply, "Sounds like quite the hero, this Dragonborn."


Instead, Skyrim's most unique strength is also its fatal flaw. It's a fleshed-out world filled with people just going about their business, but as writer Tom Bissell points out, it's also a static, nonsensical construct where characters are essentially robots with activity timers.

When I walk the streets of Whiterun, I don't need each and every guard to greet me with a snippy saying; why can't they continue talking amongst themselves? Now that would create immersion.

So until the Dragonborn is recognized as the true economical genius he or she seems to be, I ask Skyrim developer Bethesda to cast me as an extra in their next game. Because I would rather be a nobody trying to make it in the world than bask in the admiration of automatons.

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