How Skyrim Got Me Through The Trump Presidency
Welcome to Everything Is Gaming, today I’m finally committing to the page (er…webpage) how Skyrim, one of the most lauded, loved games of all time, helped me move past the emotional hole I fell into after the 2016 election.
By the time 2016 rolled around, I’d played hundreds of hours of Skyrim. I’d RP’d (role played) the game as a nationalistic Nord sharp shooter dead set on liberating her people from the Empire, an elderly Breton wizard man named Samantha Jones, who sought peace with nature …until he went insane because he got lost in the vampire DLC…, I’d even strayed from my usual RPG ways and made myself in the game. That was one of my shortest playthroughs because after Carolyn Page the warrior married Lydia and adopted a few kids, I felt guilty every time I left my house in Whiterun to go adventuring. Living a fantasy life in a fantastical land is the second most fun thing in the world. (The first is snorkeling.) In 2016 I would also learn that it can be the most cathartic.
When Trump won the election, I was devastated. They say America runs on Dunkin’ but in those dark November days, I felt like it ran on hate. A nation of immigrants, forged in the notion that we would never again be ruled by a King, had elected someone who notably had several gold toilets and openly hit on his daughter. That’s major king behavior. But not the cool Arthurian kind, the inbred, end of an empire kind.
So the morning after the results were announced, I was in a numb haze. Gut punched and scared that my bodily autonomy and future were in danger. (I was right!) Letter writing and senator calling and driving to DC to protest would come later. That day: I needed to mourn. And I really needed to use a great axe to whack on some NPCs. Not knowing where to put my rage, I booted up Skyrim and created a hulking Orc. His name? Yar Lomin. Which translates from Tolkien elvish to roughly: Shadow of Blood. I would devote this playthrough not to building a homestead or saving a kingdom, but to slaughter. And. I. Did.
Whirling around the map absolutely chopping NPC’s to death, I RP’d as a servant of the Daedric Princes of death and destruction, my sole purpose was to honor them with the blood on my hands. Instead of my house in Whiterun being filled with the laughter of a family, I filled it with skulls.
I rampaged through Riften, I slaughtered most of Solitude, I made the roads of Windhelm run dark red with NPC juice. I did the bidding of only the darkest of Daedric Princes. My masters included Mehrunes Dagon the prince of destruction, the repulsive Namira, and (ironically) the prince of illegally attempting to overthrow a government, Boethiah. No quest giver was safe from my blade. Unlike my other runs of the game where I sought out the subtle nuances of choice which would shape the imaginary personality and influence the actions of my character, I lived by one rule: off with their heads.
All day I played, fueled by weed and ramen noodles befitting my stature as a 20ish nobody just starting out in the world. The sun rose and set on Skyrim many times in the game as I funneled all my rage and fear into the harmless escape of the game that really puts the “role-playing” in RPG.
And then, somewhere along the road from shooting a giant to murdering a shopkeeper, I came across a child. The child was practicing stabbing a stuffed mannequin with a dagger. I knew this was the orphan for me. And so Yar Lomin adopted this boy. And brought him to my bone filled lair in Whiterun, to train him in the dark ways of killing. As I watched him practice stabbing (oh how he loved his little dagger) in his skull filled room in our house in a town now basically devoid of NPCs, I realized I didn’t feel quite as paralyzed. My blind rage had run its course and the fear I’d felt was melting into something else. I put down the controller and called some friends and made some not as funny as they could have been protest signs.
The game had given me the catharsis and processing time I needed to take action for what I believed in. It was an uphill battle, it still is and during my lifetime, it always will be. The U.S. is a big ship to turn around and there’s a lot of people out there who really should be playing more video games instead of passing discriminatory legislation. But for those hours, armed with a great sword and axe, in plate mail up to my tiny Orcish eyes, it had been so very nice, to escape.