The Elder Scrolls Chronicles Part One: My Life in Games

Being a gaming memoir, of sorts, in four parts. Do come in.

I have an admission for you, internet. I am afraid to say that I am something of a geek.

In fact, I’m being disingenuous (in more ways than one, over elaborate introduction fans) – I’m a terrible, terrible old geek. I have long hair. I wear tee-shirts with pictures of Jedi Knights and comic book insignias on them. The only reason I don’t have a thick and luxuriant beard is that my face grows hair with the enthusiasm of a thirteen year old (a thirteen year old girl, natch). My geekery started young and it persists eternally, as the plastic griffon on my desk will testify. For a long time though, my geek tendencies didn’t really apply to videogames. I remember very clearly the moment when they suddenly, aggressively did.

The Young Me was a geek in many ways, I suppose, videogames being a part of that, but it was one facet of my personality that defined my geekdom.

I loved swords.

When I was young, my chief pre-occupation was fantasy. In fact, let’s capitalise that – my chief pre-occupation was Fantasy: swords and, of course, Sorcery. The Hobbit, Warhammer, Fighting Fantasy, Lone Wolf, Redwall, Rosemary Sutcliffe, Arthurian myth – if it had spells, monsters, knights and (most importantly) heroic sword fights, I was there. I was SO there. In some ways, I still am. Hopefully I’ve become a little more discerning over the years, but I still hear the siren song of romantic medieval fantasy calling me home.

But games had never scratched that itch. My first games machine was an Amstrad 464, and I had buckets of games in a huge old cassette box. Many of them were ace. None of them had swords. I dreamed of a game called BloodWych, endlessly praised by my gaming magazine of choice, the august Amstrad Action, and promised as a covertape exclusive. Then the magazine vanished. No BloodWych.

But one day, I found a different games magazine. I believe it was CVG. It had a huge render publicising an exciting new game called Theme Park on the cover – terribly exciting. It had pieces on DOOM, I remember, and a hideous assortment of terrible old platform games. But it also had a double page review of the best and most important game I never played. It was called The Elder Scrolls: Arena.

I shook with longing. I shuddered with desire. Mad, crazed avarice for this gorgeous, thrilling game. The Elder Scrolls. I used to whisper that to myself as I gazed at the pictures and read about the massive fantasy world that you could wander in however you liked. There were pictures of dark, rain-soaked towns and hideous spiders and goblins in caves and dungeons. There was a picture (a tiny picture) of a map. A MAP. A huge, complicated looking map. A world! A big ambitious fantasy world, full to the knackers with monsters and spells and chainmail and wizards and, crucially, full of swords.

The same issue featured Frontier: Elite II, and it was the pictures of these two games which set me upon my gaming path. Until then, I had wanted a NES, and then a SNES. But now they were entirely free to sod right off. I wanted a goddamned PC. The PC had swords! And spaceships! And a wicked looking flight sim called ‘Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe’. PC gaming seemed so vast, so exciting; it seemed to have unlimited potential and boundaries. This was the time of DOOM, remember. DOOM was the single biggest thing to happen to western videogames since ever – and it was PC.

DOOM looked awesome. Frontier looked like extraordinary fun. But Arena seemed to embody absolutely everything I could possibly want from a game. I longed to play it. I never did.

I got a PC eventually, a few years down the line. I can’t quite remember when. In secondary school, I think. It was a 486 with four megabytes of RAM and Windows 3.1. I loved that PC, and I have loved every monstrous tower of desperately overheated, dust-coated silicone ever since. I didn’t get excited about a console again until the DS, over a decade later. The PC had swords! Swords, for God’s sake, all over the place! The old Interplay Lord of the Rings RPGs. Piles of D&D games. Hexen, and my favourite; Dungeon Master 2. But I never found Arena. I hunted through Format every time I went into Cheltenham, searching through the piles of exotically colourful boxes, but no Arena. It made me sad, but hey – I had loads of games again, and a hearty percentage featured a stiff dose of hearty swording. I was, at last, living the dream.

Then one day in Format, the mists lifted and the seas parted, and there it was. Not Arena; another game. Like most of the games in Format, I had never heard of it. It became one of the most important games of my life.

The Elder Scrolls II.


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2 Comments on “The Elder Scrolls Chronicles Part One: My Life in Games”

  1. Nightjuju Says:

    Dear god I loved Daggerfall! I still do in fact. From the harrowing cries of king Lysander in Daggerfall (after experiencing this once, I never EVER returned to try to complete the story of Daggerfall) to going to a far off country taking out a huge loan from a bank, leaving that country and buying a house in a nicer country.

    Also the music, dear god I love that music!

  2. RaVeN Says:

    Good picture =P

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