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Power Dynamics in Fantasy Games

I think it’s worth examining the power dynamics in fantasy games and what makes each particular game feel satisfying. Games like "Monster Hunter" and "Skyrim" both offer the player a degree of power over the world, but the difference lies in degree. "Monster Hunter" empowers the player as an exceptional hunter, but only allows them to practice that power in particular ways. "Skyrim" allows players to kill people with only their words. Yet both these games prove to be immensely satisfying. My question is what common factors lie between them? How do each of these games (and others) feel satisfying despite the difference in how they allow their players to act in their worlds?

  • This is an interesting topic definitely, though a bit too broadly conceived right now -- the games are quite opposite genres, for example. A tighter article could, for example, compare the thematic import of player agency in an open-world game where players have lots of freedom (Skyrim) and players have comparatively little freedom (Monster World, as I understand it). In other words, but fixing the genre (open world) and fictional context (fantasy), a comparison can be made more clearly. Lovely idea. – Derek 4 years ago
  • Aren't the Dragon Shouts in Skyrim just another way to package new abilities and weaponry for the playable character in the game? For me, they're much like having a new sword or new gear. As Derek suggests, the big difference among games may be based less on packaging and more on the degrees of openness (or: open worldness?) and player agency. In some games you can only follow specific storylines, only kill specific people and monsters, etc. In other games, such as Skyrim, you can approach most any destination from most any direction and can kill most anyone or anything (with or without using a Dragon Shout), with the exception of a few key figures that are essential to the main storyline. – JamesBKelley 4 years ago

The timelessness of Skyrim

The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim was released in 2011 and almost 8 years on still has a thriving community of players and content creators. Why is it that a fairly linear, story-based RPG has so much replay potential? Analyse the reasons why people keep picking up this game!

  • Love this topic! I think a lot of the "replay-ability" comes from all the different side quests (ex. guilds) that you can play alongside the main quest line. In addition, open-world RPGs leave so much potential for the player to create their own narratives. There are also a ton of fun add-ons. The popularity of Elder Scrolls Online also likely has something to contribute to this. – EJSmall 5 years ago
  • So it's hard to doubt Skyrim's popularity, however, a lot of this has been down to the sheer volume of mods and additions made by the community. Bethesda stopped producing new content for Skyrim a while back (excluding ports to new hardware) and so the community has kept it alive. It would be good for the writer to consider both sides of the argument and look to linear RPGs without modding capability and other games with an accessible mod platform to see if this has had greater impact on the longevity of the game. – CAntonyBaker 4 years ago
  • Well one reason would be accessibility, for sure. Skyrim is an RPG, but it is a streamlined one complex enough to warrant multiple playthroughs, but not so daunting that it becomes frightening. Another would be production values; Skyrim has aged fairly well due to it's graphical fidelity, sound design, game play elements, etc. And of course, there's the modding community, which can transform the game into something all new all over again. Speaking from personal experience, I'm back to Skyrim again as I type, going through with an all new perks system and gameplay overhaul tham makes playing it fresh again. I have to agree with CAantonyBaker and urge a look into the modding community of games. – majorlariviere 4 years ago

The Effectiveness of Player-created Content

While games with an interesting, plot-driven experience are fun to play, it seems that game with player-driven content are timeless. Games where there are a variety of choices as far as character creation and exploration seem to be games that can be enjoyable while experiencing the main plot or creating your own adventure. An example could be how in Skyrim, you can do the quests provided in the game, or roam around the map running into random spawn, looting, and adventuring by your own rules.

  • You could also explore how gaming developers are expanding upon player-created content from immediate release of new games/multi-player gaming – Ryan Errington 9 years ago
  • There are a few games that completely rely on the player looking for their own fun (Minecraft, Grow Home) but whats important to remember is that the developers still had to make it viable. In Skyrim the developers had to say "In this cave on a random spot that half the people playing this game will never see we are gonna add some fun things to do". Thats a strong commitment to the player – Cojo 9 years ago
  • Giving players choice is a really neat thing in games- not everyone wants to play multiplayer or single player all of the time. This could also be expanded on how the game's audience is affected by player-created content. – James Smith 9 years ago