In 2011, I became a victim of a series issue that unlucky young adults find themselves in when faced with misinformation, societal influence, and being vulnerable and unprotected. I of course am talking about peer pressure. I was a victim of peer pressure to the point where I look back and feel ridiculous for my actions. During my second year of undergraduate studies, I became close to a group of friends within our department. At the beginning of the semester, all of them couldn’t shut up about this amazing game that was coming out in November and it was going to be the highlight of gaming for ages to come. That game (if you didn’t read the title) was The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. At the time, I didn’t know what an elder was and what they were scrolling from. I had never heard about the series before, but the way my friends were describing it, it sounded incredible. Soon, I would start watching the trailer with them and start feeling the hype for it. There was one small issue however.
Back in 2011, I had no consoles on me. The only gaming device I had with me was my DS and PSP. Not a single one of those would play Skyrim on it (I doubt that would stop Todd Howard today) and I didn’t have the money to just go out and buy a system. I was getting hyped for no reason, since I couldn’t play the game regardless. One of my friends however told me that the game was coming out on PC, and that I could play it on my laptop if I wanted to.
This was mistake number 1. I was rocking a Gateway POS that could only run my school work on. There was no way that my laptop was going to run this game well enough. But my friend (who went on to build his own PC and help me with mine later) assured to me that my potato with buttons would be able to play the game just fine. So with the hype building, I borrowed some money from my savings (mistake #2), went to GameStop and preordered the Collector’s Edition of Skyrim for PC (back in the day when you could preorder physical PC games *thunder sound effect*). Nothing really mattered to me at that point since I could now be part of the group and conversation when this game came out. Little did I know that this event would mark the beginning of when I stopped listening to people’s advise on games I should play and how to play them.
Let’s talk about the Collector’s Edition for a minute. The Collector’s Edition for Skyrim cost about $125 USD if I recall correctly. It came in this big box and had the Skyrim scenery all around it. There were five items included in the box. The first was the game obviously, but also included was a behind-the-scenes DVD that talked about the development of the game. I’m pretty sure I have never watched it. A mild trinket was a map of the entire region that you can see in game. Its made out of nice material, but I haven’t done anything with it. An interesting item included was a 200 page art book that had illustrations of characters, enemies, items, and scenery. That doesn’t compare to the item that possibly influenced me the most to get the Collector’s Edition. The edition came with a 12 inch statue of Alduin, the main antagonist dragon. This statue could be classified as a lethal weapon since it is sharp and could easily be used as a blunt-force weapon. These days it probably wouldn’t be worth the price, but for what you get I think it was a good deal at the time.
November 10, 2011 arrives. My friends I are at the midnight release of the game (the one and only one I’ve ever done) and the doors open. When its my turn in line, I proudly declare that I was picking up my PC preorder for Skyrim. The employee designated me as the weirdest person that night, but seeing that there were two more people who preordered the PC version, I didn’t feel too out of place. I get back to my room, I can hear my roommate’s cheers of joy that all his dreams have come true, I put the game in my disc drive, and then it askes me for my Steam account. Come again? Yep, this was my first encounter ever with Steam. The disc just had the installation software on it, but in order to download and play the game, I had to create a Steam account and download the game from there. No real biggie. I created my Steam account, started the installation, and Steam told me it would take 20-23 hours for the game to download. You could feel the regret lining up at my door to start beating the crap out of me.
The next day, all of my friends had either skipped their morning classes or just never left their places to begin with. Since the game was still downloading on my laptop, I couldn’t bring it to any of my classes and couldn’t use it for most of the day. The one’s who did show up later in the day were talking about the character they created and their builds, and here I was still waiting for the game to download. That night, I was finally able to launch the game. The launcher checked my laptop’s specs and I’m surprised it didn’t just refuse to launch. It set everything to the lowest possible setting available and told me good luck. The iconic music starts to play on the home screen, and I’m finally ready to dive into dragonslaying adventures.
The game struggles to run. My laptop was able to run it decently, but since I had everything set to either low or off, a lot of the beauty of the game was lost. I believe at one point the game wouldn’t run since so many things were still running in the background, that I had to manually turn things off just so the game could get past the character creation. When I finally got the game past the opening, I set off in this low texture, slow development, 15 frames per second world. It was vastly different from the game that I saw my roommate playing, and I’m pretty sure I felt frustrated that I couldn’t play this game that I spent money on to not work on my laptop. But after I got over those initial hurdles and could play the game comfortably as possible, I started to make lemonade out of this limes that I had.
Would you believe me if I told you that I played the entire game on that laptop and finished the game? Would you believe me if I told you that I put over 100 hours into that version of the game and had a time doing so. Just me, my small screen, and my mouse and keyboard. I don’t know what possessed me to keep playing the game in that state. I guess at that time it was one of the few things that I had, so I was committed to play it and have fun with it while I could. Eventually I got used to the slow combat, aiming my fireballs without actually seeing the flames leave my hands, and reading every tip the game offered due to slow load times. I even managed to get through that one story quest where you have to solve a puzzle that involves reflecting lights off mirrors. Yeah, try and do that puzzle with no light effects whatsoever and relying on tiny particles moving in the air as your only guide that you maybe doing it correctly. I thought that puzzle was going to be the end of me, but I solved it and continued my ball busting run through Skyrim. I must have finished the game offline since I don’t have the achievement for it, but my last achievement from the game (to this day) is from December 8, 2012. It took me a year to finish it, but I managed to beat Skyrim on the lowest settings possible on an electronic typewriter that probably hated me.
To this day, I haven’t really gone back to Skyrim as much. When I got my actual gaming PC, I remember playing some of it, but not a lot. I have all the DLC and can now enjoy the game the way it was meant to be played, but nothing has called me to return to it for long. Before a few months ago, the last time I played the game was back in 2016, probably around the time I got my gaming PC and played around for a while. I think I just got my fill of it from playing on that busted laptop that I felt like I got my fill of it for the time being. To this day, it still holds the number one spot on my Steam account for the most hours played at 156 hours (rookie numbers I know). This post is not to make me sound superior in any way of playing and beating Skyrim in a difficult way. I believe the moral of this story is to do your own research and don’t let the influence of others dictate all of your decisions. I didn’t need to play Skyrim on release. Hell, I was more than happy playing the few DS games I had at the time over again. I desperately wanted to be a part of something that the group I was with were into and I made a foolish mistake for it. I don’t mostly talk to anyone from that group anymore, and I feel like me not keeping up with the “trends” was one of the reasons; which is completely fine by me. Don’t make my mistake. Say no to peer pressure.