One Lesson into the World


Today’s story is about Elder Scroll 5: Skyrim. It is about a chicken; let’s call it Jimmy. Jimmy’s only interest is to enjoy the sunshine on the open ground at the entrance of Riverwood, which is the first village most players visit in the game. No shelter, no people bothering, only peace and sunshine accompany the lazy chicken. It is how a new player will meet the first domestic animal in the first village. It is also how most new players die for the first time: by attacking Jimmy, the peaceful lazy chicken.

Jimmy has been famous before I played the game. Stories[1] were told everywhere on the Internet about how players were (hopelessly) attacked by villagers to death only because of hurting Jimmy. (The world setting is, attacking domestic animals is a crime, and criminals with his weapon in hands will be attacked by all the citizens.) To me, I didn’t even think of hurting such a lovely creature. But I see why and how it is designed that way, to indirectly control players to attack Jimmy and therefore get killed.

Firstly, it is apparent that Jimmy was designed to be attacked on purpose. Riverwood is right connected to the tutorial map: Helgen. The player is directly led by his mentor to the road directing to the Riverwood. Sunny, everything can be seen clearly. The gate of Riverwood is very obvious, but has nothing else to pay attention to except for Jimmy, standing still right in the center of the ground. Think of the mental states of the player: just finished the tutorial which is an exciting battle (with a dragon), entered a (seems) friendly new world, found the village for novices. It is right the time that the player is most relaxing, most curious and eager to try his skills! (I think the reason I didn’t attack Jimmy is that I’m more interested in living skills rather than combat skills.) Now a prey appears. Who would expect any danger from a chicken in the novice village anyway?

Well, it IS dangerous. I believe people in the real world will not attack a chicken in a new-to-come village as it is obviously a stupid provocation. But in games, players tend to see things as his services and only his services, like seeing all animals as coins/experience and all NPCs as tasks. But, Skyrim doesn’t accept this attitude. It wants players to see it as a real existing world, so the abuse pays back.

As I discussed in my last blog A Sound from the Distance, a masterpiece integrates all its elements to enforce its core spirit, or to say, its “fantasy” in Jesse’s word. The fantasy of the Skyrim, is being real that players put emotions in it. It is achieved by the 470 books[2] and real human voices. It is achieved by imperfection and regrets: NPCs die easily, never alive again; to help some people, some other people must be sacrificed. And, it is achieved by taking responsibilities. Things the main character do will be remembered by the world, and in return influence the character himself. It is why Jimmy lies idly at the center of Riverwood’s entrance ground, teaching one lesson into the Skyrim’s world as his welcome.

Reference:
[1] Some stories of Jimmy (Google for “Elder Scroll 5 kill chicken” to find more):
   -   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SuZdSUgtc4
   -   https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/ps3/615804-the-elder-scrolls-v-skyrim/answers/305032-i-killed-a-chicken-in-riverwood-and-now-they-wont-stop-attacking-me
   -   https://www.neoseeker.com/forums/52479/t1699260-not-kill-chickens/
[2] List of books in Skyrim: https://en.uesp.net/wiki/Skyrim:Books