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Lessons learned in Skyrim are lessons learned in real life.

In order to mollify my fury at having to purchase a dedicated work computer, M persuaded me to get one with a freaking awesome graphics card so I can play games (instead of sitting next to him while he plays, whining for him to go slower so I can see what’s happening). Once he put a picture of Grumpy Cat on the desktop, my acceptance was complete and I got down to playing. First order of business: Skyrim. As someone who loves bushwalking and waterfalls, it’s the perfect game. I am not, however, a skilled gamer (yet) and I’m still acclimatising. I can’t bring myself to pickpocket or steal horses (because that’s wrong), although I will pick locks and eavesdrop. I also keep forgetting I can save. Also I can’t walk away from people while they’re talking to me, because that’s rude. So yeah. Fair bit to learn. But I’m learning fast and I’m getting philosophical about it, because frankly when you’re spending hours fighting the same draugr over and over, you’ve got to extrapolate some deeper meaning, because otherwise you’re just wasting precious time.

1. Looking around is rarely deliberate, but always useful.

My mouse skills require some coordination. The mouse is used to control which direction you’re looking in: up, down, left, right, angled, round and round. If you wag the mouse back and forth over and over, really quickly, you can make spectators throw up. Having trouble controlling the mouse means your character’s perspective lurches with neck-straining violence: other characters are calmly talking to you (or rudely assaulting you) and you’re reeling backwards and forwards or flailing like a washing machine with an uneven load, waving your sword like a wiimote. But you do learn a lot! You get to see the amazing skies, waters, mountains, landscapes, giants and dragons that Skyrim is so rich in. It’s magnificent and beautiful, and once you’re upright, you’re pretty familiar with your surroundings and ready to move forward.

2. You are in just as much trouble if you steal a wedge of cheese as you are if you steal a horse.

Stealing is always wrong. If you pick up a leek you’re not entitled to, especially if you’re dumb enough to do it in front of a guard, you’re out of order. If you steal a horse, you can expect the same hostility. I accidentally stole some cheese in a pub and I’m too embarrassed to go back, even though I’ve paid my bounty and had the charges dropped. The point is, stealing is wrong. Remember that.

3. Hurt feelings everywhere: it’s not you, it’s them.

I’m playing as a Khajit and there is no end to the taunts against me. Rug, cat…it’s not inventive, it’s just mean. (YOU’RE NOT CLEVER SKYRIM BANDITS.) And I gather my chosen race is not alone in this: in the Elder Scrolls wiki, one learns that there’s bad blood among most of the races in Skyrim, to varying degrees. And usually, most of the people who resort to using racial slurs against my character are simply being provocative, relying on a default taunt to stir me up so they can “gut me like a fish”. So you’ve got to try not to take it personally: haters gonna hate.

4. A series of sneaky attacks, interspersed with restorative retreats, can be more effective than an all-out front-on attack.

I’m a lover, not a fighter, but there aren’t many opportunities for lovin’ in the game (so far: maybe as I level up?), so I’ve got to get fighting. Fighting doesn’t come naturally to me, as you probably gathered from my previous comments on my incompetent mouse-controlling, and I end up bounding through the melee, yo-yoing between staring at the floor and then at the sky as I receive axe-blow after axe-blow to the back. However, when I hit just the right balance of elbow movement and tea, I can get a lucky streak in and fight my way successfully through one or two of the gang assailing me. At this juncture, my best strategy is to run far, far away, hide, restore my health and save my game, and then get back to it as if nothing had happened. Newly restored, I am fresh and revived for the next round of battle.This technique means it takes me a very long time to fight my way through a group of more than, say, three villains, but I get there in th eend and that’s the main thing.

5. Sometimes people just don’t want to talk.

And that’s fine.

6. Mind your knees.

Don’t let a lack of caution draw a premature end to your adventuring career.

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