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Tales from Skyrim: I stared Death in the face

As the final hours waned before the clock hit midnight signaling the start of a new week and a new "Bloggers Wanted" prompt, I slammed Skyrim into my PS3 and started wandering the snowy plains looking for some sort of crazy glitch or adventure that I could claim for my own. What I got was rather bland. It was as if the game was mocking me. I encountered a few elk, some wolves--and honestly I've reached a point that I assume many of you have as well where I don't even bother to loot wolf corpses anymore--and one Spriggan. I started to realize that perhaps that crazy moment just wasn't going to come.

I thought to myself... maybe I can just make something up? I came up with this whole story about how I initiated a dragon battle, climbed up to some ledge but fell off onto the dragon's back and rode it around in circles... yeah, it's a shitty story with plenty of holes and peppered with filthy lies. I knew I wanted to tell the truth. Maybe the time I climbed that mountain just by spamming the jump button up a slope of at least 80 degrees? No, anybody who played Oblivion probably knows that trick by now. I lost hope of anything, finally realizing that perhaps I'm just a really uninteresting Skyrim player.

Then it happened.

I saw a sabre tooth tiger in the distance. I crouched and shot it with an arrow. Got my sneak attack bonus, but that only brought its health down about a quarter. I got about two more shots in before it reached me. I drew my sword taking pitiful swipes at it. Not like the tiger was doing much damage to me anyways. Slash, slash, slash, it wasn't intense or entertaining combat, it was more like a chore. R1, R1, R1. And then something strange happened.

My character sheathed his sword without a button press to prompt it. My HUD went blank. The cat stopped attacking. All that was left was my line of sight--I couldn't pause, I couldn't open my inventory--it was just me and the cat. Staring. At first I thought the game froze. Like the patch did more damage than it did good... but I decided to wait it out before I rage quit.

After a second of staring I started to think. You see, my character is a Khajiit. For those of you who aren't familiar with the Elder Scrolls (you know, those three of you who have an account on here because you thought it was a flash gaming website) Khajiit's are cat-people. In the context of the game, they're from the region of Elsweyr which has been invaded by the Dominion (evil communist elves). Their people have faced hard times. I sympathize with them. I don't like to fight my own people. Of course, I understand I can't just run from every fight, but I always feel guilty killing a fellow Khajiit. So bad, in fact, that I always leave money or valuable items on their corpses to repent.

When it came to the sabre tooth tigers, I had never thought of them in the same way. But technically, we're both felines. The only difference is that I walk on two legs, I have opposable thumbs, I can speak, and I can use magic. Okay so there's a lot of differences. But looking at that tiger in that moment, I saw his face and how similar it was to my character's.

We were locked in a staring contest. And let's face it, staring contests are reserved for people who are bored, too scared to fight, or respect each other too much to engage in any other sort of conflict. I felt as if it was the third one. I stared at the tiger, and it stared back. And then--the tiger fell over, limp. My character drew his sword again and I went on my way. But not before I left behind some amethyst on its body.

I'm pretty sure I know what happened. The game triggered an autokill scenario, but it couldn't quite process the animation so it just left both of us standing blankly until the game told the tiger to die. Regardless, the moment impacted me pretty deeply. I mean how many people can have a staring contest with a sabre tooth tiger where the prize is being allowed to keep your life? I stared Death in the face and won. But like people who flatline and make a miraculous comeback on the operating table, I came out of this life-locked situation with a new lease on my in-game life. It's about respect, and that's all it is.
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About burningsoupone of us since 7:43 PM on 03.02.2010

My favorite games:
1. Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
2. Banjo Tooie
3. Tomba
4. God of War II
5. Pikmin 2
6. Psychonauts
7. Donkey Kong Country 2
8. Katamari Damacy
9. Chibi Robo
10. Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage
11. Conker's Bad Fur Day
12. Plok
13. Super Mario RPG
14. Mega-Man X
15. Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
16. Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando
17. Animal Crossing
18. Rocket: Robot on Wheels
19. Silent Hill 2
20. Dead Rising
Steam ID:burningsoup


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