Written October 8, 2015
Imagine being able to take down a mighty dragon four times the size of you using only your words. That is exactly what happens in Skyrim. This video is an advertisement for a game called Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, which contains impeccable artistic detail along with an intense storyline. From a vague point of view, this video game is basically about fighting dragons, solving puzzles, and stealing cheese wheels from the local shop owners with pretty detailed graphics. However, there is something that is much more powerful than a sword, and that is the power of words. This paper will discuss, in detail, the riveting and powerful message Skyrim has to offer about how one’s voice is the most powerful tool imaginable.
In the video, the narrator touches upon the previous game, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, when he says, “The Elder Scrolls told of their return. Their defeat was merely a delay. But the time after Oblivion opened, when the sons of Skyrim would spill their own blood…” A short synopsis, according to Wikipedia, is that “Oblivion ’s main story revolves around the player character’s efforts to thwart a fanatical cult known as the ‘Mythic Dawn’ that plans to open the gates to a realm called ‘Oblivion’.” This sequel to the Elder Scrolls IV suggests that the dragons only returned, thanks to the Mythic Dawn opening the gates of Oblivion. The main mission of the Elder Scrolls V is to defeat the main dragon, Alduin (also called World Eater), from destroying the world (or at least the empire of Tamriel, as that is where all of the Elder Scrolls games are set). Seems like your classic science fiction, mythical, dragon killing game, right? However, if you noticed in the video, the main warrior in the video screamed something in a strange language at a dragon.
The player in the game, called Dovahkiin (translated means “Dragon Born”), discovers that they contain the soul of a dragon that allows them to use Thu’ums (translated to “Shouts”) using a special gift called “The Way of the Voice”. The player is directed to a group called the Grey Beards, the only mortals ever known to possess the gift of using Shouts. The Grey Beards teach and explain to the player how to use and obtain Shouts. When the player gets to one of the main mission of the game, “Alduin’s Bane”, we learn that the only true way to defeat the dragon is by using the Shouts learned throughout the game. The dragons also have the ability to use Shouts along with the player. In the most basic sense, most of the game is a duel with words.
Elder Scrolls V proves that the only way to truly win the game is by using one’s voice. At the first defeat of Alduin, he says “What twisted words have you created?” This is an impacting statement that suggests how powerful using one’s words can be. Just by using one’s words in the game, one can breathe fire, breathe ice, force a dragon out of the sky, control weather, and so much more. In the video at 1:07, one can see the Dovahkiin used a shout called Unrelenting Force that stuns dragons and throws humans back a few feet. One can see how the shout ripples through the dragon and into a mountain, proving how powerful Shouts can be. When one gets farther into the game, the player can learn a word that can literally force a dragon onto the ground and makes it impossible for the dragon to fly away. Some words are helpful in the calmer moments of the game, like one that can create a calming effect on people around the player. Other words have a more insidious agenda like the shout “Marked for Death”, whose definition can speak for itself.
Similar to the game, we also have the ability to use words that can calm others or “mark others for death”. Unlike the game, we can’t just say one single word and expect everything to go as planned. Regardless, the game still shows how much words can accomplish. With words, we express emotions or reveal intentions or create chaos. Words have numerable effects on others, but we need to be careful how we use them.
The game also has two groups that teach the player valuable lesson in game and in real life. The Grey Beards emphasize restraint, forethought, and careful choices of using Shouts to the player. In the game, it’s learning to control the rampant destruction some Shouts have. In the real world, it teaches to use the right words at the right time. The Greybeards counterpart is a group called the Blades. The Blades have an unrestrained use of the Voice for defense. In the game, one of the members says “If they had their way, you’d do nothing but sit up on their mountain with them and talk to the sky, or whatever it is they do. The Greybeards are so afraid of the power that they won’t use it.” In real life, this could apply to a time one has said something mean to a friend in an argument, which we have all done.
The entire game revolves around the idea that language is something that has many consequences, good and bad, and that we need to live and learn how to use the right words at the right time. The game has multiple lessons to be learned. Overall, the main lesson to be learned is one’s use of words. Without speaking, we could never communicate with one another. We could never socialize, ask for help, make jokes, and so many other things. Words can bring us together or tear us apart. Words can start wars and bring peace. How we use words for the greater good is up to us to decide. Thinking before speaking is another big lesson in the game as one needs to think about which shout to use and when. As an NPC, Farengar Secret-Fire, says in the game, “Remember, your mind is the greatest weapon you have.”
“The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Official Trailer HD.” YouTube. YouTube, 27 Feb. 2011. Web. 08 Oct. 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33ZrRjrOawc