A semester of Skyrim sounds like a hoot

Received a note this week that the Rice University Department of English is offering a one-time course titled, “Scandanavian Fantasy World: Old Norse Sagas and Skyrim.” Check out the course description below:

This course has two goals. First, it introduces students to fantasy as both psychological concept and driving force in gamer culture; and second, using these paradigms, it considers how and why medieval Scandinavia serves as a locus of modern Anglo-American fantasy. To these ends, students will read selections from Old Norse and Old Icelandic sagas (in translation) as they play different quests within Skyrim. While the course begins by identifying moments of intersection between the worlds of the sagas and of Skyrim (inclement environments, supernatural figures, mythologies), the course is not in any means meant to map the former onto the latter. The purpose of establishing these connections is to then consider how elements of medieval Scandinavian culture have been taken out of historical milieu and literary context, morphed into unfamiliar shape, and appropriated towards other fantastic pursuits. We’ll consider the political saga of Skyrim, with its emphasis on Empire and rebellion, as pursuits made possible by way of Scandinavia in order to think through what Scandinavian fantasy worlds are really about and why they resonate with contemporary Anglo-American culture.

Note: This course is only for enrolled students at Rice. Fast travelling to Houston to see if you can participate is not an option.

More Skyrim highlights from around the web after the break…

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Thrilling Skyrim Coverage

 The weekend’s here. Before you get going with your weekend gaming, here’s some Skyrim stories, videos, and more to catch up on…

    • Dead End Thrills is leaving the the world of Skyrim behind, but you can still check out some of Duncan Harris’ greatest Skyrim screens, including the one shown above..
    • The lead author of Prima’s Game Guide for Skyrim, David Hodgson, blogs about the release of the Revised & Expanded Game Guide.
    • IGN has put together their Top 100 RPGs of All Time List. Visit the site to see where Skyrim, Morrowind, and Oblivion rated.
    • At the Gameological Society, the Elder Scrolls’ Wabbajack takes on Fallout’s Luck Bobblehead in the Best Treasure Ever tournament final. If you’re torn on which to vote for, this video might help.
    • Gamespot’s latest Skyrim Modding video highlights an ability that pays homage to Dishonored’s Blink ability. Watch it below.

Finally, be sure to check out Skyrim360.com to see amazing 360 degree time-lapse videos of the game’s world. Really cool stuff!

Skyrim Workshop: Mod #10,000

This past week the Skyrim Workshop reached another milestone – it’s 10,000th mod. Learn more about the mod, Shannara Weapon Set from joedamarsio, in  an interview from the Skyrim Creation Kit (Public) Steam Group. Here’s an snippet…

Any advice you would offer to anyone playing Skyrim who maybe thinks about trying to make a mod but is intimidated?

It’s overwhelming when you first look at all the options on the Creation Kit but if you follow the Wiki it will talk you through everything and make modding a pleasurable and fun experience

Read the full interview here, and if you haven’t checked out the Workshop yet, visit mods.elderscrolls.com.

Computer Whiz Kids

If you followed QuakeCon coverage last month, you likely saw the amazing Fallout-inspired PC that was on hand at the event’s BYOC.

I recently caught up with the computer’s creators, Michael Kraft (case builder) and Adam Stark (configured computer and programmed game). With names like those, expect these two Plano, TX natives to build amazing computers for years to come.

When did you guys decide to do the Fallout computer for QuakeCon?

We first thought of it in 2009, but what really got things moving was winning a Sapphire Edge mini-pc at the PC Perspective Workshop at Quakecon 2011. Prior to that, we had tossed around the idea but couldn’t find a motherboard that would fit the form factor we were looking for. With this tiny PC we won, that changed everything and we realized that hey, we could really do this.

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Summer School with Oblivion

It’s not surprising when you hear that someone spent most of their summer vacation playing Oblivion. Especially not on this blog. But what about playing Oblivion and receiving college credit? That’s exactly what happened this summer at the The University of Wisconsin – Whitewater.

Below is an interview conducted this past month with Cindy Lee Anderton & Elizabeth King, colleagues in UWW’s College of Education and Professional Studies. This summer they used Oblivion for their course “Cultural Studies/Gaming” using Oblivion.

Learn more below…

When did you come up with the idea for this class?

Cindy:  This idea started hatching itself when Beth and I discovered we were both women in our 40’s and loved role playing games. I had started playing Oblivion in July of 2011 and as I kept playing it I started to realize how often I would link what was occurring in the game to our society today in terms of cultural differences, inequalities, and social justice issues. I realized that my own play reflected aspects of my identity development, my belief system, and values and attitudes that I had. I also realized the game itself presented experiential opportunities for understanding discrimination, oppression, power, privilege, etc.

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