A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a vast, open role-playing game with missions involving bloody, visceral violence and others that require diplomatic social skills. The game is largely what the user makes of it. Players can choose to act nobly, maliciously, or apathetically. Actions are typically accompanied by appropriate consequences, meaning players who do good will be rewarded while those who do evil will likely end up spending time in jail and facing loss of property and skill. The game is dense with mature themes involving sexuality, alcohol, and complex social, political, and economic problems.
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What's it about?
THE ELDER SCROLLS V: SKYRIM is a fantasy role-playing game set 200 years after the events of its predecessor. It takes place in Skyrim, the oldest and northernmost province of Tamriel, a continent that fans of the Elder Scrolls franchise have been exploring in games dating back to 1994. As in previous entries, players have complete freedom to explore a vast, open world however they like, growing their character slowly through game-altering decisions and actions that could lead them to become a noble soldier fighting for an empire, a fighter in a resistance group that challenges the empire, or a member of several different organizations that range from a college of bards to a brotherhood of assassins. Along the way they learn that they are one of the dragonborn, a rare breed of warrior capable of slaying dragons and stealing their voices, which they can use in battle. This turns out to be pretty handy, given that the dragons have returned to terrorize Skyrim after centuries of absence, adding to a stack of problems that includes a burgeoning civil war and a potential invasion.
Is it any good?
A strong contender for one of the best M-rated games of 2011, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is perhaps the largest and most ambitious single-player, role-playing games ever made. Its world is startling in its scope, complexity, and beauty. More than 100 points of interest -- including cities, towns, caves, and ruins -- dot a Nordic landscape filled with towering mountains, beautiful wildlife, and rushing rapids. Blue skies and bright sun can in moments give way to pounding rain, deep fogs, and blinding snowstorms. Calm nights, meanwhile, are lit by mesmerizing starscapes and dancing Northern Lights.
And there is no shortage of things to do in this world. Players are free to choose their own way through the tundra, hills, and marshes, completing or ignoring scores of quests at their leisure. Engaging combat mechanics combine with interesting characters, a rich and interweaving mythology, and the satisfaction that comes with the constant discovery of new places and things to create an experience that remains fresh day after day, week after week. Hardcore adult players can expect to invest somewhere north of 100 hours in this remarkable virtual fantasy world, and they’ll adore every minute of it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the possibility of losing oneself in enormous, realistic video game worlds. How do you maintain game/life balance? How do you moderate your play?
Families can also discuss violence in games. Do you distinguish between games that allow you to make moral decisions regarding violence (such as whether or not to kill a thief or stop an unjust execution) and those that simply present the player with legions of enemies to slaughter? How so?
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