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The Metaphysics of Morrowind: part 4

November 23, 2010

Concludatory ramblings to a post series on extraludic/metagamey wossnames in The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind. Introductory part one here, part two on time, space and Dragon Breaks here, and part three on meta-NPC extraordinaire Vivec here.

Final musings on metaphysics in Morrowind

TES examines what it means to create an imaginative work by setting up a world and then subjecting it to the literary/ludic equivalent of laboratory analysis. Metaphysics undergo destruction testing, seeking the limits of the universe by pulling and twisting time and space to (dragon) breaking point.

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The Metaphysics of Morrowind: part 3

October 25, 2010

Third (belated, apologies!) part of a look at how the metaphysics of Morrowind reach out beyond the game to drag extraludic, metagame phenomena into the fiction of the world… or is it the other way around? Here are parts one and two.

HERE BE SPOILERS, and I also apply the standard Elder Scrolls caveat that it is truly more fun to play the game, read the texts, and figure out your own interpretations. Also, because I’ve seen people on Reddit getting confused about this, THIS ESSAY DOES NOT CLAIM TO ACCURATELY DESCRIBE THE INGAME LORE. Seriously, read the game books for that. This is a piece of textual criticism, describing the relationship between the player and the game.

Divine CHIMistry, or: How Vivec Accessed the Construction Set.

“Certitude is for the puzzle-box logicians and girls of white glamour who harbor it on their own time. I am a letter written in uncertainty.” – Vivec, 36 Lessons, Sermon 4

I wrote, in the introductory post, that the Elder Scrolls series “does very strange things to the fourth wall, not so much breaking it as morphing it, moving it, twisting it, painting it purple and sitting on top of it laughing”. The person sitting on top of the fourth wall, possibly some inches above the actual wall, would be Vivec.

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Escaping the fridge

September 6, 2010

A quick break from srs metaphysical bsns to talk about ladies and kitchen appliances.

When is a woman in a refrigerator not in a refrigerator?

Dragon Age: Origins offers the player several ways of beginning the game, several “origins”. Each one provides your character with a home, a history, and a reason for joining the elite fighting force of the Grey Wardens, thus setting up the rest of the game’s story. This about one of them. Trigger warning for rape and violence; spoiler warning for the City Elf origin.

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The Metaphysics of Morrowind: part 2

September 2, 2010

Part 2 of a series of posts about The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind and how it weaves metagaming into its metaphysics to interesting effect. Part 1 is here.

How to Break Your Dragon.

You may think historians in our world have it tough – sorting through multiple individual versions of events, accounting for bias and the vicissitudes of memory as they try to pin down what actually happened. Amateurs! Try it in a world where the fabric of reality can be warped by pure imagination, where multiple players create multiple possibilities and where time itself can break, or rather, be broken.
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The Metaphysics of Morrowind: part 1

August 29, 2010

Some time ago, I was asked by David Carlton if I was interested in assembling a Critical Compilation on The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowindfor Critical Distance. I liked the idea, but research appeared to confirm my initial suspicions that, despite its rampant popularity, reams of fanfiction and endless debates about the lore, there is relatively little critical writing on Morrowind that has survived the vicissitudes of the internet since its release in 2002. This made me sad, so I thought I’d better write some!

Part 1: Introduction

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Blood Vessels: part 2

April 19, 2010

Part 2 of a look at how character origins contributed to narrative themes of blood and identity in my playthrough of Dragon Age: Origins. Spoiler warnings for endgame events apply! Part 1 is here.

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Blood Vessels: part 1

April 19, 2010

A look at how character origins contributed to narrative themes of blood and identity in my playthrough of Dragon Age: Origins. Spoiler warnings apply, both for Dragon Age as a whole, and the Dwarf Noble origin in particular. Self-indulgent character babble warnings may also apply. Part 1 of 2, part 2 being here.

So… I played a game called Dragon Age: Origins last year, and I really rather liked it. To the extent that some people are probably utterly sick of hearing me talk about it, but as it’s got me writing again, they’ll just have to deal with it a while longer.

I want to talk a little about my first playthrough, and one of the reasons it was such a compelling experience for me, which was the story. I’m not talking about the story everyone played through, the generic but servicable enough fantasy yarn about defeating armies of darkness and so forth. I mean the story of my player character and her movement through that framework, how she changed (and was changed by) the world and the people around her. Now, that in itself is hardly unusual for a role-playing game of this type. Dragon Age allows for a large amount of meaningful choice, and no two playthroughs are likely to be identical. What really struck me, however, was the way that not only did the story of my character feel unique, it felt uniquely meaningful. A strong theme emerged, one that came to define the entire playthrough and leave me with a moral, of sorts. The theme was “blood”.

Bloody Wardens

Bloody Wardens: the damn stuff gets everywhere.

To be fair, there’s a lot of blood in Dragon Age whatever you do. Quite apart from the comical fountains of it you see in battle, splattering the faces of your party members, it appears all over the game as a stylistic device – spreading over loading screens, splotching across the map as your party moves. “This is Dark, Realistic Fantasy”, it seems to be saying, and it’s a bit silly, to be honest, but it’s not the only kind. Let’s focus on the kind of blood that stays, with luck, in people’s veins – and how it functioned within my game as a metaphor for identity and allegiance.

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