Monday, March 13, 2006

The Literary Achievement of Morrowind

Lobo wrote an interesting article over at Gamers With Jobs about the Morrowind books. Here's the link:

There are hundreds of books scattered across the game world in Morrowind, many of them in libraries. What separates these books from other texts in other games is their depth--they are brilliantly written, full of incredible depth about the history of the Elder Scrolls world. They greatly increased my enjoyment of what was already one of the most enjoyable RPG's I ever played.

Here's an excerpt from the article:
Morrowind and the other games of the Elder Scrolls series reject the increasingly common notion that playing games and reading text are mutually exclusive activities. The books in Morrowind would not be so grand on their own, and neither would the game divorced of its books. Together, though, they ensure Morrowind's status as one of the most important games ever made. It reaches out to its players in a way that few games do, and in ways that non-games media cannot, since they cannot produce in their audiences anything at all like the senses of exploration and arborescence that permeate Morrowind. What Planescape: Torment did for the status of plot in games, Morrowind accomplished for setting.

I think that's what so many first person games are missing right now: context. Anyone who saw the films in Fatal Frame II, which were devastating, knows how effective context can be, whether it's presented via well-written text or as an "animated history." In most games, we get a threadbare idea of why we are there, then--let's start blastin'! It comes off as shallow, because it is shallow. In Morrowind, though, the history of the world was so vividly presented that it took me to a far higher level of immersion.

One more note: in the article, Lobo lists a link to a site that has complete texts for all the books in Morrowind. All of them. And because I'm crazy, I'd like to go back and re-read them before Oblivion comes out.

Which will be very, very soon.

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