Skyrim (2011) is a video game from the Elder Scrolls video game series that originated in the nineties. The player learns that he or she is the chosen one, prophesied to defeat Alduin the World-Eater – an ancient and massive dragon hell-bent on destroying the realm of Tamriel.
Yes, I know how nerdy that sounds.
But I certainly found it interesting. And recently, I saw that Skyrim was on sale on Steam, a gaming platform where games’ prices are periodically slashed and users are alerted to video games they might like.
It brought many memories back. I’ve owned this masterpiece of a video game for 6 years, yet I never actually finished it.
DELIVERANCE TO DISTRACTION
In Skyrim‘s grand opening sequence, you are a prisoner in shackles who is about to be executed. At the eleventh hour however, you are delivered from the chopping block when Alduin attacks, and chaos breaks out in the town.
Over the next few minutes, you successfully escape out of an underground labyrinthian network of caves. You then emerge headlong into the cold mountain air, where a magnificent vista greets you:
Lines upon lines of mighty, snow-covered fir trees stand sentry in sweeping frosty meadows. Snow-capped mountains rise defiantly in the distance, beckoning you to climb them – and you must.
For Alduin is perched atop one of these mighty mountains, scheming where to strike the world of Tamriel next. It is later revealed that the Dragon intends to destroy Tamriel’s afterlife itself – a plane of existence called Sovngarde. Which is kinda like our Heaven. So our primary goal is to save humanity by taking down the ancient dragon before Heaven is no more.
However, this great quest we are commissioned to undertake is immediately waylaid by a myriad other smaller quests. One of the common comments about Skyrim is that it’s easy to forget the main quest because there are thousands of other things to do in the world.
And these side missions have rewards so immediate – so here and now – it’s often simply a lot more appealing to do them. Walk into a cave, kill a troll, level up – profit.
The greater good isn’t as fun as doing what we want, whenever we want. So we just end up doing our own thing, chasing what pays and what gratifies.
Eventually, we’ve completely lost sight of the larger goal and our original purpose. We forget why we were spared from destruction in the first place. Sounds a lot like real life to me.
THE PROPENSITY FOR DISTRACTION
Maybe it all sounds like a bit of a stretch to you, but gaming really makes me reflect like this.
In Tamriel, I ultimately became rich and powerful. Whenever I walked into a town, people would greet me as if I were a king. I could build homes, or I could just as easily raze them to the ground.
But for all of my might, I left no impact on the world. The characters around me would still go on with their lives, oblivious to the great threat which hung above them – biding its time. They would die, and when they did there’d be no Heaven for them to go to.
Yet all the while, I could have done something. I could have “saved” them.
This isn’t an exhortation to climb up a mountain and spear Satan or something. To be clear, we don’t exactly get to save the day. Christ has already defeated death, and saved us. He has already won.
Having been delivered, our job is to now deliver that good news of salvation to others who remain mired in darkness. Our job is to make disciples and to make Him known in the world.
But what is common to open-world roleplaying games and the Christian walk, is the propensity for distraction. There are ten thousand other things to do in this life, and many of them are far more “rewarding” in the here and now.
WE ARE CHOSEN
Maybe some of us had a dream for God once. But maybe “real life” caught up, and we ended up losing sight of that vision along the way. You might say you have no particular calling – that still doesn’t absolve you.
That certainly doesn’t allow you to waste your life. We all have the same commission (Matthew 28:16-20). We all have the same main quest.
In the various classes – no, professions – that we pick, it’s worth examining: What are we really chasing with our skills and talents?
While we’re caught up with the world, humanity hinges on what we make of the sliver of time and life given to each of us.
I didn’t finish Skyrim in the end. But in this real life, I intend to focus, fight well, and run long and fast.
I’m playing to win.