Category Archives: video games

Polygamy with Skyrim

…a spoilerful collection of gamer nonsense, written by a happily married, arguably sane, female gamer  🙂


Not too long ago, I married another man while my husband cheered me on.

Afterward I slayed a dragon and sold its scales at the local general goods store, but that’s nothing special.

Let’s get this part out of the way for those of you who have come here just to get a simple breakdown.

(WARNING: there are unhidden spoilers for the game Skyrim below)

To get married in Skyrim:

  • Go to Riften.
  • Visit the Temple of Mara.
  • Find Maramal. Buy an amulet of Mara… OR
  • Do quests at the temple to get an amulet of Mara.
  • Wear the amulet, and go talk to the character you hope to marry (Same-sex marriage IS allowed, but Lydia is NOT an option).
  • If the character seems interested, follow that line of conversation.
  • Return with the character to Riften to make it official.
  • Live happily ever after.

Now, for those of you who are here for the deeply romantic story of my fictional wedding, here you go!

The Joy of Marriage in Skyrim

Part I: Fall in love… because the alpha guy with a heart – and a werewolf condition – is simply irresistible.

Part II: Decide to wed… because, really, there’s no need to bother your spouse-to-be with the details. Just let him know when you’re ready to claim him.

Part III: Travel to the slums of Riften… because, when you want to tie the knot with your lupine loveboat, nothing says “romance” quite like getting stopped by thieves and drug-addicts at every corner.

Part IV: Join the Temple of Mara… because everyone who’s just fallen in love wants to go witness for a church they’ve just heard of for the first time.

Part V: Get distracted by various Mara missions… because, like everything else in Skyrim, marriage can always wait.

Part VI: Notice the orphans… Wait. Why is that woman being so awful to them???

Part VII: Save your game… because you’re about to do something really wrong.

Part VIII: Take that horrible woman into the other room and shut the door… because the sweet little innocent children shouldn’t have to see this.

Part IX: Watch in horror as the kids come rushing in with glee… because they clearly are not the innocent sweethearts you imagined they were. They’re itty bitty demons in darling skin. Load your previous save and get out of that orphanage of evil. (NOTE: If you are interested in joining – or destroying the Dark Brotherhood, do not load your previous save. Carry on with your game from here.)

Part X: Do your part to clean up Riften… because that whole orphanage experience just made you feel dirty. Cure addicts. Encourage nice behavior. Get rid of dealers. Etc.

Part XI: Realize you’ve lost track of your original purpose in Riften. Go find Maramal… because nothing’s better than realizing the leader of the church you’ve been blindly supporting is one of those guys who goes into bars and yells at everyone there.

Part XII: Buy the amulet of Mara (if you don’t have it already)… because that’s all you really need to get a mate. Just wear a necklace that says, “On the Prowl.”

I'm available!

Part XIII: Wear the amulet… because it’s fun to see who’s interested. This is kind of like dieting and working out for a month, putting on your cutest outfit, curling your hair, and spritzing your best perfume all over your neck and wrists. Only the amulet is easier because you just equip it and move on.

Part XIV: Nearly propose to the wrong guy… because the irresistible werewolf with a heart has a twin brother.  🙂

Part XV: Approach Farkas and feel a little disappointed by his casual acceptance… because being a hot guy with a sensitive side apparently does not necessarily mean he’s also good with words.

You and me, Farkas.

Part XVI: Go back to Riften! Jitters!

Wait... is he having second thoughts?

Part XVII: Lose your husband after the ceremony… um, what?

Part XVIII: Reload and do the wedding four more times before Farkas will actually stay in the temple to discuss living arrangements.

It'll be a great day if you stick around this time...

Part XIX: Decide to live in your own house… because nothing’s better than home-cooked meals and a successful store that your husband decides to run while you’re out hunting dragons.

Part XX: Lose Lydia… because apparently she does not like this new union.

Part XXI: Live happily ever after – and welcome Lydia back with all of your loot a week later.

Whatever. Elves are tall. We were on the stairs.

Ah… sweet romance.

Sexism in gaming

“RU a real girl?”
“no way”
“prove it”
“talk on the mic”
Ahem… hello, hello. Female here.
“ur a kid. little boy”
“RU really a girl?????”
“hey. sorry i didnt believe u”
Whatever. Doesn’t matter.
“so… can i get a pic?”

Welcome to gaming as a girl. Certainly the above does not represent all conversations females have online with male players. There are plenty of perfectly normal, friendly, mature, intelligent gamer guys out there. But conversations like this are much more common than is comfortable, at least for me.

I’m a girl gamer. My preferences are RPGs, sims, tower defenses, and action adventures.

I’m also subject to a lot of nonsense like the above conversation when I go online. It’s annoying and off-putting and fairly sexist.

But these are just gamers. It’s how they are. What can we do other than simply ignore the rude people on the Internet?

First of all, I don’t agree that this is just “how they are.” I have more respect for the gaming community than to believe that they are dominated by a bunch of sexist pigs and nothing more.

So what accounts for this kind of thing?

There are tons of debates, and nobody wants to take the blame, understandably. Here are a few of the arguments I have heard/read about sexism in gaming (I do not agree with all of them):

  • Gamers are by their nature anti-social, and they are mostly teenage boys who are afraid of and amazed by girls.
  • This is the Internet. Welcome to it, ladies.
  • Video gaming is a physically lazy sport, and people with low self-esteem and an interest in blowing digital things up spend no time working on their bodies or developing real relationships. Drop a girl into the mix, and sexist remarks are inevitable.
  • Shooting cartoon characters all day is just pretend manliness, and the men who engage in that activity feel a need to overcompensate. When they run into a female online, that can turn into sexist comments.
  • Women imagine this sexism; gaming culture is no more sexist than any other culture.
  • It’s our world that is sexist. Girls are raised to braid hair and bake muffins, while boys are raised to compete and play with GI Joe. Video games are inherently designed for competitive people, and any girls who quit braiding hair long enough to join a game are entering at their own risk. (NO GIRLS ALLOWED.)
  • Girls are usually pretty bad at video games, and so they have not yet earned any respect from the true gamers.
  • The game creators have instilled sexism into the images and stories of the games, thus setting a standard.
  • The game companies use “booth babes” and attractive female models with portable gaming systems attached to their waists to professionally announce innovations within their companies (ahem, Nintendo), thus setting and promoting a standard.

Am I missing anything?

This link made me think, once again, about the problem of sexism in gaming. It’s a matchup site where gamers can go to find game escorts. Most escorts are female. These women will play games with you… and possibly do more if you tip them well.

I don’t actually have a problem with such a business existing. If people want to engage in this type of activity online, then fine. It’s a little confusing to me, since most titles connect people for online gaming automatically, but, then, gaming doesn’t appear to be the only draw, here.

What bothers me is that I’m not surprised. Girls need to find a place in the video game world, and the other players, designers, and producers aren’t helping them do it, so one way they can have fun online and make some side cash is to sign up to be escorts. Hrm.

Help me understand this issue a little better. What accounts for sexism in gaming? Is the situation improving or getting worse? Or is this all simply a perceived sexism when there is actually no problem at all?

The Everlasting ARG

I don’t like it that alternate reality games have to end. Call me clingy; sometimes there’s just a really good game out there, and I want to keep experiencing the world it offers for years and years. Many say that what I really want is an MMORPG, but I think that’s only partially accurate. I believe what I want is an interactive, transmedia soap opera. I want an everlasting ARG.  🙂

And we’re really big on story; we’re really big on narrative. So what we’ve been doing for the last two and half years, more or less, is plotting a story that spans lots of different media. It’s got back-stabbings; it’s pretty much a traditional soap opera. You’ve got murders, babies, betrayal, affairs – there’s a really great audience out there for that kind of thing.” ~ Adrian Hon

The following are excerpts from a paper I did for a class on Texts and Technology. The focus of my paper was the everlasting ARG. I may post more of it later, but I’d like to begin with the positive stuff:


Several attempts have been made to market novels with ARGs, most resulting in ongoing games that provide few updates and little interactivity. By many player admissions, this does not constitute a “true” ARG, but instead is what some have referred to as an “extended” story. The joy that comes from new, interactive material dies when it is used to market certain products. What players get instead is either a proper ARG that ends, as with I Love Bees, or an extended experience that is a solitary game instead of the collaborative social network that makes up a standard ARG.

On November 1, 2009, Adrian Hon said on Remix Fiction, “It’s obviously difficult for – well, it’s impossible, really, to play a normal alternate reality game after it’s finished.”

Microsoft’s Halo 2 continues to be available. Xbox continues to release new games. But the time, money, and creativity invested in the associated ARGs no longer pay dividends. The finite quality of the ARG experience dictates that, once played, the game has no afterlife, no value either as promotion or as entertainment. For potential players who hear of I Love Bees, there is no possibility of future engagement beyond reading what it was once like.

LonelyGirl15 hit YouTube in 2007 as a webisode/ARG that became viral almost instantly. This show/game/experience became an example of how ARGs can reach all types of audiences and have a profound effect.

David Spark, founder of Spark Media Solutions, posted about the Lonely Girl model and what made it work. One reason for the show’s success? “It’s a soap opera – People get attached to characters and need to find out what happens next. And LonelyGirl15’s melodrama makes Days of Our Lives look like the MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour.”

In April of 2009, CBS announced that Guiding Light, the world’s longest-running broadcast show at 72 years (recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records), was to be canceled.

“The endurance of this show is a testament to the enduring popularity of the soap opera genre in general,” said Daniel R. Coleridge, soap columnist and author of “The Q Guide to Soap Operas.” “Viewers become emotionally attached to the characters, so much so that they often feel closer to them than to their own families. Soaps are broadcast five days a week, 52 weeks a year. They don’t go on hiatus for the summer. This gives the viewer a lot more time to get to know the characters and become attached to them.”

The same can be said of Massively Multi-player Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs). These forms of entertainment use the same model described above, where fans are able to access the fictional world daily for as long as the servers support the experience. MMORPGs take immersion to an even higher level, allowing players to create own identities in a virtual world such as EverQuest or World of Warcraft, interacting with other players and participating in missions every single day.

This regular interaction can provide strong levels of fan loyalty over long periods of time. As soap opera fans believe they “know” the characters in their favorite shows sometimes better than their own families, MMORPG players are able to develop and carry out alternate lives with social circles and personal goals, all within fictional universes.

Interaction is an essential part of our storytelling today, and fans of many genres, rather than preferring to passively experience fiction, express an interest in participating in the progress of their entertainment.

The conclusion we can reach from these examples is this: interactivity in all storytelling genres may assist in increasing the longevity of individual stories themselves.

Perhaps the most obvious practical benefit of long-lasting or perpetual ARG storytelling is the opportunity for lengthy relationships with sponsors. In addition to that, ARGs that provide lengthy experiences can also reach out to new companies as the story shifts, bringing in fresh sponsorship to match the changing technologies and audiences.

The constant collaboration between author and audience builds viewer loyalty and interest. ARG players who fail to save a character from a terrible fate rush to message boards to express their sorrow and even guilt after the fact. Such a strong connection is reminiscent of the viewers of Guiding Light, who felt closer to the characters on the show than they did to their real families. Guiding Light provided longevity, while ARGs provide interactivity. Both appear to have a profound impact on audiences.


This is just a small section of my paper, but I decided to post the positive-ish side of things first.

So, am I crazy? Clingy?  🙂  Is it possible (or even desirable) for an ARG to go on… and on… and on?

Rock Out While You Work?

Normally I can’t listen to music while I work. As soon as I select a song, I begin bopping my head to the beat. Then, as I type on my keyboard, I hum a few bars. Finally, my favorite part of the music comes up, and I drop everything, back away from the computer, and sing along full force until the song is over, when I realize I enjoyed those few minutes so much I want to hit replay.

No, listening to music during work generally isn’t a good idea for me.  🙂

Lots of people enjoy it, though, and I’ve always envied those who can rock out while they write. I’ve been searching for an album that works – one that relaxes me, keeps me feeling upbeat, and doesn’t serve as a distraction.

I think I’ve finally found something!

Flower is an amazing PlayStation Network downloadable game/work of art created by That Game Company. It follows the dreams? journeys? destinies? of several urban windowsill flowers as they turn a dreary world beautiful. It also has a lovely soundtrack – lyric free and soothing.

Not long ago I downloaded the soundtrack from PSN and have been playing it in the background while I write. It’s perfect! The music is calm, fun, and ideal for creativity. My only complaint is that I want more tracks – I could listen to this all day long.

Do you listen to music while you work? What’s best for you?