Finding myself with a good bit of unstructured time this week, I decided to revisit a game I haven’t played in nearly sixteen or seventeen years: The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. The game was released right at the end of my junior year of high school, in May 2002. I was familiar with The Elder Scrolls from picking up a copy of the first game, Arena, in the used games bin at Electronic Boutique in the Aiken Mall sometime back in middle school. Arena came out in 1994; it was probably around 1997 or 1998 when I picked up my copy—including a mousepad map of the Tamrielic Empire and two fat instruction booklets.
That was back when the Internet was not so readily available (I don’t think we had it at home until the year 2000 or 2001), so playing big, open-ended roleplaying games like those in The Elder Scrolls series required a great deal of study before and during play. That also meant actually reading the information characters imparted, and learning by a great deal of trial and error.
When Morrowind released I’d preordered it based solely on how much I enjoyed Arena. Arena is very clunky by today’s standards (it was made for MS-DOS, after all), but the breadth of the world, as well as the game’s roots in tabletop roleplaying games, really drew me in. I figured that if Morrowind was built on the same dedication to pen-and-paper roleplaying, it would be a blast.
Well, I was right. Morrowind is, perhaps, the best game I have ever played. That doesn’t mean it is flawless; indeed, Elder Scrolls games are notoriously buggy. Morrowind is no exception. But bugginess, clunky combat, and a steep learning curve aside, Morrowind delivered on the promise of an open-ended roleplaying experience, while also delivering an incredibly dense story, and a world jam-packed with characters, locations, quests, and lots of random oddities.
Somehow, though, I haven’t touched the game for any significant length of time since probably 2006. The release of two follow-ups, Oblivion (the only time I skipped a class in college—a University Band rehearsal—was the night this game was released) and Skyrim (which came out on 11 November 2011, the year I began teaching again) would continue the series, but see it lose much of its depth of mechanics to become a more streamlined action RPG.
To further indicate this blog’s slide into pop cultural irrelevancy, I’ve decided to chronicle my newest playthrough here on The Portly Politico, doing so on Wednesdays when there is not a sonnet scheduled and when I have played enough to write something of interest. In other words, the second and fourth Wednesdays in the month, and the fifth Wednesday when one appears in a month.
I’m dubbing these posts Morrowednesdays.