Video Games as Narrative High Art: Skyrim

Video Games as Narrative High Art: Skyrim

I recently completed a lengthy essay on why Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim qualifies as high art and as a good story, in the classical sense. The piece is a bit on the heavy side in addition to its length, but if you are a mythology buff or are into video-game lore, you may find it worth the meander.

Here’s just one thematic exploration from the game:

The achievement the game awards the player with upon killing Alduin is “Dragonslayer.” It may seem a bit superfluous, after already having killed any number of dragons prior to defeating Alduin, but it marks the complete attainment of the identity of dragonslayer, since Alduin is, essentially, the King of the Dragons.

This brings up another critical point. Who, or what, is Alduin? In the game, he is a very powerful dragon, the first-born son of a God, and the legendary harbinger of the end of the world. Mythologically, Alduin is the great serpent, the snake in the Garden of Eden and the Great Beast of Revelation, Jörmungandr and Fenrir. Psychologically, however, Alduin is the Shadow of the Dragonborn.

The Shadow is the dark and emotional side of our personality, always dangerous, but not necessarily evil. It becomes evil, however, when we are not aware of it, and thus cannot control it. It takes on a mind of its own, pursues its own desires, which are often at odds with what we want, as well as with morality, society, and the world. If it is allowed to grow, the shadow can become a true monster.


After confronting the shadow, the resurrection from death is simultaneously a transformation into something new. You are both dragon-born and dragon-slayer: a self-slayer, and self-overcomer.

Check out the full piece at Medium. If you think it’s interesting, leave a few claps.

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