Saturday, July 23, 2011

Revisiting Oblivion, Part 1

Rediscovering the wonder of Oblivion through the eyes of children

To tide me over between now and Skyrim, last week I started playing Oblivion through for the second time. My two kids, Colin (4) and Maddy (5) were in the room when I started, so I told them it was the coolest game ever, and started through the tutorial. They were paying attention (rare) so I started reading my dialog choices out loud to them, so the responses would make sense.

That was the start of something. Two observations about the magic of this game; first, it's just as captivating the second time around (I wasn't sure it would be) and second, it is not lost on children. It wasn't long before I came to Kvatch, still a level 1. I was struggling to beat a single scamp at a time, but I went in there because my little cheerleading section demanded it.

The final path to the sigil stone was causing me total frustration; I had no business being there as a level 1 noob, after all, and I was ready to quit, but had one crazy thought. "Alright, guys" I said, "I'm going to try something. I'm just going to RUN."

So I did. I ran up the central spiral corridor, into the final hall, up the bone stairs, all the while gaining a larger and larger train of enemies, and my health fast-dwindling. I barreled toward the sigil stone like that Uruk-hai in the Helm's Deep siege, and grabbed it. As the room started to shake and everything started to go nuclear, I ran around like a panicked chicken, still taking hits and inches from death. And then the loading screen popped up. I cheered, I fist-pumped, and high-fived both the kids. It was fantastic.

What a moment. And they've been with me since then, getting more involved. I've been reading off the dialog choices and letting them decide. I've even been letting them play with the controls a bit. They're PopCap app junkies, and pretty darned good at Ragdoll Blaster, but this is big-league gaming. And they are digging it. My daughter's favorite thing so far is to make fun of my character's hairstyle every time I take my helmet off. Colin's favorite thing has been when I sneak up on something and "give em a WHACK!"

What's cool about playing the game this time through is that I'm sharing it with them. I had no idea how neat that'd be.