The Political Dimension of Skyrim's Civil War: A Study of Russian Gamers Community
DiGRA 2017: The 10th Digital Games Research Association Conference, 3-6 July 2017
Posted: 5 Feb 2020
Date Written: April 24, 2017
Computer games have long been the subject of harsh disputes, but their political influence is still poorly understood. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Softworks, 2011) describes a fantasy world in which there is a confrontation between nationalists-separatists (the specific way of development) and the empire (the universal way of development), that is the quest's line "The Civil War in Skyrim." This line is not the main quest and it is possible to enjoy the game without missions from this quest line. The scenario most likely has its roots in ancient history and should not have led to analogies with modernity. The choice of either side will show the inconsistency of this choice, and it seems the authors put an emphasis on the horrors and unjust of civil war as it is. However, the long realistic RPG game (it needs 200-300 hours) led to immersion in the game world and the emergence of a discussion between gamers who supported different sides. The separatist line in the game was supported by Russian nationalist gaming communities. Some fans recorded musical compositions of nationalistic content based on the game. The nationalist slogan heard in the game "Skyrim for the Nords" became one of the mottos of groups of fans. However, the empire's line also received support. In our research, we study four Russian-speaking forums on the choice of a party in the civil war and conduct a discourse analysis of the comments. 819 comments were analyzed, 52% of them were written by the nationalist supporters, 37% of commentators supported the empire. The rest of the responses were neutral. Nationalistic commentators insisted on the identity of Skyrim, the need to preserve its culture, and protect its independence. Pro-imperial commentators emphasized the dangers of external enemies and the unacceptability of only a national development path. This discussion, taking place in the context of Russia's reality and the country's complex foreign policy, has shown that the discussion of computer games can be a place of political battles on topical problems of the real world.
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