Time Sinks – The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
There's often something undefinable about the games that we truly love; a quality that isn't captured by logic. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is on many gamers' lists of favorite games, and like me, you've likely spent a great amount of time doing any number of things in Skyrim's world. My time in Skyrim is marked by grand adventures and epic fights, but also by extensive inventory management. Crazy? That's the beauty of Skyrim.
I usually divided my time in Skyrim into two equal parts: I spend one play session roaming the world, doing quests, and getting into trouble, and the following one crafting and managing my inventory. Game Informer creative director Jeff Akervik always gives me crap for spending so much time on what he considers the mundane aspect of the game, but for me taking hours making items, selling stuff, and plotting out my skill constellations not only satisfies my natural tendency to keep things tidy, but it's also a natural part of growing my character.
Skyrim nicely ties its crafting, enhancements, and smithing (and I don't even dabble in cooking or mining!) with its multi-faceted skill constellations for complementary systems that not only give you a tangible object at the end of your hard work, but also improve your character. I spend hours plotting out exactly which perks I want to get on the constellations and then work backwards from there to see what I have to do to achieve them.
There's also the necessary process of decluttering your inventory from all the potions, unused weapons, and other miscellanea, which ties into another time suck for me in the game – arranging my houses. Apart from upgrading the place, it's nice to have a well-appointed storehouse of stuff – you never know when you might need a particular item that you don't necessarily want to carry around with you all the time.
None of this is revolutionary for a video game. However, Skyrim is so well constructed that the allure when you place it all in the context of the game world and your moment-to-moment existence is powerful. Legends are created through grand adventures, but scratching out a living that has an impact on the world both large and small is immeasurable.
For some, the sprawling geography, random encounters, and wealth of quests is what makes Skyrim the kind of game that you never truly finish. I find these weighty components of the entire experience, but the more routine aspects of the game provide a backbone that makes it truly rich.