‘This is the 27th of Last Seed, year of Akatosh 433…’

How do I know this?  Why, because I’ve done this before…many times before.  And Patrick Stewart, once my beloved icon of humanity’s future that will never be (if you say Kirk was a better captain, I’ll stab you), is now the voice of Uriel Septim VII, emperor of Tamriel.

The human mind, while adaptable, remains fragile.  And through this combination, it copes with chronic negativity through distraction and self-delusion.  And alcohol, but that quickly hits a point of diminishing returns.

So it was during my adolescence, when I had failed to build meaningful friendships, and any social standing I had with my peer group was suddenly destroyed from a move cross-country, when we had first acquired broadband and internet downloads were more innocent, that I discovered in earnest the land of shareware–trial versions of software, and in a time before the synergy of computers and consoles, the place to find games.

Enter: Avernum.  It was unlike any game I had encountered before.  It was my first encounter with a sandbox RPG.  I could travel a fantasy land at will, unrestricted by plot objectives and invisible walls.  I could complete stories when I wanted, all the while exploring the landscape and intricate lore of its creators.  It was a livable book.  I was instantly hooked, and played this series well into college.

Isometrics baby!

Then the XBOX 360 came out, and it’s flagship title, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.  And while I couldn’t afford these, my roommate, spoiled by a lucrative major, Bio-engineering, and his summer internship at Pfizer Pharmaceuticals–he could.  He was also a whore to social popularity, so it didn’t take him long to acquire.  It became the immediate go-to game for our circle of friends, bickering over taking turns yet passing the controller in accordance with vaguely defined codes of honor.  And like Avernum, Oblivion quickly became my escape from worldly personal problems–job, girls, school, etc.

I wish I could go fishing in that lake

Over a decade later, my own deprecated XBOX 360 still remains wired to my entertainment center for one reason: Oblivion.  Other games have since taken center stage, but Oblivion remains eternal–at least until this old console breaks.  Through some odd form of emotional conditioning, whenever the stressors of life take their toll, out comes Oblivion.

So when I started cutting back on my drinking, I sought comfort elsewhere.  I booted up the XBOX 360, which now in comparison to contemporary hardware sounds like a vacuum cleaner.  And in short order, Patrick Stewart began his monologue:

‘I was born 87 years ago…’

From the other room, my wife announced her concern and asked me what was wrong.  Apparently she’s recognized this correlation too.

Soon enough, the winter will break and I’ll be occupied with a myriad of other far more productive projects.  The levity of spring will usher in another year of life and happy memories.  The weather is already changing and I can feel the winter depression and its associated vitamin D deficiency waning.  But for now, it’s cold and dark, and I really need to relight those dragonfires and banish Mehrunes Dagon.