DEEP DIVE: What You Didn't Know (or Forgot) About Skyrim
By Lizzie Carr
It’s no secret, especially in the past few months, that the popularity of gaming has increased substantially. Most of us are looking for some semblance of control in an otherwise uncontrollable situation and escaping into a different world has never been so desirable in our lifetimes. With that desire to escape, it makes sense that open-world games have seen the biggest rise with players. And for me… there is no better escapism than venturing through the province of Skyrim.
Yes, the game has been around for a while (I’m still rocking The Elder Scrolls V from 2011) and I’ve probably been playing it for just as long. And yet, whenever I’m absorbing the souls of Dragons, defeating Draugar, and searching madly for Jazbay Grapes, there has never been a gaming session when I haven’t briefly turned into Owen Wilson and let out a ‘WOW’ when looking at the sheer size and detail of the game. It’s a masterpiece, which has no doubt changed the landscape of open-world games forever. And with such a massive game, it’s not surprising that there are many, many details and stories that go, for the most part, unknown.
So, my fellow Dragonborns, here are 10 facts you probably didn’t know about Skyrim. And if you do, now you have another excuse to rediscover them and play again.
The language of the dragons was created by Director of Skyrim, Todd Howard. Howard challenged lead writer Emil Pagliarulo to write a song in a new language that rhymed with the Skyrim theme song but would still make sense, still rhyme, and fit the theme song once translated back to English. Yeesh.
The written dragon language etched into the stone walls was designed to look like the dragons had written it themselves. Hence the dots where their claws would have stabbed the stone and the uneven scratches from them dragging their claws. Basically, Bethesda showed us what dragon handwriting looks like, and it’s not as messy as I would have thought.
THERE AREN’T ANY DRAGONS…
While we’re on the topic of Dragons, technically speaking (from lore), the characters referred to as Dragons in Skyrim aren’t actually Dragons--they’re Wyverns. Relatives of Dragons, Wyverns are creatures with two wings and two legs, which is what we see in Skyrim. Since Dragons have two wings and four legs, this means we actually play as the Wyvernborn…
It’s common to run into characters that happen to have very similar voices, if not the same in the game. The reason for this is because the more than 60,000 lines of dialogue delivered by over 110 characters, were delivered by only 70 voice actors. Of those actors, Jim Cummings (Winnie the Pooh) voices several characters. What you may not know is that the infamous Charles Martinet (Mario) voices Paarthurnax, and Arngeir the Greybeard elder, is voiced by the legendary Christopher Plummer!
BUGS IN JARS
The mysterious bugs in jars that could be found around Skyrim drove the internet crazy for years because they obviously belonged to a quest. Right? However, no one could figure out what they belonged to, and the reason for that is a little less spectacular than you might think. As developers created the game, the quest that the bugs in jars belonged to was canceled. And instead of the bugs being removed, they were just kept in the game. Whether they were forgotten about or left in on purpose isn’t certain but they caused quite a stir with fan theories for some time.
GAME OF THRONES
Skyrim almost had a very different story. Bethesda was approached to create a Game of Thrones game, and rumor has it that even George R.R. Martin was involved in the talks. Ultimately, Bethesda turned it down because they were already building a fantasy-themed open-world game, and decided they wanted to continue with their own world rather than a GoT one.
ERIK THE SLAYER
Erick West, whose internet identity was ‘Immok the Slayer’, was a huge Skyrim fan. Through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Erik visited Bethesda’s HQ during the game’s development and impressed everyone with his in-depth knowledge during the tour. Six months before the release of Skyrim, Erik died of cancer. So Bethesda immortalized Erik as Erik the Slayer, a character who can be found in Frostfruit Inn in Rorikstead.
If you travel to Bleek Coast Cave, you’ll be faced with a white snow troll. What does this icy cave and the troll remind me of? Hmm…Hoth and a Wampa, perhaps? The more convincing Star Wars connection here is when you find a skeleton hanging from the ice and a glowing green sword on the ground below it. Maybe we’re grasping at straws, but it seems like too much of a coincidence and something that Bethesda would knowingly include so our little nerd hearts can speculate and flutter.
To further reinforce that Bethesda developers get their kicks from adding small details in the game here's another hidden gem: if you break into Endon’s house in Markath, on the bottom shelf in his bedroom you will find a wheel of cheese and some garlic that is laid out to look like Pacman.
BY THE NINE DIVINES!
Seven of the nine Divines are named after Beta testers of the original Skyrim games (with Kynareth and Talos being the only original names). They used online alias’ or got creative with their actual “human” names to create the Divines. For example, Akatosh is named after a player who called themselves ‘Also Known As The Old Smaug Himself’ (which is also why Akatosh is a dragon), and Dibella was named after Mary Jo DiBella.
REAL LIFE DRAGONBORN
Before The Elder Scrolls V was released back in 2011, Bethesda issued a challenge that if any child was born on 11/11/11 (the release date of the game) and was named Dovakhiin, they would receive a Bethesda swag and games for their entire life. Dovahkiin Tom Kellermeyer was born on 11/11/11, and blog posts online report that his mother induced pregnancy to meet this deadline. There are no reports on whether he has absorbed any dragon souls yet. FUS RO DAH!