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It feels like an age since the last Elder Scrolls game was released (seven years, to be precise), and it's probably going to be several years more before we see the next one. It's an agonising wait, and for some older fans, it really is a race against time. But thanks to an online campaign, fans are hoping at least one Skyrim-playing grandma will be involved in the next game. In at least some sense of the word.
As possibly the coolest grandma on the internet, you may well have already heard of Shirley Curry. She's an 82-year-old YouTuber who primarily records herself playing Skyrim, and has pretty much won the hearts of everyone in the Elder Scrolls community. Referring to her subscribers as "grandkids", she goes out of her way to reply to every comment on her videos, and her let's plays are basically the most wholesome thing you can find on the internet. And, if you still doubted her credentials, last year she even made it into the Guinness World Record book as the oldest video game YouTuber. Here's her latest Skyrim video, should you want a look:
Her place at the centre of an internet campaign, however, began after a Reddit user spotted her comment on a YouTube video analysing the comments Pete Hines made to Eurogamer about TES6's release window. "I guess that puts the nail in my coffin," Curry wrote. "When Skyrim 6 comes out I'll be 88! So I probably won't get to play it."
It's easy to understand why brutalism has been such a potent source of architectural inspiration for games. The raw forms - solid, legible and with clear lineation - are the perfect material for level designers to craft their worlds with. Simultaneously, these same structures are able to ignite imaginations and gesture outwards, their dramatic shapes and monumental dimensions shocking and attention-seizing.
Brutalism is a branch of architecture that spans roughly 30 years (1950s-1970s). It was borne out of the devastation of two world wars, when there was a need to rebuild. In this aftermath brutalism became a vital global phenomenon. If you live in a city, you've no doubt passed by a hulking example.
The term derives from a French invention: b ton brut, meaning raw concrete. This is the structure's most prominent feature - sheer concrete surface, often left rough, exposed or unfinished. Significant in the emergence of brutalism was the architect Le Corbusier and his Unit d'Habitation. Built from reinforced concrete, the housing unit was an attempt to create what Le Corbusier called "a machine for living" - a place that met our every need. It was a thoroughly modern, progressive and even utopian conception of architecture. Regardless of the visual force of brutalism, it's impossible to divorce it from this socio-historical background.
Looking at places to live in games, it would be easy for the most magnificent, pompous and elegant palaces and castles to dominate any appreciation. But there is plenty of room to appreciate those residences that are tucked away, perhaps underrated, that are not major hubs or destinations and that are only subtle intrusions. Some draw a curious sense of attachment from players, eliciting a sense of pseudo-topophilia - a close relationship with a virtual land or place. The resulting effect is sometimes enough to cause the sentiment: if this place were real, I would live there.
Right in the corner of the Hinterlands in Dragon Age: Inquisition is the Grand Forest Villa. Its position in the landscape is not obtrusive or jarring, and in turn makes use of the surrounding Hinterlands as its grounds and gardens. Not only does it look fantastic in its geographical context, the residence fits the medieval-fantasy context, oozing grandeur and splendour. But it also serves a purpose: in the Dragon Age lore, it was built for a special friend of the Arl of Redcliffe to allow him to stay near Redcliffe Castle, but far enough away to not raise eyebrows or induce scandal. Designed to be elegant and bold, the Villa - which is a generous term - would have been a beautiful place to live. Even though there are no obvious living spaces on show to relate to they are there - probably within the thick stone walls that add a strange, yet weirdly complete juxtaposition of woodland villa aesthetic next to defensive fortress.
Its semi-open nature permeates its design. Opening up sides and boundaries has the effect of bringing the outside, inside - nowadays, think about homes that have entire walls made of glass to bring their garden 'inside' - blurring the boundary between indoor luxury and the pleasantness of nature, landscapes and plants. It also opens up expansive and brilliant vistas from the Grand Forest Villa, the importance of which is demonstrated by the design of designated viewing decks or points offering fabulous views over the lush and rolling Hinterlands landscape.
"Come on. Lighten up. Have a whiff."
It's late into Cyberpunk 2077's demo when Dum-Dum extends a claw toward V, offering a hit from a skull-adorned inhaler. Perhaps sensing the veiled hostility behind the supposed peace pipe being thrust under her nose, she obliges. Arachnid eye implants shine through a red haze. Dum-Dum takes his own hit, and flared nerves settle. Between all the talk of cred chips and bots, the tension that fuels this choice stems from a ritual as old as time. Breaking bread. Chinking cups. Passing the proverbial Dutchie to the left.
Adult games, as a medium, are often enamoured with their own portrayal of taboo subjects, but there's a streak of silently judgemental conservatism dulling the libertine sheen. By confining their use to grim settings, these stories condemn altered states of consciousness as the territory of society's dregs. At the same time, they're perfectly happy to hijack their aesthetics when it suits. Unexamined praise can be as useless as uninformed panic, of course, but let's be clear here: games are, for the most part, shit at doing drugs properly. Here's a brief history of drug use in games.
Is there anything more spine-tingling than loading up Skyrim to hear those ominous chants? Now imagine that with a live choir, in London's Hammersmith Apollo, all in the name of charity. Oh - and with some epic Fallout music thrown into the mix too.
Bethesda is supporting War Child UK to put on a live performance of its biggest musical hits. This includes tunes from Fallout 3, Fallout 4, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and even the mysterious upcoming game Fallout 76. Personally, I can't wait to hear a preview of the soundtrack to which nukes will be dropping on my head.
The concert is due to take place on Saturday 3rd November at the London Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith. The music of composers Inon Zur and Jeremy Soule will be performed by the Parallax Orchestra and Choir, who are not new to more unusual classical concerts, having previously performed Bring Me The Horizon at the Royal Albert Hall.
Had enough of Skyrim ports? Can't quite hold on until the next Elder Scrolls game? Don't worry, modders have your back - and you can now play one of their best creations without ever leaving Steam. Hooray!
Enderal, developed by SureAI, is a total conversion mod that breaks down Skyrim and builds a new game using Skyrim's assets. We've previously published some Enderal gameplay impressions , but in brief it's an incredibly detailed and expansive mod which gives players a brand new world to explore. Oh, and it's critically acclaimed: Enderal won the Best Fan Creation category at the 2016 Game Awards. Not to mention it's been downloaded nearly 200,000 times on NexusMods.
So, what can you do in Enderal?
In the real world, house prices are so high that owning your own home is a pipedream for millions.
But what would it cost to buy a house in, say, Skyrim, if it were in the real world? Well, all of a sudden house prices get a bit more realistic.
Mortgage broker L&C Mortgages spent some time working out the real world cost of property in a raft of video games, including Skyrim, Fallout, Zelda and The Witcher 3.
Arkane Studios has confirmed that its superb first-person assassination series Dishonored is "resting right now", with no further instalments seemingly currently planned.
News of Dishonored's dormancy comes via Arkane Studios lead designer Ricardo Bare (speaking to VG247 during QuakeCon), who qualified that, "I can't say definitively what might happen down the road, anything could happen".
The original Dishonored launched back in 2012 to much critical acclaim, with reviews celebrating its superb world design and the sometimes dizzying freedom with which the game's supernaturally enhanced assassination missions could be approached.
2016's Doom and the original Rage are now both available via Xbox Games Pass - their arrivals timed to coincide with this weekend's QuakeCon 2018 festivities.
It's especially well-timed as publisher Bethesda and developer id Software have spent the weekend chatting about both games' upcoming sequels: Doom Eternal and Rage 2.
This weekend we learned Rage 2 won't have multiplayer but will have "a social component", then saw our first look at Doom Eternal gameplay and found out it would also launch for Nintendo Switch.
If you wanted to feel old today, think on this: Morrowind was originally released in 2002, making the game 16 years old. And for almost as long, modders have been adding their own creative touches to the game, including those working on "Tamriel Rebuilt". It's an ongoing project by fans trying to faithfully reconstruct the parts of Morrowind's landmass which Bethesda did not have time to make. Now, after many years of work, the modders have released their latest build, called Old Ebonheart, which adds brand new areas and questlines to the already-extensive mod.
As the name suggests, the addition focuses on the town of Old Ebonheart, which the modders describe as "the very heart of Imperial power in Morrowind, a slice of civilised Cyrodiil in the alien east". So civilised, in fact, it has a bank which will only let players open an account if they have a good reputation. Yet players will need to remain alert, as "danger and intrigue lurks" within. Travellers may lose their money or influence in the town, or something "worse" - whatever that's supposed to mean.
Judging by the sounds of it, players may well want to go on a country getaway, which is doable as the modders have also created a range of new settlements in the Aanthirin region. In these, players can find local dialogue, a new (non-player) guild, and a host of miscellaneous quests.