1 Comment


  1. Hey John! Interesting link. Because commenting is what I will do, I will comment. I’ve only observed Skyrim and seen pictures of Notre Dame, but I have played other games and been to other cathedrals.

    1) Tourists spend a lot less time in Notre Dame than players do in Skyrim, and in the time since Skyrim’s release about as many people have bought Skyrim as have visited Notre Dame. So it’s possible that the total time spent in Skyrim is already comparable with the total time spent in Notre Dame; it’s less, surely, but perhaps not by too many orders of magnitude. If longevity is just about quantity of exposure, Skyrim qualifies. So what is it instead?

    2) It also seems strange to value lasting a long time for the sake of the time alone. One reason Notre Dame continues to inspire is that it has endured physically, but that may be just because it would be a lot of work to pull it down. Whether or not Skyrim lasts 400 years may have less to do with its inherent value and more to do with whether or not access to it remains relatively easy, which I somewhat doubt, given how quickly computer systems change. Does it lessen the achievement of an architect if we notice that he built on a foundation of sand?

    3) Playing Skyrim is actually not very like spending time in Notre Dame. A cathedral is meditative: one can focus on specific details, but one can also allow one’s mind to wander. A game is immersive: as soon as one’s mind wanders, one is thrown out of the game back into the everyday world. Skyrim might look like a building, but it feels closer to a book or a movie. These analogies make me more optimistic that it could last, if not centuries, at least several decades. But they also call into doubt how responsible the programmer would be for such an achievement. If games are like movies, probably the more accurate comparison, then the programmers are just a few of the names that make it into the very long list of credits.

Comments are closed.