Hard Work and Magicka in Skyrim

The Dwemer had no interesting technologies to offer anymore, but their ideas still lingered on. A few thousand years back when I served with the Neveraine before the Battle of Red Mountain, I knew a couple of Dwemer. Their technology was really more or less clever magic and the power of their technology came from magic (of course, don’t ever tell one that to their face. Refer to it instead as the Ehlnofey or “Earth Bones”). I hoped to emulate their magic. Enchanting is usually done by disenchanting an item to learn its enchantment and then imbuing another item with the learned enchantment through soul gems. To learn enchanting, I traveled to the College of Winterhold, a center of Magicka learning.

Magicka in Skyrim is a learned skill. To become a master in the schools of magic, the trick is to practice, practice, practice. The idea of working for pleasure that is so commonly distributed throughout video games is a mechanic that is capable of teaching young men or women the most important life lesson of them: hard work pays off. This is similarly true in Skyrim if one wants to be come truly powerful (as we will see), and perfectly matches the grinding tediousness of an aspiring worker practicing problems to become a better problem solver. Furthermore, video games like Skyrim can exercise a player’s frontal cortex control, that is, allow them to make better cognitive mental administrative decisions such as working harder and faster. This is a highly marketable skill for players to learn and this video game acquired skill has direct positive impacts in a player’s life.

I traveled through Winterhold town to the entrance of the College, but was barred by a wizard named Faralda. She demanded that I perform a magical spell to demonstrate my competency with magic before she allowed me in. “Fair enough,” I said, and cast candlelight on her. She nodded in approval and led me through the bridge and past the gates of the college. I immediately sought out the Enchanting instructor, Sergius Turrianus, for enchantments and soul gems. To my dismay, he did not sell enchantments or soul gems, but would offer lessons for an obscene price. I decided to instead buy soul gems from the other teachers and practice on my own .

For whatever reason the vendors have a never ending supply of gold and soul gems that replinish every few days. While I gradually grinded my enchanting to level 100, I realized that Skyrim emulated a perfect capitalist system much like World of Warcraft. And because Skyrim is a perfect capitalist system, it makes the dissection of the proportionality between hard work and reward much clearer. For every enchanted life-drain iron dagger that I made, I recieved some predictable amount of gold and experience. This process of magical learning imperfectly mirrors the process of learning esoteric subjects in real life. For example, for every math problem we do, a higher math score will result due to previous exposure. But what is so comforting about Skyrim’s process of learning is the inevitability of our success, which draws an enormous contrast to taking a math test and accidently making a mistake despite repeated hours of practice. Skyrim’s perfect learning system teaches its players that not only the lesson “practice, practice, practice,” but also the anticipation and wariness of accidental mistakes while working. This highly marketable trait is taught to some teenagers through this video game along with the skill of hard work.

While I practiced enchanting and re-enchanting, gargling potion after potion, I only worked with one item. I called it “The One Ring,” and gives its user several million magicka and health points. when I finally finished it at level 100 enchanting. It seems that hard work does pay off. I think I’m going to be a superhero now.

1 comment
  1. prutting834 said:

    One of the most interesting things about magicka in Skyrim is the sense of superiority put forth by the College of Winterhold. First off, it is the only “faction” in Skyrim that forbids you from physically entering their headquarters unless you can prove your magical capabilities. Second, the college itself is a magnificent and lavish fortress, set aside from the downtrodden town of Winterhold. The members of the college offer no sympathy for the poor citizens of Winterhold who are clearly suffering, despite the fact that the college is a mere 100 yards away. Because of this, I got the impression that they only cared about themselves and were not willing to help rebuild Winterhold. And lastly, many members of the college (especially the librarian) are arrogant and downright rude. In general, the people I met at the college were some of the most condescending people in all of Skyrim. All in all, the behavior of the College of Winterhold gives players the sense that they believe those who are skilled in magicka are superior to everyone else.

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