The Elder Scrolls is a high-fantasy action-adventure series of RPGs that takes place on the fictional continent of Tamriel.
Sex, Drugs & Rock n’ Roll
Daggerfall has a childguard feature. This removes blood and gore (enemies become skeletons upon death) and removes sexual content, though some nudity remains. The character portrait wears underwear at all times when childguard is toggled on.
Violence: All games have some level of violence, though the earlier ones are less graphic. Skyrim is the most graphic in the series, and although there is a fair amount of blood, it isn’t particularly realistic.
Horror: Skyrim, again, contains the most scary content in the series. You can find out more in our Skyrim game library post. Oblivion has some scary elements, such as hanging corpses.
Sexual Content: There is a gentleman’s club in Morrowind where dancers wear undergarments, though no explicit sexual activity occurs there. Oblivion contains vague references to sex, but no sexual activity is ever depicted. It is insinuated that one character engages in necrophilia. Likewise, Skyrim makes oblique references to sexuality (particularly prostitution), but this is not explicit.
Substance Use: Alcohol (read: beer, ale, wine) is prevalent in Skyrim and Oblivion, and can be consumed by the main character (though it has little impact). A fantasy drug that may be similar to opium is referred to as well.
Nudity and Costuming: Players may undress their characters so that they wear only undergarments.
Saving occurs at any point in the game.
Story & Themes
All games in the Elder Scrolls series are open-world. Although there are quests and storylines that players can follow, the order that quests are completed and whether or not certain storylines are followed are up to the player’s discretion. Players can tailor the main character’s name and appearance. This makes gameplay very customizable. Some players even ignore the main quests altogether and use the games as engines for exploration.
The Elder Scrolls takes place on the fictional continent Tamriel. Each installment of the game uses a different region of Tamriel as a setting. Characters are of several fantasy races, including elves, humans, dwarves (though they are extinct), and anthropomorphic humanoids. Enemies are diverse, and include monsters and spirits from myth, wild animals, demons, and magical beings.
All the games are technically sequels or prequels in the series—in that they take place in the same timeline and setting—but each game is playable on its own and features different characters and stories. Some recurring themes include the political tensions between regions, the presence of magic, and prophecy.
Oblivion was re-rated by the ESRB after it came to light that the T for Teen rating might not be severe enough for its content, which included one explicit depiction of a corpse, as well as one scene that contained nudity. The nudity was, in fact, only accessible with third-party modifications to the game’s code, and not available during normal gameplay.
The scenario was controversial especially because the original reason for the reinvestigation of Oblivion was the nudity modification, not the gore. It brought up several questions about the ESRB’s power and thoroughness. A) The ESRB had not previously noticed the corpse, which was the reason for the M for Mature rating in the end, and B) the nudity was not a part of the game, but rather a code modification; if third-party mods are subject to ESRB ratings, any and all games might be rated Adult Only by virtue of what the players do to the game, rather than what is contained in the game itself.
- How realistic are the politics in Tamriel? Do you think any of the factions or cultures are based on real-world people?
- Did you join guilds of questionable morality, like the Assassin’s Guild or the Thieves’ Guild? How did you feel about it? Did you feel like you were forced to join in order to fully experience gameplay, or were there other options available to you?
- Some of the fantasy races in the Elder Scrolls series resemble real-life human counterparts, including some negative racial or cultural stereotypes associated with those counterparts. For instance, the Khajiit are a catlike people modeled on Arab cultures, but they are often characterized as thieves, swindlers, and drug addicts or dealers. Do you think this is coincidence, or was it a conscious (or subconscious) decision by the writers? Do you think it’s okay that certain cultures and peoples are represented with animal humanoids, while European cultures and peoples are represented by normal humans? How might this contribute to racism in the real world?
For Skyrim’s jargon, check out our Skyrim game library post.