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My Son…. The Purist.

Sometimes purity just doesn’t pay. There are all kinds of purists, from Star Trek fans who (like me) who HATE the reboot of the series by J.J. Abrams (seriously, what the hell is with all the lens flares? It made me feel like I just had cataract surgery); to the language purists who refuse to let language evolve; in fact there are purists in just about every pursuit.

Zellar as I knew him.

This brings me to my son, Matthew; the game purist. Now I suppose I have some blame in this, I extolled the virtue of playing your character true to yourself. That some games provide open worlds and on my first playthrough I usually play it as if I were in that world and have my character respond as I would. But Matt took it a little further; somehow in his short life, this evolved into a 1 or 2 save file technique.

Let me say that again in case you swooned: A 1 or 2 game save file technique. Whenever he saved, it was not to go back and play it a different way, it was to quit and go do something else; then he could return and rejoin the story exactly as he left it. When a “fork” in the story would come up, he wouldn’t (as his father usually does) save, then make his decision then immediately regret his decision (as his father usually does) and go to the other save file; then open it up and go the different route. Nope. Not for him. One File to rule them all…..

Which brings me to the horrible tale of Skryim, a Kajiit named Zellar and Matt’s obsession with a Dark Elf. Now, Matt has some time in on Skyrim. He really isn’t advancing the story much, he’s just roaming around and seeing where things take him. So far he has a 30th level Kajiit assassin, who became a Werewolf and also has Daedric armor, a Sneak skill so high he makes ninja seem like Ace Ventura walking on bubble wrap. Oh, let’s not forget the sick ass dagger that pretty much kills anything up to a Giant with one hit. Did I mention he has acquired enough gold to buy both Breeze home and the Manor in Solitude (and no, he didn’t use the trick where you don’t lose your gold. Purist, remember?).

So then one day Matt, is reading the game guide that the kids got me for Christmas and decides he wants to make a Dark Elf Mage. Now Matt begins telling me everything about how he’s gonna’ be this and that; a lot of head nodding by me since he’s way ahead of me in the game (adult world harshing my play time and all), and then he scampers off ready to create the Baddest Mofo Dark Elf Mage in all of Skyrim.

About an hour later he comes to me sobbing, doing that big breath thing that only kids can do. He’s outrageously distressed and inĀ  a flash I think he’s been hurt somehow, but I see no blood. Then I think he’s hurt the dog or his sister and is coming to get me to help, but no, his sister is coloring on the couch and the dog is eating. And then he tells me, and I immediately understand.

He’s a purist. One…… Save….. File……

A True Badass

He started his NEW game and accidentally saved it over his ONE… SAVE…. FILE! And now, it was all gone. It was as if all his hard work in the game had been capriciously erased. Just like that, Zellar; his 30th level Kajiit Werewolf assassin with 2 houses in Skyrim, Daedric Armor and all the trappings that come with a couple of months in the game was annihilated. He was crying and I totally understood why. Not only did I understand, but I felt sick for him. It was like his best friend had just been destroyed. I furiously tried to find a save file for him, he had one, from Zellar at 7th level with Iron Armor. Matt had saved there to show me how he had pissed-off a Mammoth and how it was chasing him all over. The only other file was the new character and an autosave from his new game; Zellar was indeed erased.

Matt vowed never to play again. Zellar was to be the center of the game and all the other characters he creates would just be story arcs to look in to, but Zellar was where the “real” game was being played.

As the night wore on, we both felt awful. Matt, I think in a way, felt as though he killed a friend, and I honestly had no words to help him through the grief. I tried reasoning with him, but too his credit he said: “I know it’s just a game, and I don’t know why I feel like this.” In the end I stopped trying to help. Told him how I do indeed understand, that I love him and that this one act makes up for all times he erased my game saves on the PS2 when I was playing Black.

The next day he woke-up, got ready for school and intimated that he really hoped it had just been a dream; though he knew it wasn’t. He was obviously still pained by it; I told him to get dressed, that the real world beckons and it’s time to get going to school. Later that day as we were walking home, he said he had decided to Level up Zellar once again. To restart him from 7th level and get him back to his glory. I smiled and told him I was glad and how it wouldn’t be too hard because after all, he already knows where everything is in the game and it’ll probably only take half the time to get it done. The subject changed after that and we walked on.

Later that night I saw him playing and asked him how the rebuild was going. He said he hadn’t started it. It was “too soon.” He was playing the new Dark Elf, exploring the realm of Magic he had skipped with Zellar.

I’m not sure he’ll ever go back to re-level Zellar. I think he’s come to the conclusion that “his” Zellar is dead, killed by his maker; that the 7th level Zellar is just a phantom, a video of Zellar in his “youth” but not the real thing. Sure he may dabble there once in a while but in a sense, that part of the game is over for him, Zellar is dead and my son remains a purist. . . . With 3 save files just in case.


An Update: He has restarted Zellar and is determined to make him exceed his former glory. It was bittersweet at first, but now he’s starting to enjoy the challenge. And with 5 save files (with age comes wisdom).