author image

Chasing rivers and changing sex in open world games - Readers Feature

Skyrim – you dont have to play as you

A reader explains how following streams in Fallout and Skyrim led to them playing as the opposite sex and getting more out of their games.

Do you know where virtual rivers begin? Because I do. If youre prepared to put your judgement hats to one side, Ill tell all.

Ill never forget the first time I started Fallout 3 and walked out into the night air of that first devastated town, amazed at the detail and atmosphere, making me feel like I was actually in another place.

Ive noticed letters in the GC Inbox over the years reflecting this and something more. Aaron (10th April) talked about how he would soak up the atmosphere and was perfectly happy just to explore my favourite locations. Others have commented on how they play games differently now their circumstances have changed.



One evening after a very bad day at work I put on Skyrim and wandered the snowy peaks to the South, not doing anything in particular, losing myself, happening upon new places, avoiding vampires. Near the end of Red Dead Redemption I sat on a hillside watching the sun set as buffalo moved across a distant landscape, it was breath-taking.

A GC readers letter many years ago asked what you did when creating a game character. Do you create a virtual version of yourself, but especially do you choose to always be your actual sex? Like others, up till then I always wanted to play as myself in whatever world I was transported to.

Playing Fallout 3 one day in a very bad mood, dealing with the head of security at that luxury block Tenpenny Tower, I wasnt taking his sass, so I took out my shotgun and blew his head off. Luckily everyone calmed down eventually and I was able to do the quests there, but it makes me smile to this day about how invested I was in my game character being me.

Fallout: New Vegas came along, and I couldnt get the idea out of my mind. What if I didnt play as me? I decided to dip my toe in the water and create a female me, using my sister for the blueprint. Throughout the whole playthrough I kept getting caught off guard by how my character was treated, especially the comments from male characters.



Now when creating a character, my first decision is male or female. With fantasy games the choices become wild. In Skyrim Im a female Khajiit (catperson) whos in a lesbian cross-species marriage to Lydia my housecarl (human). Im (still) playing Fallout 4 as a female hybrid of my previous Fallout 3 and New Vegas characters. I even checked some YouTube videos regarding romance options in both Fallout 4 and (still to be played) Dragon Age Inquisition, because the experience has become as big a part as doing quests and saving the whatever.

Are you with me still? Well, this will be the tipping point for some. I like to follow water. When I see a river, stream, canal, waterway of any kind, I just have to follow it. Natural features in open world games have become far more immersive, obeying real world rules.

Having found some water such as a river, either by travelling or just checking the map, I usually start at the down-water end and work towards the source, creating my own little quest. Ill happily use boats or swim if its deep, but nothing beats walking a water course. You certainly see another view of the game that most dont.

Award of merit must go to GTA V, what great rivers and streams. I loved following them up hills and mountains as they got smaller, barely running over stony rain-gorged hollow tracks, finally seeing them disappear into muddy ground, plants, or rocks. How many people see this, and yet the designers put the time and effort in.


A commendation also to Skyrim. Ill forgive the odd coming out under an overhang or inaccessible waterfall, just for the pleasure the wet adventures gave me.

I did start feeling the need with The Witcher 3, but my goodness it has convoluted water systems, especially in the marshy bits, just too much (for now).

So, if youre in an open world game, fed up with fetch and escort quests, and just fancy something a bit different, why not see what the designers have done. If you want to live a while in someone elses skin, change your sex and see how characters talk to you (How dare you) or change species (Khajiit not steal).

OK, thats it, so put on your judgement hats and fanboy jackets, dust off your Freud (characters Fallot 3 + New Vegas = Fallout 4) and tell me Im mad. But you know what, Im happy.

By reader Spooky Dreamer (SpookyDreamBoo – gamertag)

The readers feature does not necessarily represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.

You can submit your own 500 to 600-word reader feature at any time, which if used will be published in the next appropriate weekend slot. As always, email [email protected] and follow us on Twitter.




Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here