I find, time and time again, a clear difference between those who seem to rabidly enjoy Skyrim, and those who really WANT to enjoy it, but always seem to come away short of some portion of the experience. At first that disparity puzzled me, but after going through a half dozen articles written in this vein, something becomes very clear. There are some, who load up Skyrim with the intention of participating a riveting story wherein they hope their presence will somehow impact the larger narrative, wherein they'll be presented with a dazzling tale that sweeps them away and offers them some memorable, remarkable experience, a treasure wrought by a craftsmen and delivered to you, the the consumer. More often than not, those people walk away from the game at least somewhat disappointed or underwhelmed. There are many novels, films, and even games, that provide such enthralling experiences, but Skyrim is not one of them.
Skyrim is for the roleplayers, the writers, the tabletop rpgers, the ones looking for a canvas and the opportunity to create something... glorious. In many ways, Skyrim becomes more a toolset than traditional game experience, giving you the means to shape something that's truly YOURS, your vision, your story. Not a story wherein you're inherently important, but a story you actually made. Skyrim strikes the sweet spot, for those people who know WHY their prisoner is on a wagon bound for execution before they've pressed the start button. It captivates the ones who know WHY this Prisoner would sooner side with the Imperials who nearly beheaded him, over the Nords who offered kinship at the chopping block. Skyrim offers skeletons of stories, bare bones affairs, to which you must add the flesh. It's why the world is so vast, it's why the character creation caters to the minutiae, even when you'll spend most of the game looking at the back of your characters head. Some of us know about the childhood hunting accident that caused the scar beneath our character's eye, some of us know why our character would lay down beneath the headsmen's act without a fight.
I'm honestly surprised by Skyrim's success. Most consumers are ill equipped to handle a world where they must provide the lion share of the creative input for their experience. Some balk at the prospect, others, myself included, revel in it. I think we bandy about the term sandbox too often today, in reference to games. Some have forgotten just what the sandbox was all about. You weren't given set pieces, or beautifully scripted lines spouted by perfectly dynamic miniatures. YOU gave that lumpy mound of clumped together sand value, YOU made it a castle, YOU made it the last freehold in the land not destroyed by the mighty sandworms (otherwise known as you left hand), YOU made its defense vital, and meaningful, and necessary. YOU gave it a soul.
Can you recapture that spark, the feverish creativity of simple days and simple joys, Dragonborn?