Beware The Hoarder

Having recently returned home after three years’ absence at university, I was greeted with the news that the family home has been sold and that everything needs to be sorted, packed, or chucked out by the end of July. Returning to my childhood room, I was reminded by the stacked shelves, concealed carpets and bursting drawers that I had not thrown anything away for the best part of eight years, as an old can of Carling, and unopened pack of Frosties and a rather chewed plastic dinosaur served to demonstrate.

My possessions were (and still are) legion. On top of all of the games, dvds and books that are regular shelving stock, my room also hosted numerous interestingly shaped pieces of rock and wood, countless bits of tourist bric-a-brac, and more stuffed toys than any self-respecting adult should possess. The thing is, despite the layers of dust and many years of being untouched, I know within my heart that all of these things, including the Spiderman egg cup, were once significant enough to earn a place on display in my room. Of course, I can’t remember why they are significant anymore, but I continue to hold on to them, for fear of throwing away something important, or, as is the case with several old screwdrivers, that they might one day come in useful.

Just don't try opening a cupboard, you'll drown

I mention these things because, instead of spending the majority of my time packing, I ventured back into the world of Skyrim, in order to guide my all-powerful, master assassin/thief/mage/warrior/werewolf wood elf down the path of vampirism in the new Dawnguard expansion. My return to Tamriel, after a hiatus of several months, reminded me of my real life experiences in one startling way (and no, it’s not my habit of enthralling and drinking the blood of innocent townsfolk).

You see, in Skyrim as much as real life, I am a hoarder. I manically hold on to items, most of the time because I kid myself that there will be a time during my adventures when I will need forty seven cabbages, or that I might actually (for once) stop and bother to buff my stats with a whole manner of potions, instead of just running in with my weapons drawn like some sort of crazed pitbull. However, the potions, vegetables and gemstones are only the tip of my cluttered iceberg.

My houses in Skyrim reveal the full extent of my hoarding; crates burst with alchemical ingredients, boxes heave with gemstones that I am never going to remove or sell, or even remember in a week’s time, but it’s the unique items that reveal the full extent of my hoarding habit. I relentlessly collect such items; if I even suspect that a sword, shield or piece of kitchenware is a rare or one-of-a-kind item, into the vast wardrobe it goes, probably never to be seen again. My weapon racks and mannequins have long since been overloaded with items, so my new spoils have nowhere else to go but into the dark recesses of my containers.

Having recently found a rare piece of footwear during my travels, I returned to Whiterun in order to deposit my spoils. As I cycled through my inventory, looking at all the things I had collected across my mammoth playthrough, a strange little thought crept into my head: “Why have you bothered keeping all these things?” it said. “They’re not even real. They’re just little bits of software… you don’t even use them.” I found it hard to argue against such points, but nonetheless, I still kept them.  However, the little voice got me thinking about why I incessantly hang on to these things – it’s not just restricted to Skyrim – if you loaded up a save file from any game where I have an inventory then you would find the same thing: weapons that have long since been eclipsed by more recent finds, armour that would be useless if equipped, piles of ingredients that will never be used. So why, if I’m never going to actually use these things, and hardly ever look at them, do I continue to hoard them?

I think part of the reason is that games such as Skyrim encourage you to project your own personality onto your character. So, just as I hoard my things in real life, the same applies in game, leading me to wonder if people who hold less attachment to their junk in life take a similar attitude when gaming. I also think that holding on to all of these unique items makes the game feel more complete for me; looking at the items gives my character more of a history and brings to mind notable moments from his journey through the world. Collecting such items also appeals to the completionist in me; despite the fact that nobody else will ever examine my character and think to themselves “wow, what a guy – I can’t believe he has all these items,” it still makes me feel like I’m getting the most out of the experience.

Ultimately, I find it somewhat difficult to explain or justify my in-game hoarding. I would certainly be interested to know if other people display similar characteristics as myself (I certainly hope so, or else this anecdote might become somewhat shameful on my part). If anything, I think that my behaviour goes some way towards showing how successful developers have been in crafting their worlds; worlds that can be believable enough to convince me that filling my Riften basement with armour is the most important thing ever. At least I won’t have to pack it all up if my character decides he wants to move house…




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6 Comments

  1. MarkuzR says:

    Holy crap, do I feel your pain. When I took ownership of Frostcrag Spire when the DLC came out for Oblivion, I was so happy to have so many chests at my disposal. I pretty much lived in Rosethorn Hall in Skingrad, because of all the display cases dotted around the property, but I figured that moving to the mountains was a better idea so I had to transport ALL my crap little by little.

    In the end, I had a chest of nothing but legendary items, one with doubles (why I kept doubles, I have no idea) and the more I played, the longer it took for the contents to actually show. Same thing happened with Fallout 3… my home in Megaton had “stuff to sell” in the filing cabinet by the door, “stuff to repair” in the locker next to the workbench, named items (one-offs) in the filing cabinet upstairs… it was just ridiculous.

    When playing through Two Worlds, there was nowhere to buy as a home and so I found this sort of cathedral place which had several chests with booby traps around them. I placed a portable teleport stone in the cathedral behind the traps so that I could teleport straight to where the chests were, and I stored everything I had in there.

    Like you, I never even used 10% of what I owned, but I couldn’t even consider getting rid of any of it. It’s a collection though, and it needs to be completed. In a game like Borderlands, with so many million options of weapon, that’s a dangerous thing. Thank god for modding, otherwise I’d have no room for anything!

  2. Chris-Toffer says:

    Thank christ I’m not the only one. You should see my house in Solitude. I literally brought that place so I had more rooms to hoard my crap in. I’ve been in and counted how many random bits of junk I’ve got in there.

    Everything from swords and shields, to armour and tunics, to bows and arrows, to potions and spells. Books, Keys and ingredients. Then there is all the bric-brac. I tend to drop things I pick up by mistake but stuff I’m ‘worried’ I’ll need later. That I won’t be able to find (despite having a map and an objective finder) unless I hoard it all in specific boxes and chests. I’ve got a barrel that contains five apples and then 54 Soul gems. Why? I have no idea.

    In total I’ve got something in the region of 200+ random bits and bobs knocking around my Solitude and Whiterun homes. That is all stuff I’ve brought in, not stuff that was already there.

    I do this in real life also. I get attached to inanimate objects. When I was about 7 I found a piece of wood in the forest next to my home. It was shaped like a sword and had carvings all over it. I still have it. And I’ve moved homes. Twice.

  3. Keegan says:

    I’m a real hoarder in games like Skyrim, which always makes my brother laugh. It might be useful though! Even if it is a dagger that only does 2 damage, it might be useful!

  4. Tania says:

    Same here, my Riften home is bursting with crap, and yet I keep adding more! I am glad it’s not just me though ;)

  5. rich says:

    My Skingrad home has it all. Every type of good armour and weapon. Books up your arse. A maid. And of course my house gay. That fan from the Arena. We have a sadomasochistic relationship.

  6. Edward says:

    I’m not an Oblivion person, but I had this exact issue with Fallout 3, and it’s just as bad in New Vegas. Though saying that, it’s slightly better in the latter seeing as I’ve been forcing myself to use my stockpile of weapons to repair anything else if they happen to be a duplicate. Yet, my wardrobes are still filling up at an alarming rate…

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