“I used to be and adventurer like you, then I took an arrow in the knee.”
When senior Bethesda game designer Emil Pagliarulo wrote that line for the town guards of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, he had no idea that 2011’s RPG of the year would turn into the source of 2011’s meme of the year. Not since “$599 US Dollars” or barrel rolls has a video game meme become so criminally overused that even non-gamers have likely had enough by now.
Believe us, the only reason we’re using it is because we now know the tale of how this once innocent line became quite the proverbial knee-slapper.
Speaking to Kotaku, Bethesda’s lead Skyrim director Todd Howard says they had absolutely no intention of creating such a sensation; the team simply thought it would lend more character to the town guards, you know, because otherwise they’d just seem like a bunch of washed up rent-a-blades yearning to drag you into the dungeon for stealing a sweet roll:
“This was late in the project. We wanted to have the guards to have more personality. They’re usually just grunting, telling you what to do. So we had Emil go in and write a lot more stuff and have them reflect you.
And while it might seem like the line is overused among the guards – certainly, you’ll never miss it for as long as you decide to stay in the northern province of Tamriel – Howard simply finds it more resonant than others:
I don’t think you hear it that much. It sticks out. It’s got more flavor, so I think it sticks out.”
If you somehow missed out on the phrase’s craze, here’s just one example of what it’s come to:
The interview seemed to indicate that Bethesda is having a sense of humor about the immortalized lamentation – and why shouldn’t they be? Skyrim’s reviews (including our 4.5 out of 5), were flat out tyrannical to the rest of the gaming industry and the RPG broke a number of sales records for the month of November.
Cleaning up at the industry’s prestigious awards shows and even launching a map app for the iPhone and iPad, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is one wave the folks at Bethesda will be riding for quite some time. Even a shopping list of bugs and ensuing patches likely won’t be the, oh, let’s say “dagger in the ankle,” that relegates this warrior to the soul-sucking profession of a town guard any time soon.
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