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British Researcher Picks Exactly the Wrong Video Game to Push Her White Privilege Theories

 Why? Because Bethesda Softworks isn't made up of dumb people: they knew that putting a big Viking hero on all the ads would result in people wanting to play Vikings. They also knew that the people who did that would also tend to pick the Vikings’ side in the in-game’s civil war. All of which is fine, but Bethesda prides itself on making good games, so they deliberately made the "default" side rather more immediately distasteful to modern sensibilities with regard to race and tolerance.  They did not go to extremes on this -- you can play as, say, an Argonian (amphibian lizard men) who has inexplicably decided to join the Stormcloak Rebellion (despite the fact that the Stormcloaks make Argonians live outside the city walls, and in abject poverty), and it won't actually affect gameplay -- but it really is impossible to ignore that "Skyrim belongs to the Nords!" is a common sentiment.  It is, in fact, the default NPC companion's favorite war cry.

Again, Ms. Cooper might have noticed this flaw in her thesis if she had played the game for very long. She might have also also noticed that the game does not blindly reinforce a particular "cultural heritage" so much as it goes out of its way to challenge it. Which is not to say that people who play Stormcloaks in Skyrim are horrible people, or even wrong to pick one flawed faction over another, equally flawed faction*. Skyrim is, after all, a fairly gritty game that can trigger a good deal of self-reflection. Which is more than one can say about some of the criticism of it.

*Siding with the Imperials in Skyrim means, among other things, dealing with the Empire’s "allies" known as the Thalmor.  The Thalmor are, essentially, Nazi Elves who go around and slaughter anybody who worships a particular god. And the Imperial-supporting player is not in fact allowed to stop that.