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The Viking Renaissance

With The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Nordic and Viking themes have made a huge comeback.

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Pretty interesting read. We could always do with some more vikings. Too many army soldiers and space marines these days.

I like the article. Perhapts it could be mentioned that The Elves were based on finnish myths, which ties in with our whole Scandinavian thing. Also Now im very interested in "the Viking Mindset" that was mentioned. Id like to see more :D

Sleepingzombie:
I like the article. Perhapts it could be mentioned that The Elves were based on finnish myths, which ties in with our whole Scandinavian thing. Also Now im very interested in "the Viking Mindset" that was mentioned. Id like to see more :D

Which elves exactly are you refering to that has their origin in finish mythology? The elves that Tolkien created? The norse mythology had elves in it as well. My name, Alfred, is an ancient scandinavian name translating roughly to "friend of the elves".

Best article on The Escapist in many years. It is just so much more informed than the usual.

And

"The nationalistic and often racist ramblings of Ulfric Stormcloak occasionally leave him sounding like a fur-clad Himmler, and the Nords who support him sometimes seem eager to inflict their own version of Kristallnacht on the maligned Dark Elves. But these aren't the only Nords we see. Half of the region still allies itself with the wider Empire, and these citizens maintain pride in their culture while espousing a more cosmopolitan view of their world. In some ways, it's tempting to see their loyalty as a parallel to the many Norwegians who resisted the German occupation in the 1940s."

Exactly my thoughts when I played the game for the first time. The "watercooler" talk between me and friends was a bit like this:

Friend: "So did you go Empire or Stormcloaks?"
Me: "Empire."
Friend: "What? And you call yourself a Norwegian?" (joking tone)
Me: "..."
Friend: "What?"

My friend (who is a bit dense) thought of the Empire as the aggressor, somehow, and compared them to Nazi Germany invading Norway. Talk about missing the target completely, sheesh.

I want to see more games set in an african context, the sun spears in guild wars were awesome.

the norse mythology has alway been interesting.

an thank god it has not been overused.

I noticed that the author pretty much disregards JRPGs, which always include at least some references to Nordic myth, even if it's only because they reference every other popular mythology as well.
Valkyrie Profile sticks out as a pretty obvious one.

Actually Metal is strongly influenced from Vikings. There are two subgenres called "Viking Metal" and "Pagan Metal".

Probably the most popular band ist "Amon Amarth", but there are many more (Tyr, Turisas, ...)

The Problem with the Viking culture is, that most of the time we just look at them from one side.

The Warrior (wich never wore horned helmets), but they were explorers (first in America) and had a rich agriculture.

The fierce warrior invading Lindisfarne were the same people slashing woods at home or working on the fields.

And at least let me mention the mythology, wich was altered by the catholics in a really bad way.

For instance Loki, in the original myth he is somewhat a thief and plotter, but he is not evil, but because we christians had "the devil" this mindset was passed on to Loki from them.

Or just look many of the day we celebrate each year, my guess is then <50% of them are celtics or pagan. The Christians in the old days converted the Pagans by assimilating their culture.

So in every Christian there is a good portion of pagan and viking belief in us.

ironicly Im a Scandinavian, playing a Nord...dressed in the full Empire armour..that looks very roman X3

Great article, but there seems to be one problem.
When Age of Empires II was mentioned, I was honestly very surprised that Age of Mythology wasn't. I mean, the article emphasizes Viking lore, themes, and mythology largely only being addressed in a very circumspect way, yet AoM dealt with it very, VERY thoroughly. A good section of the game focused on Scandinavian mythology. Viking heroes and gods, Ragnarok, Nidhoggr and the World Serpent. All that stuff.
It just seems remiss to not even mention AoM at all.

I meant what you said. The myths about The elves that Tolkien used in Middle-Earth has its roots in Scandinavian lore. I didnt say that since I commented on the article, where The Elves were of the Tolkien variety :). The exact roots and origin of the whole thing is abit difficult to pin down. Hence I said Finnish, fairly sure I read about them having a sizeable pressence in finnish myths.

On another note. Its fun seeing my homes mythic "past" from these other angles.

"Perhaps, then, the recent renaissance of Viking lore in videogames signals a new direction for fantasy, one grounded as much in history as in imagination."

Absolutely great. Then game developers can discover new ways of using the subject matter to comment on our own time period/society beyond just saying "Racism is bad" over and over (looking at you, BioWare).
You know, like other forms of art do.

Viking culture made a huge increase in popularity in the norwegian nationalist romantic period (around 1800 - 1905 (day Norway got it's independence). The period works focused mainly on Snorri Sturluson stories([Url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snorri_Sturluson[/url] as well as Olav Haraldsson (also known as St Olav) to further the cause.

The thing about the norwegian resistence movement is lacking as most people i've interviewed who were either parents/Teens/kids in that period has largely said that everyone was in some way part of the resistance. Even if it was to keep secret radios, hiding political/military prisoners, giving provisions to sabatours or spreading secret newspapers. Every person I've talked to have had some sort of story connecting to aiding the resistence.
This then doesn't quite fit the skyrim link as:
1. The entire nation isn't under one's control.
2. there isn't any large one sided resistance movement from the local population.
3. The struggle is mainly military (while the resistance was heavy civilian).

Yes, you can link it to the german occupation, but it has to many holes in it to be fully confirmed. Speeches like Ulfric does in the game largely seems the same as the ones that were during the 1700s and 1800s against the jewish/Gypsies population in Scandinavia, but those are purely civilian ones.

I'd like to note that *puts on hipster glasses* I was a viking before it was mainstream.

*seeth* Not really a fan of Norse culture.

We needed more vikings for a long time. The vrykul were getting lonely.

balberoy:
Actually Metal is strongly influenced from Vikings. There are two subgenres called "Viking Metal" and "Pagan Metal".

Probably the most popular band ist "Amon Amarth", but there are many more (Tyr, Turisas, ...)

The Problem with the Viking culture is, that most of the time we just look at them from one side.

The Warrior (wich never wore horned helmets), but they were explorers (first in America) and had a rich agriculture.

The fierce warrior invading Lindisfarne were the same people slashing woods at home or working on the fields.

And at least let me mention the mythology, wich was altered by the catholics in a really bad way.

For instance Loki, in the original myth he is somewhat a thief and plotter, but he is not evil, but because we christians had "the devil" this mindset was passed on to Loki from them.

Or just look many of the day we celebrate each year, my guess is then <50% of them are celtics or pagan. The Christians in the old days converted the Pagans by assimilating their culture.

So in every Christian there is a good portion of pagan and viking belief in us.

Well, the Viking were hardly the first to reach the Americas, and you can't really speak of pagan and viking as being things (though pagan isn't a very useful word), but more or less, yeah.

However, pop culture being wrong on things...when is that not the case?

thaluikhain:

balberoy:
Actually Metal is strongly influenced from Vikings. There are two subgenres called "Viking Metal" and "Pagan Metal".

Probably the most popular band ist "Amon Amarth", but there are many more (Tyr, Turisas, ...)

The Problem with the Viking culture is, that most of the time we just look at them from one side.

The Warrior (wich never wore horned helmets), but they were explorers (first in America) and had a rich agriculture.

The fierce warrior invading Lindisfarne were the same people slashing woods at home or working on the fields.

And at least let me mention the mythology, wich was altered by the catholics in a really bad way.

For instance Loki, in the original myth he is somewhat a thief and plotter, but he is not evil, but because we christians had "the devil" this mindset was passed on to Loki from them.

Or just look many of the day we celebrate each year, my guess is then <50% of them are celtics or pagan. The Christians in the old days converted the Pagans by assimilating their culture.

So in every Christian there is a good portion of pagan and viking belief in us.

Well, the Viking were hardly the first to reach the Americas, and you can't really speak of pagan and viking as being things (though pagan isn't a very useful word), but more or less, yeah.

However, pop culture being wrong on things...when is that not the case?

Uh...so who were the first Europeans to reach America if not the Vikings?

balberoy:
For instance Loki, in the original myth he is somewhat a thief and plotter, but he is not evil, but because we christians had "the devil" this mindset was passed on to Loki from them.

Actually, Loki managed to kill Baldur (whose only weakness was that of mistletoe) by making Hur throw a piece of the plant at him. The gods cried so much, that Hel agreed to resurrect him if every s cried for him, but Loki being the douche-bag that he is, refused to cry.

And it was for those transgressions that he was imprisoned. So yeah, dudes a dick. Not to mention his kids, bunch of fucking hellraisers.

I'd like to note that in skyrim, a lot of even the incidental NPCs you only meet once in a quest (or perhaps not at all) have names that are significant in the culture. Just google a random individual, and perhaps under the skyrim search result, you may see something else.

Fappy:
Pretty interesting read. We could always do with some more vikings. Too many army soldiers and space marines these days.

Space Marine vikings? :D (Spehs Wuffs 40k)

OT: Yeah, the stain of nazi-cunts is wearing off. Wich is nice. But here in Sweden, due to FUCKING NAZI CUNTS. The stain is still somewhat present. Doesn't stop me from wearing my hammer though.

Does Skyrim actually take that much from viking mythology? Aside from some stylization and wording, I thought the devs made up a lot of their own words and lore and gave each race a vague look/style based on earth's cultures or fantasy races.

Heimir:

Fappy:
Pretty interesting read. We could always do with some more vikings. Too many army soldiers and space marines these days.

Space Marine vikings? :D (Spehs Wuffs 40k)

OT: Yeah, the stain of nazi-cunts is wearing off. Wich is nice. But here in Sweden, due to FUCKING NAZI CUNTS. The stain is still somewhat present. Doesn't stop me from wearing my hammer though.

"I used to be a spacer like you, but then I took a blaster bolt in the knee."

I don't really think people outside of Sweden attach nazism to northern European mythology. At least the current younger generations don't.

Thyunda:

thaluikhain:

balberoy:
Actually Metal is strongly influenced from Vikings. There are two subgenres called "Viking Metal" and "Pagan Metal".

Probably the most popular band ist "Amon Amarth", but there are many more (Tyr, Turisas, ...)

The Problem with the Viking culture is, that most of the time we just look at them from one side.

The Warrior (wich never wore horned helmets), but they were explorers (first in America) and had a rich agriculture.

The fierce warrior invading Lindisfarne were the same people slashing woods at home or working on the fields.

And at least let me mention the mythology, wich was altered by the catholics in a really bad way.

For instance Loki, in the original myth he is somewhat a thief and plotter, but he is not evil, but because we christians had "the devil" this mindset was passed on to Loki from them.

Or just look many of the day we celebrate each year, my guess is then <50% of them are celtics or pagan. The Christians in the old days converted the Pagans by assimilating their culture.

So in every Christian there is a good portion of pagan and viking belief in us.

Well, the Viking were hardly the first to reach the Americas, and you can't really speak of pagan and viking as being things (though pagan isn't a very useful word), but more or less, yeah.

However, pop culture being wrong on things...when is that not the case?

Uh...so who were the first Europeans to reach America if not the Vikings?

Leiv Eriksson with crew was the first European to reach North America. They landed on Vinland, which is at the northern tip of what today is Newfoundland. This happened in roughly 1000 CE. Recent archaeological studies have proved what initial findings in this area suggested, with the caveat that "Vinland" as a term did not mean the settlement in itself, but the entirety of New Foundland visible from the landing.

Nurb:
Does Skyrim actually take that much from viking mythology? Aside from some stylization and wording, I thought the devs made up a lot of their own words and lore and gave each race a vague look/style based on earth's cultures or fantasy races.

It's not just about mythology.

1. Nords are an amalgam of Norse both culturally, physiologically (not counting the magical frost resistance of course - our frost resistance is a mental thing :P ) and politically.

2. Draugr

3. Holds (Fylke) were a Norwegian concept as early as around year 1000 - the head of each Fylke was a Jarl.

4. Skyrim geographically looks exactly like most of Norway and some northern parts of Finland, and some places look a lot like Iceland.

5. The metalworking in Skyrim is true to the Viking methods of smithing.

6. Sovngarde = Valhalla

7. Wyrms come from Viking mythology, and Wyrms later became Dragons. (Which evolved separately as a concept from the Asian Dragon concept which predates them)

8. There are literally a hundred different things here, but someone is at the door so I got to go! lol

This is an interesting article, and certainly well written. However, there are a few key points which I really take issue with:

Firstly, the use of the term 'Viking'. Contrary to popular belief, 'Viking' is not a coverall term. The word you're looking for is Norse. The culture that lived in Middle-Ages Norway and expanded to areas such as Iceland and Greenland was the Norse culture. Vikings were, very specifically, the norsemen who decided to find glory and riches by going out in longboats and plundering other countries for territory and loot. All vikings were Norse. But not all Norse were vikings. You wouldn't group all of 17th Century British history under the term "Pirate culture", so there's no need to group all Norse culture under the term 'Viking'.

Secondly, this quote here:

"And, of course, no single person had a greater impact on the development of contemporary fantasy quite like J.R.R. Tolkien. While Tolkien only tangentially incorporated Vikings into his work -- even his Rohirrim were more Anglo-Saxon than Viking -- he showed that similar fantasy settings could still exist without all the baggage from the Third Reich."

While much of the Middle-Earth setting may seem only tangentially related to Norse culture, and indeed there are other cultures incorporated in the setting too, to say that Tolkien's work is only tangentially related to Norse culture is something of a misnomer.

Firstly, Anglo-Saxon and Norse culture are in many ways related, in a manner similar to Roman and Greek mythology. Many of the Anglo-Saxon societies and clans followed the same gods and told the same myths as their Norse brethren. While the Anglo-Saxons were certainly their own cultural force, they were definitely from the same line of the family tree as the Norse. The Rohirrim were certainly inspired by Saxon history, but there is also plenty of Scandinavian in their blonde-haired, war loving, timber halled society.

Secondly, I would argue that Norse mythology is in fact tied into the works of Tolkien in a fundamental way. I say this as a huge fan of Tolkien, but the world of Middle Earth is essentially the Norse mythology filtered through the eyes of a Catholic linguist. The idea of Elves being immortal, beautiful beings who have their own realm beyond the mortal plane is taken right from the myths of Alfheim. The Valar are essentially expies of the various Norse Aenir and Vanar. The Dwarves being master blacksmiths and craftsmen is as true in Norse myth as it is in the Silmarillion. The Dragons of Middle Earth are not mindless monsters, but cruel, intelligent beasts in the template of Fafnir. Tolkien himself called Gandalf the Grey an "Odinic wanderer", and indeed 'Gandalf' itself is a recurring name in Norse myth.

Hell, both Lord Of The Rings and the Volsung saga revolve around the motif of a cursed ring that both offers power and causes a character's downfall.

Middle Earth is essentially the amalgamation of various elements of the Nine Worlds of Germannic myths, mixed in with the dualistic idea of good/evil inherent in Catholicism. Tolkien took the chaotic, often amoral stories and characters of Norse mythology and filtered them through his devout moral beliefs, resulting in the works we all know and love today. From there, Middle Earth went on to influence Dungeons And Dragons, and from there practically every fantasy game ever created.

Because the tropes of Fantasy have beein played out by writers for so long, it is perhaps easy to forget exactly where those tropes came from in the first place. The writer argues that Norse mythology has had only a relegated place in fantasy/gaming culture until recently. I would argue otherwise. Due to its influences on the works that begat the very genre, Norse mythology has had probably a more profound effect than any other culture on the development of the genre.

Look at it this way- Norse mythology is filled with stories of adventurers gearing up with their longswords and magic rings, setting out for adventure, slaying dragons, giants and trolls, while discovering hordes of treasure, and eventually becoming heroes of great renown and glory. Can anyone say that this is really so different from the plot of your average fantasy novel or WRPG?

Yeah, when the first npc is run into in Whiterun is called "Heimskr" I can see how much research they did

I don't get this article. It's implying that suddenly there has been a huge revival of Nordic themes in games because one big, popular game has them? And yet it ignores entirely numerous other games which have done the same thing over the years, because... What, exactly?

Look, Skyrim is not a bad game. But it shouldn't be praised as though its incorporation of Viking themes is something astoundingly original, when in reality all it is is the first giant mainstream game which does so. And the point about a sudden revival of these themes... Why? Because Skyrim has them? As much as everyone is talking about it, Skyrim is in fact just one game. One game with Nordic themes is not the same as a huge surge of Nordic themes in games.

I'm sure that more will follow, because that's what always happens when something is successful - its every aspect is ripped off by everything else - but as of yet there is no Viking explosion in video games, and Skyrim shouldn't be praised so highly for inciting it as though it was the only game that dared to explore such themes, because it isn't.

This was one of the cultures I have been waiting to see rise to prominence. Now that it's here, how about some love for ancient Mesopotamia? Give me Bilgames! Give me Sargon! Give me Assyria, Marduk, and An!

...

Hyper-space:

balberoy:
For instance Loki, in the original myth he is somewhat a thief and plotter, but he is not evil, but because we christians had "the devil" this mindset was passed on to Loki from them.

Actually, Loki managed to kill Baldur (whose only weakness was that of mistletoe) by making Hur throw a piece of the plant at him. The gods cried so much, that Hel agreed to resurrect him if every s cried for him, but Loki being the douche-bag that he is, refused to cry.

And it was for those transgressions that he was imprisoned. So yeah, dudes a dick. Not to mention his kids, bunch of fucking hellraisers.

Some of his kids being Fenrir, Sleipnir and Jormungandr. A giant wolf, an 8-legged horse and a humongous snake/dragon. Sleipnir got a nice gig being Odin's personal steed, but the rest got the regular monster treatment, so it's no wonder they tear shit up at Ragnarok.

I have to say I always got a kick out of the fact that Loki is technically Sleipnir's mother, though.

Can someone please explain to me why this author seems to think Skyrim is unique in it's use of this particular mythology/history? I've been seeing this stuff pop up in popular culture for frigging years. I'm pretty sure Tolkein owes a hell of a lot to it, and everyone remotely involved in fantasy owes a hell of a lot to Tolkein.

Just because fantasy games/films/novels nowadays aren't obvious or even aware of their use of Nordic and Viking mythology doesn't mean it isn't there.

omicron1:
This was one of the cultures I have been waiting to see rise to prominence. Now that it's here, how about some love for ancient Mesopotamia? Give me Bilgames! Give me Sargon! Give me Assyria, Marduk, and An!

...

I would buy this, I would also buy a low-fantasy version of Skyrim with even truer viking flavour, but that's a bit of an obsession lol.
I liked the architecture that Serious Sam TSE did with Meopotamia, and would love to see an even more serious look at it.

Metalhandkerchief:

Thyunda:

thaluikhain:

Well, the Viking were hardly the first to reach the Americas, and you can't really speak of pagan and viking as being things (though pagan isn't a very useful word), but more or less, yeah.

However, pop culture being wrong on things...when is that not the case?

Uh...so who were the first Europeans to reach America if not the Vikings?

Leiv Eriksson with crew was the first European to reach North America. They landed on Vinland, which is at the northern tip of what today is Newfoundland. This happened in roughly 1000 CE. Recent archaeological studies have proved what initial findings in this area suggested, with the caveat that "Vinland" as a term did not mean the settlement in itself, but the entirety of New Foundland visible from the landing.

You might've misquoted. I was arguing that the Vikings WERE the first there. Heard they gave the native Americans a good kicking too, until they got frustrated and went home.

Nurb:
Does Skyrim actually take that much from viking mythology? Aside from some stylization and wording, I thought the devs made up a lot of their own words and lore and gave each race a vague look/style based on earth's cultures or fantasy races.

Heimir:

Fappy:
Pretty interesting read. We could always do with some more vikings. Too many army soldiers and space marines these days.

Space Marine vikings? :D (Spehs Wuffs 40k)

OT: Yeah, the stain of nazi-cunts is wearing off. Wich is nice. But here in Sweden, due to FUCKING NAZI CUNTS. The stain is still somewhat present. Doesn't stop me from wearing my hammer though.

"I used to be a spacer like you, but then I took a blaster bolt in the knee."

I don't really think people outside of Sweden attach nazism to northern European mythology. At least the current younger generations don't.

Thats good to hear. We got too many leftist commie scumrags and nazi dicks fucking shit up for the rest of us.

Ragnarok2kx:

Hyper-space:

balberoy:
For instance Loki, in the original myth he is somewhat a thief and plotter, but he is not evil, but because we christians had "the devil" this mindset was passed on to Loki from them.

Actually, Loki managed to kill Baldur (whose only weakness was that of mistletoe) by making Hur throw a piece of the plant at him. The gods cried so much, that Hel agreed to resurrect him if every s cried for him, but Loki being the douche-bag that he is, refused to cry.

And it was for those transgressions that he was imprisoned. So yeah, dudes a dick. Not to mention his kids, bunch of fucking hellraisers.

Some of his kids being Fenrir, Sleipnir and Jormungandr. A giant wolf, an 8-legged horse and a humongous snake/dragon. Sleipnir got a nice gig being Odin's personal steed, but the rest got the regular monster treatment, so it's no wonder they tear shit up at Ragnarok.

I have to say I always got a kick out of the fact that Loki is technically Sleipnir's mother, though.

They actually got the monster treatment because a vlva predicted that they would fuck shit up during Ragnarok. Kind of funny that their actions would ultimately be what dooms them.

Ragnarok2kx:
I noticed that the author pretty much disregards JRPGs, which always include at least some references to Nordic myth, even if it's only because they reference every other popular mythology as well.
Valkyrie Profile sticks out as a pretty obvious one.

Actually the Japanese side has been ignored completely here. The Japanese judging from their media have always seemed to like their vikings. If you look at their games/manga/anime when ever they introduce a Western mythological element they lean heavily towards Norse.

I'd never thought of this before but with the article talking about Norse mythology getting a bad rep from Nazi Germany (which I also never knew) I wonder if the above Japanese Norse influence has some relations to the old Axis powers days.

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