Featured Articles: The Viking Renaissance

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Vikings and scandinavian mythology were always popular themses in many games. heck, even Max Payne is going around nordic mythology. Like 90% of mmos have vikings one way or the other.
Skyrim didnt bring a wave of viking liking. it merely put the liking into a spotlight.

Vikings and scandinavian mythology were always popular themses in many games. heck, even Max Payne is going around nordic mythology. Like 90% of mmos have vikings one way or the other.
Skyrim didnt bring a wave of viking liking. it merely put the liking into a spotlight.

Yeah, just look at Age of Conan, and Conan lore and the movies in general. That's one intellectual property seeped in Viking-esque culture and history, even mythology.


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.

To be fair, the point is that all sides pretty much suck. The Imperials are acting as aggressors, and, well, oppressive imperialists, while the Stormcloaks are racist pricks with no real chance of keeping Skyrim strong. Neither side is good at all, and both provide ample room for comparison with Nazis.
IMO, it really comes down to whether you value keeping order and security, even by unpleasant means, or bringing liberty and self-governance, even with unpleasant results.

While generally a good read on the historic background of Vikings, the article misses one crucial aspect: trends. Game of Thrones, anyone? I am not saying Bethesda saw an opportunity after the success of the TV series, but there are trends in the larger scheme of things that goes outside mere references and the historical context of the Vikings. Skyrim is certainly a part of that trend.

The article touches on what it is about Viking history and culture that appeals to us, connects it with Tolkien and the Nazis (unfortunately leaving out the Nazi problematic of the Lord of the Rings books; Tolkien being the Nazi, "[Tolkien] showed that similar fantasy settings could still exist without all the baggage from the Third Reich." Hardly without the baggage in a truly critical analysis) and says that Viking lore is limitless in potential for engaging entertainment. However, the article never considers trends that flow through mainstream culture, that picks up certain elements and themes as it traverses the social body. While talking about the general appeal and historical context of Viking lore, it is not explored why or how we are seeing this trend right now.

Games are not in a vacuum, although most of the time they appear to be so given their shear ignorance for common social decency, but the "gamer culture" would like to think of themselves as in this vacuum. Games just as any medium is connected to trends and pop-cycles, and this I found missing in the article.



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]

But Snorri was Icelandic, what does he have to do with nationalism in Norway?

EDIT: Your link does not work.

I assume you are talking about this guy right? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snorri_Sturluson

Yes, Snorri Sturluson was islandic under a period where iceland was heavily infulenced under norwegian chieftans as well as kings. This resulted into iceland becoming a trade province. In additon Snorri's writing is based on sagas meaning that he wrote down many tales of norse mythology and earlier viking kings. His main work on norwegian kings work is called "Heimskringla".

The nationalist romantic period made the work extremly popular in writers, artists and scholors mind as a symbol for Norway's previous independence. Sevreal of the tales have been made into paintings, plays and studied. This contributeted Norway's claim for an independent nation.

Ah yes, I forgot that he also wrote about stuff that happened in Norway and Denmark as well and not just Iceland.

The article didn't seem to mention Heimdall or Heimdall 2 either, which were I seem to remember were reasonably well regarded in their day.

As far as historical "cultures" represented in video games, I'd say viking are one of the few that ARE represented...you have the generic fantasy ones, the roman and greek ones, japanese and chinese ones, and then viking and maybe arab and persian (with the persian mixed up with ancient babylonian mythology). Most of these, are, admittedly, very superficial treatments.

One particular historical setting/culture that DOES seem mostly untouched is of Africa (not counting games and stuff which make heavy use of voodoo, as that is more afro-american). Stuff like the mythos and culture and myriad subsets of the Bantu people, for example, would seem ripe for drawing inspiration. Heck, although that portrayal was probably hugely inaccurate, I STILL am waiting to play as Umslopagas, or some Umslopagas-type character in a video game :D.

Unlike the imperial (roman) and the Nord (norse) races in Elder Scroll games, the Redguards don't seem directly related to any real-life historical culture.
Not that every Elder Scrolls game needs to be inspired by a certain culture, but I'd be interested in seeing where they draw their inspiration if they ever give Hammerfall a more detailed treatment than in that Redguard game.

Heck, even though they share the name, the Bretons in Elder Scroll games, don't really seem to share much with the people of Brittany (unless their affinity for magic is related to the idea of the celtic druids), and even though the khajit you encounter in the games may seem reminiscent of bedouin arabs due to their expressions and their homeland, aside from that they are pretty dissimilar, and outside of these, none of the other races seem to be at all connected with any real-life historical culture or people.

This article talks about the negative baggage of being associated with the Nazis but what about the negative baggage of being, you know, Vikings? Didn't they go around attacking other people to steal there stuff and there food. Weren't they pretty much just iron-aged pirates? If you won't to say they had style, that's fine, and you could argue that EVERYONE was dooshy back then but I'm not sure I could get into a game where you play an actual Viking.

About the giant wolves.... are all giant creatures "descended" from Nordic mythology? Sorry but in video games you see all kinds of giant creatures, from spiders to cockroaches, rats, fish ect. Often you have regular sized and then larger more difficult versions of the same thing. Someone putting a giant wolf in a game it could just as easily come from laziness.

Oh, and another thing, basically everyone was racist back then too. That's the grate thing about a fantasy world, you can take the style and leave all that nasty racism and sexism behind if you wont.

Well, if we're going to talk about recent AAA games tackling Norse themes I think the author completely skimmed over Tomb Raider: Underworld. I know a lot of people here roll their eyes when the series is mentioned but I think that game did a good job (at least in that part of the plot) of rescuing themes of Norse mythology by...you know...literally rescuing the "truth" of the mythology from obscurity. It's a different take of Norse themes if I've ever seen one. The best thing about that game, I think.

And thanks to Susan for pointing me towards this article. I would have missed it otherwise, with them author pieces being pushed of the main page to make room for more news.

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.

He was the god of Chaos and mischief not quite evil but after the slaying of Baldur he sided with the Jotun against the gods and his plans lead to the death of most of the gods and the destruction of Midgard. i would definetly class him as evil at least as far as ragnarok is concerned. Still earlier he was a little annoying but always made up for it with awesome gifts (see mjollnir and slephnir.)

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