April Fool’s Day 2009

For the third year running, APY at Planet Elder Scrolls very kindly hosted my Bethesda-related nonsense. Thank you once again, PES, for being my partners in crime.

Bethesda “Sorry” for OblivionNews Story at Planet Elder Scrolls

In a surprise move that has shocked the gaming world, Bethesda’s Executive Producer Todd Howard stepped forward at GDC on behalf of the company to issue a public apology for Oblivion. The announcement follows years of campaigning from disenfranchised members of the Elder Scrolls community to persuade ZeniMax and its subsidiaries to take responsibility for the “unprecedented damage” the game has unleashed.

Bethesda: Heads bowed in shame

Bethesda: Heads bowed in shame

“We would like to apologize to everybody who bought our game, and to the world at large, for the problems that we have caused,” said Howard in his tearful and emotional speech, “And we very much hope that by taking ownership of the situation that we can limit the legacy of destruction that our game has wrought upon the world.”

“We endeavor that through this very public step we can draw a line under our past mistakes and move forward,” said the spokeshobbit. “Yes, we totally agree that level scaling was a bad idea, and we formally promise never to utilize that same system again. I understand that this admission won’t bring back the hours of gaming-time that you have lost, and I hope that you will grant us the chance to offer reparation through zone-based leveling in future games.”

“There was also the whole factor of allowing the player to become the head of every guild,” the fun-sized game director continued. “We had taken bad advice that this was what the player wanted, and we know now that this was not the case. You are never going to get back the hours you have wasted finding out that you can head up both the fighters’ and assassins’ guilds – which is clearly wrong from a role-player’s perspective – and there is no adequate way that we can compensate you for that loss.”

The pint-sized cutie also apologized for the unattractive appearance of female NPCs in the game. “We hope that the lack of resemblance to Eastern European athletes of any variety in Fallout 3 shows a degree of good faith on our part, but I accept that some of you will have been traumatized by your experiences on seeing these hideous creatures in Oblivion. We will make available a special helpline at the end of the conference, so that those affected by night terrors and other post-traumatic side-effects can call the number and get the help they need. It really is the least we can do.”

Although problems with the game have long been known, this bold new step may have been prompted by recent evidence that has come to light of other, more serious issues that have been attributed to the use of Oblivion, including the rise of teen alcoholism and gun crime.

“I think it’s disgusting that this has been allowed to go on so long,” said Mothers Against Oblivion spokeswoman Meredyth Shufflebottom. “We’re sick of the dumbing down of our games to appease the console crowd. The nVidia black screen bug has driven my son to join a street gang. It’s time for action. We have written to the senator and to the state governor. It’s brave of Todd to apologize but the rot needs to stop. I believe that you can pinpoint the rise of cocaine use in the Western world to the moment canonical descriptions of Cyrodiil as a mangrove-filled jungle were sidelined in favor of generic Tolkienesque quaintness.”

A recent study by the International Confederation of Commerce has linked the global credit crisis to players overspending on hardware in order to play Oblivion.

More ominously still, Dr Hardin Steinberg of the National Research Center on Climatology has found strong evidence tying recent patterns of climate change to frequent use of Bethesda’s game. “There‘s still further research to be done,” concedes the expert, “But the balance of probabilities is that Elder Scrolls IV and its expansion may be responsible for up to 20% of humanity’s contribution to CO2 emissions.” The paleoclimatologist believes that this increase is attributable to the collective sighs of frustration when the game crashes on exit. “This is not the first time this has happened,” explains the scientist. “Around 11,500 years ago, the end of the Younger Dryas stadial synchronous cool period is thought to have been precipitated by the collective venting of frustrations at the global Senet game craze originating from predynastic Egypt.”

Is it too late to save the planet from Oblivion? Only time will tell.

Steinberg is optimistic. “I think that if Bethesda return promptly to the core values of choice and consequence and character-based skill, the Earth will be able to heal itself in time.”

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