Friday, December 30, 2011

Skyrim teaches kids Capitalism done right

While I normally take the winter off I have spent the last several weeks embattled between two different versions of Skyrim.  I learned the hard way that the PS3 version is broken. I don’t know how this could happen but the game is so buggy so as to become completely unplayable by the time you get past level 40, and even with the patches that have been released the game now crashes instead of slowing down to the point of unplayability. I ended up trading in that version for the 360 version.
None the less I wanted to comment briefly on what makes Skyrim a great game for the youth, especially teens. Capitalism. You see the empire is actually pretty good at allowing the free market to flourish. Your character is able to learn a trade, manufacture products, establish business relationships, and make money. You start by being trained by someone who has the supplies and equipment you need, he then gives you the skills via experience. You start out being able to sell your products for very little profit, so yes, he “separates the worker from their labor,” but as you get better at your chosen craft and speech you are able to gradually negotiate higher and higher prices, even convincing other stores to take your products, even if they wouldn’t normally deal in some of those wares.
It takes a great deal of work to get to this point, but eventually, once your home(s) is(are) paid off and any debts you might have are paid off you soon find yourself in a situation where you have more coin than you could possibly spend. The lesson this game can actually teach your kids is that hard work yields great rewards. As you let your kids play this game be sure to point out that the guards only interfere with you when you hurt someone by theft or physical harm. The guards don’t come in and impose taxes on you, they don’t ask you for a permit to sell your potions and armor and other wares, I mean if Bethesda wanted to they could have added hours to the game by making your character fill out a mountain of paperwork for every transaction, but they don’t. They let you profit from your exploits and keep your profit. You manufacture goods, establish business relationships and sell your wares without obstruction. That said they could have added the option to haggle, but I’ll take it.
Through business relationships you and your friends can prosper. As opposed to the one hold where free market principals are interfered with, Windhelm. Here is where the leader of the rebel Storm Cloaks presides. It’s a city in ruin where the government persecutes anyone who is not one of them (dark elves in particular) and in one instance a dark elf merchant ended up with a stolen item in his inventory. He didn’t steal it himself, but bought it off someone else.  He wanted to do the right thing and asked me to give it back to the victim, I did, and Ulfric (the Jarl of this hold) raised his taxes to “punish” him. He did the right thing and was punished for it. The end result? His prices went up because he had to adjust for the taxes. The cost of that tax got passed on to me. Combine this with the fact that the Storm Cloaks sleep in tents all around Skyrim and I think it’s pretty clear that the Empire is the lesser of the two evils… But the lesson in basic economics is clear and while I normally don’t recommend M rated games for kids I have to make an exception with this one. If the kids can experience basic capitalism early in life then they will understand it better as adults and will be less likely to join the Storm Cloaks… Err… Occupy Wall Street.

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