Games, Life

The Joy of Decorating Houses in “Elder Scrolls Online”

This past month I’ve gotten hooked on the online RPG Elder Scrolls Online. (I know, it took me long enough!) The game has provided me with a fantasy world where I can escape today’s sad and worrying news, get some R&R after moving apartments, and spend time with my husband without leaving the house. Additionally, I get to enjoy the rush of success in completing quests and leveling up. I created a dark elf character I’m playing as a mage, using a combination of Daedric summoning and dark magic. It’s been a blast.

ESO is one of those games that kind of has it all: intriguing quests, tons of different ways to fight, beautiful scenery to explore, and constant activities to keep you engaged. But my favorite part of the game isn’t the questing. It’s not even dying my character’s outfit different colors — although I’ll admit I do that a lot. My very favorite part of ESO is decorating houses.

From YouTube, I’ve seen a lot of ESO players specializing in the housing side of the game. It’s like a whole subculture of players who devote their time to giving each of their many in-game homes a unique look and feel. Some dive deep into the waters of furniture crafting… but at about Level 30, I’m barely scraping the surface of crafting. Others go further than decorating, actually building inside and outside of their houses. With at least hundreds of items to add to your estate, you can end up building additional floors or add-ons — or even building a new house entirely from scratch.

Personally, to buy decor I first spend Crowns (which you get as part of the ESO subscription or can purchase with real money). Then, when I run out, I explore each map’s guild traders to see what’s in stock for the week. Guild traders are NPCs that represent guilds of ESO players trading items they don’t want any more for in-game currency. What I love most about shopping for furniture this way is that it feels like real life. Browsing inventory, comparing prices, seeing if anything new has hit the stores that might go with my current decor — it’s an adventure unto itself. Though this, I’ve found some great treasures I would never have discovered otherwise.

Currently I have two estates, with my main residence being a place called Bouldertree Refuge. Decorating it has been a fun weeks-long process of building, changing things, adding to it, and then sometimes completely redoing it all. I love it. My husband can attest to the fact that I obsess over this decorating and could easily do it around the clock.

Elder Scrolls On

So why the obsession? Personally, I believe decorating houses in ESO has given me a creative outlet I wouldn’t otherwise have. While I enjoy creative activities regularly — such as writing my novel, decorating a personal planner, and even coloring in adult coloring books — nothing has allowed me to tune out and simply unwind quite like decorating my house in ESO has. As silly as it may sound, I find peace in playing with the placement of a chair, or finding a cool statue for my dining room table, or swapping out a light fixture to make sure the ambiance in a room is just right. It’s almost a meditative process — yet it’s also one that allows me to express myself in a unique and visual way.

It’s important in life to have small, attainable goals in addition to big ones. To be honest, as happy as I am in my life right now, most of my goals are very long-term. I’m getting ready to go back to school, taking a long-term online class, and working on a novel. That’s why something as simple as designing a house in ESO makes me so happy. It gives me something more bite-sized to “work on,” so I can feel good about the end result sooner. There’s no stress involved and nobody to judge me, either. It’s just a way to feel good for a while and to achieve something… even if it means something only to me.

In these trying times, little things like this keep me sane. That’s why I’m so grateful to find joy in ESO right now.

Do you have anything special that’s keeping you sane right now? I’d love to hear from you — it’s so good to connect at this time. :)

— Ashley

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