After returning to the frozen land of Skyrim recently I found myself not running round slaying dragons but at a workbench deciding if I wanted a Library or a Kitchen. It got me thinking, from the irradiated wastes of the Commonwealth to the frosty wilds of Skyrim and even the shimmering lights of Los Santos, in these wonderful and varied lands many of us still desire a place for our adventurers to rest their feet. But why? In these open world games where you have almost limitless freedom and potential and where your character needs never sleep, why do we still buy or build a home?
For some their in-game house would be more accurately described as a warehouse. It is simply a place to store all the treasures gained over a lifetime of adventuring and a place to store all that useless crap you acquire and swear you will sell. One day. Maybe.
But for many their in-game house is far more than just an oversized storage chest. Many of us, myself included, take the time to customise our homes. To not just dump items in chests but to carefully place them on shelves or in display cases. We take the time out of the fast paced life of the adventurer to do some casual interior decorating.
I believe this is because even in games like Skyrim that we perceive to be some limitless open world space we are still following orders. Ever quest you take every part of the main storyline involves someone else telling you what to do. Asking you to go into a cave and retrieve his sweet roll or escort some idiot across the map. You chose whether or not you complete the quests but you are still being told to do them.
What your home does is offer a totally different space. In your home no longer are you doing things for others, this is the only space that is totally in the control of your character. You get to choose what goes where, you get total freedom to customise the space around you to how you want it to be. Even though it is all fantasy your house feels safe, and feels like a place where you can send your character back to after a long day saving the world to have a rest surrounded by your belongings, your loot and stolen sweet rolls.
There is something quite rewarding at standing back and admiring the progress you are making on your new home don’t you think?