Winter is coming: the dire landscape of 2011-2012

Game of Thrones is back in the US, and snow is forecast for next week in the UK, leaving a large chunk of the English speaking world immersed in a mythic, winter landscape once again.

2011 and 2012 might be remembered in years to come as the time that we all felt winter approaching. Not just in the foreboding voice of Sean Bean, but in the bleak mountain landscapes of video games such as Skyrim and SSX.

Both of these games were part of franchises that had previously presented settings that were either more optimistic or simply warmer. Oblivion had us hillwalking in the green, lush lands of Cyrodiil, with the occasional visit to a terrifying, fiery netherworld.

Source: via Zoya on Pinterest

All three previous incarnations of the SSX franchise were, although snowy, mostly safe places, full of neon, where the ice was bright blue and the outfits outlandish. Now Zoe has swapped her baggy pants for armour, and the landscape is routinely described as dangerous and deadly.


Meanwhile, The Elder Scrolls has taken us to the cold, lonely mountains of Skyrim, to save the world from an ancient horror to which the protagonist is related by blood, making explicit the notion that our greatest fears lie within us.

Clearly we are feeling much less optimistic, and I don’t need to go over the reasons why. I can’t help but wonder if the bleak landscapes in which we have been spending our leisure time are an expression of that whimpering apocalypse we fear is all too near.

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