"The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim" is hands down one of the greatest video games of our generation. Being the winner of 200+ "Game of the Year" Awards, Bethesda Studios really hit gold. It has a wonderful storyline and a rich, deeply established culture, clearly being inspired by the ancient Northern European traditions. The armors, the names, and even the organization of their gods, known as Divines and Daedric Princes, almost mirror that of the Vikings and surrounding cultures. Even the races of this world can be found in Northern Lore. Dwemer, Elves, and Giants? More like Dwarves
I have spent many an hour in the world of Tamriel, all in an attempt to defeat the World Devourer, the dreaded wyrm Alduin. A dragon only to be extremely prevalent in the end of days, flying through Sovengarde feasting upon the dead, bringing darknes-
"Whoa hold up, where have I heard this before? Ah yes, the dragon Nithogg!"
It's true dear reader, I am trying to bring to your attention the potential inspiration for Alduin, the dark dragon Nithogg.
For those who don't know Nithogg, in Norse Lore, is a great dragon who lives outside of the world tree, gnawing on the roots of Ygddrasil. He does this with the intent to injure the Waning Ash, bringing the Nine Worlds to chaos. It is said however during the events of Ragnarok he will fly around the battlefield of Vigrid, devouring the souls of the fallen. Sounding familiar yet? The most prevalent characteristic is, in fact, after the events of Ragnarok he will reside over Nastrond, an area of Helheim, a place of terrible suffering for the souls of murderers, oath-breakers, and rapists, in which he will sit upon its river banks and devour the souls of the "damned".
Helheim is the place of afterlife in the Northern religion, modernly known as Heathenism. Sovengarde is the place of afterlife to the fictional Nord people of Skyrim. Both have an almost tyrannical dragon, devoted to chaos, devouring the souls of its inhabitants. Now I know their roles in each aspect's ideas of the end times are different, but I said "inspired by" not "directly copied".
Now, for those of you who are devout fans of "The Elder Scrolls" series, may be saying to yourself, "But Sovengarde sounds nothing like Nastrond, in fact it is proven to be very closely inspired by Valhalla, the Hall of the Einherjar. Alduin entering Sovengarde is more like an invasion, it would be more like Nithogg flying to Valhalla and eating up all the fallen warriors..." And to that I say, Nithogg will eat the fallen warriors, maybe not by invading Valhalla, but on Vigrid.
But I get what you're saying, Nastrond and Sovengarde are nothing alike. If anything Skyrim's "Soul Cairn" can easily be compared to Nastrond, but does the Soul Cairn have a dragon who feasts on the souls that reside there? Well, yeah. The dragon Durnehviir lives in the Soul Cairn, and sustains himself off of the souls that reside there.
"But I thought Nithogg inspired Alduin, not Durnehviir!"
Well that's the thing about inspiration, it can create more than one thing.
This honestly is fascinating. It is yet another example of how the culture and religion of something so ancient has bled into our modern society. The spirituality of the ancient Northern peoples continue to shape our world, long after they are gone. To see the culture of my ancestors still prominent gives me great pride, and is beautiful in my eyes.
Lots of video games have inspirations from world cultures. In my opinion, it's what makes them fun to play. To explore the world that has been created that was inspired by our own.
Like you said, Skyrim has a lot of North European culture mixed into it. It can actually be used as a learning experience. There's a college in Texas that uses Skyrim to teach about Scandinavian culture, and students read the Sagas to look for the similarities.
I love seeing the little reference in Skyrim that relate to Norse Mythology.
My favorite is the Slepnir reference. You're doing a side quest for Maven Black-Briar. You're stealing a horse for her, and you can get ahold of the ownership of the horse. If I call correctly, the horse's name is Frost, but it's grandfather's name is Slipneir ;)