YouTuber spots something unusual about Skyrim's river flow, modder gets on it immediately

I enjoy Any Austin's Skyrim videos, many of which involve calculating the unemployment rate of Skyrim's settlements. He's a chill presence in the Skyrim scene, finding mundane threads and pulling them to see what unravels. His recent video was a perfect example of this, starting on a bridge over the White River in Riverwood and following it to the Sea of Ghosts, taking diversions every time a tributary flowed into it to identify their sources.

It's a gentle rumination on both the art of making a 3D landscape for a videogame, whether realism is always the most important thing to consider, and why it's so pleasing to stand beside a river and wonder about its source and its endpoint. Basically, it's a nice way to spend about 13 minutes of your time and I recommend it to you highly.

Assuming you've done the sensible thing and pressed play on that embed before reading on, you'll know about the unusual spot Any Austin noticed near Ivarstead from which the water flows in two different directions. While we could explain that by imagining a ground spring coming out of an aquifer feeding into the river at that point, which is something that can happen in the real world, we don't have to. 

Because modder Yeti has already uploaded the Ivarstead Source mod on Nexus Mods to deal with the issue. Rather than reversing the flow of half the water so it all comes from Lake Geir and flows into the White River, the mod adds one of those convenient mountain waterfalls to feed into the water at precisely this point. Bingo bango, job done.

To get back to Any Austin's video, the question he asks about why some of us are fascinated by seemingly inconsequential details like these is an interesting one. For me, the answer is simple: neurodiversity. Examining these mundane details is just stimulating enough to maintain my interest, without being overstimulating in a way that would exhaust my fragile attention. Like staring at natural phenomena in real life, it's a soothing thing to focus on that rides the line between boredom and excitement without tipping too far in either direction. Another video on this subject that dragged it out for hours to please the algorithm or used console commands to noclip-whip across the landscape wouldn't have been nearly as brain-tickling. 

Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, Five Out of Ten Magazine, and, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.