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Read our best game diaries, if you've got a spare week or so

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Over the years we've turned our experiences playing games into a lot of stories, most literally in our game diaries. They're fun features, and hopefully reading them will make you consider playing your next game in a novel way—maybe not with over 200 random mods installed, but perhaps as a favorite fictional character or with a challenging limitation—and turning that into a narrative, even if it's only in your head. You don't have to be a professional storyteller to think about decisions in-character, and you may find yourself enjoying them even more.

Here are some of our best diary features.

Week of madness

Game Skyrim
Diary by Richard Cobbett

How does Skyrim cope with having about 240 mods installed, sight unseen, with no consideration for compatibility? Not well, but the results are worth it. From a war between dinosaurs and lions, to Minecraft armor, to cameos from Harley Quinn and a headless Witcher NPC, this is Skyrim as you've never seen it before. And, fingers crossed, will never see it again.

An illusionist in Skyrim

Game Skyrim
Diary by Tom Francis

While we're in Skyrim, here's a pacifist playthrough. It's made a lot easier when you're an illusion-magic specialist with a definition of pacifism stretchy enough to include "magically manipulating other people into doing the fighting for you."

(Image credit: Paradox)

Diary of a droid jedi

Game Mount & Blade
Diary by Evan Lahti

Among Mount & Blade's many overhaul mods, Star Wars Conquest is a highlight. It fills the medieval sandbox game with stormtroopers and hutts, and lets you play basically whoever you want. Gamorrean smuggler? Sure. Twilek merchant? You do you. Droid jedi? Go off, my child.

Playing as a party of bears

Game Pillars of Eternity
Diary by Christopher Livingston

I have 61 hours in Pillars of Eternity and I did not realize this was even possible, but with an entire party of ranger PCs, each with bear as a companion animal, you can just leave the humans at home and march off as a pure-bear party.

(Image credit: Paradox)

Game of Thrones: Surviving Westeros

Game Crusader Kings 2
Diary by Rich McCormick

The Game of Thrones mod for Crusader Kings 2 lets you pick and choose from George R. R. Martin's cast of mostly doomed War of the Roses analogues, leading them and their dynasties through the long winter. Rich chose Ned Stark, a character he sums up as "naïve and unflinchingly honourable", then tried to keep him alive in this grim and cynical setting.

How far can one AI go using wits, skill, and lots of cheats?

Game Crusader Kings 2
Diary by Phil Savage

In Crusader Kings 2 there's an 'observe' command that lets you hand over control of your dynasty to the computer, handing over control so you can watch. That would be a bit boring on its own, so Phil decided to let himself interfere, but only through console commands. And that's how in an alternate 1066 an AI became Matilda di Canossa, Duchess of Tuscany.

Star Citizen: So is it actually fun?

Game Star Citizen
Diary by Christopher Livingston

The internet is full of people with firmly held opinions about Star Citizen. In fact, there are even more of them than have actually played Star Citizen. Chris set about bringing balance to the Verse by putting on his yellow cap and sailing off to explode and suffocate in space.

The one where PC Gamer is hunted by the internet

Game DayZ
Diary by Phil Savage, Chris Thursten, Andy Kelly, Tom Senior

A video diary of DayZ as it stood in 2014, in which the PC Gamer UK team tried to avoid being stream-sniped by their viewers. They hiked across Chernarus to Green Mountain, bouncing across servers as necessary, more threatened by other players (and bugs) than zombies. That's DayZ for you.

(Image credit: Bohemia)

One hour in DayZ's Christmas ceasefire

Game DayZ
Diary by Tom Senior

For one day only, peace broke out in DayZ. Or at least, it was supposed to. Will players abide by the truce?

Emotional rollercoaster

Game DayZ
Diary by Evan Lahti

With these videos Evan captured what it was like back in 2012, during the early days of DayZ, when players were discovering the excitement of victimizing each other for the first time and a lot of people found out a zombie apocalypse might just make cowards of them. Check out Evan's DayZ photo diaries as well—here's part one, and part two: murder mystery castle—or go all the way back to launch night for his first life.

(Image credit: Tim Denee)

How seven drunks opened a portal to Hell

Game Dwarf Fortress
Diary by Steve Hogarty

Seven dwarves who wouldn't be caught dead singing "hi ho" decide to dig all the way to Hell in this Dwarf Fortress diary. Far beneath the settlement of Oakfire, they delve too greedily and too deep. 158 levels too deep, to be precise.

Police Crime Jack Action

Game Enforcer: Police Crime Action
Diary by Christopher Livingston

Jack Action begins his eventful career in law enforcement with speed traps, drug deals, and the bright red crime light illuminating the unworthy. "I start thinking maybe I'm a psychic cop, which would at least partially make up for my apparent disregard for civil rights."

(Image credit: Stardock)

War report

Game Galactic Civilizations 2
Diary by Tom Francis

A classic from 2007, this is "the saga of the largest, longest possible game of the largest-scale, longest-lasting space strategy in years." A lot of people starved to death.

Neighborhood watch

Game H1Z1
Diary by Christopher Livingston

Before it was split into Z1: Battle Royale and the canceled Just Survive, H1Z1 was an Early Access smash hit for reasons future generations will be even more baffled by than us. Chris bravely dived in to have his bits nibbled by wolves, then triumph by living in an outdoor toilet.

(Image credit: Paradox)

Welcome to Stabshank

Game Prison Architect
Diary by Andy Kelly

How does a low-capacity prison with a minimum number of guards deal with a flood of ruthless criminals? By transforming into Stabshank. There won't be any stories of redemption here.

The diary of an RNG Hitman

Game HITMAN 2
Diary by Rick Lane

There are three rules. 1: Weapons are to be chosen via a lotto spinner. 2: Only one weapon is allowed per target. 3: There are to be no reloads except upon death. 4: 'Falling' and 'drowning' both totally count as weapons. 

OK, there are four rules.

(Image credit: Studio Wildcard)

How not to train your dinosaur

Game Ark
Diary by Christopher Livingston

"During my first day in Ark: Survival Evolved, I went through the typical newbie paces. I chopped some wood, I punched some birds, I pooped out several large, round turds, and I experienced some Early Access glitches. My goal for day two was to actually accomplish something: tame a dinosaur, build a home, meet other players, perhaps even make myself some trousers so I'm not wandering around in my boxers all the time.

"I accomplished one of these things! Here's why I didn't accomplish anything else."

GTA RP adventures

Game Grand Theft Auto Online
Diary by
Joe Donnelly

Honestly, we could fill another list with Joe Donnelly's adventures in GTA Online's roleplay servers. There was the time he robbed banks while posing as a journalist, had to sing in an audition and started a riot, went to Liberty City and found a nightmare, or started a cult and scammed other players out of thousands of dollars. God knows what he'll do next.

(Image credit: Future)

Rock beats gods

Game Dominions 4
Diary by Tom Senior

In strategy game Dominions 4 you can play as a monster riding a giant grey ape, or one of three dragons. Or you can be an obelisk, a silent and stationary lump of rock. Tom decided he'd be the rock.

"Frosh man has a gun!"

Game Rust
Diary by Christopher Livingston

If there's a janky survival game in Early Access, there's a Chris Livingston diary about it. And they're always hilarious. Rust is no exception. Let's not forget the time he bashed his face with a rock he kept in his butt in Reign of Kings or went shopping in corpses in Miscreated.

No trace

Game Dishonored
Diary by Chris Thursten

After demonstrating his three extreme approaches to Dishonored (see the video above) Chris Thursten focused down on one of them for a diary series, and no, it wasn't "Corvo Attano, the Loudest Man in Dunwall". These videos are an "Oh dear, what a terrible accident" playthrough, in which leaving evidence is fine, so long as it doesn't point to murder.

The Minecraft Experiment

Game Minecraft
Diary by Tom Francis

If you die you have to delete the world. Will this one rule make Minecraft more interesting to someone who doesn't care about its creative potential?

The thinker, the hacker, and the psychopath

Game Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Diary by Tom Francis, Graham Smith, Rich McCormick

Three writers tackle the opening of Deus Ex: Human Revolution in three different ways. The psychopath is a terrible cyborg with an assault rifle. The hacker is roleplaying Batman. And the thinker is going to take the cerebral approach, by upgrading his tongue.

(Image credit: 777)

A coward in a Camel

Game Rise of Flight
Diary by Tim Stone

A World War One flight simulator, a temperamental Sopwith Camel biplane, and an iron man run. Will the Germans or 'the Camel spin' end it all first?

This is what happens when you never do laundry

Game The Sims 4
Diary by Joanna Nelius

The Sims is right up there with moddable open-world RPGs and survival games when it comes to diary potential. Joanna exploited that to the fullest, with this story of a Sims 4 hoarder house, as well as the time she went to university, pierced her face and tried to bang a robot, and experienced The Sims in first-person.

(Image credit: Future)

The cube of despair

Game The Sims 4
Diary by Andy Kelly

Things go a bit Twilight Zone. If you think taking away the ladder out of the pool while your Sims are swimming is the height of torment, you've never seen the cube of despair. Or, for that matter, The Odd Couple.

Tales from the Dark Zone

Game The Division
Diary by Andy Kelly

No relation to The Twilight Zone, the Dark Zone is the lawless PvP area of The Division's apocalyptic Manhattan, where 25 agents compete to kill each other and take their stuff, then helicopter away to safety. Andy enters the Dark Zone to find out if the danger and paranoia will turn him cynical, and also to find some sweet purple loot. 

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Fuck this orc: The saga of Mozû

Game Middle-Earth: Shadow of War
Diary by Tim Clark

An accidental diary this one. When Tim first met Mozû the Blight and declared Fuck this one particular orc, he probably thought that was all there was to it. He'd been bullied by one of Mordor's randomly generated orcs at length, been thoroughly tilted, and gone online to complain about it and ask for help. In the days that followed, Mozû became legend. He showed up in the replies. There was fan art. One of the game's developers at Monolith tried to help defeat him. And he became the default avatar of our comments section.

Here's how the story ended.

The beginner's guide to homesteading and mass murder

Game Skyrim
Diary by Christopher Livingston

Let's go back to Skyrim one more time for the Hearthfire expansion. Build a house. Adopt a family. Settle down in your own corner of Tamriel. What could possibly go wrong? What indeed.

The Outer Worlds

(Image credit: Obsidian)

Company man

Game The Outer Worlds
Diary by Jeremy Peel

Our latest game diary sees Jeff Asbestos, space capitalist, set off into the distant system of Halcyon to prove Tim Curry's character from Red Alert 3 definitively wrong. As an employee of Spacer's Choice, Jeff Asbestos is here to show that corporations are good actually.

Jody is that guy who will try to convince you to play some indie game you've never heard of with a name like Extreme Meatpunks Forever. He is also on a doomed quest to play every Warhammer game.