Critical Analysis of Fat People Not Being in Skyrim/Cyrodil/Morrowind
A thorough analysis of the various theories surrounding there being no fat people in the last three Elder Scrolls games, and what the correct reasons for this seem to be.
First thing's first. The topic of this thread is "a critical analysis of fat people not being in Skyrim/Cyrodil/Morrowind." Anything that does not in some way address, participate in or add to that critical analysis is off topic and unwelcome here, and this especially includes those who want to post that I'm wrong to analyze this. Please leave and start your own thread if you want to talk about that.
Now, to business.
I consider the question of why there are no fat people in the last three Elder Scrolls games (seemingly in the entire world of Nirn recently,) to be a most important one, and for this reason, I have decided to explore the various proposed answers to this question, and see whether any of them hold any water. Because I think this is such an important issue, however, I mean to explore it in-depth; first with a brief explanation of how theories work, and how they can be disproven, then by examining all the in-universe explanations available for this, followed by all the out-of-universe explanations.
Part 1: Facts, Theories and Proof.
To start with, we need to set some ground rules for how the various theories on this subject can be proven or disproven. I will, therefore, be using the same rules for this as for all observable things; the rules of scientific study. To that end, it's important to understand some definitions.
Fact: Something which is known to be true, because it is observable.
Theory: A potential explanation for facts; whether proven or unproven.
Proof: Enough evidence to establish that a theory is true, beyond a reasonable doubt.
Disproof: Enough evidence to establish that a theory is false, beyond a reasonable doubt. A theory has been disproven if it is found to either contradict itself, or if it is contradicted by some evidence which is clearly true.
Evidence: A piece of information, which, if true, makes a theory more likely than it would have been without it.
Arriving at the correct explanation for certain facts is merely a matter of working with the evidence (E) until all possible theories (T) have become disproven (DT.) When only one remaining theory can explain the available evidence, and the evidence supports that theory, we may consider it proven (PT.) However, we will begin with many Theories (TM.)
E + TM = DTM and PT. Therefore, PT is true.
I'll be using this method to examine the available explanations.
Part 2: In-Universe (Lore-based) Theories.
In-Universe Theory (IUT) #1: There isn't enough food in Morrowind/Cyrodil/Skyrim.
Answer (A) #1: Yes. There clearly is. You find it lying everywhere, and this evidence contradicts IUT1.
IUT2: Okay. There's enough food in Morrowind/Cyrodil/Skyrim, but it takes a lot of work to make it.
A2: It may indeed take work to make it, but not by everyone, since you can pretty much just walk into a town and, without breaking any laws, accumulate enough food to feed an army. Furthermore, Morrowind/Cyrodil/Skyrim has a thriving economy of food stands, taverns, farms, weapons dealers, magicians, etc, any of which can provide enough money to buy a few bites to eat. None of this evidence suggests that it takes a lot of work to get food. In fact, it seems perfectly clear that if you wanted to, you could just bum around and never worry about running out of stuff to eat. In this sense, the ease of finding food in Morrowind/Cyrodil/Skyrim is so great as to be unrealistic, even compared with our own world.
IUT3: Okay. Morrowind/Cyrodil/Skyrim's food is plentiful and easy to get, but not very nutritious. You barely get any sugars/starches/fats from it.
A3: The problem with this theory is that if it were true, much more of Morrowind/Cyrodil/Skyrim's economy and magic would be centered around food production. You see, the reason why food makes people fat is not because it has sugars, starches or fats in it. It's because it has basic nutrients in it, and the person's body already has too many of them. The body therefore stores the extra nutrients as fat; an uncompressible substance, with many beneficial elements to it (more on that later.) Sugars, starches and fats can make food less healthy, but it doesn't make you more likely to get fat.
Furthermore, if it wasn't sugars, starches, etc, but rather, basic nutrients, which were scarce in Morrowind/Cyrodil/Skyrim's food supply, each person would need to simply eat more to maintain their energy. The problem is that this would not make you more likely to be thin, but rather -less- likely, since your stomach would need to be larger in order to process all the mass of that low-nutrient food. Furthermore, some people would -still- eat more nutrients than they needed, so this explanation would really solve nothing.
IUT4: People in Morrowind/Cyrodil/Skyrim have a superpower that makes them always thin.
A4: This is easily the most likely explanation, of all the in-universe ones, but since we've seen that there are, in fact, some fat people in Daggerfall, it's still an unlikely explanation. If it were true, this power would need to have been recently-evolved or recently-bestowed.
IUT5: The dark elves/nords had no use for fat people in their warrior society.
A5: The nords live in a world without guns, and it's a little-known fact that in pre-firearm society, soldiers were known to benefit from being bulkier, as it often increased their chances of surviving contact with the business end of an arrow or a sword, or of not being bowled over by a charging enemy. Being somewhat fat does not -reduce- one's effectiveness as a barbarian warrior. It -increases- it.
Furthermore, this explanation, even if true, would not apply to non-combatants, since we clearly see that a great many NPCs in Morrowind/Skyrim are non-warriors.
IUT6: (Trolls/Dragons/Ogres/Insert Monster Name Here) gobbled them all up.
A6: Trolls are a good example for why this idea is false, since we've all heard the story of the three billy goats gruff, and how the largest and heaviest of the goats ultimately defeats the troll. Except at statistical extremes, this is a known truth. Very large people are worse at chasing down fast-moving prey, but they will hold their own mightily in battle.
In the case of dragons, however, the question is not one of brute strength, but of the ability to survive a dragon raid.
Thin people have no real advantage in shooting bows at a dragon, or weilding axes and swords against one, since all of those things require physical strength, which large, ham-sized arms are more suited to.
In terms of trying to outrun the dragon, this would seem to be a fool's errand, whether one is thin or not, since dragons can fly and strafe you from the air.
As far as hiding from dragons being harder for fat people, unless they're too fat to conceal themselves behind one of the many -huge- boulders or cave walls in Morrowind/Cyrodil/Skyrim, this would also seem to not be an appreciable difference.
The idea that dragons would be more likely to go after fat people is inconsistent with the behavior we've seen them express. They seem to pretty much lay waste to anything in their path; even whole towns, and therefore, the very idea of a fat person being eaten, and then the dragon just going away and leaving the thin people alone is just silly.
Lastly, none of this really matters much anyway, since there is an equalizer, which should make it easy to be fat in any land in the Elder Scrolls Mythos; Magic. I fail to see how a mage who can freeze you solid at thirty yards will be any less deadly if they happen to have a pot belly.
IUT7: The climates of Morrowind/Cyrodil/Skyrim are too harsh, and would make it inadvisable to be fat.
A7: A certain amount of fat is a good thing, no matter what kind of climate you happen to live in, for purely practical reasons. Not only can you keep going for longer without food than a thin person could, but you will have an easier time surviving freezing cold temperatures. Fat even helps creatures to survive dehydration in hot, arid climes. Just look at camels.
IUT8: People in Morrowind/Cyrodil/Skyrim do more work with their hands, and therefore, get more exercise.
A8: Some do, some don't. I mentioned mages before, and will probably do so again. They barely seem to move at all. Then there are very wealthy rulers, commanders and bartenders, none of whom do very strenuous labor to survive. This explanation might explain some very built physiques, but by no means is it sufficient to explain why -no one- in Morrowind/Cyrodil/Skyrim is fat.
IUT9: All the fat people were exiled to Daggerfall.
A9: By whose command? You'd think that dividing families, separating people from their parents, children, best friends, removing army veterans from their posts and business owners from their property would have excited at least some rumors, if not a second war. In this case, it's the very lack of evidence that makes this explanation so unlikely.
Part 3: Out-of-Universe (Development-based) Theories.
Out-of-Universe Theory (OUT) #1: The modelers were lazy.
A1: That's what surprised me, though. They weren't lazy at all. They put a great deal of effort into lovingly crafting weapons, armor, food items, subscreen pictures of items, spell effects, cups, plates, landscapes, dungeons, monsters, chests, barrels, and everything else in the world of the Elder Scrolls in magnificently-rendered 3D. I didn't get the impression of laziness from any of that.
OUT2: It's not possible/too hard to make clothes grow with the body.
A2: This has been disproven by such games as the Sims 3; which included sliders that can drastically increase or decrease the weight of sims. In fact, Skyrim contains such a slider for increasing weight. It just doesn't make the character look fat; even at its maximum setting. All you need to do is plan in advance for the vertices to expand and contract in such a way that the finished model seems larger or smaller. As long as segments of the clothes are programmed to correspond to segments of the body (which was done in Skyrim,) the clothes and body will both be larger if the sliders are larger. Bethesda has shown that they know how to do this. They just need to kick it into high gear. Yet, they haven't done this, nor have they made it easy for modders to do it either.
OUT3: Nobody wants to see fat people in a game like this.
A3: This is clearly false, considering how many times this topic has come up. Besides, I thought part of the point of Skyrim was to make things look more realistic.
OUT4: It just didn't occur to them until it was too late.
A4: Balogna. Dozens of programmers and game designers worked for years on Skyrim, and sooner or later, one of them must have gone to the grocery store and realized "you know, these characters we're testing look more like magazine pinups than the real people in this store." This is all that's needed in order for someone to make the connection. Furthermore, I've seen pictures of Skyrim's development team, and several of them are fat. There is simply no way that this never occured to them.
OUT5: They didn't have enough money/time to finish developing this aspect of the game.
A5: Had bethesda had any intention of working this in, they'd have done it from the beginning, since this is the sort of thing that requires a lot of mesh replacements and vertex moving if it's not planned in from square one. Furthermore, they have been releasing DLCs for a while now, yet I've heard nothing about this being fixed, and frankly, I don't expect them to fix it.
I don't see that any of these explanations is sufficient to explain just why this happened. However, there is another possibility; the possibility that Bethesda had all the money, time and talent that they needed, that the idea was presented to them; that they knew it would make the game world look more realistic and more multifaceted, and that they rejected the idea utterly, because they simply detest fat people and everything that depicts them in a public way. I'd like to think better of game developers than this, but based on all this evidence, I don't see how I can.
If you think there's another explanation that I've overlooked, please let me know. I'd love to discuss it. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to eat a few dozen candy bars.
Last edited by bra1n1ac
Jan 5, 2013 @ 4:41pm