Mario Donick

Dr. Mario Donick has studied German language & literature and history at the University of Rostock. He has a PhD in Communication Studies. He works as independent author and researcher. Books and articles on human computer interaction & society, as well as computer games. CV and publications.

Doing Magic for a Living: About the “Mages Guild” in The Elder Scrolls as Professional Organization

FROG 2021 – Talk

Many fantasy games present mages, wizards and witches as a fairly common part of the game world and its society. Magic exists objectively and even common people know about it. Still, magic is often regulated by special organizations. In the „Elder Scrolls“ series of games, many mages are organized in the Mages Guild. In my talk, I start by explaining the guild‘s purpose, both in term of gameplay and narrative – the guild not only structures the quest-based gameplay of the series, but also builds, strengthens and confirms the player’s assumed identity as mage, witch or wizard. It is therefore a tool helping the player to suspend disbelief. However, by doing so, the actually fantastic endeavour of casting spells or doing magic research becomes surprisingly mundane – magic quests are presented as jobs with payments and deadlines to meet. Members are organized in ranks, have to follow rules, and guilds are managed, just like every other company in our normal world. At first this seems to be a contradiction to the fantastic setting of the game world. However, I will show that elements of every-day bureaucracy actually increase the credibility of the fictional guild and further strenghten the player’s impression of really being a mage, witch or wizard.


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