Watch as this toddler comes to terms with crime and punishment in the world of Skyrim.
The minds of 3 year-old humans are complex and fast-paced places. To wit: this video of one such child, seen here wrestling with the moral quandries and lessons presented to her by M-rated The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
Watch as the young child's path is blocked by an unimpressed NPC. The child opts for the ol' ear-piercing shout tactic so popular among her age group as a means to deal with this problem. When it fails, she resorts to "swording" the interlocutor until he no longer presents an obstacle.
"Aha!" she beams. Her path is clear. But what's this? Town Guards? I probably shouldn't have straight-up murdered that NPC in a world that exists without institutionalized judicial checks and balances, her frown seems to say. Maybe I shouldn't have murdered him at all. "People don't want to be sword," she says out loud, putting her complex ruminations on the nature of crime and punishment into impressively straightforward terms.
Of course, she could just be horrified at the quick and violent end her character sees as a result of her action. Much of the reaction to this video - cute as the girl and her play are - has centered around what a 3 year-old child was doing wielding an axe in Skyrim in the first place.
After Kotaku ran a story on the video, the girl's apparent father, Carl Douglas, wrote in to explain why his daughter was axe-murdering NPCs. "While I do understand that games and violence out of context can be harmful to a child, we are a family of gamers, and the exposure to some imagery is inevitable (though unfortunate)," he wrote. "We do our best to explain things to her and talk about what happens...when the adorably traumatic realization set in that the guards were responding to her "swording" by giving her "boo boos," we did ask her what happened. She just sweetly responded "peoples don't like swords, and we don't want swords on the peoples" and she didn't want to play anymore."
"She [knows] the Skyrim controls because she likes to run around in the wilderness looking for streams to jump into," he added.
As far as whether or not the child should be playing Skyrim goes, her father seems to have a decent grasp on detailing the differences between reality and fantasy. The jury's still out on whether she's absorbing the basics of the situation in the video, or is just upset by the gore on the screen. Regardless, though, a lesson of some stripe has been learned: Don't "sword" someone out of your way and expect a "boo-boo"-free response from the local authorities.