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February 19, 2017
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Problem Machine: Resume From Last Checkpoint
by Ben Taber on 12/28/12 05:40:00 pm

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


A common problem in games, and one which is rarely solved well, is how to get a player who has left the game for a month or more caught back up on whatever's going on at any given moment. I would say it's a problem inexcusable in this sort of long-form media, that it would be incumbent on our medium to solve this problem immediately, except for the fact that every other sort of long form media seems to have the same damn problem. Television shows will sometimes recap an episode or two at the beginning of a new part, but it's rarely enough to catch anyone who's been gone any substantial amount of time back up.

So it's the holiday season now, things are getting pleasantly crisp and cold and I'm jetting/driving up and down the coast visiting family. It's very strange, sometimes, visiting a place you used to live, because it feels like the life you left there is still going somehow, a ghost life, and that you begin to fall back into it. We struggle to achieve escape velocity but when we return home the gravity of our previous lives is difficult to shake. I've never really lived in the house I'm in now, though I flirted with it briefly in a prolonged and impoverished stay some time ago, but, nevertheless, just being here I feel the pull of old habits long dead.

It is not always pleasant. Nostalgia is a sad kind of happy.

And as soon as I acclimate at all I'm back home, and I need to remember the person who I have declared myself to be and to slip back into that skin once more. How do I remember where to resume? I am in danger of losing the plot.

Yeah okay I probably could have figured that much out on my own though

I can't tell whether it's something universal, or incidental to my nature, or somewhere in between, but I find it very easy to slip out of my skin. Sometimes when I see others I see myself through them and I forget who is who. It is a bit jarring, a form of acute and externalized self-awareness it is easy to get lost in. I wonder if this, too, is a symptom of my history of gaming, my history of perceiving myself as being outside myself in order to participate in a narrative. Do we end up perceiving ourselves externally by habit?

It's probably just me.

Most of the gamers I meet don't seem very self-aware.

The point is, I guess, that it's easy for me to get stuck in one place and let that place define me even as I shape that place to myself. The point is, I guess, that we build lives and personae in tandem and it's easy to forget which goes with which or to get forced into one by proximity to the other. The point is, I guess, that no one has solved the problem of forgetfulness, of being away from somewhere for long enough that you have a hard time pretending you know what that place is any more or what's going on there.

Even when the world stands still, our minds march on and lose sight of the past by distance.

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