Whenever I play videogames and I encounter certain cutscenes, regardless of how many savefiles I can keep, I might think, will this be the last time I’ll ever see this? Existentially mortal thoughts like that keep me grounded but sometimes depress me, too. I’ll think of all the people that I’ve met, or will never meet, that will never experience things like the video going into Golden Saucer in FF7. Do those thoughts prevent gameplay?
Sometimes, yeah, but then I just have to remember that everything’s online now.
For worse, we live in an age where almost all of the information we put online is preserved forever, but for better, popular videogames can be archived forever. At any moment I have access to the Internet, if I don’t have access to my own copy of FF7 through Steam, I could watch pre-recorded playthroughs of the game, or I could watch people livestreaming their playthroughs. If I don’t have access to the Internet, then I’m probably not overly concerned about playing FF7
I had an Internet-free experiment in my first apartment.
Through the duration of my year-plus lease, I did not have an internet service provider at all. I paid not a cent of Internet bills. I didn’t use the Internet. When I needed to do anything Internet-related, I went to work and used their Internet for anything insubstantial. I used the apartment complex’s computers to pay for my bills. I used the local libraries to do other Internet things and to print off things. Admittedly, life was easier for me then compared to now. I would say, now, the Internet is a utility that I am OK spending some money on each month.
My internet bill is an affordable bill.
I bring up this aside as an argument that you can always return to things in life. Nothing is impossible to revisit. Savefiles do act as rationing tools for us to consider saving at key points, but I have 150 savefiles in FF7 I can use for whatever I want. Emulated games allow unlimited savefiles if you’re careful about your data management, so the only limitation that we might have for revisiting scenes like these Gold Saucer videos might be the ones we imagine.
I hazard to link to a specific video, but I can include a screenshot:
For something like that, with a picture, video, or music, we can revisit certain moments.
Do we want to preserve those moments, then? As I wrote that previous sentence, I thought back to a bizarre experience I found myself in, where I had taken a left instead of a right, and found myself knee-deep in what was the nicest group of people around, willing to take me, a stranger, on a ten-minute tour of their facility, when I had just poked my head in wondering what it was all about. Their name had intrigued me, but alas, their name had misled me.
When I describe this memory, does it lose its potency?
Which time do I recall first when I recall this gondola scene going up to the Golden Saucer? Is it my first time, after Christmas of 1997? Is it my most recent time that I went up during this meandry? Or is it during any of the other times I’ve seen clips of it – like during Let’s Mosey? Do all of these memories count toward My Memory of watching this video? Will it become unflappable in the shape of additional evidence? If I watch it 100 more times, will that memory change?
What if I never watch this video again?
I think to a certain extent, when this thought creeps in, it’s almost too insidious, because instead of asking a good question, it asks a negative question. It doesn’t ask if I’m living life to the fullest. It asks if I’m wasting my time. No, playing FF7 isn’t a waste of my time. Any media meandry or anything isn’t a waste of my or your time if you are enjoying it, if you’re learning from it, or if doing it will help you or others around you. The only time in which I might consider FF7 a waste of my time might be if I played a substantial amount of it, didn’t save, and then had to go back through to replay it, but then that is more of my own fault, and something of a personal problem that needs to be fixed in order to proceed along.
I did that when I accidentally named Cait Sith wrong months back.
It took me months to reprioritize my life to get to a point where I could get back into playing FF7 and I enjoy it much more. I’ll play it and focus on the game when there’s a cutscene or something of major importance, otherwise, if I just want to zone out to some battling, then I’ll just watch a video or two. It’s like how I’ll draw while listening to podcasts and audiobooks or write while listening to music. There’s no waste except if I spend too much time lingering on thoughts that are wasteful.
I don’t consider meandering through 2-star media especially wasteful.
If I have to meander through it by itself, then yeah, it’s wasteful, but I can listen to a 2-star album once, while doing something else, write something about it, and never have to revisit it again. Same for videos. Videogames, videos, and movies are harder in that regard, because they tend to be fullscreen experiences, but I reserve the fullscreen experience for top-tier experiences. I love FF7 and consider it to, overall, be a top-tier 5-star experience, but even then, there are moments that drag along to the point where I don’t mind playing a majority of that game, and most games, in a windowed view so I can multitask. In that way, I can convince myself that I’m always welcome back because I’ve never truly left.
Whether playing the videogame again or watching the highlights somewhere.
|Sources: My personal and professional experiences.|
|Inspirations: I think back to the many places I’ve been and will never return.|
|Related: Other Media Meandry essays.|
|Screenshots: Taken in windowed mode.|
|Written On: 2020 August 20 [2:14am to 3:04am]|
|Last Edited: 2020 August 20 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]|