The last few weeks, I’ve been playing a lot with my Retro Pie, reliving my childhood one game at a time. The future is basically amazing. It’s been interesting playing games again as an adult. Some games seem more difficult, others less. But it’s more or less the same experience, except for one thing: On an emulator, you can save the game at any time, even in ones that didn’t originally have a way to save your progress.
I didn’t give much thought to this at first, other than it being more convenient. Need to run to the store before it closes to grab something you forgot? You don’t need to waste time finding a save point or lose all your progress. You can make an internal quick save anywhere, any time — what they call a save state. It’s handy as an adult who likes to play video games without shirking their responsibilities.
But then it occurred to me as I was playing one day: It would be an easy matter to save, try something, and reload if things didn’t go the way I wanted to. Especially to “shop” through parts of games with random outcomes (like, say, betting in a casino) or before tackling difficult parts.
I started to experiment with this, and rather than ruining the games for me, the abuse of save states became its own kind of strategy. I was a bit nervous the first time Skyspook witnessed me doing this, not knowing what he’d think of it, but he didn’t mock me for doing this.
Instead, Skyspook encouraged me, even making new suggestions: “If you save just as the fight screen is loading, can you get different monsters each time?”
I Wish There Were Save States in Real Life
I’m playing video games one night, when a familiar feeling hits me: I’ve had just enough wine to want to text an ex but not enough to think it’s a good idea.
But still a part of me wonders how it would go, that conversation. Would they be happy to hear from me? Would we stumble into a kind of late-night mutual closure? Or would it be an unwelcome outreach? A kind of cruelty?
If only I could save state, try it, and see what happens, I think.
Reload if it goes terribly. Jump back on the old plot line, as though it never happened. The hurt feelings on both sides slipping into some kind of electronic oblivion.
But unfortunately, we can’t reload in real life. We’re stuck with the consequences of the risks we take.