I am Not a Walking Walkthrough

Image by Flickr user Nicolas Fuentes(CC)
Image by Flickr user Nicolas Fuentes (CC)

A few months ago, I completed Batman: Arkham Origins to much internal fanfare. With the exception of the game’s reliance on QuickTime events, I found the experience to be among the most rousing I had had yet with a Batman game, and I was equally as happy to call the game “completed.”

A few weeks ago, my husband started up Batman: Arkham Origins for the first time. His playthrough was going quite well until he got stuck. I bore witness to the trouble he had with a particular level, and I felt quite sympathetic to his plight having gotten stuck in the same spot myself. Try as he did, he couldn’t see the way out. And frankly, neither could I in the moment. That’s why when he turned to ask me for help, the only words that arose were “…I can’t remember!”

For as long as I’ve played games, I’ve never considered myself much of a guide when it comes to games. This goes for any game, whether I’ve played it a million times or only once. Or…which might even be worse, if it’s a game I’m currently playing. Gaming is one of the few “in the moment” activities for me. When I’m making my way through Brinstar in Super Metroid, taking on a thresher Maw in Mass Effect, locating a hit in Grand Theft Auto V, or looking for a way out in Batman: Arkham Origins, I’m not really thinking about the space of the game itself. That’s to say, in those moments I’m wholly focused on completing a task: getting, doing, finding. I’m not thinking about the path I’m traversing or the items I’m using or the patterns of the enemies I’m fighting. I’m simply acting and reacting. And once the moment is done, it’s gone from my mind because it’s onto the next task/level/planet. So, for me, watching someone play the same game is like watching a dream – some parts seem familiar yet are very cloudy and distant. Though I may recognize an area in a game, maybe one I visited a hundred times before, I wouldn’t be able to tell you how I got through it, because at the time, I just did.

And like I said, it doesn’t seem to matter for how long I’ve played a game either. I’d have as much difficultly advising someone on how to get through Feros in Mass Effect, a game into which I’ve sunk hundreds of hours, as I would advising someone on managing the Gurak battle in The Last Story, a game that I played for only thirty hours. It’s the specifics that I can’t recall in either case. At most, I might be able to tell someone where a special treasure is hidden in Wind Waker, and maybe I’d remember the locations of a few secrets in Super Mario World, but it all come down to the fact that I’m not the one playing the game.  In fact, if someone really did want my help, that person would be better off just handing me the controller. When I replay a game myself, I can usually remember what I did before. (Usually, but not always, and sometimes not at all.)

All in all, it might just be that I simply don’t have (or allow) the memory banks for gameplay because, ultimately, it’s not paying my mortgage, spending time at family dinners, or fixing a leaky faucet. It’s an activity provides a temporary refuge away from the real world; hence, not one that needs to remain in my long-term subconscious. What is there are all the memories surrounding the games and their places within my past, and those can stay.

When it comes to your games, how much gameplay do you (knowingly or unknowingly) commit to memory? Do you find it easy or difficult to retain gameplay details?  Could you guide a player through any game you’ve played, including those you played only once ten years ago?

10 Comments Add yours

  1. samearl13 says:

    Same with me, i sort of remember stuff but only when I’m playing it myself but If someone asks me for help i won’t have a clue what to say.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      Yeah, and even in games that I’m playing, I’ll often forget exactly where I’ve been before. Especially when the game is really long! (Thank goodness for maps and quest logs.)


  2. duckofindeed says:

    I’m pretty good at remembering stuff, but probably only with games I really got into and played many times. Even if I’ve been away from Donkey Kong Country 2 for years, I can usually find most of the secret levels without much trouble because I simply get a feeling they’re nearby, and then I’m guided to the location by a disturbingly accurate sixth-sense. But, if it’s a game I care less for, I won’t remember.

    So I can remember details from Banjo-Kazooie, despite my last playthrough being probably 5 years ago, but if someone asked me about Lightning Returns, which I’m playing right now, I wouldn’t remember. Where are the fragments of Daj’s soul? Let’s see, I collected them a week ago…I don’t know. I already forgot.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      I think it’s awesome you can remember stuff like that, and surely one’s love of a game plays a role in remembering its details. Super Metroid is about the only game I could both breeze through (finding all the secrets) and *maybe* guide someone through. But even then, I think it be a challenge for me.

      With Rare Replay, I did start up both Conker’s Bad Fur Day and Banjo-Kazooie, and I remembered way more than I thought I would. It’s actually going to quite fun reliving these games, even if I don’t recall each and every little thing about them.


      1. duckofindeed says:

        I’ve been considering playing Banjo-Kazooie again once I’m done with all the games I want to play on my PS3. Of course, I don’t have Rare Replay, so I’ll have to connect my N64 in order to play it again. I love having a working N64.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Hatm0nster says:

    For me, once I’ve played a game through I can usually recall all or most of it. However, there’s a trick to it. For most games I can call up general paths and such if someone asks, and the more I’ve played a game, the more detail I can recall on command. For most details though, I have to actually be looking at it. To use Banjo-Kazooie for example, I wouldn’t be able to tell you where all of the Jiggies are in Treasure Trove Cove right now, show me the starting spot of the level though, and I could probably describe where they all are from that point.

    It works like that for most things for me. If it’s not recently or currently important, then I can’t remember it well without the right trigger.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      Very cool. That makes sense, that all you might need is a visual clue or two to recall more specifics about a game or level. That’s kind of how it is with me and Super Mario 64, except it only really works with the first couple levels. (And especially the snow level — I can hear that penguin’s cries just thinking about it!) Further into the game and things get fuzzy.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. simpleek says:

    I can’t really say I remember everything I did in a game. Maybe some stuff might come back to me without any difficulty, but most of the time, I may have to search online for a guide to remember how to do certain things again. I think because we’re adults and have so many other things to think about, committing to memory certain secrets and techniques to get through a particular point in the game isn’t really high on our priorities list.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      So true! And it could be why, for me, remembering ways through older games is a little bit easier. At the time I was playing, I didn’t have as many responsibilities as I do now, so I had more space to hold onto gameplay memories. (And I tended to replay games more frequently.) Though that doesn’t hold true for ALL older games. I recently tried to play through Super Mario World again, and I couldn’t remember half of it! Then again, with a new romp through Paper Mario, I did pretty well. Ah, priorities. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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