Recently I took a trip down memory lane and played some fan made re-workings of a few old video games from my childhood. I really enjoyed myself but there were some parts of the games which felt different. Pinning down what those differences isn’t easy though. Like all of us, my memory is fallible, how well can I tell if these are faithful remakes of the games I remember? What is an important difference and what isn’t?
The changes we can follow
Some changes are easy to pick, the increased fidelity on the screen is one example. Computer monitors are much better today than when I last played these games. As such, ensuring a clear view for the player does require some changes. This story of changing technology motivating the change in the game for contemporary times illustrates another aspect of a change in the experience and fits with a story we know.
The changes we need
From the first time watching a moving to rewatching it ten years later, our outlook shifts and we can understand scenes in completely a different manner to when we first encountered them. The changes we go through in our lives, clearly impact the way we understand and experience something we remember from our past.
A change in experience
In the case of a remade videogame, designers must consider expectations of the player today, not the player from a few decades ago. Sometimes it’s small things like two button mice being the default, other times it feels like there are entirely new behaviours in the artificial intelligence of opponents.
Changes with purpose
For the most part these changes sand back the rough edges from an old favourite and present the feelings of nostalgia without any barriers. By leaving things as they were the experience of reliving these games can become more frustrating than enjoyable! Without removing or atleast updating some old design choices which we’ve since learned where not so much fun the game can be hard to engage with for an audience today.
Thinking about curation
This relationship of choosing what to keep and what to change places the designer as almost a sort of curator, as you might find working in an art gallery. They make choices on how to best present this artifact made a by a few people many years ago for people who may not have been born when it first appeared.
A curator as guardian
Understanding what should be thought of as the core of the experience requires not only careful thought but records providing insight into how the game was when it was first developed and first released. With this information in hand a curator must then face the challenge of designing an experience which not only stays true to the original but is understood by a contemporary audience.
Thinking more broadly
These challenges presented in relation to videogames are present in most other forms of art and even what we in the west would categorise as the Arts and Humanities. To present a true presentation of an event or experience in the past requires great care if it is to be done truthfully.
Guarding the truth
As a Christian this is a nearly daily exercise, engaging with the Bible requires great care. Although the first readers have left this world the truths are still there, discerning what those truths are is often not an easy task. We believe in the revealing power of God’s spirit, working in each believer. In addition we have been blessed with many Scholars and Theologians over the melinia who have sought to protect clarify and present the truth presented in God’s word.
Sam Gillespie is a composer, programmer and PhD candidate at the University of New South Wales.Sam Gillespie's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/sam-gillespie.html