Been reading the book that was part of my research for the Spacewar article I wrote here some time ago. Actually got past a bookmark I'd placed in there, and when I reached it I wasn't really sure I'd ever actually gotten to that point. The first part of the book is about the MIT crew that, in part, helped create Spacewar with the PDP1 and later 6, but despite some threads connecting it to the next part, the next section takes place in California and suggests different subcultures and attitudes toward computers, while still going over the central narrative of their particular "ethic."
I don't remember the California section, really, and it makes me wonder if I'd just skimmed it, or if I'd stuck that bookmark in there just to hang on to it, not caring where it was. At one point there's a minor mention of Spacewar, so I wonder if this was me just making sure I'd read it later to see if it fit the article I was writing. There was a document of me having done something, that bookmark, without any context, perplexing me. I feel the same way when I look at old saves in games.
There are plenty of games with save structures that are pretty straightforward, almost invisible. If I looked through some of them I'd be able to remember the context because it was pretty much the only time I experienced that game. In more experimentally inclined, complicated games, though, I'm often at a loss to figure out what I was doing, or even that I had done it.
I have KOTOR 2 for the original X-Box, which I don't use nearly as much as I used to. In an aborted attempt to replay that game, I looked at the older saves, finding characters that made it pretty far whom I simply did not recognize. Since I was the only one who would have made it that far, it was strange to see so much time invested in a thing that seemed to have no lasting impact. A record of a non-event in my life, almost. It wasn't like I hadn't played the game at that point, I'd beaten it a few years ago and had on more than one occasion restarted the thing, but some of these characters had gotten far enough that it seemed to matter. I'm pretty sure it didn't occur to me then that the only impact that playthrough attempt seemed to have on my life was that one day I'd look back on those saves and not only not know what permutations I was trying, but not even have any desire to continue.
It must be said that the date coincides with a loss of a family member, though, which would become a rather traumatic paradigm shift in my life. I suspect that the impact of the death and its aftermath obliterated everything around it that couldn't withstand the blast. It wasn't on purpose, but that forgotten gaming period was as if I was passing time until my life would be truly changed. I guess some people might use this as a chance to hate the choices they'd made in life, to say it was wasted playing games instead of trying to prevent the bigger problems, but I'm pretty sure I couldn't have stopped what happened, not without sacrificing so much that I would in essence be ruining myself.
Games are often just ways to pass the time, and sometimes they're unmemorable. This makes it all the more confusing when people seem to treat them as murder-training machines or high addictive paths toward self-destruction. While some people are lost enough that it may seem to be the case, most of us aren't so firmly attached that we live in these virtual worlds, even if some of us might want to. Eventually we need to free up some space; we delete the less interesting bits of our old records and move on. Our memories, the ones in our heads I mean, will hang on to the stuff that mattered.