Gamer Memory is a term that popped into my head the other day and it’s a combination of muscle memory and instant recall we gamers seem to have. Let me explain:
This week I bought the Director’s Cut version of Deus Ex Human Revolution, and when I started to play this game I hadn’t even seen for over a year, I felt myself smoothly slip back into action and into my Deus Ex frame of mind. I instantly knew the key mappings, and where and how to do everything. The UI didn’t just seem familiar, it was as if I’d just played the game yesterday.
During the first mission, the Sarif Industries warehouse, I instantly knew where to go, where the guards were, how to take them out efficiently and without a trace, where the ventilation ducts were and where they’d take me. The mission went smoother than ever before, and I even got the “Ghost” XP bonus, for not being detected even once.
But it wasn’t only the instant blueprint-like knowledge I had of the location or how the mechanics were, I also felt myself inhabit Adam Jensen once more, making his choices mine, guiding him towards the best ending possible, at least for me, in that scenario: hostages saved and Zeke Sanders owing me a favor. I knew what the consequences were, and even if I didn’t, that’s how Adam is under my control, that’s how we do things, that’s how we’ve always done things. Slipping back into my place on his shoulder as his moral guide was quick and easy, and not because of how the game’s designed; no, it’s because of that part of me that knows Deus Ex Human Revolution kicked in at every moment; my Gamer Memory.
When I stopped playing, I couldn’t help but wonder at how easily I’d gone back to that level of Deus Ex gaming after all this time.
I felt the same thing at another point this week, when I first launched Batman Arkham Origins on my PC. I didn’t need tutorials; I already knew how to do everything and where everything was mapped. I knew how to parry, dodge and counter, how to hit and move, how to run and grapple and glide and how to be a predator, how to hang from vantage points and take out thugs of different types, gang-colors and sizes. That’s not to say the game hasn’t thrown me a curveball or two, but I overcame them because along with my memory of how to play, my “Batman Arkham Reflexes” kicked in at the same time, making me as much of a good fighter as I’d been in previous titles.
With Origins, I expected things to come to me easily or quickly, because I was already familiar with the series, but again, I was surprised at how easy it was to get back to the Batman rhythm.
There’s also a bit of habit built into the “Gamer Memory” concept, mostly when it comes to Genres. Take adventures for example, if you’ve played Adventure Games in the past, point & click for example, then no matter what title you’re playing or who made it, the moment you’re in control, you’ll slip into the appropriate frame of mind, and without even being prompted, you’ll start scanning the environment for clues, for hot-spots (places you can interact with) and you’ll try to combine items together, even if and until you figure out the game doesn’t allow combinations.
The Assassin’s Creed and Legend of Zelda series have provided me with similar, Gamer Memory moments. In both series, mechanics and even the controls change from time to time, but no matter how different they are, I’ll instantly master the familiar things, such as free-running or using a sword, or how to pop-up a shield, or what to look for in a dungeon, be it a map, compass, keys or a ledge to climb on. And for the next time, all those things I’ve learned to do in whatever title in the series I’m playing, will become part of my Gamer Memory, it’ll expand it, like building a glossary of terms, just instead of words, it’ll be game mechanics, controls, tips & tricks and strategies, floor maps and guard patterns, weapons, spells, secrets and mysteries.
I expect it’ll be the same with “Black Flag” and “A Link Between Worlds” the moment they come out, no matter how different they are, compared to previous titles.
On the other hand, The Witcher 2, put it to the test. On every aspect but kickass storytelling, the Witcher 2 is completely different from the first game in the series, but while it was jarring and uncomfortable for some; for me it was almost painlessly easy find the rhythm the new combat style required, because the experiences with other games, such as Arkham Asylum and Assassin’s Creed, had already trained me in fighting as you’re supposed to in TW2, using your agility and finding an opening and sometimes making one.
So if I had to define Gamer Memory, it’d be something like this: Gamer Memory is an ever evolving combination of instant and almost perfect recall, muscle memory and reflexes, points of view and even morality, that kicks in for every game we play, as long as the game has at least one familiar thing about it, be it the genre, the control scheme or that it allows moral choices.
I really want to play Final Fantasy XV when it comes out. I haven’t played a Final Fantasy since X, so I’m extremely interested to see how much my current Gamer Memory helps me when I get my hands on it.
Have you had a definite Gamer Memory moment? Have you ever sat down to play a new game and found yourself instantly familiar with all it had to offer?
Hit me up in the comments, I’m very interested to know!
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