I’m doing a lot of replaying old games, rewatching old shows and films. Each moment I’m torn, looking at the new games on the shelf that I should or could be playing isntead. But, it’s not them I’m drawn to.
There’s comfort in the familiar and there’s excitement in the new. I am, as many are, a little uncertain of who I am right now, what I’m doing, as I’m stuck into a situation that I can’t escape. The comfort of returning to the familiar right now is enough. One day, could it be all I need?
The hope is, of course, no. The excitement of the new is worth it, there’s growth there, the growth of discovering new ways of thinking and new ways to explore yourself. This is the ideal at least, a theory of the benefit of newness, content from content.
These benefits exist in the well-trodden as well. It’s easy to see repetition as reification, reinforcing the already known, the practiced and the familiar. Repetition, however, after times of absence is refacing a memory. You find that as you repeat actions, your body moves in different ways to how it used it. I put on my favourite shirt and maybe it doesn’t fit the same way anymore, it’s still the same shirt, but I’m not the same me.
I’ve been replaying Hollow Knight, Oblivion, and Disco Elysium, all games I love. I’ve been ignoring finishing Spider-man or starting the now older Horizon Zero Dawn or God of War.
I’m listening to Hollow Knight in a new way. The first run’s uncertainty is replaced with a hunger for the game’s moments of security. (Spoilers below) I savoured meetings with Quirrel and played his story quicker than I ever had before and I needed the assurance that Monomon gives. I wasn’t uncertain this time about the locations, I was uncertain about whether the journey is just and good.
I’m struggling to accept that I’ve moved beyond Oblivion. The game is too mapped in my mind, the wonder in what was once hidden and new is refiring as familiarity. I’m travelling to this land again after walking through Breath of the Wild, Skyrim, and Guild Wars 2. It’s like returning to home you haven’t lived in in a very long time, and one that you feel like you’ve grown beyond.
I’m learning a new way to be in Disco Elysium. It’s a messier playthrough. I’ve played this story twice already and made the same choices both times, but this time I have a friend joining me and playing the evil angel on my shoulder. (Spoilers below, again.) We’ve gotten close to shooting a child. We’ve gone off the wagon. But there’s a new hopeful tragedy that I was too scared, unable to see before. I’m learning that things can get worse and worse before they hit the end and while I tried before to keep everything afloat, it good to know how much worse I could have let it been and still walk away.
Could I get these feelings from turning to the new? Or are these special from retreading the old?