Of Emulators and Time Machines

September 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

When I was younger, I used to imagine what sort of superhero powers I would like.  I always wanted something a bit stronger than a time machine, I wanted to be able to manipulate the flow of time around me.  Of course with this would come quite a few perks.  First would be the power of limited teleportation.  All I’d have to do is stop time around me, move, and then start it again.  To anyone from the outside, I would have moved over the space of an instant, I would appear to have actually gone at an infinite velocity; I teleported.  Unfortunately, this would not allow me to teleport through walls unless I had some method of walking around the walls while time was stopped.

However, even when younger I refused to take things at surface level.  I thought about what it meant for time to be stopped, and reasoned that the only way to make it work was to be able to control time locally as well as globally.  That is, if a blade of grass was frozen in time, it would pierce my shoe to walk through it, assuming that I was not frozen in time.  Doors would be impossible to open.  The only way to have freedom would be to be able to have time do what I want on a whim.  I could even have conversations with friends, then, or sleep while the world was frozen.  So many problems would disappear.

As of recently, however, I have had a hankering for playing some video games of my youth, so I decided to try emulation for games which I own—which is legal, by the way.  I discovered that emulators also have this handy feature called the speed button, which allows the game to run at around 4 to 5 times normal speed, so that those boring repetitive tasks can be done in as little time as possible.  You can also save your game state whenever you want, and load it on a whim from up to 10 different save slots.  This means that if you are going to take any sort of risk, save the state with a button, and then if you fail reload and try again.  The emulator, like my youthful desire to manipulate time, would prove to rob me of much of the enjoyment.  I found old challenges suddenly taken away by my ability to predict and retry whenever I wanted.  In one game in particular, the whole point was to strategize on the fly, to be able to account for new situations and predict the enemy accurately.  When the uncertainty left, the danger left as well, and there was no penalty for failure.  I could just try again.  With no penalty for failure, the game lost all its tension, and with the tension gone there went my attention.  I liked games because they were difficult, because I had to figure out the puzzles and the battles.  And because of the adventure.

I would rob myself of the adventure were I able to go through time and predict everything and try again until things happened as I wanted.  Part of life is learning to live without a backspace button, no matter how convenient it could be.  Were there no danger or difficulties, I would lose my motivation.  I am reminded of one of my favorite parts of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, even if it is over-quoted: the beavers say of Aslan, “Course he isn’t safe.  But he’s good.”  Of course there is a balance to be had—I don’t want to live my life in constant terror or danger, never getting a chance to breath and sit in peace.  But it’s like the video games I played, there were certain checkpoints and you always knew that no matter what, you were going to get to the end if you persevered.  Yet the adventure lay in the present circumstances, in the shadow lurking just around the corner.  I may not have checkpoints, so to speak, but I know that God will care for me, especially through the friends and family He has placed in my life.  If I make mistakes, I’ll still be accepted and loved, there’s always a place for me to come back to.  And then I believe that I know where I’m going.  Other than that, I really don’t know where my life is going to go, all the things I’m going to do, people I’m going to meet.  That’s part of the adventure, and I’m excited.



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