Remember Me is a strangely fascinating game. Nilin is a memory hunter in a futuristic Paris. In the game world, a large corporation called Memorize has marketed a new software, Sensen, that enables people to share and edit their memories. Nillin is an Errorist. I am not sure what that means but basically, she is against the corporation and the elite that run it. The game starts with an advert for Memorize’s new software and then jumps to Nillin waking up with no recollection of who she is or her past. Throughout the game, she is able to receive messages from a comrade of hers, Edge, who helps her escape and fight against Memorize.
My first impression was “Wow, this is beautiful” because it really is. The gamescape is so intricately hypnotizing and the characters are too which I think is a large appeal of the game.
Then I actually had to start moving. I found the controller and the game to be a little tricky in their movements. The movement of the character and their vision is disorienting at times. After escaping the prison where I was being kept (after several failed attempts), I came across a group of mutated humans known as Leapers. I thought they were going to be nice and like me. Before I arrived on the scene, they had just found another Leaper and welcomed them into their community. They pet the Leaper’s hand and caressed him. So you can imagine my disappointment when they attacked me. These attacks happen frequently throughout the game and I often found myself bouncing my leg off the bed as I fought. My hand hasn’t built up the strength for this exercise so it cramped up and I had to take breaks between fights. It’s sad. I know.
As the game progressed even more, I got to steal people’s memories and even alter them which I though was the coolest part. It got me thinking about what a memory actual is. Is it just an floating abstraction? Our memories are a result of a series of physiological reactions, some of which are chemical while others are a result of electrical impulses transmitted through our nervous system, blah, blah, blah, we need energy to conduct this and energy is a difficult concept to pin down-it is more of an abstraction.
What is a memory defined as? For this, I defer to everyone’s trusty internet encyclopedia, Wikipedia, which says:
In psychology, memory is the process in which information is encoded, stored, and retrieved.
From an information processing perspective there are three main stages in the formation and retrieval of memory:
- Encoding or registration: receiving, processing and combining of received information
- Storage: creation of a permanent record of the encoded information
- Retrieval, recall or recollection: calling back the stored information in response to some cue for use in a process or activity
So based on this, a video game is technically a memory. By playing the game, we are retrieving the memory. Like Nilan, we are entering into a memory and our action in it, has an effect on the memory’s outcome. I cannot think of any other example so I believe video games are the only medium in which we become like Nilan, a memory hunter. We seek out a memory encoded in the games software that is contained in its hardware the same way Nilan seeks out a memory kept inside a person’s Sensen/”mind”. We not only retrieve this memory but we also act in it in a consequential way. To really get on Nilan’s level though, we are going to need some virtual reality headsets.