Friday, October 2, 2015

Visual novels and time travel

If you were to travel back in time to change the future, what would happen to the now obsolete future you left behind? There are various ways of thinking of time related to tome travel. Time can be imagined as a continues line, in which case the future you left behind would simple cease to exist once the past is changed. Or we can imagine time taking the form of a tree, rather then a continues line. In which case both futures would exist simultaneously. Your decision to travel back in time would create a sort of branching path. This would be true for all decision, not only those related to time travel. All decisions made by you and everyone else would in this thought experiment generate additional branches. In effect we would have an infinite amount of alternative worlds, some varying only in the most trivial details, others completely different from our own.

These types of questions are explored in the visual novel Steins Gate, telling the story of a time traveling, self declared mad scientist. The medium of choice, the visual novel is interesting. Since visual novels with their branching paths and multiple endings, are in themselves dealing with time travel. Once the player finishes one path, he is encouraged to load an earlier save file and explore the consequences of changing the decisions made during the game. No time machine is needed, the game itself is the means of traversing time.