Time Travel as a Medium in Story Telling
Hey everyone, today I wanted to focus my article on how time travel is portrayed in storytelling. Since time travel is a big part of the story in our game, it felt appropriate to talk about it as a medium, and some of the influences we used for how we structured it in our game. I will use two specific examples from pop culture. These examples include Doctor Who and The Terminator. Though there are more great examples in literature and video games, these two examples are some of the more iconic.
Doctor Who uses time travel to the greatest extent humanly possible. The Doctor is an alien from a race of “timelords” that are immortal, and he/she travels around in a ship that can go anywhere in space and time. The ship is called “The Tardis”, and yes, it is overpowered. Because The Tardis can go anywhere in space at any time, it essentially functions as a huge plot device. The Doctor also iconically takes a human sidekick along with him/her, who doesn’t understand time travel and is jolted into a life of adventure. The people or creatures the doctor interact with change pretty much on an episode basis (this is what is so clever about the show). However, there are some villains or characters who run into The Doctor on multiple occasions that understand who he/she is and what he/she does. The show is famous for its campy atmosphere.
In this 80’s era Scify, a robot comes back from the past in order to kill Sarah Connor before her son John Connor can be born and save humanity from a future where machines have taken over the world. In order to stop this, the John Connor of the future sends back Kyle Reece, a human soldier, to save his mother. In this movie, Kyle is aware of time travel and the future that will happen. Sarah, on the other hand, is not and must put her faith in a stranger in order to stay alive. Time travel is used as a plot device in this movie, but unlike Doctor Who, it is more limited. Kyle doesn’t have a portable device or vessel that he can travel through time with, so it acts as a one-time plot development. Like in Doctor Who, the dynamic of the duo is similar in The Terminator. Kyle is more experienced and explains the sinister plot to his “companion”.
Cold War: 1776
Our game incorporates elements from both these classic time travel stories. The idea of Kennedy coming to the past in order to prevent a change in the future is a concept that our team borrows straight from The Terminator. We also include a level of camp that is comparable to the Doctor Who series. The difference being that we borrow from movie tropes and history for our camp, as opposed to the established continuity that the show uses. We additionally use the storytelling idea of a wise time traveler to explain the context of the story. This is adapted from both shows, and it is very effective for explaining the overall plot.