Issue 4.7: From Seconds to Epochs, Part 2
Chrono Trigger, Fate, and the Conundrums of Time Travel (Or, "The Ballad of Queen Zeal")
Game & Word Volume 4, Issue 7: Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022
Publisher: Jay Rooney
Author, Graphics, Research: Jay Rooney
Logo: Jarnest Media
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Table of Contents
Summary & Housekeeping
Feature: “From Seconds to Epochs, Part 2” (~29-minute read)
Food for Talk: Discussion Prompts
Game & Word-of-Mouth
Today, we’ll take a look at how Chrono Trigger explores the topic of Time Travel and the many paradoxes and conundrums it throws at creators who tackle it! Oh, and just generally talk about what an amazing game it is.
FYI—There will be no regular issue of Game & Word next Sunday, November 27, 2022, due to it being Thanksgiving Week and all. As much as I love pulling all-nighters each weekend to get this newsletter out on time, I do have a family, and I would very much love to spend some time with them this week. G&W will resume its regular production schedule on Sunday, December 4, 2022. Thanks for understanding!
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Feature: From Seconds to Epochs, Part 2
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🚨🚨🚨 SPOILER ALERT 🚨🚨🚨
This post contains huge, massive, MAJOR spoilers for Chrono Trigger. This is a game that you really should experience for yourself. You don’t need to be “good” at games to play, and it’s readily accessible on PC and mobile. If you’ve yet to play it, I cannot recommend highly enough that you play through Chrono Trigger before reading this article!
“What if the past could be changed?” ~Titanic: Adventure Out of Time
Alright, let’s do this.
I’ll start by deconstructing a sacred cow: the common perception that time is linear.
Don't get me wrong, as far as simplified metaphors go, time is as linear as it gets (or so it seems). But this perception isn’t accurate, and it leads to many consequences that serve to trip up games with time travel.
How is it not accurate? Well, it’s not wrong, per se. But it is an incomplete understanding of time. Time can also be understood as cyclical—that is, it repeats. The degree to which time repeats depends on who you’re asking, but it varies widely. For example, compare Samsāra—the Buddhist conception of time, in which the same selfconscious (or “soul”) is constantly reincarnated in different forms after death—to quantum mechanics, which maintains that subatomic particles can move freely not just in space, but also in time.
Heck, modern physics (which, obviously, includes quantum mechanics) takes this a step further. Take Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, which maintains that the passage of time isn’t constant or “fixed,” but rather flows differently for each observer, affected by a few different things (the most relevant to us being speed and gravity).