Amnesia

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For the game Amnesia by Thomas Disch, see Amnesia (by Disch).
For the game Amnesia by Dustin Rhodes, see Amnesia (by Rhodes).
For the game Amnesia by Toby White, see Amnesia (by White).

In IF, amnesia generally refers to retrograde amnesia (the complete or partial loss of memories preceding the onset of amnesia). Other forms of memory loss may, less frequently, appear in IF (although generally long-term memory loss is a great deal easier for the author than short-term).

Contents

Characteristics

  • Nobody but the PC will ever have amnesia.
  • The condition has generally arisen from a head wound or scientific/magical tampering, rather than the more likely (for retrograde amnesia) causes of old age, stroke, or long-term substance abuse.
  • Reclaiming your memory is usually possible, and a major objective of the game.
  • However, reclaiming your memory is never the only objective. As memory is reclaimed, other major objectives will reveal themselves.
  • The game will often be set in an abandoned environment, preventing the player from quickly getting all the relevant information from NPCs.

Advantages

  • The holy grail of game epistemology: the player character has exactly the same knowledge of his world as the player. This prevents unfair or mimesis-breaking knowledge conflicts.
  • Amnesia has definite effects on the mood and tone of a game, and transmits these to the player effectively without having to labour them. Both the player and the player-character will be confused and disoriented.

Disadvantages

  • It's been done. However timeless the prose of your 'I can't remember anything' intro, it won't have much dramatic kick.
  • It's a fairly transparent device. If it's used purely as an excuse to avoid the delicate task of filling in backstory and establishing character, players are likely to sense this and lose respect for the author, and hence the game.
  • Handled properly, player-PC knowledge differences need not be a serious problem. The art of showing the player what he needs to know (without egregious textdumping) is a challenging one, but can yield great results; amnesia should not be used purely to avoid this.

Notable examples

Links

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