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“Live - Die - Repeat”. The Time Loop as a Narrative and a Game Mechanic

Linda Lahdenperä


Characters in time loop narratives, like players of video games, repeat specific sequence of events with varying outcomes to reach a goal. In this article time loop is considered as a phenomenon that can either be experienced by characters inside the diegesis, by players on the level of game mechanics or by game characters and players both. My study has three aims: to use the time loop as an example on how films remediate video games, to conceptualize the time loop by applying the possible worlds model, and analyze the experience of parallel, mutually exclusive events. I find that time loop films resemble video games in their levellike and goal-oriented structure, as well as in their portrayal of death and in the lack of agency of the supporting characters. When conceptualizing the levels of time loops, I learn that both multilinear and linear games can be loops for players, even though the looping is not part of the diegesis. Also, the replaying of a game with a time loop narrative is only a loop for the player since game characters can only be aware of the looping inside a playthrough. However, replaying a game can weaken the narrative experience so some players choose not to replay and some game designers encourage it. Incorporating the ambiguity of mutually exclusive events to the diegesis might solve the issue. 

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/ijtl-2018-006-lahd

International Journal of Transmedia Literacy (IJTL)
Registered by Tribunale di Milano (22/10/2014 n. 328)
Online ISSN 2465-2261 - Print ISSN 2465-227X

Editor in Chief: Matteo Ciastellardi
Managing Editor: Giovanna Di Rosario
Managing Committee: Matteo Andreozzi, Stefano Calzati, Ugo Eccli, Cristina Miranda de Almeida.

Board Committee: Alan Albarran (University of North Texas, United States), Rogério Barbosa Da Silva (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil), Giovanni Baule (Politecnico di Milano, Italy), Laura Borràs Castanyer (Universitat de Barcelona, Spain), Derrick de Kerckhove (Politecnico di Milano, Italy), Henry Jenkins (University of Southern California, United States), Marsha Kinder (University of Southern California, United States), Raine Koskimaa (University of Jyväskylä, Finland), George Landow (Brown University, United States), Paul Levinson (Fordham University, United States), Asún López-Varela (Universidad Complutense, Spain), Lev Manovich (City University of New York, United States), Nick Montfort (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States), Marcos Novak (UCLA - University of California, Los Angeles, United States), Massimo Parodi (Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy), Bruce W. Powe (York University, Canada), Kate Pullinger (Bath Spa University, United Kingdom), Marie-Laure Ryan (Indipendent Scholar), Alexandra Saemmer (Université Paris 8, France), Carlos Scolari (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain), Susana Tosca (IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark), Alessandro Zinna (Université Toulouse II, France)

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