In my last post I shared the answers of some of my blogger friends when I asked them to reveal their weird gaming habits. While talking about this subject with these awesome people, we noticed a strange trend: the majority of us save our video games multiple times in row. It’s not a case of having several save files for one title so we can go back to different points in the gameplay; I’m talking about saving over the same file a number of times in quick succession. Why is this?
I did a quick bit of research on Google expecting to find a number of articles on this behaviour but managed to come across only one – and even that was only a thread on a forum about Pokémon rather than an investigation into or explanation for the habit. So if nobody else is going to don their lab-coat and clipboard for this this subject, I’m going to take it as an opportunity to step into the role of researcher.
Once bitten, twice shy
TriformTrinity (@the_NL) August 31, 2017
In a closely-monitored and controlled environment (also known as Twitter), I posed the question: ‘Do you save video games multiple times in a row and if so, why?’ The majority of people who responded gave two main reasons for their behaviour, the first being a heart-breaking experience as described by Ian from Adventure Rules: “I lost a lot of progress once because I only saved one time and it didn’t register, so now I save multiple times to make sure it sticks.”
As pointed out by Imtiaz from Power Bomb Attack: “Games are super long and I don’t have a lot of time to play. Lost progress hurts…” This was supported by Anthony from Videogame Crosstalk: “With how long games are these days and how little time I have, I can’t risk replaying any progress. Besides, it only takes a few seconds.” If it was hard enough getting through a particular section of a game the first time, it’ll be twice as painful having to repeat it.
Distrusting and easily distracted
@LaterLevels Sometimes I forget if I saved or not. Like when you check the time and you don't take it in so you have to check again.—
キアラ姫 (@Kiara0405) August 31, 2017
The next most popular reason given by my willing participants was closely related to the first: they’re not sure whether the game actually saved, either through a distrust of the autosave feature or because they’ve been distracted by something else. Matt from The Album told me: “I refuse to believe autosave is auto-saving everything haha. I think it’s more a ‘just in case’ thing.”
Our very own Ben (he’s still around!) said: “More than once when I’ve saved, I’ve been distracted by something then looked back at the screen to see the ‘save game’ page. Then I save again.” His reason was echoed by several others including Alex from Mr. Panda’s Video Game Reviews and William from Ludophile Lab – it seems as though we’re all easily distracted or have our minds on several things at once.
Doing it for the protagonist
(@Lodestar_Valor) August 31, 2017
Chris from OverThinker Y gave a split reason when it came to explaining why he does multiple saves. The first part picks up on the points raised above while the second is rather insightful: “I save a lot, as lots of others apparently do too, partly because I’m worried one of them just won’t account for no reason and partly because I figure whoever I’m playing as will be grateful for my diligence.”
I love this reason. Not only is it honest, it also shows that video games are more to us than just moving pixels on a screen; they transport us to amazing worlds, tell fantastical stories and open our eyes to new experiences. Whoever says that games are just for entertainment needs to get themselves a copy of Horizon Zero Dawn as soon as possible… and then save. Multiple times.
Forgets to do it… but should do it
Nathan wall (@demwalls) August 31, 2017
There’s always someone who goes against the grain and that tends to be Nathan from Hurricane thought process (one of the reasons why we love him). Unlike the rest of us, who find ourselves saving several times in a row just to make sure it’s done properly, he told me this is something he never does. Is it because he’s brave, crazy or simply trusts the autosave feature?
It’s actually none of the above: he admitted it’s because he forgets! He also revealed: “I should do it though, as I always end up six hours previous in my games.” Maybe we’ve managed to convince him to join us in our uncertainty and repeatedly save his progress to pull all necessary data into that little save file.
@LaterLevels Cause I'm paranoid!!—
Pardon The Gamer (@PardonTheGamer) August 31, 2017
So my not-so-scientific research has shown we’re all busy, paranoid, distrusting and easily-distracted… hardly the most flattering image of a gamer ever put forward. But as rightly pointed out by Chris from OverThinker Y when I chatted with him: “I also do the saving thing! Seems like it’s not that weird at all.”
In today’s world of technology, the more data we accumulate the more data we’re likely to lose. However, video games are different from lost text messages, missing records or corrupted electronic documents; they’re a record of where we’ve been in a digital world, the people we’ve met and the adventures we’ve had there. And the older we get and the more our adult responsibilities increase, the less free time we have to play.
Our save files are therefore previous to us and it can be absolutely heart-breaking when we lose our progress within a title. We press the save button several times in a row because it’s in our nature to keep moving forward and succeeding, rather than repeating what we’ve already done. When the worst happens, positive souls would say it’s an opportunity for a fresh start and a chance to make different decisions; but the rest of us?
We’ll keep on saving. And saving again, just to be sure.