de Certeau plays Zelda

The only two Zelda games I really ever played were A Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time. I probably played the first Zelda but not too much. I’ve never finished any of the Zelda games.

Way back in the 90s when Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was the latest Zelda game (and this was still 93-94 or something like it so the game was already a year or two old), someone in the dorms had a SNES, a system I never had, and we played Link to the Past as a group.
Then we got to a part that we couldn’t get past. You had to get to this other cave and we couldn’t figure it out. This was before gamefaqs was around and none of us had internet-connected computers at the time so it was the dark ages and we gave up.

Then around 98 or 99 I was living with some people and one of the had an N64 and Zelda Ocarina of Time. They had one of the gameguide books for it. We were getting pretty far in the game and then the guy who owned the N64 up and moved out, taking the N64 with him. Bastard!

So new I’ve gotten around to downloading a SNES emulator for my softmodded xbox and am hip deep in playing A Link to the Past. In playing it I’m realizing, not for the first time, that my sense of the direction or perhaps more accurately my sense of how geographic locations are connected is kind of weird.

I like to think that I’m pretty good with directions. I only got lost twice in Tokyo on my own and one time I was suspicious of the direction I was headed as soon as I got off the subway and the other time I should have just kept going a couple more blocks before I turned. But playing Zelda and wandering around in the dungeons? I got no clue. I might as well stop looking at the tv because I’ve no idea how I end up in one room or where I’m going in the dungeons. Similarly when I’m in the open world I’m constantly overshooting or totally missing the mark when I’m trying to get somewhere.

Of course being the academic dork I am I can’t help but wonder WWdCD? What Would de Certeau Do? There’s some scholarship out there about de Certeau and gaming but not as much as you with think. The importance of maps in videogames would seemingly make his writings about maps, directions, and architecture would seemingly make a good connection with map-based RPGs. Someone go write more of that stuff so I can read it, OK?

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