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Continuity of Space and Time in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

March 2, 2016

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is as committed to the continuity of a linear experience of space and time as Half-Life or Portal, even though you can see the future at save points, are shown elaborate cinematic fly-throughs of environments when you enter them, and can rewind time. That’s not only because all of these events occur predictably and repetitively (at save points, entryways, mistakes) but also because they ultimately revolve around the moment-to-moment flow of the platforming: you are rewarded for having paid attention to them when you return to platforming, since they give you hints as to how it is supposed to happen (or in the case of rewinding time, how it is not supposed to happen). In the context of the narrative, as the prince’s narration often reminds you, everything you are doing has already happened, which situates history and storytelling as deterministic. But because the feeling is of being constantly pulled back to the present rather than the past, play is experienced as consciousness that is continuous and lived.

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