Button Mashing Through Life

#347: Marc and Link discuss stories about ‘What if’s and alternate timelines.


Marc Cuiriz 0:11
Welcome to GT radio on the Geek Therapy network. Here at Geek Therapy, we believe that the best way to understand each other and ourselves is through the media we care about. My name is Marc Cuiriz, and I am joined by link. Hello, Link.

Link Keller 0:25

Marc Cuiriz 0:28
So it is just you and I, this week,

Link Keller 0:31
the Dream Team,

Marc Cuiriz 0:32
the absolute goofball Dream Team, someone decided to leave the recording doors open for us. And we just weaseled our way in here. And here we are

Link Keller 0:46
going to tear it up. Someone’s gonna come home to a bunch of stuffing strewn about the house because we ate the couch.

Marc Cuiriz 0:57
That was a weird metaphor, but I’m gonna roll with it. Okay, so I have been doing some reading, which is a shocker because I have not been doing a whole lot of reading. But this lately I’ve been doing a little bit of reading. I’ve been reading this book with my wife. It’s called the midnight library. I’m curious, have you heard about it link?

Link Keller 1:25
I have heard you mentioned it before. And I’m very intrigued.

Marc Cuiriz 1:29

Link Keller 1:30
I’m going to add it to my, to my extremely long list of books I want to check out from the library.

Marc Cuiriz 1:38
Yeah, it’s, it’s a book that it’s got a weird writing style to it. In terms of like how the chapters are laid out, like, one chapter is like, I miss my cat. That’s literally the entirety of this one chapter in particular. And

Link Keller 2:01
like a single line of a chapter? or a chapter worth of explaining how much they miss their cat?

Marc Cuiriz 2:07
like a single line,

Link Keller 2:09
Oh, okay

Marc Cuiriz 2:09
like I’m tired. I really miss my cat and something like that. And then the title is, the title of the chapter is something I’m not quite sure. But it it scratches an itch that I’ve been I’ve been wanting to scratch for a while. And that is the philosophical stuff behind it. So um, without doing a whole, like no spoilers or anything for the book. But it in general, the basis of the book is this woman Her name is Nora, she decides that she feels that the world would be sort of better off without her life. She’s been kind of struggling. And so she attempts to take her own life. And then she finds herself in this vast library. And in this library, all these books that are in there are actually all different variations of herself. And they’re all living different points of her life. It goes into quantum, it talks about quantum physics. And the idea that all different possible realities are happening all simultaneously. They’re just obviously a little off. And some things are a little different. But ultimately, they’re the same thing. And so she’s navigating through this one book called The Book of regrets, and it’s all of her regrets that she’s had throughout her entire life, and trying to find a life that feels like it’s the right one for her. So basically, she’s almost like hijacking a different version of herself and experiences that life. And if she ultimately finds it to be disappointing, then she gets pulled back into the library. And then she can find travel and try a new life and see how that works for her. So it it scratches that itch of like existentialism. And it’s funny because Nora in her root life as she calls it, she was a philosophy major. So it talks a lot about different philosophers and different ideas of the self and of how you view your own life. And I don’t know, I just thought it was really interesting. What do you think about it? Like what do you what do you think about the idea of alternate realities or alternate versions of ourselves? And the idea that they either are happening at the same time simultaneously what along our life or the idea that maybe I I don’t know in some way, shape or form. There’s a maybe a way that we could eventually see these alternate realities kind of like string theory.

Marc Cuiriz 2:23
Well, I think that the premise is very intriguing. And I do like multiverse alternate reality stories where a character has the ability to examine their life through a different lens. And I think that that’s a fun, a fun little game to play in your life. It can, it can be beneficial, in reexamining the way that you look at things, and events and people in your life, it can also be negative in that it becomes like a rumination thing where you’re obsessing over stuff out of your control or out of the realm of possibility. It’s pretty contextual, but I do think it’s a it’s a great premise for a book.

Marc Cuiriz 6:18
Yeah, I like how this book is really doing its best to be relatively subjective in terms of how Nora is sort of viewing both herself and her route life. And these different lives of her own. Like, when she jumps into life. She has no memory of anything that happened prior to this point. She’s literally jumping in and as like, what’s happening, what’s going on, I have no idea what’s going on. So like, in one life, she decided that, at one point in her life, she thought about being a glaciologist. So she jumps into this life. And then next thing, you know, she opens her eyes, and she’s on a boat in the Arctic. And she’s like, Oh, what am I doing here?

Link Keller 7:11
I’m cold.

Marc Cuiriz 7:12
And people are like, expecting her to know things. Because in that life, that Nora knows things, she’s the she’s a glaciologist, it’s her expedition. And she has to try to play it off. Like she knows what she’s talking about. But she’ll frequently ask questions of like, what are we doing here? Again, I’m sorry, can you remind me about this thing, this thing is such a such and all these sorts of different things. And I don’t know, I just think it’s, it’s an interesting topic to kind of think about, and I know for, I know, it’s something that’s kind of been explored and other things as well, like the most recent example I could think of is dr. strange in the multiverse of madness. That takes it in a different route. Instead of it like kind of being like string theory, or in I forgot how they worded it in the book. But they basically were saying it was like the idea of quantum physics and having them all overlap with each other. In this case, it was more along the lines of like, these different universes are coexisting, but they’re not like overlapping in any way, shape, or form. And then you have America Chavez, who can punch a star in, in these in these in these universes, and just be like, and I’m gonna try this one out for size and see how it’s like. But I don’t know, if you had that opportunity to sort of examine either different universes or see different versions of link. Would you do it?

Link Keller 8:51
Oh, yeah. I mean, I think I would, I think, mostly from a curiosity standpoint, rather than wanting to escape my current existence so much, but you know, the answer would be different if you asked me when I was 16 Yeah, I think that I think that that’s very intriguing. I think the idea of being able to see the what ifs of your lifetime and getting to examine that but I do think like, there is something that I find like, terrifying about like that, that idea of like, my consciousness jumps into another version of myself, but like, they disappear and I’m in their place and being having to figure out like, Oh, God, what are the rules here like that sounds very scary, very anxiety provoking. I would still probably do it just like again, like I said, like the Curiosity is high on that. But yeah, the idea of jumping in, it is like, oh, in this version I’m what I wanted to be a veterinarian when I was a child very original. I know. It’s like the idea of like, popping in like, Oh, you have an appointment to take care of this animal and be like umm I can pet it and give it a little kiss on its forehead but the health care for this animal that’s I don’t know how to do that people are expecting me to know how to do that. Oh, no. Oh, no!

Marc Cuiriz 10:33
Oh, yeah, like, I mean, I’m not far enough in the book. I’m though I’m like still in the middle of it. So I don’t know if like, she eventually learns how to like, essentially fake it till you make it. But yeah, that’s, that’s one of the things where I’m like, when she like jumps into these worlds. I’m like, Are you like, there’s a couple of them when she jumps in. And then she makes an absolute fool of herself. And just makes herself look like like, She’s totally embarrassed. And I know for me, like, I think I would be in the same boat of like, if I had the opportunity. I think I totally would want to see what the different me’s are doing and accomplishing and their lives. But at the same time, I would be absolutely terrified. Like, like, I wanted to be a meteorologist when I was a kid. That’s really original. I I used to watch, I even watch the weather channel like all the time.

Link Keller 11:35
I just want to wear a smart suit in front of big green screen. Come on.

Marc Cuiriz 11:40
Yeah. Or I wanted to be the people that like chased. I wanted to be a storm chaser. So I wanted to like chase the tornadoes in the storms and like document those things, I always thought that was so cool. So I can imagine if I were to step into a version of myself, in the middle of one of those storms, I would be freaking the hell out and be like, Oh my god, what am I doing?

Link Keller 12:02
too scary

Marc Cuiriz 12:03
like I thought this looks good in theory, but I’m gonna take a hard pass on this. I have no idea what I’m doing. I just want to get away where it’s nice and safe. The wind? bye

Link Keller 12:19
Yeah, yeah, I definitely think I would prefer taking on a an invisible watching figure and just get to bear witness and not have to participate, which I think probably does say something about me. I don’t know if I want to delve into it. But yeah, I think the the pressure of having to become a version of myself. That isn’t me in my lived experience, but has all these expectations placed upon them? And having to suss that out through context of what’s around me. And what do I think that these people would expect from me? And that sounds like level 100 social anxiety. Which is honestly pretty funny because I do not get embarrassed easily. Like it is hard like, but the having to grapple with like, Oh no, these people have expectations of me. And it’s not just regular life where I’m trying to like suss out what people’s expectations of me it’s got a whole extra layer of like, I’m also not the person that they have the expectations upon, but I am embodying their space. It’s like that extra layer be like Oh, no!

Marc Cuiriz 13:47
Oh, like. I’m just imagining, like, if I like in, in one chapter of the book, she is like an Olympic gold medalist swimmer. And she’s supposed to go in front of a university and do a TED Talk, a live TED Talk. And I’m just imagining, like, if I were to step into myself, and I’d have to give a TED talk about something, and I’m like, I have no idea what I just did. Like I have I have no idea what I did. I have no idea what this what this version of me has gone through. I don’t know what this TED talk is even about

Link Keller 14:22
you’re like turning around. You’re like, is there a PowerPoint? I can just read? Is it how do i What do I do? What am I talking about? Oh, God everybody’s looking at me.

Marc Cuiriz 14:33
That’s the thing like even if you did have a PowerPoint, how would you know? You don’t know if you do have a PowerPoint?

Link Keller 14:40
What is the alternate version of you is really bad at making PowerPoints. God what a nightmare.

Marc Cuiriz 14:47
No organizational skills that doesn’t know how to pick up PowerPoint

Link Keller 14:52
this alternate.

Marc Cuiriz 14:53
That’s my reality. So

Link Keller 14:54
dimension version of Link who isn’t good at PowerPoint? No!! That’s the evil me, I guess.

Marc Cuiriz 15:07
Oh my goodness. Yeah. It’s, it’s definitely something that I’ve, I’ve always sort of thought about even growing up as a kid of like, I wonder like, I’m sure everybody always has those moments where they’re like, I wonder what if like, what if I had, like you said you wanted to you ended up becoming a vet instead of becoming the host for this amazing podcast? What if, you know, you decided out of nowhere at one life? You were an ice skater? And you were at the Olympics? Doing ice skating?

Link Keller 15:43
That would be quite a swerve. Yeah, yeah, I guess. Like, there’s certainly the like, intriguing aspect of like, how have I changed? But I think I would also be really interested in how, like, my social groups have changed how the world around me is different. I would be pretty interested in that.

Marc Cuiriz 16:15
Yeah, I think. And I think that also brings up the the idea of sort of learning to be appreciative of the life that you do have currently, like, yeah, you could have been or that. But instead, you’re here rocking out with me. And I could have, I could be out chasing a storm right now. And instead, here I am wanting to to make a difference. And I’m slowly learning and mastering the ways that is Geek Therapy. And it’s great. I think that the path that I ultimately chose for myself, is one that I am satisfied with. And I know that for a lot of people, it’s not always like that. But I wonder that if someone who wasn’t satisfied with their life, and how it turned out whether it was stuff within their control, or out of their control, if they had that ability, I wonder if that would cause them to have a newfound appreciation for the life that they do have. Because for all they know, they could hop into a life that where they thought things were going to be different. And instead, they achieved what it is that they sought to achieve. But it wasn’t worth it. Or it just wasn’t quite what they expected it to be, you know?

Link Keller 17:44
Yeah. That is that is frequently like the backbone of those kinds of stories, whether they’re body switching, or Timeline Jumping, or what have you is ultimately looking inward and expressing gratitude towards who you are, and what has gotten you to that point, which I think is a really important type of story. And why it keeps getting told over and over again, is because people do need to be reminded about that. It’s, it’s so easy to get in the weeds about like, well, if this situation had been different than my whole life would be different, I would be different, and things would be better and all this stuff [bumped mic] Sorry. And ultimately, you know, through some sort of adventure, coming to the conclusion of like, actually, what what I have and what I have experienced is meaningful, because it happened to me, because I experienced it. So, yeah, that that kind of storytelling comes up a lot. I’m trying to think of some other examples. I haven’t. What’s the name of that show? Fuck. I gotta google it. Hold on.

Marc Cuiriz 19:09
Well, I do when I was thinking about this, because I remember thinking about this as a potential topic for like, a couple weeks ago, when we first started when I first started reading this book with my wife and a random, Fairly Odd Parents episode came to my head. And it sort of follows a similar premise of of the Midnight library, although like, there’s obviously no like, reality hopping. But like Timmy makes a wish that he had never been born because he wants to see and he thinks that the world would be worse off without him. But in reality, like everybody’s lives are actually better. And he’s with like Jorgen then he’s like going through it. So he’s like a little fly on the wall, like he’s invisible. And it’s ultimately showing that like, he thinks that like, oh, man, there has to be somebody’s life who is miserable or is worse because I’m not around. And it gets to the point where they are trying to determine No, in fact, then now you’re gonna get thrown into this fiery pit, that all the other children who wish they’d never been born and made the world better actually go. But then he ultimately finds Tootie, Vicki’s little sister is actually worse off without him. And he’s like that one person whose life is negatively impacted because of his non existence is worth everything. And then now he’s and then that’s how he’s able to come back and define as if he’d never left. But it’s one of those things where you’re taking a look within and examining your own life. Because obviously, this book does touch on suicide and thinking that the world would be better off without you or without you in it, simply because you might feel that the decisions you’ve made, or the decisions that were made for you, ultimately did not lead to a satisfying life. But taking that time and, and self reflecting and examining how things could be different they, for all, you know, a different decision may have led to a better outcome. But ultimately, you don’t know that. And being grateful that you do have the life that you do that you have. And while the decisions in the past, you can’t really change those, you can change how you can view those memories or view those decisions, and how you want to move forward into the future.

Link Keller 22:03
I think that’s always like the emotional outcome is realizing like the way that you see it, is what ultimately is most impactful. More so than any individual events that happens is like how do you frame it within your life and who you are and who you want to be and who you are becoming. It’s very much about the way that we frame our experiences inside our own heads. And the you know, the conflict that arises from that, when faced with other people’s frames for how they see an event and being like, oh shit, I didn’t even I didn’t even think about it that way at all. And having that be like a jumping off point of being like, yeah, it’s all fucking made up. Like you can choose to reframe this in a way that benefits your life and benefits the people around you and isn’t terribly depressing.

Marc Cuiriz 23:07
Yeah, or, or even letting other people’s frame sort of influence how you choose to frame it. Because one person can choose to harbor a grudge or to frame things in a negative viewpoint, and blame you for something that very well may not have been in your control, or they choose to blame you. And they didn’t fully understand the circumstance at the context of how the event was framed to to you as an individual. And if you let sort of that stuff weigh on you, and then that changes how you view things. Like in the book, Nora, a one of a friend of hers, blames her. For him not ended up ending up becoming a successful musician because she was in a band, and she ultimately decided to quit the band. And without her the band couldn’t get off because she was the songwriter. She was the singer, the keyboardist. I forget what else I think that’s what she all she did. But she was a pivotal member. And she just decided to leave for her own mental health. And then and this is like very in the very beginnings of the book, but like, Yeah, this guy blames her for his failure as a musician, and him not being able to afford a newspaper or something. And she lets that affect her. She lets that weigh her down and ultimately pushes her towards you know, making the decisions that she chooses to make in the beginning of the book.

Link Keller 24:54
I think that is such a good metaphor for or the way that we let other people frame our stories, especially pertaining to like young childhood, right? You don’t have long term memory, you don’t remember, most people don’t remember anything before like age four or five. And even then it’s only like major events, usually something traumatic. But you get told stories about when you were a baby and a toddler and a young child and in school, and those stories shape your understanding of who you are. And it takes a long time to realize like, those were stories told to you. They’re not some inarguable truth. It’s, it’s a story that somebody told you, pieces of it may be absolutely true, provable evidence available. But it’s from their perspective is not your experience, and you are just hearing about it. And choosing to take that in as part of your own story or not. I think that part of growing up is starting to unpack that aspect. Because when you’re a kid up into teenage hood, it’s like not even a question of that’s something that can be unpacked. It’s like that’s just the truth. That is what happened. That’s what Mom and Dad told me. That’s what Grandma told me like, that’s true. And then you get a little older and you’re like, well, well, okay. I’ve noticed that my grandma really likes to exaggerate stories. And so I wonder in which ways this story has been exaggerated, because it almost certainly has.

Marc Cuiriz 26:51

Link Keller 26:52
both, because it’s a little unbelievable, but also because like, that’s your MO and also because like it makes for better story like, ultimately, the stories that we hear over and over again, they get told because they’re good stories, and a good story requires certain elements. And so people will latch on to that part. And that’s the part that gets remembered because human memory is garbage, something we always say here, GT radio, human memory is garbage. So I do I do think that these multiverse stories and body swapping stories are grappling with, with those ideas and those experiences of how we unpack the stories we tell about ourselves and what we believe about ourselves and our experiences and how they shape who we are and who it’s possible for us to become. And sometimes that’s spot on. And sometimes it’s really not.

Marc Cuiriz 27:51
Exactly. And, you know, in my last job, when I would be working with my residents like the kids often tried to, I often use this as sort of like a metaphor for how they view themselves and how they want to reframe their frame their life moving forward. I would always say like, imagine that your entire existence is like a painting, it’s a puzzle, it’s giant quilts, it’s something it can be whatever they want it to be. Now, I want I would tell them to visualize this. And then I would say like, imagine that you find a single person, it could be your best friend can be a mom, dad, whoever, someone that they really trust, and you tell that person, every single thing about you. Like, they basically have seen your entire existence from birth up until this current moment in which I’m speaking to them. And they can experience everything in the exact same way that you’ve experienced it. They’re there with you. And ultimately, in the end, they could do all of that and know every tiny little thing about you, they could be in your brain and know every single thought that you’ve had. And when you look at the painting of the puzzle, whatever. All they’re going to see is a small little corner of that entire puzzle. Because the only person that’s going to know the entire thing is you as the individual because it doesn’t matter how they see the things or how they hear what you tell them. It’s all going to be how through their own interpretations of what you are saying.

Link Keller 29:48

Marc Cuiriz 29:49
So and you see this with the siblings when they grew up in the exact same environment experience. Same thing they both have very different outcomes. And they choose to be and they become two completely different people because they chose to interpret the events in different manners, even if they experienced it in the exact same way. And so for them, it’s like this identity picture that you’ve created for yourself this mosaic, whatever, no one’s ever going to know the full picture. And also, you can change it. You can, you can, if it’s a painting, you can take a bucket of white paint, just toss it all over that canvas and start completely fresh. That’s you, you can choose how you want to reframe these things, and how you choose to examine your own choices. And you can choose to either let some of these other choices you have regrets that you have be a big piece, or a big part of the of the painting or picture. Or you can choose to make it something smaller and change it, rework it, reframe it. So you can put it in conjunction with something else and turn it into a completely different picture, one that might be more pleasing to you as an individual. But that’s like, a way for them to kind of take take it in, take their, their life in through introspection, and self reflection, and sort of gaining a newfound appreciation for the life that they do have, despite whatever circumstances they may have came from.

Link Keller 31:28
Yeah, that’s good shit. Like, I like you, I like that you go towards the visualization of of art of a mosaic or puzzle. I think I think that’s really poetic. And I think that says something about you.

Marc Cuiriz 31:51
Yeah, if I can’t visualize things, I certainly hope they can. Listen, I can’t do it, but at least you can for me. No, it’s always funny because I specifically wait to use the mosaic one, for when they say that they feel broken, or they feel like they’re holding on because, like, Yeah, cuz you know, it’s, it’s a mosaic like, well,

Link Keller 32:15
broken things can make very beautiful, meaningful, impactful art.

Marc Cuiriz 32:20
Yeah, you can, you can stare at this, this broken pile of tile or glass, or whatever it is, you can choose to set that broken pile and just leave it. Or you can pick up the pieces and put them together and make something new. You can if you find a piece, and it’s like your upper regret that you have, and it’s a pretty big piece, guess what, you can just break it in half, you can break it up, break it down some more of the smaller pieces.

Link Keller 32:46
just smash it up a lil smaller

Marc Cuiriz 32:48
And now it’s not as big and you can disperse it. So now it’s not all together in one spot. Instead, it’s spread out because it’s integrating itself into different aspects of your personality and your life and how you want to view it. And now it’s something much more aesthetically pleasing to them. Of course, that that’s how they choose to to reframe their life. But obviously there it’s up to them.

Link Keller 33:16
I yeah, I mean, I think that that’s, that’s the empowering aspect is is getting people to realize, like you, there are so many things in life, you don’t have any control over that you just have to persevere through because it is out of your control, or very limited control. But the way that you view those experiences that is in your control, and that is what you have power over. And that realization can that can be an ongoing realization where you have to keep having that realization over and over again. But that can also be like one big aha moment for people, it just have this moment of being like, Oh, I get to choose how important this thing is in the mosaic of my life. I get to choose where it it shows up. And how I value it. Is it Yeah, it’s nice. That’s nice.

Marc Cuiriz 34:27
Exactly. It’s like, it’s like you’re looking at yourself. That’s like, oh, wow, it’s me. I’m the captain. I’m the captain now

Link Keller 34:34
I’m the captain now

Marc Cuiriz 34:35
I’m the captain now. I am in control of this ship. I’m the one that decides where I want to go.

Link Keller 34:43
The next layer there is realizing that applies to literally every person and then battling against the urge to constantly try and tell people like hey, that thing that you’re really worked up about, like don’t, you don’t have to do that. It’s like, oh, that can be a little condescending. Don’t Don’t just say that.

Marc Cuiriz 35:02
Yeah, it’s important to remember that while you are the captain of your own ship, don’t try to this is the bumper cars don’t be against other people’s ships, right? They have their own stuff. You just the important thing is you coast along with them. And if you find that they’re going into some waters that you’re not the most comfortable with, you can sail away you can just sashay away and go with another another current another flow, you know. I don’t know how we got on sea metaphors, but here we are.

Link Keller 35:36

Marc Cuiriz 35:38
Ahoy, there Mateys we got our flags flying and we’re just we’re cruising down the sea of self discovery and self identity. That’s all I got

Link Keller 35:54
Orphan Black was the show I was trying to remember before which has like clones and one of one of the women takes over the life of the anyways, I don’t I haven’t watched enough of the show to fully extend out that metaphor, but that is the show I was thinking of earlier. Orphan Black. It’s cool check it out. Tatiana Maslany is a powerhouse. But a an example I can expand on further is I have been watching the current season of dimension 20, which is called Never after. And it is sort of like dark fairy tale themes. And the main thrust of what is happening is that the six adventures are all playing as like popular myths, myths, characters, story, characters, Pinocchio and sleeping beauty, and Little Red Riding Hood, and others. And the way that the story is unfolding, great show highly recommended, I like drop out TV a lot it is, to me the subscription fee is worth it. But I think you can get a free month trial to check it out. But that their first big, it’s a tabletop role playing game that they’re playing. And in their first big fight, they all died. And it was a real emotionally heavy for everybody because they were like, What the fuck, we all just died. And because they are one playing a game. And two, they are based on these, you know, extremely well known story characters, and myth characters. They reincarnate in like different versions of their story, which when you think about like, you know, The Little Mermaid, or Cinderella is like there’s, you know, 80 versions of that story. And so it’s them grappling with the ways in which their story has changed. And how to move forward in this new space that they’re in, and what kind of power and control do they have over their own stories? I think sleeping beauties is very interesting. In that she’s coming from a story where she had no agency, like the story of Sleeping Beauty, like she passes the fuck out. And then wakes up was like, I got husband cool, is like nothing to do with any actions that she takes or any choices, she makes things just happen to her. And so watching Siobhan play as her and sort of grappling with the like, well, like I’m not like I don’t want to totally ditch everything, because I still kind of want to believe in the idea of true love and how like magical that can be. But I also would like to have agency in my life. And is it possible to have a story with both of those things in it? Or is this romantic true love idea that I have so deeply tied to the concept of destiny, and therefore a lack of control over it is therefore I must completely reject that aspect in order to have any sort of control over my story. I think they’re doing some really cool stuff in there. I’m real into it, a very much sort of circling around on like, understanding the events that happened to them and the way that they react to it and how in different versions of the story, it’s different, and how is it different and why is it different and why did those differences matter? And are they good differences? Are they worse? And it’s good stuff. It’s good stuff.

Marc Cuiriz 40:01
Hmm. The idea of having slight variations of basically the same events, it kind of gets me thinking a little bit this, this is a little bit of an oldie, but I started thinking about it, as you were talking. It’s, I would argue, is sort of loosely related, because it’s more so like us as as a, as an individual or as a player. It’s something that we’re doing even though like, obviously, in the game itself, it’s not really like that. But I was thinking, like the Telltale Games. And as a player,

Link Keller 40:42
oh yeah,

Marc Cuiriz 40:43
you make choices that have an impact in the story that ultimately leads to the outcome at the end. But as a player, you can also choose to go back to the very beginning of the episode or of the entire series, and make different choices and see how that would play out. In a different you can imagine it almost as a different world where instead of choosing to spare this person, yeah, you leave them or instead of choosing to lash out at somebody, you instead try to approach it rationally. And as a player, you can say, well, this is an alternate reality, like I may have my my Canon, my root world, or these are the choices that I made. And I’ll stick with it. And also, I want to I want to see what it’d be like in these alternate worlds, these alternate realities of what if I had made these different choices, and you can explore that and see how that might have made the story a little different. I know that that kind of goes to the lot of these games that have like good endings, bad endings, true ending,

Link Keller 41:55
that’s such a good pull, Telltale Games. That was that was grateful Marc. Yeah, I played through the Walking Dead sets, the first set. And then I played a little bit of the fables one and a little bit of the Game of Thrones one. I didn’t get very far in either of those two, because my computer I had at the time stopped working seems to be a theme happening for me. But one of my favorite things about The Walking Dead one, like when it first came out is it had the at the end of each chapter, it would show you what choices you made. And compare it to people on your like, Xbox friends list or whatever. And that was so cool to see like right when the game came out, because you got to see people’s like, first choice, like, they don’t have any outside knowledge of what what’s going to happen. It’s literally just following their gut about which option to choose. And getting to see the sort of similarities between you and people you’re friends with. And then getting to see like global percentage choices was very interesting. But then it was very funny, because you know, a couple months later, everybody’s replaying and choosing the other things because they want to see, you know, you want to see all the content, it’s a game, I want to see all the game. And so getting to watch those, those percentile bars all sort of evened out to about 50/50 for all of the dual choices. Except for a couple of things, which I always found really funny is like there’s always one character really everybody sort of unanimously agrees like we are not killing that character, how dare you even offer up this option, I will never choose to let them die. But I always thought that that was like the coolest part of the Telltale Games is that it had that thing where it showed you what choices you made one, I think that’s fun to have that sort of reflection moment in a game built in. But also then compare it to other people’s choices and get to see the ways in which like your values get expressed in the way that you play games and how that reflects on your social circles. I think that’s that’s really cool. So that was a good pull, dude.

Marc Cuiriz 44:30
Yeah, I I personally never played any of the Telltale Games. But I remember when the walking dead set came out. There was a YouTuber that I really enjoyed watching and I really enjoyed his content. So I watched him play through it. And so his choices that he made, there were so many times when I was like, How dare you do this thing. But at the same time, I was like, Well, this is this is the universe i chose so I’d have to stick with it, I have to follow through with it. And I almost didn’t want to go and watch other people’s playthroughs. I almost didn’t want to go and watch all the different options. Because I was like, no, no, this is my universe. This is the universe I chose, I have to stick with it, I can’t go and change my mind. Because if I see something, and I wanted that choice, or it turns out to be a better choice, I don’t want that. Because then I’m going to be going back to the universe that I chose, and it’s going to be no bueno to me. I’m like, you, you horrible person, how dare you leave this person to die? I know he was kind of a jerk, but he was going to be really useful. Yeah, but I like to think of those games are really any sort of game that that gives you choices that ultimately impact the main storyline as a chance for you to be able to replay them in a different way. To sort of, yeah, you see more of the content of the game, but also you get to see, you can choose to frame it as like an alternate reality where different choices could lead to drastically different outcomes or different choices might produce a similar outcome or a more neutral one. Yeah.

Link Keller 46:19
I mean, that’s the unfortunate truth is in video games, generally speaking, majority of the choices don’t matter. Like there isn’t a meaningful difference between the choices, it’s just the fact that you have to make a choice that is meaningful. And doing replays does often reveal, like you see behind the curtain, so to speak, is like Oh, it didn’t matter which thing I chose in this extremely high emotional moment. Because either way, the same thing happens immediately after, but you don’t know that the first time you’re playing. So that’s when the emotions are most impactful. And when the the choices are the most meaningful.

Marc Cuiriz 47:01
Yeah, I and they would get to a point where whenever any game presented me with an option, I almost felt the need to have to pause it because I’m like, no, no, I need to see does this impact my story? Does this choice matter? Because I need to I need to know. And I did that a whole lot with Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Because I want to I when I play Assassin’s Creed, I want to make sure that I always get the true ending. So I will inevitably spoil some of the game for myself in the, in the drive to get the true ending, or the ending that I find the most satisfying, satisfying to me. But that also then leads me to have to spend a lot more time in the game because I’m pausing every single time to be like, does this choice matter? Does this choice matter? Oh, no, it doesn’t matter what I say here, oh, I can just choose to be a dick to this person, because I don’t really care for his character. And ultimately, whatever I say has no has no meaning. Or it can be like an internal what I say here will matter because this person will then know that either a I’m lying to them, or B, they’re going to find out that I lied to them. And it’s going to create consequences later on. So

Link Keller 48:17
yeah, I remember I play I played a lot of hours of the original Mass Effect. And when Mass Effect 2 came out, I was really upset that like Liara wasn’t on your squad anymore. And so like, I’m like Googling, like, Are there choices I can make? Makes Liara come back? I miss my wife. But yeah, yeah, game games are very interesting. I do. I think that that is definitely like a powerhouse medium for exploring these sorts of alternate choices and getting to play in that space of like finding out how small choices can make differences and how you contextualize those events. And what kind of importance you give those choices in the moment versus when whatever consequence happens, how you look back on it, and frame it in like, Oh, I just smashed buttons because I was like, bored of the cutscene but it turned out like that was really important. And now I’m gonna have to like try and tell a story that fits the emotionality of that experience is like not literally just I mashed buttons. It’s like okay, well, no, I chose that because, in sort of rationalize the situation to create a cohesive story within it, it’s like that’s fun practice. Like that’s, that’s good shit. And that can absolutely be a skill that you practice in video games and then use to apply to your own experiences in the way that you think about choices that you have made. and how important they were in the moment or not. Back on all the bad shit in your life and be like, actually, those choices didn’t matter at all because of the next cutscene was going to undo that whole thing anyways, regardless of what I chose, so actually, it’s fine and I’m fine.

Marc Cuiriz 50:18
You know, that’s that’s not that’s a fancy way to put it. You know any bad choice you make in your life you’d like you know what I was just mashing buttons. I was just trying to skip the cutscene and I accidentally clicked the wrong choice. You know, it happened.

Link Keller 50:32
The deep, humanistic truth is that we are all moving through life. Just mashing buttons dog, we’re doing our best. And sometimes we’re not paying attention, because our hot pocket just beeped in the microwave. We gotta go get it.

Marc Cuiriz 50:46
Exactly. It’s been beep and beep twice already. And your mom’s gonna yell at you for leaving it in there for too long. So you’re just trying to get you’re trying to get to the to the good parts

Link Keller 50:56
get to the next checkpoint.

Marc Cuiriz 51:00
When you accidentally say something, and it makes somebody mad and you’re like, Well,

Link Keller 51:04
I was mashing buttons

Marc Cuiriz 51:08
I’m sorry. I was just mashing buttons earlier. What? Yeah, yep, exactly. Oh, man. Any, any sort of final final thoughts? Link? I feel quite satisfied with this conversation.

Link Keller 51:28
I think we did okay, just the two of us. Maybe we didn’t totally destroy the couch. Just a single throw pillow. I’m really sticking to this. This destructive dog metaphor. I’m really hung up on that. Oh, yeah. I I’m intrigued to check out that book. I think it’ll be cool. And I hope that our listeners recommend some of their own favorites. Most mind bending versions of this kind of story of multiverses body swapping what have you the ability to see what if it was different? So yeah, share that. Share that in our on our forums or on the discord Facebook, Twitter. All the spaces they’re in the show notes

Marc Cuiriz 52:21
the philosophy stuff. Oh, hell yeah. I’m a sucker. So please plant the trail and I will gladly follow this is this was this was a good conversation. I am thoroughly fairly pleased with with how this turned out. I was I was big nervous.

Marc Cuiriz 52:42
We did okay.

Marc Cuiriz 52:44
But we did it. We did it everybody

Link Keller 52:46
we mashed buttons, but in a way that was cool.

Marc Cuiriz 52:49
We mashed buttons, and we executed a flawless combo. Indeed. Yeah, exactly. It’s like Mortal Mortal Kombat references. Now. Look at us. Look at us go. Alright, well, guys, thank you so much for tuning in this week. As link said, feel free to connect with us on the forums or on the discord links to all that will be in the show notes. Remember to geek out and do good and we’ll be back next week

Link Keller 53:24

Josué Cardona 53:26
Geek Therapy is a 501 C three nonprofit organization dedicated to making the world a better place that will be culture. To learn more about our mission and become a supporter, visit geek therapy.org

Transcribed by https://otter.ai and Link Keller

Characters / Media
  • The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)
  • The Fairly OddParents (TV series)
  • Orphan Black (TV series)
  • NeverAfter (Dimension 20 series)
  • Telltale’s The Walking Dead (2012)
  • Mass Effect (2007)
Themes / Topics

Conversation Topics:

* Change
* Consequences
* Death
* Difficult emotions
* Family
* Finding Oneself/Identity Development
* Moral dilemma
* Resilience

Relatable Experience:

* Acceptance
* Clarity/Understanding
* Coming of age/Getting older
* Fear/Anxiety
* Loss (other than death)
* New Life Event (New Rules)
* Suicide
* Trauma
* Reframing

Questions? Comments? Discuss this episode on the GT Forum.

Links / Social Media

Check out the GT Network: network.geektherapy.com

GT Forum: forum.geektherapy.org

GT Discord: geektherapy.com/discord

GT Facebook Group: facebook.com/groups/geektherapy

Find us at www.GeekTherapy.org | @GeekTherapy | Lara: @GeekTherapist | Link: @CHICKENDINOSAUR | Josué: @JosueACardona

Ask us anything through the Question Queue and we’ll answer on the show: geektherapy.org/qq

Join the Conversation!

What is your favorite alternate timeline/multiverse story? What about it do you like?

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