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OneCoolThing: Halima Hassan

OneCoolThing: Halima Hassan

Editor's note: Welcome our latest post in a regular series where we invite members of our team to talk about One Cool Thing (not necessarily from games) and if/how it influences/reflects on their work. While we're not able to talk about the exciting things we're working on right now, we hope this will be a nice little series of introductions to the interests & practices of our excellent team.

Here's our brilliant Writing Intern Halima Hassan on how she feels inspired in revisiting old comforts and specifically, the TV series Friends.

For previous articles in this series, check out composer Eli Rainsberry on Road to the West & Cowboy Bebop, programmer Daria Radu on Dancing Games, story tech Florence Smith-Nicholl's on Environmental Storytelling and Archeology, tech lead Katrin-Anna Zibuschka on Co-operative Experiences, deputy tech lead Roxanne van Dam on "Doing the Disco", writer Harry Josephine Giles on Brave Sparrow, writer Sharna Jackson on Joana Choumali, tech artist Angus Dick on Fantastic Planet, creative producer Ben Wilson on Leaderboards, and our outgoing story lead Char Putney on Randomness.

Revisiting old comforts

In the episode of well-known long-running TV series Friends "The One Where Old Yeller Dies", Phoebe walks in on the gang in the middle of watching the film Old Yeller. They've seen the film before and are sad in anticipation of the tragic ending, which Phoebe is confused by, as her recollection of the film is one that ends on a happy note.

A YouTube video of a scene from Friends, when Phoebe is talking about Old Yeller.

It is gradually revealed that Phoebe is oblivious to the 'true' endings of many sad stories, since her mother decided to protect her as a child by only showing her the good parts of stories. Phoebe is challenged to re-visit the works as an adult, and it's interesting to me to think about this process of re-visiting.

Personally, the pandemic has reduced my tolerance for unhappy media. I know this isn't a unique feeling; a close friend of mine and I have bonded these last few years over how - in the context of the uncertainty and low-level fear that came to the forefront of our lives - we have reached for entertainment and activities with lower stakes, and that guarantee comfort. For me that's things like re-watching Friends and listening to Fallout Boy.

So, as part of my One Cool Thing, that's what I want to offer you:

Old Comforts

I find myself, for the third time in the past two years, rewatching Friends from Season One. I know this show really well, but that doesn't stop me from replaying an episode to fill the air with familiar sounds and laughing enthusiastically at jokes I've heard several times before. I know what I'm getting. It is a marked relief, to experience something I know every beat of, and which cannot surprise me.

Personally, I find that returning to a piece of media or an experience with a memory of it already formed and feelings already attached can be a thrilling process. I return with a transformed perspective and (possibly) with new priorities and values, afforded by the time that has passed since the first experience.

Questions, inevitably arise such as:

  • Will I enjoy this as much as I once did?
  • How accurate is my memory of this thing?
  • Will who I am now agree with who I was when I first experienced it?
  • How do I feel about the ways I’ve changed?
  • Am I prepared for the revelations that may result from the re-watch/encounter?

I find that tension really interesting; that things you admired before might disappoint you now, realising you’ve come a long way from the person you once were. Reckoning with those experiences, this new reality, can be a cool thing to do.

Not every trip down memory lane takes you to the comforting destination you once knew. I love looking back, but to re-experience some of the bigger comforts of my past is trickier. It is always a small loss to have your memory of a piece of art altered when it’s viewed from a changed perspective. But revisiting a more loved and familiarly comforting place from your past feels higher stakes.

Close up image of a globe centered on Europe
Close up image of a globe centered on Europe

New Starts

I’ve moved around a lot in my life and there are so many memories tied to the different places I’ve lived. In re-visiting media and art, I also find myself thinking about these places a lot. A few years ago, my brother and I decided - on a trip to visit family in Sweden - to revisit the neighbourhood we lived in as children. The excitement I had quickly wore off on our arrival as, unsurprisingly, a lot had changed.

From minor things like how small everything seemed (looking at it from my adult perspective). To more jarring moments of meeting with the present - for example, several current members of the neighbourhood approached us with suspicion, asked us why we were there, and suggested we should leave. As if they could not imagine this neighbourhood once meaning a lot to us, that we might be connected to or have once belonged in this place.

I think there is some kind of safety about approaching old media and art, compared to that experience. While picking an old hobby back up might not always result in a positive outcome or reflection on your past self, when you do it, it's a reflection held within a safer space, and on your own terms.

What does it mean to re-visit? To reflect on old-new-starts? The comfortable space of re-visiting old stories makes me feel like I have more agency on how I reflect on the re-visiting my own storied past. I am able to choose to think about the aspects of my old homes and experiences that brought me joy, and how I can recreate them for the life I live today. I loved living near the woods, trips to the beach to swim and to the barn to hold baby rabbits.

Now, I’m always at peace when I am near trees as they evoke that old comfort from my childhood and I’m currently on a quest to find fun outdoor swimming spots near me. The rabbits, I think, will remain just a warm memory!

The act of re-visiting in media and art has given me a useful tool for reflection on my own life. So, that's the cool thing I'd like to offer you in turn: is there an idea, place or piece of media you'd like to revisit? Or do you learn something about yourself in how you feel strongly about what you don't want a later or adult perspective on? Perhaps the visit will be confined to your imagination (a moment to reminisce, appreciate or let go), perhaps it'll involve a trip to the library or a search online. Such different methods to rediscover that thing that once brought you so much joy.

One more reflection.

I find revisiting to be a way to appreciate all the things I've been (e.g., a Fall Out Boy fan), the many things I am (a Fall Out Boy fan) and wondering about all the things I'll be (Fallout Boy 4eva).

One of Halima's favourite songs called Fame < Infamy from Fall Out Boy's album Infinity on High

Posts from the Die Gute Fabrik team, a wonderful bunch of people coming together across disciplines to make games.
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