chronotriggersprites-1355

Ask anyone who knows anything about video games and they’ll tell you Chrono Trigger is just solid. If you like RPGs, odds are you like (or will like) Chrono Trigger. That is unless of course you are one of those people who hates something just because too many people like it, in which case, there’s no hope for you. Recently, there was a great discussion surrounding the game on the ‘Weekly Wringer‘ series at the CotGW. Which included the usual suspects of great game elements: solid music, atmosphere, characters, fighting system; it seems that everything about this game is polished and refined. Reviews of this game range from proper tidy to bloody fantastic. This view of the game is not even impacted by nostalgia as I played this game for the first time in the late 2000s after all of the initial hype had long since died down, so there. Chrono Trigger stood the test of time (it’s a pun!), but can it hold up to some science?!

opening

This screen should make you happy!

The opening ticking of the clock gives the answer as to what we are going to focus on this time around (ha, another time pun!). We are going to dive right in and talk about time travelling. Do contemporary theories support the concept of time travel? To answer this we need to understand a little bit about the dimensions in our universe.

We can think of time as one dimension among many. Our universe is composed of four dimensions total: up, down (1), left, right (2), forward, backward (3), everything in between and time (4). This is unless you believe in that silly string theory which can have dozens, such as a dimension which is saddle shaped; we will stick to four*. This leads to something important to note: games have always been four dimensional. If this were not true the characters in ‘two-dimensional’ games would not be separate from their background, thus meaning a game would just be a picture. A picture sounds like a pretty cruddy game if you ask me. Now that we know that time is a dimension, we need to talk about a big scary word: relativity (blast you Einstein!).

Translation: make things up with big words and people will have to believe you and conform.

Translation: make things up with big words and people will have to believe you and conform.

Many people believe that time is constant, a second is a second and there are no exceptions. Others believe that time is relative and changes depending on the conditions imposed upon an object. There are calculations suggesting that time progresses differently while travelling closer to, and over the speed of light. My understanding of some theories (no one can correct me on this as no one knows the answer) is that we are in the middle of two ‘dimensional cones’ indicating we exist in the present time while the other cones simultaneously represent the past and present. If someone travels over the speed of light, time will progress backwards. If that same person travels closer to the speed of light, time will progress faster (into the ‘future’). What does this mean for Chrono Trigger?

Confused? Don't worry, everyone is.

Confused? Don’t worry, everyone is.

The vessel which the crew in Chrono Trigger uses to travel through time will travel faster and slightly slower than the speed of light in order to progress backwards and forwards through time respectively; I would show you mine, but it’s in the shop. However, this introduces a new problem. Even though this does represent one way that the ship could travel through time, the ship’s crew would be subjected to time progression and age to the point that they would die or be unborn. This means that Frog might turn into a lil’ ol’ tadpole! If we pretend that the ship somehow isolates time progression, then this theory may work, but there could be another explanation.

Another idea, which falls out of some versions of that silly string theory previously mentioned, supports the concept of there being an infinite amount of infinitely extending universes. This means that, although incredibly unlikely but statistically possible, there are planets very similar to the one which Chrono Trigger takes place on. This means that rather than travelling through time, each time the crew goes in the ship, we are viewing the events of a different but very similar planet in another universe. Rather than events in the past creating paradoxes, we have an infinite amount of planets with events progressing as if the events in another universe happened.

Maybe in another universe he's made of rhubarb and lollipops and never gets fought.

Maybe in another universe he’s made of rhubarb and lollipops and never gets fought.

To answer your question in advance, I’m not on drugs. Unlike Futurama suggesting that certain scientists carry around a cat, box, cesium and a lot of drugs, I do not, although sometimes those of us that engage the questions of the fabric of the universe and time may seem to. I am just very intrigued by the concept of time travel and theories supporting it. It is also interesting to note that unlike what Eric Lappe suggests about there “being no time”, not only is there time, but we can do whatever we want with it. So if you’ll excuse me, I would like to see what would happen if I invented Microsoft and Apple at the same time.

Dan

Comments? Suggestions?: physicsofvideogames@hotmail.com

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Next time: I’ll be a billionaire.

*Interested in learning more? Check out The Trouble with Physics by Lee Smolin

A very special thanks to The Commodore of the ‘Clan of the Gray Wolf ’ for giving a number of helpful comments and helping edit! Any mistakes are my fault though.