Here is the follow-up post to my Sound Of Thunder notes, in which I focused on Time Travel and Paradoxes in particular so I decided to research them further.
Paradox’s are an interesting subject, as there are many different theories and insights regarding them. None of them are provable so far, as Time Travel hasn’t been invented yet. Here are a few that I found interesting –
The Butterfly Effect
This theory is an important plot point in A Sound Of Thunder. The theory is that killing something as small as a butterfly while in the Past can have disastrous consequences on the future. Small actions can have massive ramifications.
For example, say somebody who has travelled to the Past (say, the 1950s) kicks a stone while walking down a road. This stone then rolls into the middle of the road. Some time later, a man crosses the road and trips on the stone. Because of this, a car swerves to avoid him and crashes into another car, killing both drivers. These drivers would have gone on to have children, but do not now as a direct result of the Traveller’s interference in the Past. Now in the present day, entire families have ceased to exist because the two drivers died when they shouldn’t have been in an accident in the first place. The accident only occurred because the Traveller kicked a stone.
(A screenshot I took from the film Back To The Future II)
While researching, I found a good example of the Butterfly Effect in the movie Back To The Future II. The villain of the movie travels back in time to give his younger self a book detailing all the football scores throughout the next 50 years. Using this, the younger self bets on the football games and wins millions as he knows exactly who will win by using the book. This drastically alters the future as he builds up a billion dollar corporation of casinos and buys up a great deal of land, but mismanages it to the point where the city in which the film is set (Hill Valley) is overrun by crime and corruption, having previously been a nice and friendly city.
The Grandfather Paradox
This is the second of the theories I came to research. The theory for this one involves a Time Traveller going back in time to kill their Grandfather (hence the name of the paradox). If the Traveller does so, in killing their Grandfather they also prevent their own existence as the Grandfather is dead so they cannot have children, therefore the Traveller cannot be born. This therefore means that the Traveller ceases to exist, so they cannot have travelled into the Past to kill their Grandfather. So this means that the Grandfather is in fact alive, so the Traveller is therefore born. If this is the case, then the Traveller can travel into the Past to kill their Grandfather, so the cycle begins anew.
This is a paradox. Paradoxes (to quote Collins Dictionary) are situations containing two or more facts that contradict one another. The Grandfather Paradox is a good example of this because the events it describes cannot occur, at least in theory. Each time the Traveller “kills” their Grandfather the cycle repeats itself as the Traveller ceases to exist, therefore cannot kill their Grandfather, so their Grandfather is alive, so the Traveller does exist and kills their Grandfather, so the Traveller ceases to exist again, and so on.
There are two main theories as to what happens next; one is that the killing of the Grandfather simply cannot occur, and each time it is attempted Time simply resets. The other is that Time as a whole fractures when the Grandfather is killed and the Universe caves in.
The Predestination Paradox
This paradox theory is similar to the Grandfather Paradox. It is also known as a causal loop, and the simple explanation of it is this; it is a sequence of events in which one event is among the causes of another event, which in turn is among the causes of the first event.
You understand it now, right?
The best example of the Predestination Paradox I have found is in the movie Interstellar.
Spoilers ahead for the film. I’ll simplify it a bit because the film is rather complex.
The film is set in a future where the Earth is dying and the last of humanity is there dying with it. The main character Cooper (an ex astronaut) is given a set of coordinates via gravity waves from an unknown origin. He follows these which lead him to a NASA base where he uses his astronaut skills to fly a spacecraft into a wormhole to find a new planet for humanity. He finds said planet and humanity lives on amongst the stars. At some point far into the future humans develop the technology to manipulate gravity, so using this they then send the coordinates of the NASA base via gravity waves to Cooper, as gravity can transverse time.
This is a predestination paradox, as the technology needed to send Cooper the NASA coordinates is invented in a future in which Cooper had already succeeded in reaching the base by using the coordinates that had been sent to him using the technology. This is a loop as one event cannot exist without the other, as the Second Event (in the future) needed the First Event (Cooper) to happen in order to occur.
It’s a very confusing theory, I know.
The Flashpoint Paradox
This is the last of the paradox research I am doing today. It’s all been very entertaining but also very mind boggling.
So, the Flashpoint Paradox is a film. It details the most basic of paradoxes; changing something in the Past alters the future. I felt it should be included as it is a good example of a paradox and is also a great film.
The main character of the film (The Flash) lost his mother when he was little. The Flash has superpowers which enable him to run very fast and also travel through time by running fast enough to break through the barriers of time. He uses this to travel back in time and save his mother from being murdered, but in doing so changes the future significantly. Because his mother is now alive the Flash’s personality is different, and because of this he never becomes the Flash. As the Flash is a superhero who saves a lot of lives this change has a big effect on the future; war consumes this new timeline, and the Earth is on the brink of being destroyed by it. The Flash’s only choice is to run back in time again and kill his mother, to prevent this timeline from occurring.
The Flashpoint Paradox does a good job of illustrating both the standard paradox theory (changing things in the Past alters the Future) and the Butterfly Effect (as the Flash’s actions have humongous consequences on the Future).
Having examined a few paradox theories now, I can conclude that they are all very confusing. However they are also very interesting, and very cool base concepts for a videogame.
For example, a game could use the Butterfly Effect. The player could be sent into the Past in the game and interacting with certain objects could trigger a time distortion or changes to the game, so that when the player returns to the Present things are not as they left them.
Another example of usage in a videogame could be that players are in charge of fixing Paradoxs, so wormholes could open up at certain stages leading to different timezones or something along those lines. Perhaps players can travel to wherever they please, using a device of some sort.
From The Flashpoint Paradox, the plotline of a good person having to make a very difficult and soul destroying choice to let their mother die is a very intriguing concept (without trying to sound mean) and could also be an interesting idea to incorporate into a game.
From this research I have gathered a good amount of ideas and concepts, which I will bring forward in my journey towards a game concept.