I was browsing a Facebook group the other day when I came across a beautiful picture. Someone was avidly playing through Zelda: Breath of the Wild and they’d concocted their own physical journal of their progress. They’d drawn symbols to represent everything, even right down to tick boxes ready for them to, presumably smugly, tick achievements off. It was a work of art and something I doubt I’d ever have the patience or creative ability to do.
I thought about it for a while though, then saw someone’s Animal Crossing themed journalling on Twitter a few days later, and realised I actually already have done similar in the past. Sort of. See, back when Final Fantasy VIII was first launched, I was ridiculously excited. A huge fan of Final Fantasy VII (which changed my life in many ways, as cliché as it sounds), I wanted to extract every single tiny morsel from Final Fantasy VIII, so I got a tatty old notebook and started writing down my every gaming session. It was a diary of my exploits, tracing every single tiny step and feeling. I’d write about how exciting it was to see Squall fall for Rinoa, write about the latest boss battle and how much of a challenge it was, even simply write about the satisfaction of a useful Draw point.
It would be hideously boring for anyone else to read through, I’m sure, but it captured a moment in time for me that nothing else could do in the same way. Also, it’s not like the game had any way of tracking your progress in a clear and concise manner. Games were often terrible for proper guidance back then. Step away from RPGs for any length of time and you’d be entirely reliant on memory for knowing what you were meant to be doing.