'Goddammit, Josh': A reflection on the loss of Grandma's Ratchet & Clank: Tools of Destruction save files
Most instances within this classification focus on distraction, for instance- a roommate yelling on the telephone in the chair across the room; a parent of a younger gamer scolding them for some infraction; a child of a gamer attempting to gain attention, or the common "HA, MOTHERFUCKER- YOU CAN'T SEE THE TELEVISION!" gag performed daily by persons waving their arms in front of the eyes of Guitar Hero players world-wide.
The file deletion phenomenon, however, is unique in that the damage can be easily and effectively measured with precision; the time one had invested advancing within a single-player game up to the moment of deletion is lost forever.
In our house this phenomenon is called the "Goddammit, Josh."
Our house hosted Thanksgiving again this year. When I woke up and came upstairs, I found that my brother had already arrived. He was sitting in Grandma's chair in the gameroom playing something on the PS3.
"Josh, what are you doing?"
-"I'm playing Ratchet & Clank!"
"Does Grandma know?"
"Who are you signed in as?"
-"I'm playing on Grandma's profile."
"JESUS GOD, DON'T DO THAT DUDE!"
-"No, it's cool, I started a new save, I'm not messing with anything...."
"Create your own profile if you have to, but don't play on hers."
-"I'm not, I'm just on a new save! It's fine!
There's a few very good reasons we don't play on Grandma's profile. It's all networked so when people see Grandma's gamertag or PSN ID pop up and say "OGHC is online," it better ass be Grandma holding the controller. She has friends online who message her and talk sometimes and the last thing she needs is for one of the kid's friends to pop on her account and start mouthing off to people who then think it's her. It hasn't ever happened, but it's possible. Also, her achievement points are all fairly earned on XBL. She's not overly noble about it or anything, but if one were to casually compare gamerscores with Grandma one day and find that she had just obtained the "Right Hand of God" achievement on Guitar Hero III, they might think that she's capable of that kind of thing, then rumors start, things are posted on certain forums, charges of fraud are made and we get more hate-mail than Charles Guiteau on President's Day. She likes her settings a certain way. She likes subtitles to be the default. She likes her controller sensitivity turned just right. She doesn't like people fucking around with that.
All good enough reasons, but none more important than the fact that GAMES AUTOSAVE NOW.
Grandma hadn't had much time to play Ratchet & Clank this week because of all the cooking and baking in preparation for Thanksgiving. She was cooking pumpkin pies from scratch, which involves torturing a lot of rather tiny pumpkins. She had stuffing to make, which for her takes forever because she does things just her way. All of her save files were dated for Monday, the 19th. That's how busy she was. It wasn't until yesterday evening when she finally sat down with a full glass of Diet Coke and a few printed pages from GameFAQs to guide her towards the location of the last Gold Bolts when she discovered that every save in her profile was dated for Thanksgiving morning.
There exists a hierarchy of frustration for the Goddammit Josh phenomenon.
Level 1: 5% or less of the game complete at time of deletion.
Expected result upon discovery: "Man, now I have to go through all the opening cut-scenes and tutorials again... Goddammit.... This cut-scene really is cool though, look at this..."
Level 2: 6-15% of the game complete at time of deletion.
Expected result upon discovery: "Aw, this is BULLSHIT. I had JUST GOT the one weapon and things were getting good. God DAMMIT!"
Level 3: 16-40% of game completed OR the save immediately after the defeat of a particularly difficult boss.
Expected result upon discovery: "WHAT THE FUCK?! Aw.. you have to be kidding- aww.... no fucking way, no FUCKING way he deleted that. God DAMMIT, JOSH..... He's going to create his OWN goddamn profile if he wants to play, I can't believe he did that."
Level 4: 41-96% of game completed at time of deletion.
Expected result upon discovery: "You. Are. SHITTING ME?! Look at this shit. It's gone! Completely gone. You know how many hours I put into this?! How CLOSE I was?! That was the whole game!! I have to start ALL OVER. FROM THE BEGINNING. Look... Look at this shit... ALL the way back, and I do mean ALL THE WAY. That's it. He's not touching anything in here. NOTHING. How fucking CARELESS do you have to be?! GOD.. DAMMIT!!! Jesus... so many hours in- THIS FAR IN and I have to do it all over again. I don't even REMEMBER where I found half this shit. All the BOOTS. All the WEAPONS. All the ARENAS. I have to do that robot thing again, all that swinging/timing shit.... I'll fucking......YiiiieeeeeEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!
Level 5: 97-99% of game completed at time of deletion, i.e., just before final boss battle / final item collection
Expected result upon discovery.....
This WAS a Level 5 Goddammit Josh.
I had never seen one before. Not a Level 5. I remember witnessing a Level 4 once, a long time ago. If I remember correctly it was an accidental Memory Card format on her PSOne, right around the time she was finishing up FFVIII. I remember her being so hurt, so frustrated, that I honestly didn't think she would even start the game over.
You think you can prepare yourself for a Level 5, but you can't. Not to go through one yourself, and not even to watch someone else make the discovery on their own game.
So, although I'm sure most of you can imagine it; most of us have gone through it at some point, I'll give you a recent game example to provide a little emotional context:
Imagine you have been spending the past week or so, a little bit at a time after work, trying to get that "Little Rocket Man" achievement in Half Life 2: Episode 2. You have been schlepping around a tiny little garden gnome on what would be your second playthrough of the game. Every time you face an enemy, you put the gnome somewhere you can find it, change weapons, attack the living shit out of whatever is attacking you, then go back, pick up the gnome, and trudge on. It's not the most difficult task, perhaps, but it's certainly tedious, and worth arguably more than that 30 points that's coming to you once you reach White Forest Base. You've saved responsibly. Every time you get past some tricky part, you save. You just have a little more ways to go; that was your last save. You're SOOO close.
So you come home from work, pour yourself a drink, fire up your 360 in anticipation of completing this thing when suddenly YOUR FUCKING HARDDRIVE CATCHES FIRE--SOME CAPACITOR INSIDE THE 360 EXPLODES SENDING YOUR CONSOLE FLYING THROUGH YOUR FRONT WINDOW AS THE GLASS SHARDS FROM YOUR AV RACK RIP LIKE SHRAPNEL INTO YOUR 60" SAMSUNG LCD HDTV SCREEN AND CUTTING INTO YOUR CHILDREN'S SKIN AS THEY RUN IN CIRCLES, SCREAMING IN PAIN, BLOOD STREAMING FROM THEIR EYEBALLS.
It's a lot like that.
".......Josh, if you-... .....I swear to god if he deleted my-...... IF HE FUCKING DELETED...... oh god! It's gone!"
"These aren't my saves- THESE AREN'T MY SAVES! I didn't... look..... these are all at the beginning..... I just... two more... gold bolts..... where are the saves?"
-"Are you signed into your profile?"
"Yes! OGHC! He didn't... oh jesus.... EVERY. FUCKING. FILE........They're just....gone......everything is..........Goddammit, Josh..."
And then she was quiet for a real long time just staring at the save list. I didn't expect that. Strange things occur during a Level 5. She was probably thinking. She was thinking about every difficult part of that game she would now have to repeat. She was thinking about how when she replayed it all of the plot up until the final boss would be something she already knew, how there was nothing more to discover or new weapons with which to play. She was thinking about what she could have done differently Thursday morning; maybe had been more assertive or just paid better attention to what Josh was doing when he walked into her game room to try some stuff.
Or maybe she was just plotting different ways to kill my brother. Maybe she was considering places to dump the body and how to clean up the mess from the hardwood floors. Maybe she was thinking about how to properly respond to the flurry of articles that would no doubt be written in vindication of those who said that gamers are a violent people, and maybe she thought her good buddy and best friend in the whole wide world Jack Thompson would offer his legal services in the murder trial that would be forever known as the "Ratchet & Clank Killing."
But I doubt it.
She was just pissed-off and hurt.
And sometimes when you're pissed, there's nothing to say.
But we gamers are a hardy people. She'll start a new save on that beautiful game and she might even catch some glimpse of something to which she hadn't quite paid attention before the same way we find new hints of the identity of Kaiser Soze every time we watch Finding Nemo. It was obviously an accident but... god DAMMIT, Josh...
Anyway: One way I think you can help Grandma is by sharing your own Goddammit Josh stories. This phenomenon is more common than any of us really think. It might help her to ease back into R&C.