Miyamoto comes from an older school of game design, from a time when we didn’t know as much as we do now — and so we didn’t know what was impossible. We also had little history, so it was up to bards like Miyamoto to create one for us.
With a handful of details, a rough outline, and his whims, Miyamoto spins tales for his audience. With every telling and every audience, his stories go down a slightly different path. No one performance is more accurate than any other; the truth is in the telling. Save the odd sequel, every Zelda game is a new beginning, with a new, yet always familiar, Link and a new Zelda. It’s getting so there are nearly as many interpretations as of Journey to the West or the legend of King Arthur. And for the same reasons.
Legends like these are ancient; they’re from a world before our linear sense of time and our concrete idea of history. Back then, the world moved in cycles. The seasons came and went; life flourished and waned — and then it began again, a little different, mostly familiar. Reality is in the moment and in that faith in the cycle.
The way that videogames age, this cycle has turned into a death spiral. Every five years there’s a new generation of players, with its own collective assumptions and its own built-in innocence to history. For each new wave of gamers, the story must be adapted and retold again.
The problem is this modern concept of progress. Whereas only a few generations ago one year was much the same as the next, technology has now placed us on a non-stop rocket train to anywhere-but-here. So our perception is warped from the speed, and so we are blinded to the cycles that used to define our reality.
Our rhythms have been broken, replaced with the dull whine of progress. The future is our salvation, while the present is a blur and the past is our collective shame. We live in a society that has invented history as a straw man for our pursuit of an illusory perfection.
Wind Waker is a game caught in an unfortunate dilema between these two world models.