“Clementine will remember that.” Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead notifies players early in the game with this message. What does it mean though? That something will be remembered by Clementine. What is it that refers to? I may point at something and cry out: that. What is it? That. That thing over there I’m pointing at. What about it? It is. As in to say that thing you’re pointing at exists or to say it equals that? It can mean both, either or neither, since to say it is that, one can also mean it is like that. Likeness in some sense and senses to another thing. I don’t even have to point at that. I refer to it, then clarify with that: that is to say this is what I tried to say.
There’s a question mark in front of the notification. Clementine will remember that? That? She will really remember that! That? Yes or no. Not that, but that. It is that. Is it that? It is that? “? Clementine will remember that.” The question sign is located in front of the sentence over a dark background. “! Use right stick to look around and find a way out of the car.” An exclamation mark introduces a sentence when it is an instruction about controls. In this instance, the whole sentence has a dark background which makes the white text more readable. Is it to contrast it with the implied uncertainty of the question mark?
This ambiguity is palpable in articles that allude to that sentence about remembering. Matthew Byrd calls it a representation of a false promise at Den of Geek, while Adrian Froschauer likens it to an illusion at The Ontological Geek. In a DiGRA ’18 paper about videogame design conventions, the authors describe the early message as a “notification […] informing the player that her actions will have consequences much later on.” What actions?
What does Clementine’s act of remembering refer to? That. A similar notification pops up for the first time that says: “He picked up on that.” This comes after I pick a response that rejects a character’s prodding. He noticed my notification about which I was notified. These notifications characterize people, refer to responses and highlight player choice. “Clementine will remember that.” The character will remember that even though she cannot know that herself; the player should remember that because it’ll come up later; choosing should be remembered for itself and its relation to videogame traditions. It’s not about remembering or memory but remembering that. Remember that? Make sure you remember that. What? What it is and isn’t, what may or may not come, what’s real and unreal, and so on: that is to say all of that at once.