Lost Again

Refractive Nostalgia and Video Games

  • Richy Srirachanikorn Concordia University


In tackling chronophobia, which Svetlana Boym (2001) defines as the anxiety of deciding how to use our time meaningfully as it depletes, video games become purposeful spaces where we can revisit the things we have lost, or what we anticipate will be lost with time. As such, video games are ideal tools that help us retreat from chronophobia. However, following Boym, I argue that this “does not help us to deal with the future” (2001, p. 351). To revisit or experience what is already “lost” with time through games, players must lose more time and resources in the present to pursue it. This circular use of nostalgia may leave players with chronophobia and in a state of feeling “lost again.” This paper presents three case studies where nostalgic players have “found” something generative for their present and future, rather than feeling “lost again.” This original solution to chronophobia combines Boym’s work, game studies, and nostalgia research, amounting to my contribution of what I call “refractive nostalgia.”

May 6, 2024