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TikTok won’t stop Zelda-splaining

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First of all, they were a perfect couple.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom appeared on my Nintendo Switch on May 12th, and in a flash, the game filled my TikTok feed. I couldn’t escape Hyrule – and I loved it. I felt part of a community.

When I solved a complex problem by building a really, really long bridge, I was tickled to see how many other people had the exact same idea. Amateur engineers cobbled together complex devices and war machines that I had no aspirations to build, but I was happy to watch. And Speed ​​Runner did what speed runners do best: He broke the game.

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Link, a small figure in the foreground, runs across a vast open green field toward mountains in the distance in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

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Image: Nintendo EPD / Nintendo

Ever so slowly, the tenure of my feed changed. It was still Zelda, but now, videos wanted to help me out. At first, I received suggestions: “Need money? Try imitating Diamonds! Then came the demands: “You Near to stop what you’re doing tears of the kingdom and get the best shield in the game Now,

Unlimited Money? best items? How could I resist! Warned that a patch would wipe out the opportunity to cheat diamonds, I spent a few hours in the first week of the game jumping off a ladder, messing with my inventory, and dropping precious stones on the ground to do a little alchemy. Over and over and over. In return, I didn’t have any fun and got a bunch of gems it turns out I didn’t really need. I’ve also got a shield that’s so powerful, I’m scared to use it.

I must not have been alone, because TikTok immediately offered solutions to the problems it had created, showing me where to buy expensive clothes, and how, with a little patience, a certain enemy could repair my weapons. Can do. For a day or so, I continued to follow these tips, but it took away my happiness. play tears of the kingdom turned into work. TikTok provided assignments and I followed them, zipping around the map like a bike courier rather than a free-wheeling explorer. My TikTok feed had become a to-do list.

Gutenbach Shrine on The Great Sky Island in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Play Gamez

I deleted the app for a week or so, and I bounced too tears of the kingdom, Both started freaking me out, and I have a rule that, if a game or social media platform gets me down, it has to go. Whether it’s my favorite app or the best game I’ve played in years.

Later, when I tried reinstalling TikTok, my Zelda-fueled feed had degenerated into something even worse. A video told me that I needed to “build a bone” that would deal 800 damage. The very next video scolded me for using that lousy 800-damage bone build when I could have been using a different bone build that deals 2,000 damage.

A Question: What is bone formation?

How do I describe this particular concern? It’s not quite FOMO, but it feeds my most unhealthy gaming habits. In theory, it’s like a game guide, but I appreciate the instructions in guides I look for. But this… What is this?

My colleague Mike Mahardy describes me as “Zelda-splaining,” and I think that’s apt. Historically, video game guides have been used for reference. When you play a game and hit a frustrating obstacle, you open a guide or search online and get the answer. Then you go ahead on your own.

Link on the Homemade Raft in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Play Gamez

But this strain of short-form video content does the opposite: It’s the unadulterated guide. And because creators need to stand out on TikTok, they promise something provocative or outlandish. “The best weapon.” “The easiest cheat.” “The fastest way to finish a game you’ve been meaning to savor for months or years.”

The end result is a material chimera, where good intentions meet peer pressure: You must, because you don’t want to miss out on the best, right?

To be extremely clear, there is no malicious intent behind these videos or any wrongdoing on the part of their creators. This situation is just an unintended side effect of how the content people create on TikTok is shaped by the method of distribution. Or, to put it another way: “The medium is the message.”

When tears of the kingdom At launch, TikTok creators didn’t know what type of content would get the most views, so the videos seemed as varied and enjoyable as my gaming experience. But as TikTok’s public display of ideas revealed the “best” formats, some creators were inspired to make videos that appeared to perform best: The Unwanted Guide.

And so my feed goes from “I built a long bridge because sports are hard” to “This bone build will make you a god.” And it did largely because I couldn’t resist. The TikTok algorithm found my weakness and took advantage of it. I have no doubt that many – if not most – TikTok creators are still producing Zelda stuff that I’d love to see. That thousands of chill Zelda videos wait in the search area. But the fate of my feed is sealed.

Link skydive after falling off a floating island in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Play Gamez

I am playing tears of the kingdom Again, and I just leave the Zelda stuff on TikTok. Guide videos are good — like, Really Entertaining! — but I swipe them in a frenzy. I know that they are bad for me and my particular neurosis. I remind myself that the designers at Nintendo made tears of the kingdom To enjoy, first and foremost, in yourself. And that when I consume immersive media, it shouldn’t feel like peer pressure. I get most of my Zelda content from written stories or YouTube videos, where I have more control over what I watch. And when I see some incredible new thing made by a stranger, I ask myself, “Do I need to do this? Will this make my experience better? Or is there something I can enjoy watching?”

I’ve come to think of Zelda TikTok like I do pro sports: The experts here pull off amazing feats, and though they want to offer help, their guidance isn’t needed. I’ll never be like them, and that’s okay. I’ll just be Link, with a modest two dungeons under my belt and reliance on very, very long bridges.

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