In Alien: Isolation, the player saves the game by interacting with an emergency telephone booth. The game save interaction consists of Amanda Ripley, the player character, inserting a key card into a slot on the telephone. The player will then be prompted to save the game. Ripley does not use the telephone to call someone.

emergency telephone boothemergency telephone booth

In-universe, what is Amanda Ripley trying to accomplish by inserting a key card into an emergency telephone? I'm not sure why she logs in with her key card regularly (and what information is she logging in). Is this an attempt to communicate with someone (and if so, who)?

Is there a reason for what exactly Ripley is doing, or is the entire emergency telephone booth interaction just to allow the player to save the game (exemplifying the Gameplay and Story Segregation trope)?

  • 1
    I like your game play and storey segregation conjecture, and would add a pinch of skeuomorphism.
    – Lexible
    Jan 8, 2023 at 18:17
  • Looks like The Matrix on Aliens universe. Jan 8, 2023 at 18:26
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    IIRC, at the beginning of Aliens Ripley uses something like that to videophone the corporate minion who enrols her into the expedition. So I would bet that they just copied that in order to mimic the aesthetic of the films.
    – SJuan76
    Jan 8, 2023 at 20:32
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    Conjecturing here - I suspect that the key card is intended to be a storage device recording body-cam footage, which Ripley then stores into the console at various points in the mission. If she dies after the last filed footage, that progress is of course lost.
    – Boots
    Jan 9, 2023 at 8:27

1 Answer 1


The answer is actually written in the instructions on the device itself: to log your details with the mainframe. The keycard is a login/authentication dongle. Removing it before authentication is complete invalidates your login.

The handset for communication is a secondary function.


I know it sounds facetious, but you are Ripley. In-universe, your motivation is to log your progress should you choose to. Neither Ripley nor the player are compelled to use these stations (its been a while since I played it, but there may be one or two times, such as for tutorial reasons).

Given that everything is "Corpo-oriented" we can guess that the log might be used for resource and job tracking.

Obviously because we know it saves game state, we wind up making Ripley look a little obsessive about record keeping.

  • It even tells you to log in when its very first use is introduced.
    – TARS
    Jan 11, 2023 at 18:02
  • I blame my low-resolution laptop screen for my not seeing the instructions. That answers the "what," but not the "why." I still don’t understand why she logs in her details regularly (and what exactly are the "details"). Is this an attempt to communicate with someone (and if so, who)? Jan 12, 2023 at 5:29

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