How do you feel about “The Beginner’s Guide”? I know you think it’s pretentious bullshit, but could you elaborate?
I’m late to the party on answering this and interest has largely fallen off for “The Beginner’s Guide”, don’t really care.
Okay, so, we’ll need some axioms to really make this work.
1. Coda doesn’t exist, every spoken line in TBG is fictitious, all the levels made for TBG were designed as part of the fiction by Davey Wreden.
2. Within the fiction, the narrator, Davey, is unreliable on all of his points about the meaning of Coda’s games, but is reliable about the timeline of events relating to Coda’s discussion with him.
3. Pretentious means attempting to impress you by pretending something has a greater significance/talent/culture/meaning than it actually does.
4. The analysis of the design of the levels (that they are all very advanced things to do in the source engine, like one would do to show off) in this link is true http://www.blog.radiator.debacle.us/2015/10/the-beginners-guide-by-davey-wreden-et.html (though whether he’s the subject of the game as he suspects, I have no opinion)
Lets assume briefly that there is a Coda for sake of conversation. His work is pretentious, it affects a meaning through words, interactions, or symbols that is incomplete uninterpretable or pointless. Assuming Davey’s statement about Coda sending him a group of levels titled, “playable levels” is reliable within the fiction, Coda is massively caught up in his own stupid funk. It’s pointlessly stupid to make a ton of levels that have such deliberate roadblocks, whether you’re making them for yourself, for the sake of making them, or the consumption of others.
These are boring exercises predicated on some sort of meaning. They’re not someone making levels purely for practice. They’re set up with text internally that are contradictory or allude to a broader meaning, often prompting a text reply about that meaning. Davey’s interpretations of them are boundlessly pretentious, but they leave no possible interpretation except pretentious ones.
I can admit that it’s a fantasy of mine to make a work that alludes to meaning to bait out people who take heavy stock in that kind of thing only to shatter their dreams by pointing out that their interpretations are bullshit, and that is seemingly the message of this, however I’d go further to argue that this non-game is built on pretentious bullshit, because it refers to all of these things as games in the first place, because it’s filled with nonsensical bullshit that it seemingly challenges you to interpret against Davey’s interpretations. It’s not trying to be a game. It’s not trying to be a portfolio of work. It is not trying to be honest about what it is. It’s trying to affect a greater message when it’s seriously just a bunch of levels we walk through and barely do anything.
As an artistic product I find the format it is delivered in lacking, because it is so easily supplanted by a youtube video of the same, when so much more of the experience is lost even in a game as simple as Phoenix Wright.
To add a little more on, I find it difficult to not evaluate a product as dripping in pretentious levels interpreted by an equally pretentious narrator as pretentious in of itself. Even if the final message and sendoff is somehow supposed to tell us that pretension, that trying too hard to find meaning in something, is a bad thing; it was still a massive experience generated by two extremely pretentious fictional personalities, in a format that is a waste of the medium, accomplishing nothing of any particular interest, that is actively painful on verge of retching to go through, with a message that undoes everything it previously said.
I mean, maybe pretentious is the wrong word to describe the overall work, but a waste of time certainly isn’t. A waste of hard drive space when you can stream it and not really miss out on any of the information inherent in the possibility space of this work.
Why? Why give this thing attention? What does it do to deserve this?
At minimum, if you can somehow claim that the message of “don’t interpret unclear things too deeply” is a worthwhile thing to hear; the game’s still not for me, because it’s not a message I need to hear. It’s a message for someone who is already a wretch, like the designer/writer of the Stanley Parable. That was a gross work.