Thoughts on The Beginner's Guide
So, I had a lot of thoughts and feelings after finishing The Beginner's Guide. I say it in the audio and I'll say it again here, don't listen to this unless you've played the game. It's an hour and a half long and $10 (On sale until Oct. 8th for $8) and more than worth your time and money. If you have zero intention of getting it or have already played, then I guess click that play button if you want.
Still, if you haven't played the game I would suggest not reading this until you have.
So, after taking a couple days to decompress and think on what I played I have a few more thoughts that weren't covered in the audio up top and can now talk about the game a bit better without the flood of emotions directly after I played it.
We don't know and probably won't for quite a long time, if this is truly something that transpired between two people or if it was just a dramatic narrative that Davey created; and if it was based on events that actually happened how much of it was dramatized.
Taking the time to thinking on it, which is all I've really done for the last two days, has lead me to some other conclusions on the game.
1. Davey (for the sake of this I'm going to call the narrator in the game Davey and the creator of the game David from this point on) is a very broken individual. His obsessive need for validation, praise and to have some sort of ownership over something that wasn't his own lead him to becoming an incredibly toxic individual to Coda.
2. His need to find a deeper meaning to something that was only based on his critique and views on the work lead him to believe things about a person that he did not know, assuming that Coda was depressed, frustrated with his work and unhappy.
3. Simply by writing this I am doing the same exact thing that Davey did to Coda, in a way. Over-analyzing someone else's work and adding my own meanings to it.
4. If Coda truly did not wish for those games to be played by anyone other than who he shared them with then, by creating and selling The Beginner's Guide, David has done the one thing that Davey seeks forgiveness from Coda for. Coda stopped speaking to him and sharing his work because of the broken consent and anger over Davey modifying his games before showing them to people. Now David profits from his attempt to apologize for acting without Coda's consent, by doing the same thing he's trying to apologize for.
5. If the last point is true then we, as people who have bought and played these games and recommended that others do the same, are somewhat complicit with what David has done and that makes me incredibly uncomfortable.
Overall, whether the game is a work of fiction, dramatized reality or (unlikely) a 1 to 1 description of evens and David's own mental state during this timespan, I think it is one of the most powerful pieces of art I've experienced in a very long time.
I identified with how Davey portrays Coda feeling throughout the game. The isolation, depression, anxiety and frustration. The notes level particularly got me, thinking of it as twitter/tumblr for myself. But, as the narrative changed and we're shown that these are projections of Davey's mental state onto Coda's games. As we're shown that Coda really just liked making prison games, and that he felt drained and treated like a machine by Davey, that he was frustrated and angry with Davey for modifying and sharing his games without his consent, that he felt like Davey had taken away what he enjoyed most...I realized that I was Davey to a few friends I've worked with and that hit me harder than any other point in the game.
The obsessive need for validation and the sense of pleasure from showing someone else something they enjoy is something I see in myself clearly, and seeing Davey as broken as he is was something that got to me on a somewhat primal level. I was terrified at the end of it; not because of anything in the game, but because of the realizations it made me have of myself.
The need to find fulfillment through work, and how that becomes the only way to find fulfillment, eventually spiraling into an unbreakable cycle is something that I've begun to fall into and I'm not sure if I even want to break out of. It's terrifying to look at what you, at one point, enjoyed only to realize that it's become something you must do to feel whole, to feel human.
This game, real or fake, hits on so many topics and emotions that no other piece of media I've experienced has before. So, yeah, if you've played it I guess I don't really need to tell you to, huh?