The Beginner's Guide Spoiler Section

The Beginner's Guide Spoiler Section With Shawn and Karla Andrich, Julian Murdoch, Allen Cook and Erik Hanson

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Join the GWJ crew as they share their unique takes on The Beginner's Guide. The game itself is about an hour long and well worth your time!

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Rooftop - Dualryan - https://dualryan.bandcamp.com/album/... - Intro

Turn Back - Dualryan - https://dualryan.bandcamp.com/album/... - Outtro

Comments

I love this community, and i loved this panel. Thank you so much for doing this one. Well beyond most other games (or digital environmental theater experiences), this is one that really benefits from hearing a variety of perspectives on it. I look forward to hearing even more as the community weighs in.

A few of my thoughts:

I had difficulty ignoring that this was the followup to The Stanley Parable. Early on, the comment about

Spoiler:

the folder full of "playable games" struck me as a nice little middle finger to everybody who complained that TSP didn't have an ending, that there was no real way to win.

On the house -

Spoiler:

Despite having my own experience both first and second hand with depression, i honestly didn't connect the experience in the house with those types of thought patterns. I mostly found it to be kind of an oasis. It was a warm, inviting location, softly furnished (especially compared to the ikea prison), well lit, with somebody to talk to, some clearly defined tasks to keep you busy, and some amazingly soothing music. I honestly just spent some extra time there staring out the window or trying to read the spines of the books on the shelf while listening to the music loop an extra time or two. I thought it was lovely.

On the theater -

Spoiler:

One point i will quibble with the panel about is that the escape upstage at the end of the theater section is withdrawing from life. Being on stage is all about artifice. There's seldom any "real life" about it. I can't say i took it any particular way, about Coda retreating from a false impression he was putting out there or anything, but stages to me are always about how you present, not about who you are. Consider the perspective from the stage compared to the perspective in the lecture hall.

On Julian's last point - a bit after i finished it i went looking for some perspectives, and found both this thorough article from Laura Hudson which is very much a review from a critic's perspective, and this review from Ars Technica which is very much from a gamer's perspective. That these were among the first two links i found really proves his point.

I listened to this about five minutes before breaking down and downloading it myself. I will comment again when I a) play TBG and b) listen to the rest. Curse you for making me spend $8 on what could be the most interesting game this year!

Upon hearing their glowing recommendation at the start of the podcast I paused and bought the game and played it. At $8 I don't think it was a good buy. I had a much better time listening to the podcast, although I wouldn't have had context while listening, still would not recommend.

Great episode though!

I disagree. The game is very artsy and a bit up-its-own-ass. But I think this game was amazing.

Great discussion. Everyone's thoughts, especially rabbit's, helped crystallize the sort of unformed reaction I had to the game after I beat it I finished it.

Dryden wrote:

On the theater -

Yeah, I can see that.

About the cave, with the Chat Bubbles. Did it bother anyone else to see bubbles off in the distance, in areas that you couldn't reach?

The joke about jumping over the chasm, and then finding out you can't actually get there, drove me nuts.

Alz wrote:

About the cave, with the Chat Bubbles. Did it bother anyone else to see bubbles off in the distance, in areas that you couldn't reach?

The joke about jumping over the chasm, and then finding out you can't actually get there, drove me nuts.

I think I tried to jump/fall off every ledge in the Beginner's Guide.

I alluded to this in a spoiler marked comment over on the main thread to the game before listening to this podcast, but yeah, my experience of the game was very much in line with what Certis described.

Regarding the word "coda":

Spoiler:

Aside from the literary and musical meaning of the word, it's also the abbreviation for Codependents Anonymous.

UpToIsomorphism wrote:

I disagree. The game is very artsy and a bit up-its-own-ass. But I think this game was amazing.

100% agreed. It was beautiful, and poignant, and heartbreaking. And for me, it was perfectly constructed to say the things it had to say to me.

I'm a little bit gobsmacked that it took until the end of the podcast for someone to mention the possibility that:

Spoiler:

Davey and Coda were the same person. That was my reading from the very get-go.

Coda is Davey's creative side. Coda is The Machine inside Davey that makes the games that Davey so loves and needs.

In that light, I saw the game as a window into Davey's depression, which revolves around his constant worry that his creative essence will dry up. It's right there in the name, coda: the concluding passage of a movement. The game is a manifestation of the ongoing worry that Coda (i.e. Davey's) most recent game is going to be his last game. This terrifies Davey, who defines himself through the games that he makes. Without Coda, without his games, what is left for Davey to be?

Jonman wrote:

I'm a little bit gobsmacked that it took until the end of the podcast for someone to mention the possibility that:

Spoiler:

Davey and Coda were the same person. That was my reading from the very get-go.

Coda is Davey's creative side. Coda is The Machine inside Davey that makes the games that Davey so loves and needs.

In that light, I saw the game as a window into Davey's depression, which revolves around his constant worry that his creative essence will dry up. It's right there in the name, coda: the concluding passage of a movement. The game is a manifestation of the ongoing worry that Coda (i.e. Davey's) most recent game is going to be his last game. This terrifies Davey, who defines himself through the games that he makes. Without Coda, without his games, what is left for Davey to be?

Yeah, the really amazing thing is that work completely supports two (or three, or four) substantively different yet equally impactful interpretations, all of which get at some really though provoking, emotionally resonant sh*t.

I really hope he doesn't ever talk about what he meant the game to be about -- it's too good left open for each player to find for themselves.

The obvious question to me is:

Spoiler:

Has anyone hacked the game yet to see what else is there to be revealed? Considering Davey spends much of the game explaining that this was necessary to "get" Coda's work, especially at the end, this seem like an obvioius next step.

Yew wrote:

The obvious question to me is:

Spoiler:

Has anyone hacked the game yet to see what else is there to be revealed? Considering Davey spends much of the game explaining that this was necessary to "get" Coda's work, especially at the end, this seem like an obvioius next step.

There's even

Spoiler:

Some batch files in the sound folder called letsdothis and letsdothisotherunrelatedthing which don't appear to do anything, but I don't know nearly enough about computers to work out what to do with them

So after hearing all the hype about The Beginner's Guide I downloaded it. I sat down on Tuesday, turned off my phone, and dedicated over an hour to playing through it uninterrupted. I felt underwhelmed at the end. So on Wednesday I fired up the Spoiler Section Podcast and listened to everyone's opinion. I am continually surprised at how people describe their reactions to this game. Let me say that I have been emotionally affected by games in the past. When I finished Journey I just sat and stared at the title screen for quite awhile before I turned it off and laid down for awhile. But this, totally different. I can see how people can find metaphors for depression, OCD, loneliness, or various other issues in this game. Maybe I don't feel as strongly about this game as others because I haven't experienced any of these issues, but my feeling is that the game was trying to hint at these issues while cramming them down my throat at the same time. It is artsy, and very "up it's own ass" as others have put it. A couple of my thoughts:

1. It is definitely not a game, it is digital environmental theater as it has been coined. I'm still not sure how I feel about this as a genre. I play games to have fun, and to escape the mundane or crappy bits of reality. The Beginner's Guide was neither fun nor an escape. Maybe this just isn't a genre for me as I didn't enjoy this or Gone Home which many people also rave about.

2. (SPOILERS - Sorry I don't know how to do that properly)

Spoiler:

I can't believe nobody on the podcast talked anything about the dark path levels with the signs saying "You are now entering" and "you are now leaving" or something like that. Nobody had any thoughts on those levels or the separation between them?

Anyway, I requested a refund for The Beginner's Guide today. I can't say that they falsely advertised anything to me, because they don't really say what the game is about going in. But ultimately I didn't enjoy it, and don't feel that it was an experience worth $8. I know many will disagree with me, and that's okay. I'm sure I felt much more strongly about Journey than many other people did. That's what makes games great, and the most interesting thing about the Beginner's Guide to me, is how they can have such a different impact on us as gamers and people.

Thanks to all all of you in this discussion and a special thanks to everyone on the normal CC who recommended it. I originally had no interest in this because I didn't enjoy playing The Stanley Parable (although I had a very strong reaction to it!) but you all sold it well enough on the non-spoiler section to make me fork over a few bucks and play it last night. The game is something I'm still processing and will probably be coming to grips with for a while yet. The spoiler section gave me a lot to think about and only helped add to how much I admire this game. It's easily one of my most memorable gaming experiences.

Spoiler:

One thing that stuck out for me that didn't come up was comparisons to other walking simulators. Personally, I think it achieves what Dear Esther seemed to be attempting and failing at. They both end with you simply floating off above the land once you've reached some destination. But with Dear Esther the context is so minimal where The Beginner's Guide gives you so much to carry with you as you float away. It makes me feel like Dear Esther was too timid compared to just how bold and brave The Beginner's Guide is.

So quick question... is this a game that you buy for someone who may be struggling for depression, or a game that you buy for that person's friends? (... asking for a friend).

Tyops wrote:

So quick question... is this a game that you buy for someone who may be struggling for depression, or a game that you buy for that person's friends? (... asking for a friend).

Neither. A video game is not a substitute for actual help is at least one clear theme of TBG.

Gravey wrote:
Tyops wrote:

So quick question... is this a game that you buy for someone who may be struggling for depression, or a game that you buy for that person's friends? (... asking for a friend).

Neither. A video game is not a substitute for actual help is at least one clear theme of TBG.

Of course, assuming other appropriate avenues for health are being productively followed. I'm more thinking about this as idle curiosity than anything else, wondering if there's value in there as a tool for communication.

Tyops wrote:
Gravey wrote:
Tyops wrote:

So quick question... is this a game that you buy for someone who may be struggling for depression, or a game that you buy for that person's friends? (... asking for a friend).

Neither. A video game is not a substitute for actual help is at least one clear theme of TBG.

Of course, assuming other appropriate avenues for health are being productively followed. I'm more thinking about this as idle curiosity than anything else, wondering if there's value in there as a tool for communication.

I don't know, I feel like the TBG tells a very particular, personal story, namely Wreden's struggle after making The Stanley Parable. Depression Quest (from what I've read about it) seems like it be more suited to what you're asking about.

It's pretty clear from the many discussions around TBG that it certainly resonates more clearly with those who have first or second-hand experience of depression.

Nevermind.