very rarely write about my experience with games but have been unable to get
The Beginner’s Guide out of my head. Recently I have found it helpful to write
down things which I can’t seem to let go of and leave them on the page rather
than dwelling on my mind.
The Beginner’s Guide
is made by Davey Wreden best known for the Stanley Parable and I see a lot of
similarities between the 2 games. Although I left the Beginner’s Guide feeling
almost the exact opposite way I did when I was done with the Stanley Parable.
Both games are about
being trapped In the Parable every choice you make will inevitably put you back
in the office like prison with even death not being an option for escape. As
bleak as that sounds I smiled the entire time I played the game the longer the
narrator spoke for the happier I felt and when the game messed with me I found
it a joy. The guide was almost the exact opposite experience.
In the guide you are
taken on a curated tour of a developer named Coda’s work. Starting with their
first Counter Strike Mod and then through to simple small levels which get
gradually longer and deeper.
The further I went down into the Beginner’s Guide the more I felt a sense of
dread. If I believed the Narrator then I was slowly watching someone become
isolated from society by building digital prisons and trapping himself in his
work. A series of work that was made for the creator alone.
During the course of
the tour the Narrator makes small changes to Coda’s work to allow you to see
areas hidden from the player or just difficult to reach. These changes from the
narrator’s perspective they were necessary to the experience and at first
seemed helpful to me as the player.
Then things start to
The further we into
Coda’s games the more the narration changes. At first our narrator is filled
with joy, so happy to be showing you this treasure trove of a one of their
favourite developers work. Gradually this changes from a celebration of work to
concern for a friends mental state and finally to guilt.
Through the narration
the deeper we go into the games the deeper we go into Coda’s mind and we are
given increasing cause for concern.
This is where I
almost stopped playing. Watching Coda become increasingly trapped in their own
work to the point that they make it the goal of a game to destroy everything
they built felt all too familiar to me. When that particular game ends with the
goal of destroying Coda I walked away from the game. I needed time to collect
myself and force myself to play through, as much as I felt the game dredge up
memories from my past I had to make it to the end. No matter how much it hurt.
expresses his deep concern for Coda and tries to help by sharing Coda’s games.
The belief being if Coda gets the recognition they deserve then maybe they will
feel better. At least this is what the Narrator believes to be true.
When we get to the
final level of the game everything changes we no longer go down deeper into
Coda’s private worlds we now climb up through a formidable tower, all hope has
left the narrator’s voice as he edits the game repeatedly to help you progress
fearing what is about to come. Each edit declared necessary, with it being near
impossible or sometimes completely impossible to progress without the narrators
Then we come to the part the Narrator has feared this is the first game that
isn’t for Coda. This game is for our Narrator. This game is the message to
leave Coda alone, to stop sharing and editing games that were not his to stop
projecting his own fears and narrative onto Coda’s work.
At this point the
narrator is no longer the helpful guide helping us through the games and
worried about a friend. He is a an unreliable narrator his motives have been
selfish, these games are being shown to us through his eyes to hopefully
correct his great mistake instead he is just making it again and he’s forced me
to make it as well.
Once the game was
finished I sat in silence for some time.
It took me some time
to come to terms with what I had experienced and what it dragged out of me.
It forced me to
remember a time in my life where I wasn’t healthy. A time when I wrote a lot
and the reason why I stopped writing.
Remembering it now
as I type is causing me to pause but I want to get this all out.
I have spells of
severe depression and an anxiety disorder which occasionally in the past worked
together to ruin my life.
The worst time for this was when I was 21 I didn’t know what was wrong with me
my condition was undiagnosed, my doctors treating symptoms instead of the cause.
As a result I became increasing isolated for 2 years with months where I
wouldn’t leave my flat.
In this time I wrote
a lot. I never shared it with anyone. I would write the same story 10 different
ways deleting everything I wasn’t happy with and showing no-one my work. I
wrote a full book that took months of my life and destroyed it in seconds. I
refused to share any of my work in a time when sharing anything with another
person would have been helpful. The Beginner’s Guide and its unreliable
narrator forced me to remember this period in my life and while it hurt I’m
glad it did.
I’m not that person
anymore my health issues no longer control me and by remembering how I was at
my worst I realise how far I have come.
Coda however may not
have had these issues everything I know about Coda is projected through the
view of the narrator who by the end of the game is no longer trustworthy.
Many people have
different views on the game each reflecting their own experience some doubt
whether Coda is real and if the narrator is a character or if this is actually
Davey Wreden repeating a mistake on a grander scale.
To me it Coda is
Davey Wreden and the narrator is someone who was once part of his life. To me
it doesn’t matter if there is a Coda or if Wreden is repeating the same mistake
he is trying to atone for.
What matters is this experience forced me to remember what I have overcome.
While the narrator
may not have helped Coda at that time in my life they probably would have
helped me even if it was for selfish reasons.
So I am sharing this
piece I have written in all its unedited messy glory because I am not Coda.
Hiding what I have done forces me to replay it in my head but sharing it frees
me from it. Even if no-one ever reads it the fact that I have put it out there
will allow me to move on.
Writing was very
unhealthy for me. Now it’s a form of therapy. read