I don’t know whether I enjoyed my time with The Beginner’s Guide. I’m not even sure whether I understood the game. In fact, the only thing I’m 100% sure on is that there will be people out there who will claim it’s not even a game. Because people are dicks like that. Roughly 48 hours after completing it I honestly don’t know what I think, which makes writing about it pretty hard. However, I also feel the need to get my thoughts down on paper, or at least whatever you call the unlimited paper of the internet.
Coming from the same mind that gave us the wondrously funny The Stanley Parable, Davey Wreden. The Beginner’s Guide is nothing like that game. For one thing, it’s not at all funny. To say too much about it would be to spoil it (although I’m not even sure if that’s possible) so I’ll keep my description simple. In the game, you are led through a series of smaller games by Wreden, supposedly created by someone he knew. (How true that aspect of the game is, I don’t know.) While he leads you through these simple games, there is only really one puzzle in them and it is an easy one, he talks to you as if he was sitting next to you. Explaining what he thinks these games mean or at the very least what they mean to him.
The whole thing is horribly pretentious and will raise the ire of at least half of the people who buy it believing it to be something else. However, if you can get past that it is making a point. It’s a point about what it is like being someone who creates something, be that video games or writing on the internet. Anymore than that? Well I don’t really know.
And not just because I don’t want to spoil the point the game makes, but because I genuinely don’t know. I understood what I think this game was trying to tell me, but I don’t know if that is right. I remember my Dad once telling me that he didn’t like listening to new music when he was younger because he was worried he didn’t get it. That he was missing something, so when he did listen to it he would pore over it. Taking it all in. The Beginner’s Guide has had a similar effect on me. I want to understand it but I can’t and it bothers me. It bothers me to the point where I’m pretty sure I wish I hadn’t played it.
All of which is in all honesty pretentious twaddle and maybe that’s the secret to the game. It makes you think these thoughts and then it makes you feel a bit embarassed about what you think about them. It makes you look for solace in the opinions of others but at the same time makes you shy away from them, because what if you got it wrong? Or what if what they say is not the same as what you saw? What if it ruins your opinion? The Beginner’s Guide will take you around an hour and a half to play and I can’t promise you that you will enjoy those ninety minutes. I can promise you they will get a reaction though. Whether that’s to dismiss it outright or to unravel your mind trying to put it into place, I don’t know. I don’t know a lot apparently.