Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Leaden Finger Gamer’s Review – The Beginner’s Guide

For a leaden finger gamer, and one who is not averse to selecting the easiest difficulty setting, a game that is known as ‘The Beginner’s Guide’ sounds like it is made for my type of skill level. In that respect this game does not disappoint – one does not have to do much at all except for move around a bit through various settings, and occasionally click the mouse button. Also if you are stuck on a part for a minute or two the narrator will bail you out, and you are on to the next location. Basically then you cannot fail this game, and it will only take you about an hour and a half to complete. Achievement unlocked!

As one may suspect then, offering a challenge to the player is not really the point of ‘The Beginner’s Guide’. However it is difficult to talk about what the point is without spoiling the plot, and the experience. On the other hand, after I played this game all I did was want to talk about it. What then can I say about it here?

One thing I can say without giving away too much is that ‘The Beginner’s Guide’ did change my view somewhat about what could be called a (video) game. Without wanting to sound too highfalutin about it, one could think of ‘The Beginner’s Guide’ as art taking the form of a game as much as it is a game itself. That description not only applies to the overall game, but also to the games within the game; that is the games supposedly produced by a designer named Coda which ‘ … Guide’ creator Davey Wreden has repackaged for his own purposes. Few of these games really have all that much that is ‘gamey’ about them; they are as much set pieces, or pieces in a gallery, as they are an interface for the player to interact with. Some of them even seem to resist being played, are almost ‘anti-games’. Yet you still have to do the tasks to progress, even though some of those tasks are rudimentary, so I guess games they are.

Apart from the somewhat unusual imagery what stayed with me from this game was the story. Again I cannot say too much about this without spoiling the game. But what the story of the game does explore is the relationship between the game and the designer, and what each may say about the other. It also explores the relationship between a game and its audience, and the question of whether a game necessarily has to have widespread appeal. It is a question often asked of other media, but not often of video games.

So the game made me think, and it was easy to play. Given my preferences and gaming dexterity I would not be surprised if I end up getting a lot more enjoyment out of this than I do from ‘Fallout 4’.

No comments: