Tuesday, January 13, 2009

ZA Critique: Braid

Well, I finally got sick of tweaking this article and decided to take the plunge. I swear I've fooled and changed this thing around so many times that I feel like someone was pressing the rewind button while I was writing it. To be honest, Braid has been written about so extensively that I didn't really have much worth adding. I don't have any grand notions about what I'm doing with these things, to me it's just important to illuminate an interesting accomplishment that might have gone unrecognized in a game. Of all the the traits Braid has, I don't think lack of recognition is one of them.

Given the author's habit of correcting or debating with folks in their analysis of the game, I'm also forced to admit that this isn't exactly my kind of art. To me, after years of dealing with literary analysis, when you publish something it's out of your hands. With a novel people's attention phases in and out, details shift in importance, and you can almost always assume the person will have formulated their own idea about what it meant. I find that wonderful. Like making a waking dream or subconscious experience that thousands can share. With video games, one of the things that appeals to me is that they are even more inclusive than a book. There is even more opportunity in videogames because the player contributes so much to the experience themselves.

So, put another way, I'm of the camp that thinks it's a good thing when someone reads your work and finds something you didn't put in it. It means that even this person, this unintended audience, is resonating with your art. Or as Cormac McCarthy once said when asked about the meaning of one of his books, "I just write the things. You're the ones who read them."

Which is all just a fancy way of saying f*** it if I'm "wrong".

Of all the things I feel like people ignored in Braid, the writing either was ignored or punished for being obtuse. I don't think that's fair considering Blow was making a point about time and comprehension. Unfortunately, explaining what a writer is doing when they distort pace of understanding means explaining what they're doing when they are thinking linearly.

So the piece ended up being more about writing and how Braid is playing with that.

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