The Beginner’s Guide to Creating for Yourself

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The Beginner’s Guide completely took me by surprise. Going into the game all I knew was that it was from the creator of The Stanley Parable, and naturally that got me excited. Initially the game seemed like a fun and light hearted experience about a friend of his who used to make abstract games, but it ended up being a deep and intimate experience that really resonated with me as a game developer. The game forced me to look inward and discover something new about myself as a creator. The Beginner’s Guide is a complex game that has a lot to say and can be interpreted in many ways, but to me the game is best summarized by John Walker of Rock, Paper, Shotgun, “Beginner’s Guide is much more about intimacy. About the deeply personal relationship a developer can have with his games.”[1] It is a simple but accurate way of describing the game, especially in regards to the emotions the game evoked in me. The Beginner’s Guide is one of those games you continue to think about long after you have finished it. It was incredibly refreshing to play a game where the developer allowed himself to be so vulnerable in his work. I am very grateful that Davey Wreden had the bravery to do this because it taught me an important lesson, a lesson that university, game jams and the desire for success have kept me from; the importance of creating for yourself rather than the consumer. Game development classes in university are about acquiring the skills to create games, but rather than be given the creative freedom in our game assignments the professor gives us a game to implement so it is easier for them to asses. In game jams the purpose is to win, so you create a game that judges will like while adhering to a theme or mandate. Although personally I participate in game jams because I love making games and want to grow as a developer, I am still not creating for myself in these competitions. Even when I do create games for myself, I create them with the hopes of people playing them and enjoying them, which means I am not truly creating for me. Of course these games are still ideas of mine that I like, but they are the ideas that I think people will like the best. The ideas that will get me noticed and bring me success. Every game I have ever been a part of has had this restriction of validation from the consumer because if nobody wants to play it, what is the point of making it? This rule has been engrained in me and I have been oblivious to it and the impact it can have on you as a developer and creator until playing The Beginner’s Guide. Seeing these odd games created by “Coda” made me realize I have never created a game exclusively for me. And although Coda may not actually be a real person, and the games in The Beginners Guide may have been created exclusively for the game, the sentiment is not lost. Laura Hudson has a terrific interpretation of Coda that I believe to perfectly encapsulate what Wreden was trying to convey with Coda in The Beginners Guide, “Rather than an estranged friend of Wreden, Coda makes more sense as an elaborate metaphor for every game developer who has to contend with over-invested fans, while “Wreden” steps into the role of the players and critics who insist that games conform to their desires.”[2] While I do not have over-invested fans, I have always hoped that a game that I created would garner attention from a large audience. Playing The Beginners Guide was such an eye opening experience for me because it made me realize I need to take time to create for myself. In the game one thing Davey said that really hit home for me was “Coda never intended these games to be played by anyone anyway, he was creating for himself. If the meaning of a particular video game is in its creation rather than its consumption, then perhaps it doesn’t need to be playable at all.” Although I still want to create games that are playable, I love the message in this statement; creating for the purpose of creating rather than consumption. I have been so focused on creating games that people will want to “consume” that I forgot to take the time to explore my creativity and create a game just for me. I am very thankful that Davey Wreden created such a personal game that taught me the importance of creating something that I love, for myself and nobody else.

Matthew Slaunwhite


ENGL 255

Carolyn Jong

March 24th, 2017

Works Cited:

[1] Walker, John. “Wot I Think: The Beginner’s Guide.” Rock, Paper, Shotgun. 1 Oct. 2015. Web. 19 Mar. 2017.

[2] Hudson, Laura. “The Beginner’s Guide Is A Game That Doesn’t Want To Be Written About.” Boing Boing. 2 Oct. 2015. Web. 19 Mar. 2017.

The Beginner’s Guide to Creating for Yourself

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