I must admit, I’m a sucker for games, movies and other forms of entertainment that follow conventional themes and genre. I value them because they allow me to live within my bubble of expectations which then allows me to garner a sense of control over things. For example, when I want a happy ending kind of story I will go watch or play something that allows me that experience. However, I am also someone who seeks that which will break conventions; something unique and innovative, something that goes against my expectations and surprises me enough to allow me to process it and think about it. Because let’s admit it, the conventional can be boring when you’re seeking to become vibrant and different in a world of human robots. Therein, I put down Skyrim, Fable, Super Mario and etc. I decided to try some new games and movies I would not usually play or watch…
A game which seeks to tie gaming to older literary traditions:
In the article, “Fabulously Procedural: Braid, Historical Processing, and the Videogame Sensorium,” Patrick Jagoda brings up Henry Jenkins’ idea of “spatial storytelling.” In relation to Johnathon Blow’s game Braid, I think this is central to analyzing the game in relation to its unique, yet distorted ending. Braid’s game-play and ‘enacted narrative’ allow the player to believe that Tim is truly on his way to save the princess, as is the usual convention of these types of games. However, I call the ending distorted because this game distorts the usual expectation of the player as Tim turns out to be the villain (and a psychopath).
Jenkins’ idea of enacted narrative is one way to take apart Braid’s ending because there is a wide range of features in the game’s environment which advance or delay the narrative. The features reinforce the fact that Braid is not a typical puzzle-platformer, which is essential in realizing that saving the princess was never the game’s motif. For example, as Jagoda points “despite the initial left-to-right placement of the lecterns, the player has the option of reading these texts in a right-to-left order that produces a different kind of narrative—another liberty that the game takes with temporal sequencing.” (Jagoda 750) When I read this, I thought to myself that if I had taken my time with the game instead of trying to achieve all the rewards, I could have grasped a better understanding of the game and would have even enjoyed it. With Jagoda’s specific breakdown of such a feature in the game, you could clearly see that Braid turns away from the traditional Western form of reading and promotes the form of reading in other traditions such as Japanese and Hebrew (especially with the way a manga is read). Blow’s game was never about rewards or a conventional narrative where the hero saves the princess. In reality, Blow’s Braid is a brilliant game which challenges conventions and print expectations while uniquely connecting digital games together with older literary traditions.