rynet_ii: A deoxys (alien-like pokemon) with a neutral expression. (Default)
The Beginner's Guide is a video game made by the same guy who did The Stanley Parable, something which actually happens to be one of my favorite games, and considering that it's a little hard for me not to just turn this into a straight up comparison post.

But anyway, The Beginner's Guide itself is basically you, walking through a series of artsy short video games while Davey Wreden guides you through and narrates the games and his thoughts on them. The games are ostensibly a series of private projects made by an old friend of Davey's called Coda, created between 2008 and 2011, and the narration encourages you to think about the games and what was going on in Coda's mind while he was making them.
Spoilers )

It's uh, a thing. 

Personally in terms of "art about art" video games, I preferred The Stanley Parable which, while also pretty satirical and dark in places and poked a lot at the inherent artificiality of video games, was designed to be explored and interacted with a lot more. The Beginner's Guide, on the other hand, is more linear. You pretty much just go where Davey points you and listen to him talk. (Which, okay, I know TSP already had a trailer making fun of the "you don't actually do much attitude.)

Which I think sums up part of why The Stanley Parable and Undertale both work better for me as video-games-about-video-games than The Beginner's Guide seems to: those play around a lot more with the player's input and role in the game, and thus hit more on what makes video games so unique compared to other art forms. Video games aren't like books or movies: they require the audience to do things in order for everything to progress. So when you make a video-game-about-video-games and then limit the player's ability to interact with the game too much, I feel like the work is a lot more likely to fall flat or ring hollow for your audience.

Further Spoilers )

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