Thimbleweed Park (Edit) : They used not to be in a videogame (455 words)
At the beginning of this month I wrote a long and unfocussed article about Thimbleweed Park in which I explored several ideas in order to deconstruct the general perception of the ending of the game which is “they’re in a video-game nothing is meaningful.”
I knew that too many things remained obscure for me to write a solid analysis. And now, two weeks later, I know that I was wrong on several points. Anyway, I can now give a more precise and concise reading of the story of the game.
Let’s try to do it in uuh… ten sentences.
A long time ago, Chuck destroyed Thimbleweed Park by making Delores believe that she was in a videogame (when she truly wasn’t) and bring her to trigger a massive explosion.
Then, in place of the city, he had a server farm built with which he created a virtual simulation of Thimbleweed County.
The videogame we play takes place inside the virtual simulation (except the flash-backs I suppose) but endlessly tells and retells the original tragic story which truly happened (in the non-virtual world in which Thimbleweed Park existed).
That’s why the characters can be coherent and incoherent, logical and random: they are virtual recreations of the real individual they used to be, but these simulacras* can be modified at will.
For example, Ray’s confidence in the fact that Willie is guilty completely breaks character.
Everything that is meaningful in the game was real at some point but isn’t anymore since we are only playing Chuck’s simulation.
And thus, in the end, the McGuffin murder of Boris Schultz could simply be a McGuffin created by Chuck. This murder could be a complete invention there only to drag the players into the story that Chuck wants to tell them.
His omnipotence is similar to the one of a narrator. The story of Thimbleweed Park happens exactly as if Chuck was telling us the story, adding or removing elements as it pleases him.
The true original story could have happened completely differently.
And the core of this story is Delores’ mother. The last action of the game is Delores choosing to believe that she doesn’t have a natural origin (a mother) but an artificial one (being a videogame character). So, I maintain that Delores’ mother was murdered, that Delores cannot possibly confront herself to this truth, that Chuck is using this to manipulate the young woman and that it is absolutely horrible and that I’m going to ask Ron Gilbert to pay my psychiatrist fees.
14 sentencies. Yeaaah. Close enough.
Edit: I'm quite intrigued by the fact that so many 2017 video games should talk about a girl who is confronted to the idea that she might not have a natural mother but a technological one (Horizon Zero Dawn).
*I’m using the term simulacra in a very broad sense here. I only mean to say that this story is clearly to be linked with Baudrillard’s concepts of simulacra and simulation but we’re not truly in the case of a pure simulacra.