|It's more complicated then you realize.|
If you were to learn about Critical Theory anywhere which wasn’t a click-adventure, then where you that place be? Well, if you are an autodidact then you could simply buy any of the numerous textbooks on the market which impart the basics; alternatively, if you need a guided hand, you could enroll in a university level course.
But, that is the thing: either of those options predisposes that you know directly what you are engaging with and the medium of engagement; in my own work, you do not directly know—without clicking on the Merlyn Explains feature—which theory you are engaging with or specifically the medium outside of an internet based content. Things, in other words, are much vaguer.
If I were to simplify things, assuming such is possible, that would require a keener attention to art than I likely possess (likely, some kind of worldly association for each form of critical theory which the player could read in the image or description). Likewise, the idea of the medium in question, since it could be answered from any number of viewpoints, is not something I would like to delineate as my conceptualization would not be any more valid than someone else’s interpretation of the medium.
So I thought I would meet at the half-way point.
In the game world itself, I would regulate questions of specificity, of what each Node concerned itself with theory wise, to my Merlyn Explains feature, but in regards to the actual idea behind the theory, I would create an optional ‘boot camp’ which would serve as a preface to the game-proper by introducing the player to a demystified theory of practice; this way, the player would know what the theory of each Node represents by the end of each tutorial.
When I say ‘what each node represents,’ I do not mean specifically the idea—such as what Queering means, or what a Climax Community constitutes, but rather the actual minutia of those Nodal facets. Because every Node is filled with numerous concepts from each theoretical variant, each of those concepts will be presented as is by its story equivalent (whatever each in-Node person or place comes to represent whatever facet of theory). But the story equivalent does not necessarily mean it explains the theory itself, just the basic idea behind what is happening in-story.
You can make a strong argument, therefore, that the boot camp is slightly superfluous—that I could just make each Merlyn Explains link more loaded with explanations. This would be a well observed criticism, thus eliminating my need to make such a camp. But I feel that pushing aside such an explanation into the corners of the game an unknown percentage of people will visit, sort of dampens the quality of the experience. Essentially, it is giving one the fantastic without the rationale behind it.
So why I feel that the boot camp needs to exist is simply that the player should not need to hunt or bookmark each time a curt explanation is given just so that they can understand the nuance of a Node. They should be able to access, at any time, a feature which concretely explains the idea behind any of the concepts that they encounter. There is elitism protected behind shades of authority and then there is elitism as practiced by keeping information hidden; I would prefer it if my own adaptation avoided the latter (being already predisposed as anathema to the former).
Provided, if I could reasonable cut off this feature without the experience becoming dampened, I could—but the fact of the matter is that I cannot cut it off. It is too vital. Since the boot camp is also meant as a kind of refresher course on what the nodes cover, I feel it would greatly cheapen the experience if I were not to include it. So, I will just have to persevere, hunker down, and get to work.