Braid Conspiracy Theory...Spoilers?

I wouldn't read this if you haven't finished it...

I just finished Braid...and all that "story in reverse" stuff and thought, well, why Tim?

Then I thought, maybe it's backwards for MIT? There are tons of physicists there. So I did some googling for MIT guys that had worked on the Manhattan Project and found some interesting stuff.

This one person, Phillip Morrison, and some good "Braid style" things going...

Not only did he work on the bomb, but was had some pretty interesting feelings about it:

"His firsthand experience of the entire cycle of creation and apocalypse "stamped him for life," Dr. Kosta Tsipis, an M.I.T. physicist and arms control expert, said in an interview yesterday."
He also had a series on PBS called, oddly enough, "The Ring of Truth"

So there you go, maybe Braid is all about yearning and drive at the expense of reason. Maybe it uses the physicists who made the atomic bomb as examples of this, or maybe that atomic bomb stuff is totally unrelated. Who knows? I like to think the "princess" is nothing specific but just a metaphor for that idealized thing we all want but rarely exists outside of our own perception.

What say you Jonathan Blow?



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29 Comments
Posted by Vinny

I wouldn't read this if you haven't finished it...

I just finished Braid...and all that "story in reverse" stuff and thought, well, why Tim?

Then I thought, maybe it's backwards for MIT? There are tons of physicists there. So I did some googling for MIT guys that had worked on the Manhattan Project and found some interesting stuff.

This one person, Phillip Morrison, and some good "Braid style" things going...

Not only did he work on the bomb, but was had some pretty interesting feelings about it:

"His firsthand experience of the entire cycle of creation and apocalypse "stamped him for life," Dr. Kosta Tsipis, an M.I.T. physicist and arms control expert, said in an interview yesterday."
He also had a series on PBS called, oddly enough, "The Ring of Truth"

So there you go, maybe Braid is all about yearning and drive at the expense of reason. Maybe it uses the physicists who made the atomic bomb as examples of this, or maybe that atomic bomb stuff is totally unrelated. Who knows? I like to think the "princess" is nothing specific but just a metaphor for that idealized thing we all want but rarely exists outside of our own perception.

What say you Jonathan Blow?



Staff
Posted by TheGamerGeek

I'm gonna buy Braid whenever I get Bionic Coommando Rearmed but I just can't wait to be confused by Braid.

Posted by JamesF

People are making it way more confusing than it has to be.

Posted by NickM

Wow, deep :)

Posted by JosephBarron

Me thinks you might be looking into to it just a bit too much.

Posted by Bennyishere

I think it's safe to assume that Tim worked on the bomb. There's clues to this all over the game, like quotes from people related to the bomb, the poster on the last puzzle and of course the eight star.

Posted by Artie

@JosephBarron

This is the problem with Braid being a video game. See in movies, and literature it's very common to "look into" why certain events occurred, or if they're really a metaphor for something else. But video games never see that type of stuff because it's all one-dimensional "Save _____" or "Kill ______" even stuff like Indigo Prophecy, those are just very complex, but "simple" stories if you get what I mean.

I think Braid is striving to mean something more, but what it is exactly I haven't quite figured it out. I thought the nuclear bomb stuff sort of came out of left field, but that's because I was playing the game as a video game, and not as something serious. And everyone else in the video game crowd just yells "AHHH WHAT THE HELL IT'S JUST A GOD DAMN VIDEO GAME GO TO SCHOOL PUNK!!!" which I think is just unfair to the medium as a whole. That's why I really disagree with Ryan Davis in his review since he seems to pew pew the idea of video games actually teaching people something and that they're supposed to be "for fun."

Not to go on too long (Although I think I missed that point a while ago) but I think Vinny's on the right track with the princess being a metaphor for an idealized thing of our imagination. I'm interested to see if Johnathan Blow ever explains what he wanted Braid to mean.

Posted by Vinny

haha, well I would also like to say that I have one foot firmly planted in the "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar" camp as well. It's definitely human nature to try and extrapolate meaning from things that have none. Here's one of my favorite passages from one of my favorite books, Foucaults Pendulum. Now I'm off to go blow stuff up.

Staff
Posted by Vasta_Narada

O.o Didn't see the bomb stuff coming. I guess it's possible, but, at the same time, I don't think Johnathan Blow was trying to put that high up on his list of "important story stuff".

Posted by MattBodega

Man! A lot of people have been looking at Braid in the light of the Manhattan Project. Totally didn't catch that in the game.
I just looked at the game as a meditation on Time. Despite Tim's ability-his ultimate power- to reverse and fast forward the flow of time, he will never have true control of it. Time will forever be his master, as Tim will never be able to completely control it- indeed, in world 3, the game tells the player that Tim needs some aspect of his life to be disassociated from his time control.
The passage of time is truth: when people can begin to accept, to live with the passing of time-and, by consequence, the knowledge that everything in the world is ever changing, always shifting, and ultimately cut short by its mortality- we can finally set out to build our own foundations, and to live life to its fullest. To go out and find our princess, whatever she may be.
The whole game is about Time: even the flow of the levels, with World 2 at the outset and world 1 last, seems to be a design choice to give the player a sense that they can escape the ravages of time, to control the path and the destination of the story. But the game ends where it begins- with the realization that Tim has to stop looking backwards at the past, to stop changing and altering every decision so that it might be "perfect".  Tim needs to look forward, to build his strong foundation-his castle- out of his life's experiences.
The princess isn't in another castle: she's in the castle we ourselves must build out of the sweat and tears of life.

And that does not just extend to the actual events of Braid, or the artistic intents of its design: We, as players, want to control every aspect of our games, and we want to, ideally, perform every task perfectly. We want to be in control, so we disregard our mistakes- a missed jump, a lousy shot, a  wrong decision- and try it again, because we think we have that sense of control.
Ultimately, however, that control is an illusion, created by a wise developer who knows that the real control is his alone. He-and anyone who designs a game-knows how everything will play out. If we think we have control, the developer has done their job, by making the actual act of "playing" a game seem to have no restrictions or limitations.

Thinking about time and game design: that what got me into Braid and got Braid into me. But, then again, I'm all yearning and drive, and that's definitely at the expense of reason.

Posted by L

Someone has too much time on their hands. :P

Posted by Spencer

The whole "atom bomb" theory didn't really make sense for me until this.  Thanks for writing this.

Posted by albedos_shadow

I actually heard about this a couple days ago, and it all makes sense now. Except for that one damn puzzle piece in World 2. Seriously, how do you get that son of a bitch?

Posted by exfate

And here I was thinking Jonathan Blow had been to the future, seen the end of the world, and come back to try and save us all using a well hidden secret message in a video game... Little does he know that his game is the thing that started a chain of events that will kill us all...

Actually, I think Braid is well designed to be ambiguous for the purpose of marketing itself through word of mouth. That is the true triumph in its design.

Posted by Paul

So, I really do have to buy that, huh? 

Posted by Milkman

As far as the whole atom bomb concept, this is how I saw it. Tim is a nuclear physicist, whether this be that Morrison guy, I don't know. But throughout the entire game, Tim is searching for world peace, otherwise known as the princess. But at the end of the game, Tim realizes that this entire journey has not brought him closer to world peace but farther and farther away. He then realizes that him, his bomb and the Manhattan Project were never the heroes of the world trying to reach this peace but the enemies and the ones putting this idea in jeopardy. And that this goal will, in fact, never be reached. In other words, the princess is always in another castle. But that's just my two cents. I could go all day with this stuff. Amazing game.

@albedos_shadow
I assume you mean the one above the puzzle screen. You have to use the bridge puzzle piece as platform. You take the two bridge puzzle pieces and place them in between the platform and the puzzle piece.  Just make sure you line it up right.

Posted by Player1

I personally believe in the bomb concept. But I do think they kinda leave the princess up to your, for your own perception. 

Check this guys view out. He sights another scientist, and gives a very convincing argument. Huge spoilers in there. 

Posted by interstate78

I can assure anyone reading thiswho either hasn't played or finished Braid  that:

- yes, Braid doesn't only try but actually succeeds in being an allegory about humanity
- yes there are two levels: the literal that most people will see, and the metaphor that only those looking deeper will get

Personally my time with Braid has been a tremendous experience because it single-handedly redefines the possibilities in storytelling and design in videogames. It doesn`t try to be just fun, it actually aims for much, much more than that.

A lot of people have 'complained' that the game is short but it's actually a good thing. The game doesn't play you for a sucker. You rarely if ever encounter the same puzzle or situation twice. It is incredibly rewarding but also offers the player a mind expanding experience asking the question: ''what if you could apply to your life the experience of your mistakes''. In Braid, as a game, it means not dying, not being punished for falling. In life as humanity, it asks ** spoiler zone from here **

''now that we've learned the atomic bomb was a mistake, couldn't we all agree never to use it? couldn't we act as if it never happened and carry on with our lives'' ?

It is done beautifully and the game doesn't try to beat you over the head with it. That's why a lot of people don't even get that from the story either because they didn't really pay attention or simply don't want to believe a game can have deeper levels of meaning. but it's there, underneath the story of Tim trying to find his  past mistakes and correct them to win over his princess again. The texts refer to the a-bomb many times either directly or symbolically, the last level has you being chased by a blast, if you manage to catch the princess she explodes.

Now that I know games have the potential to be a meaningful experience for me as part of the human race, I will never look at a game the same way again.

the future is looking bright.

Posted by giyanks22

The game is really well done. It is a blast to play ...

Posted by Thrawn1

i wouldn't really call that a conspiracy...

Posted by PabloDiablo

I'm right there with you Vinny. Conspiracy theory all the way! I didn't even think about Tim in reverse being M.I.T. (I just thought, "hey add an 'e' and it's time")! The atom bomb idea makes lots of sense (well, for a conspiracy theory). If you remember in the epilogue there was a line "Now we're all sons of bitches."

I pulled this from a History of the Atomic Bomb page:

Upon witnessing the explosion, its creators had mixed reactions. Isidor Rabi felt that the equilibrium in nature had been upset as if humankind had become a threat to the world it inhabited. Robert Oppenheimer, though ecstatic about the success of the project, quoted a remembered fragment from the Bhagavad Gita. "I am become Death," he said, "the destroyer of worlds." Ken Bainbridge, the test director, told Oppenheimer, "Now we're all sons of bitches."

Another thing that points to the atom bomb theory is the fact that the town behind Tim's silhouette in the very start of the game is on fire.


Call me crazy, but for me all signs point towards the bomb theory.
What do the other Giant Bomb staffers think?
Also, what is the likelihood of you guys interviewing J-Blow for a Giant Bomb exclusive article? Because I would read the hell out of that.

Posted by Sweep

I took "Tim" as a pun on the word TIME.

You control Tim. Time.

But, y'now, your theories are good as well Vinny...

Moderator
Posted by Kieran_Smith5

what's up with vinny?

Posted by Sin4profit

And to think i thought i got done playing Braid just to find out the guy i was playing was actually an obsessive stalker...hmm. The bomb theory's less depressing then my own so i think i'll just go with it instead...It does help to answer my question of "why the hell is the town on fire" on the title screen. Just now hearing about the bomb theory from you.

Posted by maxx77

Vinny, read the Plot Analysis faq on that site that has faqs about games.... I think it's called faqsgame or something...

Anyway, it's pretty in-depth. Explains what the game is about and gives plenty of proof. In a nutshell, Tim's a physicist, the Princess is really the A-Bomb, Tim spends his time trying to make the bomb, and then when he finally does, he realizes he's made a mistake. The game itself is a metaphor of his journey. The difference between the game and reality (Tim's reality, he doesn't represent any of the real life scientists who worked on the bomb) is that the game is in a time loop, forever going forward and back and looping around on itself.

Posted by Midgar

This game was awesome! EXTREMELY frustrating at times but awesome none the less

Posted by Android22

They never got off the island. It was just a big dream. That's my theory.

Posted by spiceninja

Once you get that last star it sounds like a bomb goes off. Maybe your on to something here Vinny.

Posted by Shadow