Half a year later and this game still weighs heavy on my mind. The story I wrote for it and the intricacies by which it's been bound, I feel, have largely gone unnoticed. This blog sets out to tell the story and lay bare all its most subtle ways while also giving the reader some history on its development. It goes without saying that spoilers will be present, but given the lack of activity on this page and the age of the game, I feel very little risks to be lost.
Table of Contents
1. "Vive la liberté d'expression!":
1. "Vive la liberté d'expression!"
2. "Who lives and who dies?"
3. "The only true G."
4. "It's beautiful."
"G" started off as a demo project that criticized the abundance of lazy art games that used a vagueness and reliance on the odd to hide the fact that there was no story to be had. Originally you were going to play as the G man (who got his name solely because his head was shaped like a G, another snipe at lazy, surreal artsy ventures) and would talk to the final product's actual genderless protagonist and receive the garbled exchange that would eventually make up the entirety of the intro text.
When it came time to actually craft the game, I started off with creating different characters based on the template established by the main eel (later known as Sir Eel, a pun off the word "surreal"). I knew starting off that I wanted for the mysterious G man to grant these characters gifts that greatly altered their appearance and capabilities, so I took the heads of these character and added characteristics that relate to the G man, such as long legs and stumpy hands. As the character of the G man as a dominant force in the world became further established, I created the oddball "eyes" eel which is depicted as having massive, grotesque eyeballs that bulge out of its head, along with the police eel that's depicted as riding around in little cars with flashlights on their chests and who are preoccupied with the G man and the badge they've been given which they believe gives them authority over other eels. Their simplistic dialog is reflected in this with repeated words ("beep beep" and "sparkle sparkle") and strange inclusions of the badge during conversation.
The plot progression was simple: do little tasks for each kind of eel before confronting the G man about his authority and the mysterious Tide, concluding with the player traveling to the other side of the Tide. Later I gave thought to how this society might not be a world of its own but a collection of pre-life entities that are waiting to be born, and who are waiting for the G man to grant them passage across the Tide so that this can occur. This became the central part of the game afterward and why such things like "choice" and existentialism started to crop up in places such as the church.
2. "Who lives and who dies?":
"What's this story about?" Well... life, actually. While a lack of tackling the human condition is a common critique I've seen, the truth is that it very much does do just that, only starting at a place where most don't discuss. You see, the story of "G" begins at the very beginning, when what constitutues "life" and "living" are actually little more than the ability to move. Indeed, the story of "G" begins long before birth (before coitus, even). You are a sperm.
Now, before you vomit all over your keyboard from shock, let me explain. Where others are quite open about their subject matter (take calunio's Polymorphous Perversity for example), I felt it would be wise to take a more subtle approach and leave this a mystery until it comes to a head during the first and only battle in the game, where you're fighting a syringe called Dusk (the "ending" parallel to the egg called Dawn, which represents "beginning") that threatens to abort you before you've had the chance to live. During this battle, the conditions of this syringe spell out "Pro Choice", to highlight the cold, hard truth of what it means to be "pro-choice". It all comes down to unborn children, and as someone whose entire consciousness up to this point has lead you to be born, an abortion is your greatest adversary. Your options granted to you are to either to Push Back ("you should.") or Push Forward ("you must."). These are your choices, and they follow you through your life.
Once you've taken down this enemy called Dusk, you swim towards the egg and are taken from the allies you've surrounded yourself with and begin the process of gestation, which is where "G" truly gets its name from. Before you're born, you Push Back to remind yourself that you're still alive, a means of explaining the actions of an unborn fetus. When you're born, you're cold and scared and Push Forward with your hand (as you must) and grasp the finger of the G man who is your father.
This whole scene is accompanied by the protagonist's feeling that they're with people who know them better than they know themselves, and that the presence of what they can only assume is the G man (being the only form of authority they've ever experienced) is comforting to them as he was the one that gave them the strength to see them across the Tide in the first place, as opposed to giving them a premature death by being taken away by the Tide (and given the nature of the eels and how the Tide relates to them, I really don't feel like it's necessary for me to go into greater detail of how this would come about).
It's a sad truth in this world of eels that not everyone is created equal, and despite having "opportunity", not everyone will succeed. This game, despite being so open to the notions of "choice", argues that some things are set in stone. Case in point: the eels that hide their eyes. If allowed to prosper, they would become black sheep who would dishonor their families and corrupt society as a whole. The G man knows this and - seeing as he controls the Tide - separates them from success and condemns them to be taken away by the Tide.
How cruel, the G man! Curse him in all his ways!
But he's not perfect, and you owe your life to him. Regardless of how you feel, you're responsible to him and he's responsible for you.
3. "The only true G.":
Throughout the game, the G man's true nature is unknown. Many have speculated over time that the G in the G man's name represents Government or God, and in a way, both of these are true. The game's writing, however, allows for both to be equally valid conclusions up until the end when his true nature is revealed. I'll explain this below.
If the G man represents Government:
1. You live your life learning and proceeding to grow until you're ready to serve a purpose in society.
2. You meet the G man who gives you a job in which to serve him in society.
If the G man represents God:
1. You do good deeds in society and eventually come to a point in which the G man can use you.
2. You meet the G man who gives you his word and you become a prophet of his to serve him in society.
The vague nature of the G man allows for both of these conclusions to be realized in their fullness before the true answer is revealed later on. All the while the player learns more about the world around them and their purpose as an eel, making choices and ultimately creating an identity for themselves by way of the "choice" that they've been given. Remember: "it all comes down to choice."
With time and the choices of the player, the eel they control comes to meet the G man who seems to crush their preconceived notions of a divine ruler or a tyrant by telling them that he's "not perfect", and that he "makes mistakes". Now why would someone who demands perfection - or who exhibits perfection - be so open to admitting their own faults? Because they're neither one. Instead, they're very much a human just like you or I. Who is this human? Clearly they hold power over you (as evidenced by their faceset depicting a hand over a temple), but they're only a parental figure.
So we know the G man is your father, but why is his faceset that of a hand over a temple? Surely this depicts some sort of divine authority above all else, right? Well, not necessarily. The temple used in this game is based on Roman architecture, which while serving as places of worship to gods was also used as places of council for the governing party. The G man's hand over this temple does give the impression that he's above the law of man and God, but only as far as the children he produces. If he should so decline to have children, neither the law of man (government) or of God apply to them, so in a way he has his hand above both, explaining the picture.
4. "It's beautiful.":
So with all this as it is, what point is there to all of this? Why is life with all its trouble worth dealing with? Why does this game spend so much time painting a bleak outlook on life? Because "it's beautiful." These are the last two words given to the player during their time with "G". I know I personally struggle with my sense of self-worth and getting up in the morning, but with all that as it is, I know that life is beautiful, and that no matter what happens, I'm better off alive than dead. It's this message that I wanted to leave the player with, so that they know.
It's not easy - matter of fact, it's downright frustrating - and learning from your mistakes seems like so much more of a hassle than learning from someone else's, but you've never had it as good as you have it now. You've made it this far through all that you've dealt with, and that's beautiful. Never forget that.
That's the lesson the G man wants you to learn.
~ "the G man"