I wanted to share with you some thoughts that I had in the last days regarding an aspect of the Thimbleweed Park story that I’ve found compelling.
Warning: huge spoilers ahead about the game. Also, crazy thoughts.
I was really surprised to see a character realize by his own that the world in which he lived was just an illusion and the stage of a virtual theater directed by invisible puppeteers. While Chuck was for sure a very smart person, I’ve always believed that for any citizen of a closed and simulated universe it would never be possible to deduct that there could be an higher level of existence.
The first example of these “higher levels” that comes to my mind is used in the novel “Flatland”, in which these higher levels are just higher space dimensions.
At first, I erroneously thought that Chuck’s awareness was a phenomenon similar to the one that happens in the movie “Pleasantville”, in which a community of people is not aware of being just characters in a fiction, until “something” happens. I was wrong because that “something” happening to them comes from a source external to their fictional world, while Chuck seems to have reached its conclusion by his own.
Later, I realized that Chuck’s awareness wasn’t actually a spontaneous realization that the world in which he lived had discrepancy that could have been explained only by the existence of what Chuck called an “upper level”. Instead, the path that his mind followed to reach that conclusion was triggered by a very specific event: he found Ron Gilbert’s textual adventure and started pondering about it.
So, exactly like in the Pleasantville’s story, an element that really exists in an higher fictional dimension appears (as a gift?) to a person living in the subjugated lower level. The consequence is that the object sparks off a chain reaction in the brilliant mind of Chuck and the conclusion that Thimbleweed Park is only a simulation is reached.
I thought that it would be fun to describe what happens in Thimbleweed Park summarizing the interactions and the influences that occur between the three different simulations that exist, assuming just for fun that we also live in a simulated universe.
So, here it is: The (real) Ron Gilbert develops both an old-school textual adventure game and the game “Thimbleweed Park”. Inside Thimbleweed Park Ron puts a lower-level representation of himself and this lower-representation develops a corresponding representation of the upper-level textual adventure. Chuck takes lower-Ron’s textual adventure and modifies it so that it can become a place to hide, not from the people living in Thimbleweed Park but from the people living in the higher dimension, including the real Ron Gilbert.
Basically, the real Ron Gilbert was both the one who accidentally and indirectly gave to Chuck the item that let him to fight against the oppressive upper world and the one who desperately tried (with continuous resets) to prevent Chuck from finalizing his plans, that in turn would have prevented Ron to finish the game and to sell it to us.
What a greedy and heartless person Ron is…