The Witness Is For My Bigger

“I need a poo-poo. I need my Batman phone.”

My son is three years old. He has a Batman phone.

Fact check: my three-year-old son does not have a Batman phone. He has a reconditioned iPad Mini 2, which we bought him for his birthday. It has a Batman shaped cover on it because we anticipated he would drop it. Frequently.

We were correct in that assumption.

Secondly, we don’t let our son watch Batman. Not even the cartoons. But for some unknown reason he loves Batman. Either they’re binge watching Batman at daycare or he’s ingested this shit via osmosis; via the terrifying brute force of marketing, a culture obsessed with super heroes. Either that or he’s just copying the big boys.

He says something adorable when we skip past superhero related shows on Netflix, the kind he knows he’s not allowed to watch.

He says: ‘that’s for my bigger!’

Translation: “I’ll be allowed to watch that television show when I’m better equipped to digest it.”

So: we’ve bought him this iPad. My wife and I ummed and ahhed over the decision. Our reasoning: this stuff is going to be part of his universe. Technology will be a huge part of his world. Might as well give him an early start.

But things have escalated in strange ways. As mentioned above, he now demands his iPad Mini whenever he wants to take a shit:

“I need a poo-poo. I need my Batman Phone.”

It’s crazy how quickly children learn the habits of adults. Do they learn it via osmosis or do they learn it from the big boys? Daddy has done many a poo-poo, mobile phone in hand. Daddy rarely does a poo-poo without his Batman phone. My son is asking himself the same question I’m asking: what the hell is one supposed to do while squeezing out a four pounder on the potty?

Figuratively and literally, you never know if you’re doing this shit right. Kids are like the worst video game ever. The rules are constantly shifting. The rules are never clear. The rules are different for each goddamn kid and each goddamn moment. By the time you’ve finally learned the rules you’re on to a brand new set.

It’s a healthy bunch of bullshit. That's what I’m trying to say.

Fucking… The Witness. Fucking hell man.

The Witness is great. It’s great because, as a parent of a young child, you can play it with the wee buggers running around. No-one’s getting shot, punched, stabbed or otherwise.

But The Witness is terrible because god damn – why does it have to make me feel like the goddamn village idiot each and every time I turn it on. Jesus wept.

In The Witness there is no middle ground – you oscillate wildly between opposing extremes. You’re either Stephen Hawking or Forrest Gump. You’re never… say, Neil deGrasse Tyson. You’re never cruising through the expanses of the known universe at your own slick pace, being witty, smooth and comfortable in your own skin. Most of the time you’re learning by brute force. You’re a monkey, beating a stick against that smooth unknown obelisk. You’re trapped in an insecure prison of your own ineptitude, battling for those rare sublime moments when you get it. When you get to whisper to yourself (or scream loudly at no-one in particular) I AM A FUCKING GENIUS.

It’s the Dark Souls thing – in puzzle form. The Witness allows you to attempt parts of the game you’re clearly ill-equipped for. The only difference: in Dark Souls the limitation is your gear, maybe your technical skills. In The Witness it’s a far more concrete obstacle – you literally do not know how to do this thing. You have not learned the rules. You don’t even know the language.

“This puzzle is for my bigger.”

I’ve done some weird stuff whilst playing The Witness.

I’ve heard stories of people writing on notepads and whatnot. That's boring. That’s sort of necessary when you get to a certain point.

Me? I grabbed one of my son’s felt tip pens and started drawing on my television. I was like a bootleg Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind. I'm drawing on a goddamn TV, freaking out the whole time. ‘I hope this isn’t a permanent marker’.

Thankfully it wasn’t.

The Witness is frustrating. Right? But it's a different kind of frustrating. Some games make you want to punch things. Dark Souls, Trials – these games make me want to properly punch things. The Witness doesn’t really make me want to punch anything. Instead it saps the life out of me; it drains me of my will. It makes me question my life choices. Maybe I should have installed Luminosity on my mobile phone? Maybe I should abandon my principles and google this shit? Maybe I shouldn’t have smoked all that weed in high school...

Maybe I’m overthinking this. It’s not that bad. Life is good. I’ve just about managed to scrub this goddamn blue texta off my expensive 46-inch plasma and I’ve finally solved this goddamn puzzle.

My son in on the toilet squeezing out a four pounder with his Batman phone. He's stuck trying to find his way out of a menu screen he can't read because he's three-years-old. Finally, he screams: “I can’t DO IT!”

I hear a crashing noise.

I think he just punched his iPad.

Wonder where he learned that from? Must have learned it via osmosis.


    I feel like the title is pretending to be a cliffhanger? =P

    Edit: Mark sometimes I think I come to Kotaku just to read your articles with your kids.

    Last edited 03/02/16 11:39 am

    The Witness is the kind of frustrating that games should be - where you have to stretch yourself a little bit to advance, rather than just get fed a tooltip when you stop moving for 2 seconds. But I reckon that anybody with an adult level of problem solving ability should be able to finish it.

      "where you have to stretch yourself a little bit to advance" - I thought you were talking about taking a shit there...

    I think I might adopt that phrase - "That's for my bigger". Just too good.

    I previously posted on here that I wouldn't buy this game till it was $20.

    I caved and bought it day one after reading the praise and I'm really glad I did.

    What a game!

      I reckon it's worth much more than what I paid - and I've also paid much more in the past for much lesser games. I reckon any complaints people have about price really should be directed at the annual Assassin's Creed, Call of Duty, FIFA, etc instead.

    Doing those puzzles with the double lines... Ok, this isnt too bad.
    Black dots get introduced... NO WAY... ok this is doable
    Starts to get harder and harder but can complete them like a boss
    What's happening to the second yellow line, why is it fading....

    it's been a couple of days, need to turn it back on with 0% rage.... great game.

      Hahaha! That's the puzzle where I drew on the TV!

        Even though I'd done the 10+ puzzles before, my mind instantly "forgot" how the mechanics worked and I was questioning life.... I had to quit. I might end up screencapping and putting in photoshop quickly for drawing.

        Chinagraph pencils and glossy screens FTW!

        I really should play this. But but but pile of shame (new denizen: Lara Croft, who received a couple of hours of attention before I returned to Elite...).

      Ooh God you had to remind me. I haven't figured that out yet. Stupid fading yellow stupid line. Stupid.

    What is it about Batman? My 3 yr old daughter is batman *mad* and has never watched the cartoons or the movies.
    When we flick past the Netflix Super Hero stuff she says "That's for when I turn on taps."

    (She has been told that she isn't allowed to touch the taps in the bath until she is bigger - it has become her default test of if someone is a grown-up or not. Every visitor to the house gets told whether they can 'turn on taps' or not.)

    She got into it at about 20 months, and is still crazy about it. She likes batgirl and catwoman etc. but she wants to be Batman, not the girl ones.
    We gave her a Batman poster (from the 60s TV series) for her birthday, she ran into her room, pointed at the 'yoga cats' poster on the wall and declared "I don't need that anymore" and Batman has been on the wall ever since.
    She likes the 'naughty joker' too much for my liking, has some of the excellent Duplo toys, and although the Octonauts have made big inroads in the last few months, Batman is still her true love. She tells anyone that will listen that "Batman is Bruce Wayne".

    She also says "Spiderman is empty inside, he is made of nothing", which is disturbing, but came about as the spiderman toy she has, you can't remove the mask, whereas the Batman one you can.

    BTW, the DC Lego phonics books are actually great Batman story books for little kids. She loves them and they are non-violent and hilarious.

    The Lego Marvel ones are awful unfortunately, really phoned in.

    Last edited 03/02/16 11:59 am

      Sweet thanks! I was wondering about those phonics books!

        We didn't buy them for learning to read, so not sure how well they go with that, we just wanted some Super Hero stories that wouldn't give her nightmares. The DC ones are great, they play on the characters' personalities and the artwork is charming, the stories are short and simple but fun, and there are jokes in there that even a 3 year old gets and enjoys.

        The Marvel ones are terrible, which was so disappointing.

        Last edited 03/02/16 12:02 pm

          Yeah, it's more for a Batman fix. We just don't feel comfortable buying anything too violent. Kids are violent enough without giving them ideas :)

      I don't know why, but I love the "Batman is Bruce Wayne" thing most.

      Wow. Spiderman is empty inside... that's deep.

      Did... did she read all the comics dealing with Spidey's mental health issues?

      "Spiderman is empty inside, he is made of nothing"

      Some of the things kids say, both deep and deeply creepy.

        It freaked me out for about a week until I realised what she meant.

        She also told me Darth Vader is made of space, for the same reason.

      Spiderman is...empty inside? He is....made of nothing? Holy fucking shit that is seriously deep stuff there man, that's made me laugh my tits off!

    My son was enjoying helping with Witness puzzles. "Separate the whites from the blacks!" he yells. Also, neither of my children have watched anything batman related but they sure as shit know a hell of a lot about him. I think it's all the kids talk about at Kinder/Daycare. Vader is Luke's father was also mentioned in daycare. Osmosis is responsible for my 6 yr old's smart arse attitude too :/

    My nieces version of that is When I'm high, I'll be able to......

    Oh man, 3 year old boy here too. I have no idea how he got onto Batman but is also obsessed. Totally. Spiderman too. Where did he even find out about these guys?

      I figure something about the design must be innately appealing, on top of a sort a general awareness of the love for them amongst their friends and on tv, I used to really like Yoda without having seen any of the Star Wars movies. When I did eventually see them (much, much later, maybe aged 15 or so) I kind of hated them (starting accidentally with Attack of the Clones wasn't going to help much in that regard) but I still remember loving the design of Yoda.

    I finished it last night. After the final trophy popped I literally threw my controller on the couch next to me and flipped off the TV. I then sat there in a zen like state to bask in my own glory, completely exhausted.

    Fuck that game.

    Um... this is kinda off topic but if you are doing a "four pounder" on the toilet that's... not within normal poop range. Source below suggests most BMs should be about a pound's worth. Also... pounds??

    I enjoyed the article @markserrels was quite amusing

      I agree - a Serrels editorial like this once a week would be gold.

    Love the game.
    Also I used a combination of Screenshots, Paintbrush, and Nexus 6P slow-mo video recording at one point.

    Some spoiler talk below if you're all interested?

    1. I kinda understand the Black Obelisks, I've done some of those environmental puzzles and inspected the Obelisks after, but I'm still unclear as to the reason why they're in game. Anyone got any more info they can give me regarding this?

    2. The final section of the game is F****ing hard! Holy shit. After finishing 7 lasers, and finally unlocking the floor, (That was SUPER hard) I get presented with floor upon floor of more puzzles. I think I swore out loud when I realised. Goddam. That being said, those last puzzles were some of the most fun/inventive of all the puzzles. I especially enjoyed the 360 degree puzzles right at the end, in the water. They were super cool and refreshing.

    3. So I did a bit of research last night into some things. There's a HUGE trick right at the start of the game you can do too see special extra content. Google it for more info, I won't spoil here.....but Holy crap, that changed my perspective on the game significantly.

    4. Lastly, there are things that it doesn't seem people understand yet. i.e - What are the triangle puzzles for? They're hidden everywhere, they must do something, I know there's other hidden puzzles that do things (Another one in the dark red room with the man on the ground near Endgame), also in the Town there are some puzzles in the building with the sound dampening room that don't contribute to your progress. Why is that????

    Edit: Formatting

    Last edited 03/02/16 11:15 pm

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now