One of the purest joys of being a Silent Hill
fan is engaging in discussions of theme and theorizing about pretty much anything which is not explicitly (or even implicitly) spelled out by the game itself, or those who had a hand in its creation. Maybe you've seen the long, complex banter surrounding some ideas, and think that perhaps you might also be able to discover some insight that everybody else has overlooked. Maybe you just suddenly made connections that have so far been invisible to others. You've seen that people who do well at this tend to be respected around these parts, and you wouldn't mind getting a little of that respect yourself. After all, you're smrt!
The first impulse will be to rush right to the boards and dump a direct translation of all those thoughts and ideas rattling around in your mind in an ecstasy of inspired cogitation. You can practically hear the applause already, right through the internet.
You've also noticed that some of us take this shit seriously, and that some of us seem to revel in roasting newcomers who storm on in with pretensions and a confusion of ideas. It's not untrue. Those of us who are veterans of this kind of thing really do take a kind of thrill in savaging very bad theories, especially when the theorist talks big. It helps us forget that the real world doesn't give a shit about how much we know about video games.
But, fear not! I am here to show you the dos and don'ts of Silent Hill theorizing, so that you too may gain that internet street cred enjoyed so much by the privileged few. Follow these five simple instructions and failure is not 100% certain!1. KNOW WHAT A THEORY ACTUALLY IS.
You'd think this is self-explanatory, but there's a reason that this is the first item on the list. Many people simply don't know the difference between a well-constructed idea and word vomit. More specifically, a theory (as far as this is concerned) should ideally be the result of careful consideration and research, not merely a transcription of the first thoughts to come to mind.
What this boils down to is that a theory should actually explain something
. It needs to have a point. The reader should come away from your efforts able to apply your explanation to his or her own understanding of events and come away thinking that you've enhanced that understanding by offering a point of view which has not been previously considered. If you can't do this, you might as well be talking to yourself.
More importantly (so much so that I'm bolding this bitch for emphasis), a theory should be able to withstand scrutiny
. A theory seriously presented will be scrutinized, and flaws will be identified and pointed out. You would do well to scrutinize it yourself first and identify any potential flaws. If you pick it apart to the point that the only way your theory holds water is by saying "anything is possible", or some variation thereof, your theory does not hold water at all. "Anything is possible" is about the least compelling reason to ever believe anything, and "you can't disprove me" is the intellectual currency of people who say nothing worth listening to. Don't do this. Please.
If someone refers to Robot Alien Dahlia in your theory, you know you've messed up on this fundamental. 2. MAKE USE OF OFFICIAL SOURCES
There are actually only a handful which most fans consult regularly, and they cover almost everything important. The big one is The Book of Lost Memories
, which covers the first three games in considerable detail. The rest of the series has much less Word of God, with the post-Team Silent games having almost none outside of what can be gleaned from developer interviews.
Every bit as important as this, however, is to pay attention to the games you're playing. If you're unsure of what a character has said, every game has been transcribed at GameFAQs. If you need to remember what is in a memo, you'll also find documents there which will help you out.
This is important, because nothing is more embarrassing than making a long statement based on a faulty interpretation or incomplete recollection. We want that as little as you do. 3. SEE HOW IT'S ALREADY BEEN DONE
Some of us have been theorizatin' for years. You'll know some of the names because they are frequently mentioned, even in situations where the person in question is not involved directly with whatever's being talked about. There are some truly classic displays of hypothetical cogitation on display here. Pay attention not just to the content of the post, but the way in which it's presented. Note the structure. That may sound like nitpicking, but people will have trouble making sense of a disorganized ramble even if it all makes totally awesome sense to you.
Furthermore, make sure you've got the spelling and grammar down to at least some degree. People who dress in shabby clothes are looked upon as slobs. People who misspell words, misuse punctuation, and don't grammar rite will attract the same negative attention. It will
make people take you less seriously, even if your idea is sound. There are spell-checkers built into all modern browsers. Use them. This is, after all, when you want
everybody to hover on your every word, so make those words make sense.4. KNOW THE COMMUNITY
This isn't to say that you need to know any of us, or that we require you to be here awhile before anybody will take you seriously. It's not true. Make a good impression right away and we'll love you. What this point means is to understand how the community thinks. It is not unacceptable to base your theory partially upon other theories. What's important is to know which theories are generally accepted and which have been discredited. You'll get a good idea of this by simply paying attention to what others say and how the community reacts to it. It will help you avoid making rookie mistakes such as confusing Samael for the cult's God, or believing that Laura is a manifestation, or accepting as truth any of the horseshit you might have seen in The Real Silent Hill Experience
And, finally:5. DON'T DO IT FOR THE FELLATIO
You're apt to be sorely disappointed.
That's not to say you won't get some applause. There are people who cheer on even bad theories. If all you want out of this is to have people tell you you're awesome, you'll get some of it. Thing is, it'll be empty sentiment by people who probably didn't read most of what you wrote, and only understood half of what they read, and just wanted to be nice.
However, there are also a lot of people here who give out praise with great reluctance, and you will not
get it from these guys unless it is truly deserved. What's more likely is that these people will try to dissect what you've had to say and point out the flaws. Does that sound mean? It usually isn't. A theory with serious flaws is pretty useless, after all, and some believe that it helps the theorist to know what the flaws are. It also means that if your theory does
get praise from these apparent curmudgeons, you've really won the game and you have every right to feel proud about what you've done. Just understand, you've got to make it good
if you want that to happen.
Something else to remember is that people will take a pretty surgical attitude to the dissection process, and it may come across as cold, or even mean. It almost always isn't, though it can get that way. It depends both on your presentation and your reaction to criticism. If your presentation is humble and you accept criticism, you'll find that people are willing to help you out. If you come across as arrogant and condescending, or if you get sullen or cranky about criticism, people are going to enjoy
knocking you down.
Now you are armed with the sword of knowledge and the armor of wisdom, and you are ready. Get out there and impress the shit out of us!or else