Is it ever possible to approach a new piece of media or content without applying prior context and experiences to it? Is that a viable and fulfilling concept upon which to base creation? A Postmodernist would argue no, and then yes, that all art exists within a set of very specific sociocultural contexts and it’s success is contingent upon its placement within those contexts. Thus, the postmodern piece of creation necessarily contains traces of these surroundings and can use these surroundings to its advantage. The first and most significant aspect of Braid that struck me was its Postmodern treatment of reference. As a platform game, it’s already limited in the scope of its execution, narrative, and variety (compared to something like an MMORPG). By now, the vast majority of these possibilities have been largely exploited in platform games, so creators are potentially faced with a dilemma: do we let the genre of the platformer die out, or do we seek alternatives? Braid, it seems, has chosen to use the fact that the realm of possibility of the run-and-jump game has been fully explored to its advantage. Braid is rife with references to the king of all platform games: Mario, the one game almost everyone is sure to know. From piranha plants, pipes, and the structure of a number of the levels (one of which is an almost explicit transfer from Donkey Kong), Braid plays like a generic platformer with an almost tongue-in-cheek atmosphere in that there are so many explicit references to Mario. Even the narrative is almost exactly that of Mario, to save a princess from a number of castles in which she turns out not to be once you get there. It’s impossible, as anyone who’s lived and played a game in the 20th and 21st centuries, not to think of Mario when playing Braid, bringing into it a brutal self-awareness characteristic of Postmodernism. Perhaps it is this idea that gives Braid is uniqueness and its appeal to some, but it calls into question how sustainable and fulfilling this technique of game creation really is. Can we use reference and self-awareness more than once to fuel new creation? Is this kind of pastiche really a fulfilling direction to take one of the most limitless and profound forms of media to-date?