The Path: Ginger

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Sep 1, 2009

Filed under: Game Reviews 86 comments

Ginger’s profile:

The forest is a great place for adventures! And a much more fun way to get to grandmother’s house. Ginger isn’t one for sticking to paths. Running around in the fields, climbing gnarly old trees, playing wild games with abandoned toys, collecting pebbles and hitting things with sticks. The idea of growing up doesn’t hold much appeal. Who’d want to give up their childhood? But Ginger is 13. The end is near.
She’s a fresh flower of the field in her own way. Very independent -a loner, actually- and completely absorbed in the game she thinks of as life. Will she bloom before she wilts? Will she ever learn? Should she?

Unlike the other girls, I wasn’t able to connect with Ginger. Her story didn’t speak to me at all, and I didn’t understand her meeting with the wolf, which takes place in a field of flowers while beautiful music plays. There’s a scarecrow, but he’s not the ominous death-crow you’d expect. He’s a shaggy Mr. Pumpkin Head with nothing menacing about him. If anything, her rendezvous with the wolf is more enjoyable than the trip through the woods. Her supposed wolf-meeting is idyllic and serene.

Throughout the game, the forest girl is your guide. She’s playful, with dark skin, dark hair, and a white dress. If you follow her she will sometimes lead you to one of your goals, or back to the road. Ginger’s wolf is the forest girl, or at least a girl that looks just like the forest girl, save for the fact that she’s wearing a red dress.

Ginger comes upon the field and begins to play. Then the red forest girl sneaks up behind her and puts her hands over Ginger’s eyes like they’re playing “guess who”. The two play innocently. They run around the field until they tumble over, and then recline on the grass. Fade to black.

Ginger’s Wolf

Baffled, I made the mistake of looking around to see what others had said, and now I’ve latched onto their interpretation to the point where I can’t come up with anything else. It has been pointed out by multiple people that Ginger is at the right age to begin menstruating, and that her “wolf” was simply coming to terms with that. Hence the now-red forest girl sneaking up and surprising her. This also fits with her profile above.

Well, it “fits” inasmuch as my ignorance of Ginger’s story seems to line up nicely with my ignorance of the emotional side of mensuration.

Part of the trip through grandma’s house is a flyby of her various toys at baby-cam height. There is a bit of barbed wire at the very end, but without any indication of danger before this point I don’t think it’s reasonable to assume Ginger came to any real harm. The barbed wire is probably just symbolic of the end of her innocence, the end of the parade of toys, the fact that this new development is a little scary, and the fact that, purportedly, it hurts.

Not like I would know. I know nothing about this particular life experience. I have no idea if Ginger’s story will resonate with a woman who has gone through this. I’m prepared to have this dismissed as bollocks, but I’m holding onto it for now since I don’t have anything better.


Her walk to grandma’s after the wolf meeting makes it look like she’s uncomfortable. Her head is down and she’s taking small steps. She’s probably not terribly happy, but even as a man I think I can marshal the intuition to realize that she’s probably just fine.


From The Archives:

86 thoughts on “The Path: Ginger

  1. Maldeus says:

    Two trollings in one day! Score!

    Actually, I’ll link to the YouTube of Ginger’s ending while I’m here.

    Okay, trying to rapidly edit in an interpretation (or at least a wild guess) in a little over six minutes…

    The girl in white leads you back to the path. As far as I can tell, she never pulls a fast one on you (unless her pathing gets messed up, in which case she leads you smack into the wolf, but that sounds like a bug to me). The girl in red, on the other hand, is a tricky little blighter. Playfully tricky, though.

    Looking at Ginger’s character design, she’s got the Native American feathers in her hair, her hobbies include pretty much everything Native American kids did to pass the time before the white man came along and gave them disturbing video games to be traumatized by, and thirteen is the age when several Native American tribes had their coming-of-age ritual…Thing (this was different for every tribe, of course, so it’s hard to make a generalized statement about what it actually was, besides having something to do with coming-of-age and almost always occurring around the age of thirteen). Maybe someone with knowledge of some of the tribes that had these kinds of coming-of-age rituals can shed some light on the subject? I think that’s our best lead right now.

  2. Jeremiah says:

    Please tell me that’s just terrible audio quality in that Youtube clip. If that’s anything like the actual music in the game, I believe my ears would be bleeding after much more of it.

  3. scragar says:

    I uploaded a print screen of one of the flashes shown at the very end, I looked at them all, and this one creeps me out the most. Looks like the barbed wire was there for a reason after all.
    All very depressing.

  4. pffh says:

    Games that indian kids played? I remember playing similar games as a child and I’m a northern European so I guess these are just the games most children in most cultures play.
    Also in many cultures all over the world 13 used to be the age you stopped being a child and became an adult.

  5. Maldeus says:

    I’m aware, Pffh, but the feathers were decidedly reminiscient of Native American culture (also, before anyone asks, no, I’m not being PC about “indians,” I’m just sick of having to ask whether or not people are talking about the people of the actual subcontinent of India). I was just throwing out every idea that came to mind in hopes of stumbling across something deep and meaningful.

    Alternatively (and I like this theory better): Ginger is a tomboy (obviously), and when menstruation comes it smacks her in the face. “Ha ha!” it says mockingly, “Now you are irrevocably a girl.”

    Alternatively alternatively: The girl in red is a crazed psychopath who garroted Ginger with barbed wire.

  6. I liked Ginger the most out of all the girls. Her outlook on the world is wonderfully full of mirth and disrespect. Her story is about being at the last days when she can be a “child” and not have to deal with pesky hormones – one of my favorite times of my own life, and one that I was a little sad to lose. Her game with the Girl in White Wolf (as the game files call her) is the point where she realizes things may have just become complicated. Friendships and little games can suddenly mean more than she meant for them to previously, and I think she fears the world of sexuality and worrying about other people’s impressions on her – facets of life she’s been able to gloriously ignore.


  7. Anna says:

    Hm, I didn’t get the menstruation theme from Ginger’s wolf at all. For me it represented finding and losing your first really deep friendship. You know, where you share everything, feel like soul mates…it means everything to you for a while, but eventually, for whatever reason, fades away. The scene wasn’t traumatic because the process usually isn’t traumatic, just a little sad.

  8. Ergonomic Cat says:

    Even the pic may or may not be violence. There’s a whole thing are being confined as a adult, strangled by rules, etc….

  9. July says:

    I was a bit confused about this one… well, actually I had the idea that her story was about her getting really angry or depressed about something, leaving the path, destroying a field of flowers, getting hurt on the thorns, and then lying to herself about it later, pretending that it was a really happy day.

    Then we come back to how she really feels at the moment by walking through the rain to Grandma’s house.

    So it’s like she’s really got a sad life, but she just puts on a mask when confronting the rest of the world.

    Still, I think your idea is better.

  10. Mari says:

    I’m pretty sure you’re dead on with this one, Shamus. Or should I say that “the internet people” are dead on? The imagery of the wolf meeting in the field with the scarecrow (both associated with fertility symbols)followed by the girl in red sneaking up on her.

    Then in Grandma’s house you hit the living room strung with clothesline/wires (entanglements) and all the doors are changed out for chainlink gates (barriers/fences). Upstairs you hit more clothesline then a wall papered with peacocks, a traditional symbol of resurrection/renewal also related with menstruation and fertility. For the record, I read Ginger’s feathers in her hair as peacock feathers and apply the associated symbolism there, too.

    Next you pan under the beds (endings) for a view of toys (childhood has ended). Then into another hallway full of entanglements. Note the shutters in the hall that allow glimpses back to the previous room (looking back at childhood).

    Finally into a room with falling/raining peacock feathers and barbed wire traps along the floor. For some young girls that’s exactly how menses feels, like a trap. And the fact that it’s barbed wire is apt, too. The dual edge of womanhood set against girlhood.

    I can’t help but feel, though, that we have to be off-base with this one. It seems a little – specific. All of the others seemed much more universal than this one. But like you, I haven’t really found an alternate explanation that makes sense.

  11. SatansBestBuddy says:

    I’m with Jeremiah, either something went wrong with those recordings or these devs need to learn what is and isn’t appropriate pitch for the human ear.

    1. Nessa says:

      Don’t worry I bought the game and these pitches are NOT how they should be. However I do warn you, sometimes in this game it can get a bit ear piercing to listen to. (Mostly when fading out of your wolf encounter.)

  12. Vladius says:

    Ru-by! Ru-by!

    Come on, get to the floating zombie cloud lake already!

    Menstruation =/= Floating Cloud Zombies!

    Really, I’m curious as to how you can find any interpretation for what happened to Ruby.

  13. Mari says:

    @Vladius – Ruby was one of the easiest and most obvious to me. I can’t wait to get to it, though, and hear what other people thought. All weekend I had to fight the urge to post a comment like “MOAR PATH PLZ” here because it’s been so much fun to see how different people understand the different stories.

  14. Scott says:

    Menstruation =/= Floating Cloud Zombies!


  15. Unbeliever says:

    Forgive me; I haven’t played the game and I have one basic question which I’ve never seen answered.

    Do you get to pick which order you play the girls in, or is it set in stone (i.e. Ginger always goes first, then Rose…)?

    Just curious, as it might affect the storytelling…

  16. Maldeus says:

    The menstruation theory would appear to be accurate, then (although for both Carmen and Ginger we’ve relied on Mari’s omniscient knowledge of symbolism to be accurate, when for all I know she could be completely BSing it (not that I think it’s likely she is, since it could be defeated with a simple google search, and actually I think I’ll do that now, just in case (which shows how incredibly paranoid I am))) but I still think it’s worth pointing out that it was toy -soldiers- under the bed. It kind of implies that, regardless of how tomboyish she may act, Ginger has officially entered the phase of her life where she is a girl and every boy who knows her is going to be very much aware of that fact.

    EDIT: Also, I predict very little conflicting interpretations on this one, unfortunately. With Carmen we had two conflicting ideals of who the woodsman was and what he did with her, either a simpleton who had sex with a ludicrously willing (and drunk) girl or a wise old man who somehow managed to dismantle her entire identity in one evening without knocking her up. I like the second one, personally, if only because the woodsman is supposed to be the hero of Little Red Riding Hood, is he not?

    EDIT the second: Has anyone considered that perhaps sound effects that are uncomfortable to listen to were intended by the developers? It would make perfect sense. Anyone have any idea what the audio symbolizes in this one? It’s not as clear cut, without the sawing and moaning and half-hearted singing.

  17. Juni says:

    @Mari 13:

    He means Rose, I think… Rose was the one with the floating cloud zombie.

  18. I was totally confused by Ginger’s story.

    Crop Circles

    Was she the victim of an unfortunate farming accident?

    Leslee, aka Literal Girl

    PS Because she is a ‘tomboy’, and she falls down on the ground with the girl in red, there is also some speculation that she had a lesbian relationship that went bad.

  19. Maldeus says:

    Okay, granted, lesbianism makes a whole lot of sense during the forest scene itself, especially since Carmen’s path left me under the impression that whatever happens in the woods is intended to literally happen somewhere (though not literally in an actual forest, in most cases). But how do you match up the weird, stiff, dark things (Mari says they’re clotheslines, but I don’t see it), the toys under the bed, the peacock motif, and the barbed wire deathtrap with relationships/lesbianism?

  20. Spider Dave says:

    Huh. That’s an interpretation and a half. I had assumed that it was about manipulation. About meeting someone who blinds you to their true intentions (tGiW covers your eyes), uses you for a while, and then drags you to the ground when they’re done with you.

    I dont understand why Ginger and the GiW would play innocently together if she represents Ginger’s period.

    EDIT: I also cant find anywhere saying that the peacock is a fertility symbol. It seems to be a symbol of immortality, glory, royalty, and incorruptability.

    I guess that’s why I cant read alitheometers.

  21. Kdansky says:

    Completely unrelated: What Mirror’s Edge wanted to be.

  22. Spider Dave says:

    On another note, I dont think the peacock wallpaper is Ginger specific; it appears in the other girls’ endings as well. And I think the feathers all over the place belong to crows.

    Edit: Kdansky, that game is super.

  23. WILL says:

    Has anyone thought of the possiblity that they’re all just insane and hallucinate things?

  24. General Karthos says:

    WILL: That’s the easy way out. It’s like the philosopher who asks “What if we’re all just the dream of a butterfly”? The fact is that it’s all up to us to interpret what we see, and even if we all are the dream of a butterfly, finding out the meaning of life is important to us.

    Whether the game was intended as a work of art filled with imagery and symbolism, or whether the girls are all insane and hallucinating everything doesn’t matter, because it’s all in how we, ourselves, interpret it. If you want to assume they’re insane and hallucinating go right ahead. But it’s probably more fun to try to connect all the images with a given meaning.

  25. Maldeus says:

    The whole house sequence, one way or another, definitely implies the end of childhood and the strangling responsibilities of adult life. But what the death does that have to do with the Red Girl?

    This’d probably be a lot easier if we had a good idea of what exactly the Girl in White represents.

  26. Sheer_FALACY says:

    Maybe they just put a bunch of random imagery in the game and expected people to interpret it for them.

    And the GiW will lead you to the wolf sometimes because she leads you to items, and all of the wolves have items in their areas (though sometimes not items you can get as that girl). Except the floating zombie wolf – does the GiW ever lead you to him?

  27. Dev Null says:

    Anna, I got mostly what you got – friendship and loss. But then, like Shamus I’m not exactly equipped to offer any great insight into menstruation, and I certainly wouldn’t rule out double meanings from these folks.

    The feathers in her hair I thought were just a nice obvious visual reminder that shes a tomboy, which happens to be always visible in the games default camera view. I didn’t think she was actually supposed to _be_ Native American at all.

  28. Greg says:

    It seems likely to me, given that it’s the girl in white who becomes the wolf, that the general theme is that even something you totally trust might won’t always stay the same.

  29. SoldierHawk says:

    I’m fascinated by this series on The Path. I’m a longtime reader, but this is the first time I really feel compelled to comment. Excellent, excellent work.

  30. Mari says:

    Couple of things all over the place:

    1) Peacocks/peacock feathers as a symbol of renewal: here among others. Renewal and fertility are often used interchangeably in classical lit and mythology because of their mutual association with farming/crops.

    2) Clothesline or ? – I said clothesline because that’s one of the objects in the game that the characters can interact with so it’s what came to mind when I saw the weird line things. I don’t know that it is clothesline. It was just the first thing that came to my mind when trying to describe the things. Anyone have any clue what it actually is?

    3) Making this stuff up – LOL I’m not, I promise. But by all means Google this stuff. Half the fun for me is seeing what somebody else saw. Maybe if you find an alternate meaning for a symbol it’ll spur a whole new understanding. The crummy part of symbolism is that the same thing can symbolize many things because of different cultures, different times, different minds doing the interpreting, etc. I’m going with what I know from far too many interpretive lit, theater, and psych courses in college nudged onward by some Google and then putting it together in the way it makes sense to ME. I’m not an expert, have no credentials, and can be as wrong as going to family reunions to pick up dates. ;-)

    4. Crow feathers vs. peacock feathers – interesting point. They could have been. I saw blue and immediately thought peacock but crows can be blue-black so that fits, too. And both birds play prominently in the game. I’m going to give that alternative some thought…

    5. Peacock wallpaper – no, it’s not unique to Ginger. It wasn’t in Carmen but it was in many, if not most, of the endings. And if I recall there was a peacock in the birdcage in one of them as well. But the recurrence is honestly one of the things that struck me as making it significant. Recurring symbols in lit usually have more weight than symbols that appear only once.

    1. Puppies are cute says:

      Actually I think that your peacock feathers might be raven/crow feathers, such as from the crows who watch ginger and her wolf playing from the poles above them. However, it is odd that feathers float around her room and there is a crow sitting on the sideways table a few rooms before it. It’s almost as though the crows you see on the path are there to try and warn her of the dangers she is about to encounter.

  31. Maldeus says:

    Guys, honestly, I was questioning Mari’s honesty out of paranoia, and I’m probably paranoid enough to be clinically diagnosed with something. If I don’t trust someone, it means only that they, at one point in time, had a pulse. They don’t even have to still have it. It doesn’t mean they’re actually worthy of suspicion in the slightest.

    Anyways, back to wading through the bubbling pot of ever-thickening symbolism that is The Path…

    The forest scene appears to be literal, like Carmen’s forest scene was. It doesn’t literally take place in a forest, of course, it takes place in a field out in a farm somewhere with power lines going through it. Unfortunately, though, it’s hard to figure out what exactly is going on. Is the Girl in Red literal? The Girl in White would appear to be symbolic. Is her red doppleganger related to her? What does she symbolize? Did they just put the Girl in White through a costume change because they were lazy?

    The dark clothesline(?) stuff appears to be alive, in the way it moves. It also doesn’t start moving until midway through the house. What exactly is it?

    Do peacock’s represent fertility or immortality, and are those peacock or crow feathers? What would be the implications of each, and which of the two is more likely?

    That’s not a window back into the room with the bed. It’s a window into a room Ginger doesn’t visit. I’m also pretty sure it’s a view into the pool room in Carmen’s House, though it’s hard to tell with all the gravity-bending Carmen puts the house through. There are mattresses stapled to the far wall, though. Assuming this is about menstruation, Carmen would easily represent what Ginger does not want to become, a painfully girly girl.

    Also, what is it with Carmen and mattresses? They seem to pop up a lot for her.

  32. David V.S. says:


    You had a lot to say about Carmen’s description before you began describing the game. That description gave you a definite sense of who else Carmen reminded you.

    > She's a fresh flower of the field in her own way.
    > Very independent -a loner, actually- and completely
    > absorbed in the game she thinks of as life. Will
    > she bloom before she wilts? Will she ever learn?
    > Should she?

    In contrast, you seem to lack such associations for Ginger. You expound on life being seen as a game, but not the other hints.

    How does being a loner fit her story?

    What would it mean for her to “bloom”? How might she “wilt”?

    What does she need to learn? How is this knowledge a two-edged sword?

    My own hypothesis is purely based on the YouTube clip, since I don’t have the game. I see Ginger as a 13-year-old with crippled social skills, perhaps due to Asperger’s or something similar.

    Ginger did not play well with the other girl. Someone less a loner would know how to cooperatively design the game played. But Ginger lacked that kind of social skill. She was so much a loner that “playing with someone else” decayed into either “they follow my game” or “I follow their game”.

    Ginger thought she finally had a friend, this new girl who was helpful to everyone else. But being social with someone else, even someone trying to be helpful, was hard and did not end well.

    Afterwards, she walked very slowly because she understood life was not just the games she made. If she wanted company and friendship she would occasionally have to partake in other people’s games and rules, which was more complicated and stressful.

    For Ginger, “blooming” would be developing normal social skills and “wilting” would be retreating away from that challenge to remain a loner. In her successful ending she has learned about herself and is willing to try to bloom, but is terrified because the effort will be so difficult and painful. She puts her toys behind her, but expects socializing will be like navigating barbed wire rather than playing joyfully.

  33. Anachronist says:

    OK, I haven’t played this game. But I think the first thing I would do with it is walk alongside the path but not on it to see what happens. That is, stray off as far as I can while keeping the path in sight. When it goes over a gully, duck under the path, etc. Does anything interesting happen then?

  34. Mr K says:

    My own thoughts on this episode were that the overconfident Ginger who seemed to love the action hero style violence perhaps seen on TV comes to realise that people use actual violence in real life for cruel fun or to get what they want. The girl in red seems to befriend her, then later push her over and abandon her or perhaps bully her. Ginger grows up to realise all the faux macho-violence, like seen on TV, is not so fun in real life, and that she is not as tough as she thought she was.

  35. Maldeus says:

    Hrmm…I see some potential in David’s claim. It is mentioned she is a loner, and it also helps the Girl in Red sequence to be taken literally instead of symbolically, like the other wolf sequences are. Leaving childhood behind, though, the other half of Ginger’s description, also comes into it.

    Hang on…I think I’ve got something!

    Ginger’s headed for the adult world now, right? What’s the transition from the kid’s world to the adult world in real life? High school. The place where, if you want friends, you’d BETTER put your toys behind you, no matter how much you want to retain them. The Girl in Red is also older than Ginger, that could mean something.

    And…Um…There’s no way on Earth I could succinctly describe the personal symbolism that IMMEDIATELY struck a chord with me when I saw the Evil Clothesline Tendrils of Darkness(tm), but suffice it to say I could very easily see those pervading the hallways of a high school (speaking metaphorically)…Except I was pretty sure that symbolism was pretty much exclusive to me. Maybe I’m misinterpreting this?

    And the last note, there…”Will she ever learn? Should she?” Good question. If she puts her toys behind her and conforms to her new world, is she growing up and embracing the responsibilities of adult life, or is she only letting the dystopia that is high school strangle her? There’s ups and downs to both of those questions, even for someone like me who finds every single thing about high school to be utterly ludicrous. After all, it’s pretty much equally ludicrous to run away from your responsibilities your whole life.

    Okay. So the Girl in Red seems friendly. But deep down inside, she’s jerking Ginger along, just like the kind of superficial “best friend” the popular kid at school would have. She runs ahead and Ginger tires herself out chasing after her, and when Girl in Red asks for help up, she’s really just trying to pull Ginger down. And she falls for it, hook line and sinker. She’s strangled by the wire. She puts her toys behind her and transforms.

    And going with the “they’re all the same person” theory: This is how she eventually becomes Carmen. On the other hand, this doesn’t dovetail too well with her becoming Rose, unless she gets really jaded by the process in the intervening two years, then suddenly decides to buy into it again two years later. Hrm.

    The various girl’s extras on the webpage have proven insightful. Did you know they all have livejournals, and leave comments on each other’s journals? And they appear to even respond to other commenters, on rare, rare occasions.

  36. Kiwipolish says:

    I don’t know if being a woman gives me any special insight into the whole menstruation angle, but I’m prepared to dismiss it as bunk as well. Not just due to everything beyond the red dress being a total stretch, but because it seems to go against the metaphor of the Path. I mean, if there is *one thing* I thought I had on this game, it was that straying off the path = going against what you were told. But menstruation is going to come will-ye or nil-ye, so how is that supposed to fit it?

    There *did* seem to be danger in the final ending montage – one of the images looks a good bit like Ginger’s head being nearly taken off by a line of barbed wire. To me, Ginger’s story seemed to speak of a more literal loss – the twin beds, the twin seesaws with no partner, and the way the girl in red turned into butterflies and flew off halfway through their games (before coming back with the “peekaboo” thing). When I first saw it, I took it literally – Ginger and the girl were running around in a cornfield recklessly, and one of them ran into the barbed wire. I am probably the only person in the universe who took it literally, too, but it didn’t seem that unreasonable – Carmen’s story seems pretty literal to me. I took the story as one of losing or accidentally hurting a friend. Of course, looking at the comments, I can see how its more likely to be a metaphorical loss instead, or possibly a betrayal of a friendship by the girl in red (which would probably make more sense with the ending images).

  37. David V.S. says:

    Some later thoughts…

    (a) Very few comments are from the perspective of role-playing. People are being spectators watching the girls, not the girls themselves. This matters! For example, if the girl in white does not change for the other girls, we should expect her identity remains unchanged for Ginger also–it is only Ginger’s perception of the girl in white that is different, red from being alarming and halting.

    (b) Symbolism (well, good symbolism) can’t be interpreted by first asking “what does this symbol mean?”. First genre matters (do we watch the girls or become them?). Then choice of symbols matters (why would the author make the color of the helper girl’s dress a symbol?). Then context matters (Ginger’s profile). Finally the question “what does the symbol mean?” can be asked.


    Changing the topic from game, two authors who do well with the symbolism of Revelation are Keener and Bauckham. Those who have only seen shoddy interpretation of that scriptural book that started by asking “what does that symbol mean?” might enjoy what light is produced by real scholarship.

  38. inafish says:

    Am I really the only one who took the “clothesline thingies” to be hair? Actually, they reminded me of eyelashes at first, but I’d say they could be any kind of body hair – which would tie in very neatly with the whole menstruation/puberty thing. Almost too neatly, in fact.

    Personally, I’m leaning more towards the “lost friend” or “betrayal by friend” hypothesis. Is there a possibility to tie the two together? If it was a male friend Ginger lost, I’d say he was freaked out by her first menstruation, but the GiR is obviously older than Ginger, so that’s hardly likely.

    Caveat: I haven’t played the game, all my interpretations are based solely on the YouTube vid and what other people wrote.

  39. Thank you for all the nice articles about The Path, Shamus. It’s a pleasure to read them.

    For what it’s worth, I have personally always considered Ginger’s wolf to be the most evil of them all. I actually think of her as Satan. She is the exact opposite of everything that is good and friendly. She will use your innermost wishes to lure you in and destroy you. She takes pleasure in perverting a form that you find agreeable. But underneath, for me, she is beyond mean. She’s so evil that she finds it amusing to appear nice. She’s inhuman.

  40. Avilan the Grey says:

    The biggest mystery to me (probably because I am weird geek) is that I never had that much problem growing up. No real traumas, no “childhood lost forever” etc. Crap happened, but so what? I still have my toys, they are just that much more expensive. I was on my first game Con a few weeks back (a very small one) and it was a blast. Nothing but unhealthy food, toys, games and new and old friends.
    I guess it might be a different experience for a woman (they are forever calling men “immature”, after all :P )

    As for loss of innocence I guess that too to a point differs between men and women (due to social norms, Boys are expected to loose their virginity ASAP, girls are supposed to forever stay virgins) but I have never experienced anything traumatic about that either.

  41. Awetugiw says:

    I am not really convinced by the “menstruation as wolf” theory. The symbolism does somewhat seem to fit, but the problem with symbolism is that it tends to fit to everything you would like it to fit to. The problem I, like several others, apparently, have with “menstruation as wolf” is that it does not seem to fit with the rest of the stories very well.

    I think every one of the girls has a behavior that is (to some extent) dangerous and forbidden, but of which they don’t see the danger themselves.

    Basically, I think the youngest three girls take a risk with “environmental” things, while the older three take risks with “social” things.

    Robin – Wild animals – she risks getting hurt by an actual wolf (not very likely perhaps, wolves are hard to actually meet), or even just a swan or something.
    Rose – Nature – she risks (literally) getting lost in the woods, or drowning.
    Ginger – Play – she risks falling out of a tree, hurting herself on barbed wire, falling down a well, or things like that.

    Ruby – Rebellion – she thoughtlessly rebels against authority, and doesn’t see that sometimes authority is right.
    Carmen – Men – whether or not she actually has sex with the woodsman, she obviously takes a risk with the way she approaches him.
    Scarlet – the only one I am really uncertain about. I think it may be the opposite of Ruby, that she trusts authority too much, and risks getting that trust betrayed.

    Of course there are many more ways of interpreting the story, or assign different risks to the girls. The explanation where the wolf is betrayal of friendship also seems to work reasonably well. I do not really see a reason not to interpret her story relatively literal though.

    As for the girl in red, I don’t think she is the wolf of Gingers story. The games she plays with the girl in red are her wolf. Alternatively, the girl in red might provide the peer pressure to begin even more risky games than she normally would.

    (The advantage of seeing the girl in red as peer pressure is that it combines well with another idea I can’t shake. I think Ginger is partly acting her tomboyishnes. Although she probably does like most of the games she plays, I think she is also (almost desperately) trying to convince herself and others of how wild she is, in an attempt to be different. She (partly, of course) identifies herself by her lack of caution.)

  42. Colin Powell says:

    I spilled ketchup on my lap when I was in a bad mood once. Does that count?

  43. Mari says:

    See, this is why I’m loving these! I couldn’t really “get” Ginger at all and of the few theories I’d seen on the ‘net, menstruation was the only one that remotely made sense. But I wasn’t comfortable with it, like I said, because it seemed oddly specific. I’m leaning much more towards the friendship theory that y’all are developing now. Seeing the feathers in Ginger’s hair and in the room at Grandma’s house as crow feathers works into that because crows are usually associated with trickery or betrayal. Even among the Native American tribes that view crows very favorably there’s still a trickery aspect to them and of course in Celtic myth crows are shape-shifters, betrayers, and tricksters associated with the fae.

    1. Shamus says:

      My wife immediately suggested the friendship theory when I described the scenario, pointing out that 13 is when young girls enter the phase of two-faced friends, gossip, cutting remarks, and general catty-ness.


  44. Groboclown says:

    I’m not sure how many people know about the edge-of-screen location indicators. One of those indicators shows where the Girl in White is.

    When I encountered the Girl In Red Wolf, the Girl in White indicator clearly showed that she wasn’t in the field of flowers. Thus, the Girl in White != Girl in Red, though they may look alike. That being said, they may symbolically represent the same person.

    I still like my theory of GiW representing a motherly figure. In this position, she represents a clearly female role, which would play well into the “smack! you’re a girl!” theory.

  45. Maldeus says:

    So you remember when I said the Girl in Red is a crazed psychopath who garroted Ginger with barbed wire? Well…

    “For what it's worth, I have personally always considered Ginger's wolf to be the most evil of them all. I actually think of her as Satan. She is the exact opposite of everything that is good and friendly. She will use your innermost wishes to lure you in and destroy you. She takes pleasure in perverting a form that you find agreeable. But underneath, for me, she is beyond mean. She's so evil that she finds it amusing to appear nice. She's inhuman.”

    This from Michael Samyn, from Tale of Tales. So…I may have actually been right. Sort of. Psychopaths in real life are people with no remorse or compassion, who have a most unobliging tendency to toy with their “friend’s” psyches and suck them dry for emotional energy (the Chinese called them “Jiang Shi,” which means “Chi Vampire” or, for a more ominous translation, “Devourer of Souls”). They’re sort of a less fantastic, slower acting version of Dementors. The “tendrils of Darkness” also resonate with psychopathy, again for reasons that I thought were personal to me, so take that one with a grain of salt. I don’t see how the barbed wire fits into it unless the Girl in Red decided to finish the job by literally garroting Ginger. It’s not impossible.

    Keeping with the “none of them really die” theory, however, Ginger gets involved with a psychopath who monopolizes her life (the way the Girl in Red makes her chase after her, tiring Ginger out), causing depression and a feeling of emptiness while the Girl in Red grows stronger and stronger emotionally from her control of Ginger’s psyche (technically it can’t be physically proven that one is literally draining the other for energy, but the boot fits). At the end, Ginger isn’t physically harmed, but she’s completely drained and depressed.

    But how does that mesh up with the nightmare house? It doesn’t, really. I mean, Ginger’s an independent type and a loner, so she’s got lots of energy to drain before she’s empty and no support group that’s likely to recognize the Girl in Red as a threat and take steps to keep Ginger safe, so she’s a perfect target, and the comment left by Michael Samyn positively screams psychopath…But nothing else in the nightmare house seems to gel with a run-in with a psychopath. The barbed wire? The rocking chair? The toys beneath the bed? Again, though, the tendrils make sense to me: an all-pervasive malevolence that, if you let it grow long enough, will come to pierce every aspect of your life…But that was an association I came up with more or less on my own. I didn’t think it was some kind of universal symbolism.

  46. Maldeus says:

    Bugger, too late to edit now, but the above post implied that Jiang Shi were literally exactly like psychopaths. They’re not exactly the same, because for example most psychopaths are not dead. But the similarities are striking (especially since they share those similarities with western vampires).

  47. onosson says:

    I don’t have a whole lot to say, or add to the discussion. (I haven’t played through any of the characters right to the end, but have watched some of the videos).

    Just to recall from the story on which The Path is based, remember that the wolf pretends to be something which it is not. The pretense of being good, kind, friendly and harmless gives way to violent danger.

    Perhaps this applies to all the wolves in The Path, too. Just a thought.

  48. Spider Dave says:

    Looks like the “friendship/manipulation” idea is gaining popularity. Michael Samyn’s input lets my heart rest easy that the internet was wrong.

    EDIT I’m excited for you to get to Scarlet, if only because a lot of people seem to think she got her fingers cut off by her wolf.

  49. Bryan says:

    To me, the “barbed wire” also looked like hair. In the house, when it comes through the blinds, it looks much like hair run through a comb when my barber is cutting hair. But the hair is not cut, it is waiting to be cut.

    It turns out that cutting hair has its own symbolism, usually associated with loss of power or mourning. Perhaps she laments being forced out of childhood by age, and resents being bound by society’s rules.

    Disclaimer: I have not yet played the game, I’ve only seen the videos.

  50. Maldeus says:

    The barbed wire at the end is definitely barbed wire. The weird black clothesline/hair/tendril thing is up for debate, and I could see it as hair.

    Does decapitation have any particular symbolic meaning? It’s Ginger’s head what gets cut off, after all.

  51. Kiwipolish says:

    @Michael Samyn’s comment: Eeeyikes. I’m definitely onboard the “two-faced friend” theory now. Maybe that’s the purpose of the crows all up on the telephone wire? I’ve heard the metaphor of raucous, squabbling women as crows more than once before. Likewise, if the Girl in White is supposed to be innocence and friendship or whatever (something positive), it would make sense for the “wolf” to take her (metaphorical) face.

    It seems like people should be careful reading too much into the bios to try and figure out the stories. I get the feeling that their backstories aren’t crucial to figuring out what happened in the game.

  52. Maldeus says:

    What happened on April 4th? Four out of six girls left their last livejournal post on April 4th. The only other overlap between their livejournal post dates is that two of them posted on August 21st. Is there any significance to the cut-off on April 4th, I wonder?

  53. Octal says:

    @Maldeus: Maybe it’s some kind of number symbolism? Four girls’ last entry being on 4/4… hm.

    1. Laura says:

      The number 4 is considered unlucky in China because it sounds similar to the Chinese word for death – I think the same might be true in Japan.

  54. Flame Fanner says:

    This is what a dark take on Hood should look like:
    (Riding, not Robin)

  55. Maldeus says:

    You’re too late, Flame Fanner. The “rape story” debate is over. We’re all too busy discussing the actual content of the game. Feel free to try and stir up a flame war somewhere else, though.

  56. Stephanie says:

    To be honest, the first time I played Ginger’s story, I thought the wolf was her reaching puberty and realising that she’s going to fall in love with other girls, which, even with all the progressive developments of the 20th century, is a problematic thing to do. So it’s been interesting reading all these other interpretations.

    This is a general comment about the game: the first time I played, I had one girl go straight to Grandma’s house out of curiousity, and then had everyone else have their wolf encounter. Then I started replaying from the beginning to see what I’d missed, and found out that if you wander around in the woods for a while, and _then_ go to Grandma’s house, you see normal versions of all the unlocked rooms. (At one point, Ginger crawls past air vents showing Grandma’s room, instead of the psychedelic stuff in the post-wolf encounter.) It occurred to me that a possible interpretation in the game is that the old lady isn’t their grandmother, it’s who they could grow up to be, if they keep taking the safe path.

    What also struck me is not all the images of danger – this is Red Riding Hood after all – but the images of safety. At any time, you can decide that you’ve had too much of being lost in the woods, and the Girl in White will come and get you and take you back to the path. And she’ll hold your hand, and hug you, which the first time I played the Goth girl I needed, because I was getting freaked out about her depressive, quasi-suicidal thoughts. At any time when you’re on the path, you can keep walking to Grandma’s, or you can go to the phone booth and call for someone to get you. Heck, you can actually wander around in the woods as much as you like, even in the wolf sites, and nothing bad will happen unless you choose it to. You can play the game for hours without getting in to trouble, if that’s what you choose, and I suppose that choice is what makes the game interesting.

    @Unbeliever: Yes, you can choose which order of the girls you play in, and you can choose to take them back to the Red Room and take another girl out.

  57. Avilan the Grey says:


    So in other words, it is possible to let the girls experience a normal growing process and not go bonkers and suffer if you want to (and without getting the “Fail” screen).

    (Yes, I still maintain that what the game is essentially doing is promoting suffering as the “right” way to “grow up”, which I find is very strange)

  58. Flame Fanner says:

    Fuck off, Maldeus. Did I say or imply anything about rape?

    1. Shamus says:

      Please have this debate in a respectful manner. Thank you.

  59. Spider Dave says:

    @Flame fanner
    You didnt say anything sexual at all, but the picture implied sexuality and violence (what with the half naked risque blood covered girl and all) and for a lot of people, that can imply rape (especially when that subject has been talked about a lot in reference to this game).

  60. Maldeus says:

    I’m curious as to what you were expecting with a name like “Flame Fanner.” Did you honestly think that no one might guess you may be here to, you know, fan the flames? Well, instinct tells me you did and your crude vulgarity now is a clumsy, ill-fated attempt to start another flame war, but I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt here. If you don’t want to be treated like a troll, don’t give yourself a name that’s synonymous with it.

  61. Flame Fanner says:

    You’re one to talk about names that imply malevolence, MALdeus.

  62. Maldeus says:

    Not to mention arrogance, given it’s MalDEUS. And indeed, I am a fairly malevolent person (though not terribly godlike, I’m sorry to say). But that’s an argumentum ad hominem. My logic still stands.

  63. Flame Fanner says:

    Your whole point was that I suck, so to say that YOU suck is a perfectly valid argument.

  64. Maldeus says:

    Your incapability to grasp the point I made, specifically that you had given me and everyone else every reason to believe you were trolling, is proof of either your continuing intent to troll or else simply your terminal stupidity. Either way, I can’t be bothered to continue responding to your petty, childish insults.

  65. Lenneth says:


    There’s always the whole “Four Is Death” thing

  66. Flame Fanner says:

    Having a certain name, unless it has racial slurs or something, isn’t an indication that you’re trolling. You’re the one who’s been flinging insults everywhere this whole time, so if there’s any troll at all, it’s you.

    1. Shamus says:

      I would like to extend an invitation to everyone arguing in this thread to knock it off. This is not enriching the discussion or going anywhere.

      Thank you.

  67. onosson says:

    Thanks, Shamus. This was starting to feel like the rest of the internet… which is normally not the case.

  68. Pester says:

    Maybe barbed wire is barbed wire? I was a huge tomboy when I was a kid, and when I visited my parent’s last week I hiked to my old haunts and picked raspberries. On the way back, when I went through a barbed-wire fence like I did a million times before I got my shirt caught and the back of my neck scratched. She doesn’t want to grow up, but is getting too big for dodging fences.

  69. Amanda says:

    The way I took it was a combination of a couple things, one which my friend pointed out.

    First of all I believe it is about menstration, confusion on sexuality (liking more boyish things, which is why her wolf is a female), running away from your problems (“I’m too fast”, “Now you see me, now you don’t”) and death and loss.

    1. Menstration: of course everyone has mentioned the red dress, the age 13, the two beds (one white and pure, one red and stained with blood), leaving childhood playthings behind, Peacocks tend to symbol fertility or renewal, among others.

    2. Confusion on Sexuality: Her wolf is the only female, the other girls like cuddly things or art or boys or other more girly activities and she likes climbing and hiding and running, she is at a transition point in life where a child friend could confuse her when she likes them in a “new” way, Having a female friend she is close to (two of everything) Many matresses along the wall through the window, Peacocks can also symbolize showing off (Peacocking for GiRD because she “likes” her), among others.

    3. Running Away from Your Problems: She mentions running and being fast a couple times, she mentions hiding from everyone and “now you see me, now you don’t”, the two girls play running games, when at the fence she says something like “can’t catch me, I’m too fast”, and others.

    4. Death and Loss: I will address this as one, but it can be two.
    I took them as crow feathers in her hair as when the girls visit the field of flowers one girl comments that there are no birds because of the scarecrow, however in Ginger’s crows cover the wires. Crows are a symbol of death, evil, loss, darkness, and it is raining crow feathers in the room with the barbed wire at the end.
    Did anyone else see the tendrils as wires (when they came alive halfway through I thought it symbolized “live” wires or else shaken by the crows.
    I took it as the girls were playing and either the wire broke or the whole pole fell and from the camera angle it looks like it could have fallen on the girls. Maybe GiRD was getting electrocuted (long black tendril-like wires running through the house) and Ginger ran for help, but the field was surrounded by the metal fence. She tried to crawl over the fence and got caught in the barbed wire. Thus she died watching her only friend die as well. Horrific and dark, but that was my thought.

    Everything added up aside from why the rocking chair was spinning…. That I just thought was to symbolize the rough energy that both Ginger had as a girl, and the wires had running through them or something.

  70. Amanda says:

    Also Forrest Girl in my opinion is a ghost of the original Red Riding Hood. She suffered at the hands of a “wolf” and is trying to cure the girls curiosity of going off the path, but tries to lead them back to the path before they meet the wolf. I know sometimes she leads you straight to the wolf. I think this is either telling the girls that a) You need to learn that bad can happen but I can lead you back to the path to avoid this, b) She is leading them both through curiosity and adulthood through the ways that address their own weakness, or c) It’s a glitch, she takes the direct path, which sometimes leads through an area with a wolf.

  71. Kate says:

    I think Ginger’s story is more about losing or a bad friendship then anyting else, and I say this with my own life in mind. She made a friend who turned out to be bad for her and got hurt or let the girl take control, becoming a sheep. Her head cut off at the end could be a symbol for her losing herslef and becoming the other girl’s lapdog. On the other hand it could be showing just how much it hurt to lose a friend.

    I also noted how the girl in red and the girl in white look the same and the girl in white is supposed to be like a friend. Once again I am saying this with my own experince in mind.

  72. Jen says:

    Ginger is the first girl I’ve played without really reading into the game at all. She met the “wolf,” the ending was confusing, and I had no idea what to expect or where it was going the entire time. I selected Ginger though thinking not that she looked like I did at that age, but that she would have a story that I could possibly relate to.

    My first impression when she and the girl in red fell on the floor, was that there was certainly more than friendship about to happen between them. Just the look between them, the flirtation before hand, the pose the girl in red lay in all screamed to me “they’re about to get it on!” Plus the girl is in a red dress, which can be interpreted many different ways, but it can be seen as sexual flirtation for a woman to be wearing red. Plus, something I didn’t notice until seeing the screen cap above, she’s wearing some pretty heavy makeup. She is clearly a sexualized version of the girl in white and I can’t really wrap my mind around any other reason for that.

    So from that and my own personal experience, memories of being a confused girl of thirteen who had more than complicated relationships with my close girl friends, her journey made perfect sense to me. Just understanding you have an attraction to the same sex can be enough to depress a person depending on where you live, how exposed you are to the GLBT community, parenting, etc. Her sadness could be from a number of things. Realizing she’s not “normal” and the fear that comes with that of not being accepted by parts of society, by even your own family members for some people. It could have been that the girl in red rejected her advances and made her feel freakish for even thinking of coming on to her. I would go with the former here though because the wolf encounter is so carefree when we see it. The sunny field, the playful exchange, which would be the initial experience of falling in love or realizing attraction for the first time. Then to experience the rain with the sadness that can come afterwards for many reasons including heartbreak or simply fear of homosexuality.

    Plus her pose while walking up to the house, and keeping in mind she’s on her way to see her grandmother. She looks ashamed to me, as if she’s done something wrong. Which if she just made out with a girl for the first time would probably be feeling pretty funny about visiting her grandmother. The scene that took place in the field was out in the middle of nowhere and gave the impression no one was around for miles except for pumpkin head, which is that feeling you get when with your first love as if no one else exists. Then the harsh reality afterwards for someone whose first love was of the same sex realizing you have to face society and face the decision to share your experience or keep it hidden.

    The scarecrow in the field, Shamus you said it wasn’t scary at all, for me it was pretty unsettling. If this is in fact the story of a first lesbian experience then the scarecrow could represent an oppressive judgmental figure, possibly a parent, possibly the girl in red’s parent even. The fact of the matter is that there is a presence in the shape of a person observing the events in that field. The scarecrow may not be scaring away all of the other birds in the field, but Ginger with her feather in her hair may have been frightened away. Maybe that’s the reason she looks so dejected outside of her grandmother’s house.

    The thing from reading comments here that doesn’t make any sense to me is a possible decapitation with barbed wire. That certainly wouldn’t fit into my interpretation. If it was a heart ripped out that would be another story, but a head chopped off? I don’t get that in relation to any of the possible scenarios people have come up with.

    I would also say that menstruation probably is a far fetch. While it may be part of her journey, to say that’s all it’s about would be leaving a lot out.

  73. Kristi says:

    I have noticed when the little designs pop up on screen, the number 666 can be seen.

    1. Kristi says:

      As I stated, I can at times see the number 666 pop up on screen. What do you think is the meaning of this?

      1. Amanda says:

        I have seen the 666 as well, it may just be a coincidence, but I noticed it when I was nearing an important area or dangerous area… It may also just be an Easter egg….

  74. Sara says:

    I was wondering, Did I miss something? I don’t remember her head getting chopped off. Also, can you encounter the playground and the abandoned theater as Ginger? For the life of me I couldn’t find them :(

  75. Patrick says:

    Just got The Path from the indie pack they had on sale on Steam during the holiday. Interesting ideas from you guys, I think you all can be onto something here.

    It’s obvious to state that Ginger’s story is about growing up. It is also apperent that she doesn’t really do the same things that others girls do; she is a tomboy. Now, there are two ways I’m going to look at this.

    Now, you can say that the girl in red is her period, and Ginger has reached womanhood (which i think is what the designers went for, since this is a take on little red riding hood). However, if I am reading the purpose of The Path right, the point should be that straying from the straight and narrow will harm you. Periods are rather normal for girls, so by itself it really is nothing, but for someone like Ginger, I think it means a lot. What I think is that before Ginger got her period, she really wanted to be a boy, hence all the boyish childish activities she did. Might be the reason she is a loner too, since she didnt do girl stuff and boy’s didnt want to play with her cuz she is a girl (little boys do do that sometimes). Then she get her period, which to her might be the final notice that she will never be one of the boys. She is trapped in the relems of womanhood, which what all the barbed wire means.

    That is one way of looking at it, the other way of looking at the girl in red is that she symbolizes love, after all red does symbolize passion. The fact that the person in red is a girl, however, can in fact mean that she is a lesbian. Now, the fact that the girl in red has a very close appearance to the girl in white can indicate that she is not bad. In fact, I think she realized she was a lesbian for a long time, since she goes and plays with her for a little while in the field, as if they knew each other for a long time. If she did know for a long time that she was gay, she most likely kept it to herself and became a loner. That being said, I think her secret got out and then found the world to be harsher than she thought it would be. The fact they play in an open field might bring the phrase “out in the open” to mind and just like she cant out run being gay, she cant outrun the judgements the people make. The judgements is the barbed wire. The lines in her profile “[she is] completely absorbed in the game she thinks of as life. Will she bloom before she wilts? Will she ever learn? Should she?” will suggest that now her secret is now in the open, life as she thought it is now full of harsh judgements toward her and her orientation. The line speifically “Will she bloom before she wilts” ethier gives her the option of letting the judgement crush her or contuine or will she make it through, a answer I’m not entirely sure with the ending.

    To sum it up, she ethier is realizing that she is a girl and there is nothing she can do about it, or her secret that she is a lesbian is out and she ethier persevres or gets crushed by her peers.

  76. Chris StarShade says:

    I feel as though Ginger’s wolf is toying with her. Hence the sudden change in perspective in Ginger’s nightmare-house. When she gets to the bedroom with the toys she seems to shrink down to toy-size herself. This lends credence to the psycho pretending to be friend toying with her.

  77. Daniiiiii says:

    I think that the real meaning behind all of the wolves is that the wolves are somebody that they girls trust and the wolves betray them, in this case with ginger, the white dress girl betrayed her with barb wire.
    But it could also mean that something was holder her back from becoming an adult and leaving her childhood.

  78. Chronos says:

    I would definitely have to nix the menstruation argument in my interpretation, because as someone else already pointed out, that’s an inevitability. All the other instances seem like situations the girls put themselves into as a matter of choice or necessity, but periods don’t work like that. The girls have to drag themselves away from those situations that would not have happened to them if they had not strayed from the path, and that situation is happening to Ginger no matter how many toy soldiers she posts around that scarecrow fertility symbol.

    Plus the comment that the Girl in Red is completely evil really resonated with me. In my case, that wolf literally snuck up on me. I was avoiding wolves at first but I found the flower field and got grabbed instantly by a girl in red who’s supposed to be in white, who has dead black orbs for eyes. It immediately brought me back to every psychopath I’ve ever met, people who appeared like comforting types who would end every interaction with a hug, but who instead used my naivete against me. Plenty of those relationships also have a sexual aspect to them, because that’s someone who’s just going to use you, and the come-hither way the girl tugs Ginger down implied that to me. Encountering the barbed wire at the end also hit me hard, because barbed wire keeps you in. You have to escape that relationship, and it’s going to hurt you to do it.

    So, maybe this is too personal an interpretation to have too much meaning outside my own impression, but I’m absolutely labeling Satangirl as a betraying psychopath out to exploit Ginger until she crawls back to Gramma’s. Not that I don’t think there’s not an aspect of avoiding girlhood or womanhood where Ginger’s concerned, I just don’t think that’s the crux of it, because it doesn’t fit the pattern to me.

Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*

You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.