Simple Fear and Flying

vextro is time limited and needs support

I have no knowledge or understanding of Korean and I can’t gauge the written or spoken content of this game. From what I can understand, it seems to be a goofy meme game, impulsively thrown together rather than maliciously or poignantly. My basic sense wants me to not write because I can’t really give justice, but it’s a good game. I like it. And so I go.


I remember first encountering skyscrapers. Mostly ’cause I’m made not able to forget it. For some reason or another my grandma needed to return to work and I was there. Living on base, in southern states, for years of my life, I’d never actually seen a city. Tall buildings creeped up over the horizon, and I yelled out (because all little kids yell) “I didn’t know grandma worked in New York City!” She laughed then and then weeks ago, as this story is inevitability whenever I’m in the same room with my mom and my grandma for too long.

‘Course it’s never really so comedic to me but it’s not like the telling of it bothers me. It’s the kind of thing that relies on children being inherently funny little things. The surreality of it, a post-modern mistake of assuming cities as fantastical places that only a child could make. I think it was from watching James and the Giant Peach a hundred times that I figured New York City was not any city, but the only city. I didn’t think it was possible for cities to be commonplace, they seemed too massive, like an impossible allocation of human resources, barely even manageable one time. Not in those words. I was just a stupid little kid.

Driving past Tacoma again, on the way home from relatives, near the center of Washington, I looked out at the buildings, the husks of factories and the screeching skyscrapers, and thought that I understood how futurists felt.

An immense pride was buoying us up, because we felt ourselves alone at that hour, alone, awake, and on our feet, like proud beacons or forward sentries against an army of hostile stars glaring down at us from their celestial encampments. Alone with stokers feeding the hellish fires of great ships, alone with the black spectres who grope in the red-hot bellies of locomotives launched on their crazy courses, alone with drunkards reeling like wounded birds along the city walls.

My ever present awe and morbidity fusing. Make no mistake, futurists were reactionaries, they were shitposters, they were Million Dollar Extreme. I feel no kind of affinity for the alt-right, because the internet doesn’t inspire the same insignificance that living in the city does to me (which might stem from my my fear of heights (it’s similar that the alt-right stems from a fear of sincere intimacy)). Even so, they overlap. Their reaction to technology and architecture was a most vibrant nihilism and decay, that oxymoron of fatalistic ecstasy. Stare into the abyss and feel nothing; stare into the abyss and carve it into the self. I’m exhausted, sick, sad, so it’s easy to feel like modernity is uniquely exhausting, sickening, and depressive. I understand hypothetically where modernity is unique and where it isn’t, but I don’t feel any better.

두부레이서 (according to Google translate is Tofu Racer) is great because I get to charge headlong into skyscrapers at speeds that bypass reverence or sickness. A tofu headed avatar, a goofy symbol of an average, everyperson, has to dodge plain, faceless architecture or be smashed by it. It’s an endless runner, or infinite avoider, the kind that will always be installed on phones because they’re a perfect fit. 두부레이서 is blistering fast so early attempts lasted mere seconds as I adjusted to the speed. Being able to look deep and playing peripherally is necessary at start, rather than an aspect of traditional escalation.

tofu-1

It does escalate though—that is, it starts fast and gets faster. Skyscrapers start shrinking and moving. A tunnel, cavernous, more like a hollowed out globe, is passed through and spiked pyramids pierce the sky. That’s the arc of the game because it’s too intense to handle more. After adding plain moving walls it cycles between the various level types. At least I assume, I haven’t been able to get much farther. It takes a sucked out focus to navigate deep moments of the game, concentration that blots outlying thoughts and surroundings, a tension that suddenly bursts, and I sputter and gasp at the sudden cruelty.

Strong randomness is antithetical to a procedural avoider game. Super Hexgon arranges predetermined sets of obstacles. Though recognition needs to occur in less than a second, a player can still intuit needed inputs for each new obstacle wave. It’s still easy to lose the thread of the game’s incredibly fast peripheral shifts and trap yourself, but the game is constructed in a way that you are the barrier to progress. Not in a work hard and practice way—I’ve seen plainly that Super Hexagon is impossible for some people and it is just a videogame—but meant in a literal way, can or can’t.

두부레이서 is totally random which makes it a frustrating pick up and play avoider game. Upcoming objects are randomly arranged, left and right movement is relatively sluggish to the character’s forward speed, and the playing space is wider than the screen’s viewable margins, making it extremely likely that someone will maneuver into an impossible position. Losing is often through no fault of the player. In a sense this game fails the basic metric that makes an endless game compelling, a feeling that one can sharpen their ability and get a little farther with better focus and concentration. I never felt like I got far on my own ability but rather I was randomly permitted to succeed.

jd5uhkm

Despite how naturally frustrating the game is, I felt compelled to continue. I guess I was drawn to its skyscrapers, drawn to its expressive ability over its supposed market function. 두부레이서’s randomness capture pitch unsurety and anxiety, a fraught navigation amongst mock skyscrapers, the boldest symbols of modernity. These skyscrapers start shifting, moving, disappearing, acknowledging their impermanence. An expressionist styled tunnel segues the tofuman into especially stressful, essentially postmodern architecture; the stable cuboid is replaced by sharp, thin pyramids. Backing music begins a regular pulsing house track, becoming higher pitched as structures change from modernity to postmodernity.

How frenzied all this is, pulsing life and history. My fear of skyscrapers is an unjust, ignorant impulse. But unlike reactionaries I do not fear change, I fear lost histories, and the possibility that these legacies were erected for nothing other than violence. We built up spoils of war and jungles of inequity. I like this meme game because I get to speed as far as I can away from these ghosts of industry. If I ever get anywhere, it’s fittingly random, a chaos reflected by the chosen symbols. And in my haste I crash into collective hubris.

download 두부레이서 on your phone or play on your browser here

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