Keyboard Geniuses is our weekly glance at a few intriguing, witty, or otherwise notable posts from the Gameological discussion threads. Comments have been excerpted and edited here for grammar, length, and/or clarity. You can follow the links to see the full threads.
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
In his latest Alternate Soundtrack mash-up, Derrick Sanskrit paired Hotline Miami with Kanye West’s Yeezus, noting the intensity and nihilistic grime of both works. Caspiancomic thinks the connection between Yeezy and Hotline runs even deeper:
I think Ye’s overall career is a pretty good match for the rhythms of Hotline Miami. His first three proper albums all sound more or less like each other, and although they were pretty different from the “typical” hip-hop sound when they first came out. (At least College Dropout was. Late Registration and Graduation came out after hip-hop had started drawing from West’s style of production.) Compared to his later work, they sound like pretty ordinary rap albums. They were fun, fluffy songs for the club or putting on when chilling with friends. That’s the running-and-gunning-and-bludgeoning half of Hotline Miami: it’s similar to other games in the sense that the goal is to kill loads of dudes with no identities and no say in the matter. It’s fun, and it’s not challenging on an intellectual level.
Then you reach the comedown. For Ye, it started with 808s And Heartbreak and continues to this day, culminating with Yeezus. This was, for me at least, the point where Kanye stopped being fun and enjoyable and became a lot more introspective (as much as Kanye is capable of introspection) and alienating. This represents the second half of any Hotline Miami stage, when the carnage is finished and you have to walk back to your vehicle through the devastation you just caused—the “Oh God, what have I done” phase. It’s not fun anymore. It’s kind of sad and scary and weird.
And El Pollo Diablo dug deep to draw another, funnier parallel, comparing Kanye’s best bud/rival Jay Z to Hotline Miami’s second playable character:
Does this make Jay Z the Biker? He’s the guy who isn’t blinkered by his own desires, who wants to—and does—make it through.
He’s less versatile (he can’t pick up weapons or wear masks), but he plays to his strengths. He has three instant killers to his name (the biker’s throwing knives; Jay’s Reasonable Doubt, The Blueprint, The Black Album), and his cleaver represents his ability to drop a deadly guest verse.
In the end, he either silences his critics or he doesn’t, but he doesn’t give a fuck either way. He’s already won.
The Grand Experiment
Sam Barsanti brought us a detailed recap of the wacky new narrative and mythology that arose out of the Twitch Plays Pokémon phenomenon. Some commenters wondered just how the avid live-stream viewers were able to put up with the long stretches of uneventful play—with the hero walking in circles for hours on end—instead of just checking in on the stream every once in a while. megantron broke it down for us:
I felt the same way at first, but after checking the stream throughout the day and putting in some commands, I started getting hooked and was able to watch more than a minute at a time. Sure, most of the stream just involved the player character walking around in a circle and opening up the start menu, but I think all those boring stretches of inaction just made it more exciting and satisfying when you were finally able to witness an important event or significant progress being made in real-time. (I guess what I’m saying is that I understand the appeal of cricket now.)
It’s also telling that the battles were actually the most coordinated (and thus, the most watchable) events and could usually be won in a matter of minutes since they usually only involved spam of the “a” command. The seemingly simple tasks, such as climbing over a ledge or selecting the right floor in an elevator, would take hours because they required the kind of precision that’s impossible with 90,000 people inputting commands. A ledge might have been a minor inconvenience to a kid playing on their Game Boy because falling off one would set them back a second, but for Twitch players, where falling off that same ledge might undo half a day’s work, those design elements became outsized, legendary obstacles.
NathanFordsEvilTwin offered their take on the Democracy versus Anarchy situation, a constant struggle that determined if the game would be very erratic or slightly less than very erratic:
What hooked me were the sociological implications. Democracy was such a fascinating option because, basically, the players rescinded both a guarantee their voice would be heard and the possibility of more fun mishaps in the name of less confusion and more game progress. Soon enough, the longer we spent on one challenge, the more and more people would vote for democracy, as more and more people grew complacent with surrendering individual liberty for a common goal. And as soon as that goal was reached? Anarchy was always quickly swept back into power, nearly instantly. And over the course of the game, the uses of democracy grew more and more frequent.
The allegory is simple and shallow, but it’s pretty neat to think about, considering the parallels came from a crowdsourced Pokémon game.
And on a sillier note, Placeholder reminded us that in his recollection of the nicknames Twitch players gave to their unfortunately named Pokémon—ABBBBBBK) the Charmander became known as Abby, for example—Sam didn’t mention what I’d have to agree is the best one:
You missed the best one: AAAAAAAAAA was nicknamed “The Fonz.”
Pretty Sneaky, Computer
John Teti brought word of a new promotion from Hasbro that asks Scrabble players to nominate words they’d like to see added to the official Scrabble dictionary. Down in the comments, seasoned Scrabble vets shared their favorite bullshit two and three-letter words and players frustrated by the bullshit tactics of seasoned Scrabble vets shared stories about arguments over said words. Our favorite story comes from Curmudgahideen, who has a bone to pick with a word used by a computerized opponent:
The computer opponent used the word “jarped” against me the other day. To “jarp” is “to knock one pace-egg against that of an opponent, with the aim of cracking the other’s egg and leaving one’s own intact.” It seems to be a Scottish Easter thing.
One More Thing
Over in the Gameological Steam group (which you should probably join if you’re into that sort of thing), Chum Joely has set up the latest Revue Club thread. All the Gameologerinos are in there voting on which game the group will discuss next. Voting ends tonight at 9 p.m. Eastern time, so get in there and let your voice be heard.
That’s it! Thanks for reading and commenting, everyone. We’ll see you next week!