Life is like a Rhythm Game

August 8, 2009 at 11:13 pm | Posted in me | 1 Comment
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Oh, the answer to the question in the previous post is-

[Anonymous1] says (8:39 PM):
you found Aria vol 9? 😛

First prize goes to a certain Elite Pikachu.  Second prize-

[Anonymous2] says (8:53 PM):
oh, and i presume the special thing about the pic is that there appears to be two books between aria 7 and 10
[Anonymous2] says (8:53 PM):
but we were there when you bought it

Hacks.  Anyway, back to the main topic of today.

Amongst all the varieties of games that I play in my spare time, from arcade racers to frustration platformers, I find rhythm games to be in a unique category.  Personally, I like to play stepmania (dance dance revolution on the keyboard) and Guitar Hero.  Playing these games requires quick reactions and pattern recognition.  Mostly pattern recognition – you see the notes that are coming ahead and your fingers pull them off in time, assuming that you’ve had the practice.  All the while, a steady beat thumps in the background.  This sort of timing and pattern recognition can be applied everywhere.  Guitar Hero only has up to 5 buttons, and stepmania only has 4.  There are only so many combinations that can appear.  Some of them may be awkward, but that issue is easily overcome with practice.

One of the easiest places where one can apply rhythm gaming is in other games.  Street fighter is a good example.  Sure, a lot of fighting games can be button-mashed, but the top players rely heavily on precise timing to attack, counterattack and pull off long, life-threatening combos.  Another type of game that always reminds me of rhythm games is racing.  Getting to know a track and its corners intimately, navigating the turns is yet another timing and pattern recognition exercise.  When to brake, when to start turning, what position should one be where, is all down to timing.  Actually, as long as there is timing involved, it  of turns into a rhythm game for me.  Even real time strategy games, the only one of which I know very well is Age of Empires 2, are very rhythmic to me. There is a specific pattern of play that I follow, lots of combos of button-presses that go together, and the regular basic rhythm of generating villagers non-stop.  Everyone has their own specific build that may vary game to game depending on map conditions, and everyone responds to other player’s patterns with their own.  Its like a dance.

The other situation where I am regularly reminded of a rhythm game is in life itself.  Most people like stability, a schedule that one can follow.  Work five days a week, react accordingly to the tasks assigned to you and take a break on the weekends.  Repeat.  Every month you get paid.  Some of it is pent, some of it is saved.  What does one save up for?  Breaks in the pattern, from the periodicity of a regular lifestyle.  Maybe save up for a holiday, or a really big gift to oneself.  The flip side to this is when the changes in the patterns coming towards you are unexpected.  Sudden unemployment.  It takes time to recover.  Some people never make it.  Game over.  Others barely survive and continue playing on.  Others learn exactly what hit them, and become more prepared.  Maybe teach their children how to deal with some of the sudden changes, so that they don’t make the same mistake and screw up.

On a more microscopic, personal level, I too have a regular schedule that I like to follow.  but sometimes, I like to mess with other people’s rhythms.  Easiest example I can find is when I’m on the train and I’m seated.  Typically, as one’s train pulls into the your station, you stand up and move towards the doors, and other standing passengers (read – seat whores) will already be in motion towards your soon-to-be-empty seat. I like to mess with those impatient people, standing up from my seat as the train pulls into the station, but not moving.  I take my time to look at the exit doors near me to see which set of doors is less crowded or more convenient.  Seat whores attempting to rush into what they think will be a soon-vacated seat stop in their tracks.  It makes them look impatient and rather infantile.  It’s rather difficult to politely rush into a vacated seat if I’m still standing right in front of it. Funs are had by me.  Though I will not hesitate to proffer my seat to those more needy, mostly senior citizens.

One final area that I’d like to briefly mention – unlike a game, you can choose the pace of the rhythm game in your own life.  When I play stepmania, I don’t have the option to make the song run faster. (well, I do actually, but I never use it.  Thats cheating.  Real men play the song as the author intended at the speed the author intended.  I’m sure you can’t change song speed in Guitar Hero though.  Don’t get this mixed up with changing the speed that the notes scroll down.)  In life, you can set your own pace if you really try hard.  How do you walk?  How fast are your steps, how far apart are your steps.  Maybe slow down a bit and enjoy the view for a while.  There is always a way to change your fundamental pace if you look hard enough.

(In case it isn’t obvious enough- yes, I hate seat whores – people who rush into trains to get seats.  I find it rude and uncivilized.)

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  1. I find those blockers who stand on the platform exit as I try to leave the train extremely assholic. Sometimes I intentionally “Tank” through them, as they are too blind to see the arrow signs on the ground.


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