Revolutionary Revelations in Super Hexagon

Who knew, that a simple adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Pit and the Pendulum” could contain such insight into the transformation of society? Well, now that we know, let’s break down exactly how it does just that.


####By A Constant Spinning Motion

Revolution, says someone named “Merriam-Webster” is the action of moving around something in a path that is similar to a circle. Not only are you constantly moving around in Super Hexagon, but your path roughly describes a hexagon. A hexagon, as we all know, is the most similar shape to a circle that there is.

####Success is Always Premature

Rarely in a game of Super Hexagon, whether it lasts five seconds or fifty, are your greatest achievements prepared for. When you reach that new high score, be it by reflexes, intuition, or some absurd burst of flow, it is almost impossible to reproduce right away. You’ve reacted to new problems and situations, making choices by the microsecond, and it is impossible to understand and reproduce them at a single attempt. Yet this does not diminish the value or importance of that first success. It’s like someone once said - the proletariat is not in the position to seize power in any other way than “prematurely”.[1]

####Progress Comes Through Mistakes

When dealing with the unknown, or the inexhaustible, a plan of action only gets you so far. You may have a general approach - pay attention to the rings that alternate, you have to be quick not to get stuck - but the game exists to challenge and even defeat you. If you find a rule that you can use as a kind of mental shortcut, you can be sure that at a later point this will be used to trap you, and so the rule must change. It’s not so much a matter of trial and error, but rather a constant attempt to improve one’s game. And there was a person, not sure who but they sound familiar, who said something very similar about revolution. “Historically, the errors committed by a truly revolutionary movement are infinitely more fruitful than the infallibility of the cleverest Central Committee.”[2] This is an approach that treats both society and a revolution as objects that are deeper than any program can ultimately describe.

####The Low-Low Price Of $2.99

It’s a common saying that there is nothing more revolutionary than thrift. Few games can be bought for such a price, and if it seems too much to risk on an unknown, try playing the free demo for a while, available here.

####Difficulty and the Overcoming Thereof

People often wonder if there might be a safe place to practice the art of revolution, to hone one’s skills. Since any hardship is equally transferable to any other, get to the one minute mark on the Hexagonest level and you’ve basically trained yourself as the perfect revolutionary.

####The Owl of Minerva Flies at Dusk

At first glance, Super Hexagon seems like a reflex game. But really it is something far more interesting. Reflexes won’t get you very far - you need a plan, a small understanding of what to expect. But at the same time, when the music is playing and the hexagons closing in - there is no time for planning. Whatever you approach - you have to stick to it. Start to analyze too much and there’s no escape: Game Over-Again-Game Over-Again and so on. This is the core of the saying “The Owl of Minerva Flies at Dusk”. Reflection, wisdom, planning - all come as musing on action that you’ve completed, and to create an approach for action yet begun.

####Don’t Fall In Love With Yourselves

That’s what someone said to the Occupy Wall Street protesters. The message is simple - you’ve achieved something, but don’t feel satisfied or complacent. Not with the outside world - capitalism, patriarchy, what have you - but with yourselves, and your own involvement in it. There is no better (well, no faster) teacher of this lesson than Super Hexagon. “Wow”, you might think after avoiding a particularly tricky barrage of hexagonal wall segments, “I am incredible.” And maybe you are, but in that brief self-congratulatory haze you’ve lost focus. Game Over-Again? There is great satisfaction in being good at something, in doing something well. But progress is not achieved by satisfaction - there is no reward for being amazing, aside from getting to continue for a little while longer.

####Revolutionary Contingency

Like I said, it’s not all about reflexes. It’s not like every decision you make is purely spontaneous, letting your unconscious play for you. Rather, every strategy you adopt - every skill you develop - is contingent, and can be discarded if it fails to live up to your ambitions. This is the lesson - not that everything in revolution is spontaneous, voluntary - despite being made entirely of human decisions. Rather, it’s that everything can be brought under human control - conscious human control - that everything can be contingent.

Written on December 1, 2016