Precepts of the Hyper Hexagonist

The player experiences Super Hexagon as a series of errors that separates them from contact with perfection. At the moment of failure, the reason – the specific flaw in one’s ability – is immediately obvious. There are hundreds. Each error supplies its own meditation.

1. Error: the narrow margin in which one obstacle was avoided was sufficiently distracting to make the next obstacle unavoidable. “I didn’t think I would make it, but I did, and then I lost.”

Therefore, it is necessary to play Super Hexagon in the future, living under the assumption that every obstacle has already been defeated. In this way, the game that plays out in the mind is the idealized form of the game that is about to exist.

Paradox occurs when failure finally arrives because the player is living under an assumption that is now false. This moment of juxtaposition, of two unresolvable opposites existing within the mind simultaneously, is an alpha and omega, an urge to create in a moment of impossibility or to exist in empty space. It is an apprehension of god grasped between thumb and forefinger.

2. Error: the player mistook one obstacle sentence for another, and as a result moved in a direction opposite from what was required, a left when only right would suffice.

Self-aware confidence in one’s mastery of the game, including any attempt to catalogue and memorize the entire library of obstacle sentences that constitute one level, is to futilely attempt to reduce a system that lives in complexities to a collection of simple principles insufficient to describe the whole. But in kenosis a player can not only prepare for whatever sentence may appear next, but also become sensitive to the revelations about the game and mind that are found in every sequence.

These revelations include the small positional advantages and artful playfulness that exist in the margins of obstacle sequences in the most difficult levels of the game, including the improvisational, chimeric interactions in the final seventh stage.

This error is the First Error and the gateway to understanding all future errors.

3. Error: the player hears the voice of the game announce how much time has elapsed or passage into the next stage of difficulty, and comprehension of long the player has so far succeeded causes the player to fail.

The voice that commands the player to “Begin!” and announces the “GAME OVER” actually describes the beginning and end of the player’s sensory contact with the game. The game itself, however, has no beginning and no end. Like a torus generated from an infinitely large circle, every possible game state exists as a cross-section of an object that exists in time in its entirety, and any given instance of the game only signifies some infinitesimal arc whose length is determined by the number of seconds the player survives.

This error persists because the player has falsely assumed that they have reached an advanced game state through some minimum investment of time; however, enough experience with the game reveals that if the game state correlates to some position on an axis of time, then subsequent game states occupy positions variously before and after that position on the axis.

That is why the music does not begin at a fixed point. It is only a pattern, like a checkerboard or stripes, that marks some regularly-proportioned distance in a continuous object.

4. Error: the player moves in the correct direction, but moves for an incorrect amount of time, falling too short of or overtaking the safe space in an obstacle.

All games exist as environments in a player’s mind that are updated by and checked against the perception of an external system that appears to operate outside the mental hierarchy of the player. However, the completeness of the mental environment is enforced unequally across different games. For example, in a strategy game, failure to notice or correctly interpret one part of the game space within some window of time will not arrest the flow of the game or disrupt the player’s apprehension of other parts of the board; it may merely disadvantage the player.

The minimal margin of error provided a hexagonist (and the fact that the only possible game error is always critical and always immanent) ensures that the game will only continue if the player’s mental model of the game matches the external system within rigorous tolerances. Therefore, the faculty that this error corrects in the player is the ability to navigate a mental environment with a high degree of specificity. This ability is enforced in a test of the hands.

5. Error: the camera rotates too rapidly to keep track of the game state, and the player makes an input mistake.

An avatar is an instrument that represents a localized application of force by the player in the game environment. It exists either as the point at which the player may exert force or as the object from which player forces originate, and it engages in ludological dialectic with the remainder of objects in the game environment, which exist as experiences of an nth+1 order, where n is the order of the avatar experience.

In Super Hexagon’s one-dimensional game space (the triangle exists only as the change in φ in a polar coordinate system), the distinction between player and environment is blurred. From the reference frame of the space, the triangle is manipulated around a central object. However, from the reference frame of the triangle, the space is manipulated, a perspective that, if achieved, disassociates the player from avatar. Extended contact with a game system makes this experimentation in perspective inevitable.

The movement of the camera intercedes on avatar’s behalf and makes viewing the space from the reference frame of the obstacle plane impossible. Short bursts of violent disassociation when the camera spins too fast for the eye to follow are necessary to make that hierarchy absolute.

This hierarchy is never destroyed, but when a sufficient level of mastery is achieved, the game reveals itself for what it is: a cipher for the more essential and abstracted mental game, which transcends the avatar-environment relationship.

6. Error: provided with two possible paths to reach the next gap in the obstacle, the player chooses the long (impossible) path and is crushed by the obstacle.

The moment of rest that occurs when the player passes through the gap in an obstacle is the realization of the microcosm of the human breath impulse. Both are suspension in a moment of equilibrium between corrective actions. The derivative of the path of time in both moments is zero.

However, both moments are polar. Both possess the apprehension of an immediate future position that exists as the intersection of not to do and to do. Therefore the player takes an action generated by the pressure of a body in the continuity of atoms. A hexagonist experiences this pressure as an obstacle sentence that has been read but will be navigated and therefore operates according to past information and future necessity. To neglect either bit of information creates this error.

The ultimate transcendence of the error occurs when the player experiences the entire game space as a quantum where past and future actions are part of a single unalterable path. When that happens the game is not breathing but the beat of a heart in a digital chest.

7. Error: the player avoids an obstacle but then moves to navigate the next one before the first has completely passed and becomes crushed by a danger that has already been escaped.

Awareness of external judgement during any impulse-based action is poison to the mechanism of genesis because it adopts the action into a pre-existing hierarchy that does not know how to nourish the inchoate thought. Judgement is value-assigning, and all environments where judgement is the primary psychological motivator (the office workplace, for example) have a second-order relationship to the evaluation of the usefulness of tasks since actions are beholden first to the value hierarchy and second to the efficiency of the system. These systems seek to mediate the perception of any action through conformity with the hierarchy, and the degree to which an action conforms determines its value.

Once the ability to accrue social wealth through actions is in this way instituted by the system, the player is compelled always to complete tasks as fast as possible in order to begin the next task and thereby maximize value generated per unit of time. Waiting, or inaction, deprecates the value of the player according to the artificial laws of the system.

The hexagonist does not generate wealth but instead celebrates the exhilaration of living in the narrow margin of sensory existence. That is why the game ceases to verbally mark the passage of time after the sixtieth second, and the words “awesome” and “excellent”, which at first appear to commend the player for passing advanced temporal milestones, merely celebrate existence in the present moment. That moment contains the joy of life in the smallest possible unit of time, with no space left to contemplate the sorrow that the chain of moments that constitute the game will soon pass into nothingness.

8. Error: the player waits too long after passing an obstacle, and the next action fails for not being afforded enough time to reach completion.

Mainstream video games as interactive storytelling experiences have degraded in recent times into virtual tourism. The symptoms of this disease can be identified from afar by reading in reviews the supposed merits of various {codified tropical game-like relationship}-systems: combat systems, ability systems, levelling systems, exploration systems. The unwinding of unitary ludological experiences into these discrete and lifeless fibers as a means of delivering quantifiable yet empty rewards (“achievements,” for example, a word used to describe exactly what they are not) is a reflection of consumerist ideology, in which players exchange value units for ultimately meretricious goods in a futile attempt to construct an identity within the oppressive paradigms of capitalism.

Psychologically, this tendency trains the player to admire immediate past successes in a game as evidence of their personal worth, ability, and capacity. The language of player ability in games then becomes tied to specific intellectual properties, a perverse attempt to relate the chimerical nature of existence to meaningless and imaginary constructions. Games are tools that shape the mind through the intermediary of the body. When a house is built, evidence of its solidity cannot be extracted from the hammer.

9. Error: the player plays Super Hexagon on a new device, and unfamiliarity with a different mode of input introduces moments of lag into the mind-hand-instrument-game chain that increase the frequency of error.

The mediation of a uniform rule set through dissimilar technological devices, as Super Hexagon played on phone, tablet, and computer, creates the opportunity for a player to experiment with different epistemologies of the ludic world. By presenting game elements on a spatial plane that is constantly viewed from different angles and by using avatar as the mode of interaction, the game relates meaningful ludological moves to the player’s body, giving the player agency in the virtual space that is connected to rigorously-defined muscle action in the real space.

Super Hexagon is therefore one manifestation of the “mind-machine interface.” It distinguishes itself from the futurisms of superficially applied technologies such as can be found in, for example, laser tag, by reduplicating the technologically-born experience in the mental and virtual space rather than simply using technology to more rigorously define and mediate an activity in the real space (laser tag is an existing game, tag, with an advanced tagging mechanism). Whereas laser tag is a game of coordination and mild athletics that cultivates player skills broadly applicable in the real space, Super Hexagon constrains the abilities learned while playing it to senses that are primarily useful in a specific kind of accelerated virtual world, and by orienting all decisions and actions in a one-dimensional space (see above), restricts even that small category to a single facet of one branch of that body of skill.

That the game is genuinely difficult means the skill of playing that is developed is true; that the skill is true and is completely (but not only) manifested in the virtual space means that Super Hexagon is not itself an epistemological exploration of experience mediated by technology (called cyberpunk when in novel form), but an actual manifestation of the mediating device, the operating system of a cyberpunk story pulled out of the imagined future and inserted into the present.

Ways in which a game of Super Hexagon is like a human life

  1. It is difficult, brief, and ends in death.
  2. No matter how good you are at it, death is the only possible ending.
  3. Immediately after one ends, another begins. They’re all kind of interchangeable.
  4. It’s especially easy to forget the short ones in which nothing much happens.
  5. Not everything that looks like a lesson is a lesson.
  6. It’s very easy to end it all with one poor choice.
  7. Praise is distracting, often fatally so.
  8. If you escape the jaws of death, don’t rest on your laurels: it’s coming for another bite.
  9. One fatal mistake is not excused by any amount of perfect performance up to that point.
  10. Some things are valuable lessons even if they don’t look like it.
  11. Authoritative female voices shout at you a lot more frequently during the early phase.
  12. In many ways, the music is the best part.
  13. If you make it to 60, well, that’s not too shabby, but it doesn’t make you king of anything. 
  14. After 60, the pressure to perform kind of ebbs.
  15. Everyone plays on hard mode.