JAPAN MEDIA ARTS FESTIVAL

Entertainment Division
Excellence Award

Thumper

Game
Marc FLURY / Brian GIBSON
[United States]
Thumper
©2015 Drool LLC
 
Thumper is a rhythm violence game that combines classic rhythm-action with speed and physicality. As a “space beetle”, players careen down a twisting highway accompanied by thunderous drums and dark synthe- sizer blasts. With simple controls, the beetle avoids obstacles and overcomes deranged psychedelic beasts. Although beat-matching is a familiar mechanism, the tight inte- gration of gameplay, visuals, and audio creates a new sensation of “rhythm violence” where every inter- action conveys breakneck speed and brutal physicality.
Thumper subverts the traditional relationship between diegetic and nondiegetic game audio and, in- spired by generative / algorithmic composition techniques, creates a soundtrack that can be described as “the musique concréte of an alien world.”
Reason for Award
In Thumper, we are steel beetles speeding down a twisting highway. A man wakes up to learn that he has transformed into an insect. The game’s speed forces us to leave be- hind the introspective conflicts we hold against the unjust society as told by Franz KAFKA and HINO Hideshi. The sensation of plunging into infinite psychedelia links to the animation film Heavy Metal (1981), its steel-clad spirit for freedom em- bodied within the insect’s burnished texture. As a “rhythm violence game”, Thumper coerces us to synchronize with the beat-maker’s groove, evok- ing a realistic feel different from other standard music games where the player is asked to hit a given target. In this world, synchronization is a rite of passage where the player is rewarded with excessive effects. When perception is repeatedly dis- torted, we arrive at a floating head: The incarnation of the conflicts we’d left far behind.
(IIDA Kazutoshi)
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