a video interlude

One of my favorite PC game genres is rally racing. I find it one of the more interesting and less pointless types of racing in the real world — it’s a test of car design and safety features as well as driver skill, and things like improved tires, anti-lock brakes, and traction control systems are a direct result of these sorts of races. As a video game, it’s got more scenery and more varied challenge than driving around in a circle. It’s not so much about going as fast as possible as it is about not getting slowed down (or completely defeated) by difficult curves and conditions; there’s a saying, “slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.” Different types of cars from different eras provide unique challenges — whether it’s slow small front-wheel drive cars that understeer and don’t have much acceleration to make up for minor cornering mistakes, overpowered rear-wheel drive monsters from the 80s that were eventually banned for being unsafe, heavy but powerful 90s 4WD cars or modern RWD GT muscle cars, or nimble high-tech rally cars with all the traction and stability you could want but are likely to lead to overconfidence.

I’m not fantastic at these games, and my use of a general-purpose game controller (the Steam Controller, until mine wears out) rather than a racing wheel with force feedback, marks me as a filthy casual… but when I get into a good groove it’s a lot of fun.

One of the cool things about the genre is that most games model real-world courses. Monte Carlo is one of my favorite rally locations. The lower altitude sections (in games anyway) tend to be clear of ice and snow, and can be tackled at reckless speeds alternating with slower twists. But the more elevated areas are just one curvy, frozen slide that’s a struggle no matter what you’re driving. Especially uphill! So it gives me some joy to watch professional drivers with the best technology 2020 has to offer screwing up, one after another, in pretty much the exact same ways that I do and winding up in the same predicaments.

I feel like they could just keep sending cars along this section until this particular curve is completely blocked with disabled vehicles.

The photographers and fans risking life and limb here are nothing compared to some of the daredevils/idiots I’ve seen in some rally videos. Leaping out in front of a barely-in-control speeding car to snap a photo has, in fact, gotten some people killed and is highly discouraged, but it sure seemed to be the norm in some races of earlier decades.


Next up, a video recently posted by computerloverecords on Instagram: a very 80s TV ad for the CZ-101, one of Casio’s few actually respected synthesizers.

It’s a rocket launcher, apparently. “Easy” was one of the selling points, because its main competition was Yamaha DX series synths which were equally easy to play but were unfamiliar and could be difficult and awkward to program. I owned a DX100 for a while, but never wore a helmet or leather gloves while playing:

Rewind 3 years to Korg, with one of the last budget analog synths before the digital revolution (and the computer invasion and eventual analog resurgence). They played it slightly less goofy but it’s still extremely 80s. One of the bass players in my high school jazz band had one, and the riffs I played on it were, sad to say, not far from what’s here. But once again, not being in tune with synth fashions, I wasn’t wearing yellow leg warmers.

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