Iíve heard of QWOP before. I used watch 8th graders huddle at library computers, striving for high scores before school teachers caught them. I also watched PAX press struggle with GIRP among their own laughs and the teases of co-workers. But thereís something about CLOP thatís different. Something that allows it to speak louder than Bennett Foddyís older games. And it only took my incessant failure to realize.
CLOP is the antithesis of a power fantasy. Every aspect of its design is in place to remind you of your insignificance. Unicorns in art and literature are portrayed as creatures of beauty, who symbolize grace and majesty, but Clop is anything but. Instead, your sprite is ugly and of low quality. Your movement is crass and graceless as you stumble and fall incessantly. And you spend the game chasing the false prospect of a virgin, a goal that hardly feels important or significant.
The naming of the horse as ďClopĒ is the equivalent to calling a dog ďmutt,Ē or a human ďmeatbag.Ē Itís derogatory; it strips the horse of any personality or individualism, portraying a talking unicorn as simplistic and insignificant. Your projection should be wondrous and grand, a symbol of purity and elegance; instead youíre clumsy, foolish, and mediocre. Youíre a walking contradiction. By confusing and messing with your identity, the game facilitates your mocking. The projection of a strong, confident hero is now taken away.
Add this to how the game fetishizes our failures. Itís obstacles are embarrassingly simplistic: a rock, a small ditch, a piece of stairs, suddenly followed by a large cliff. Itís teasing the player, and mocking our failures with relentless humour. When playing the game, I decided to exclusively use both front hooves, and after a few moments, the game disables the horses back legs. The tag ďLame Horse ModeĒ flashes above, as it slowly limps across the ground. It was then I realized that CLOP is a sadistic game. Our identities are crushed and our abilities are handicapped. And our struggles and failures are not only mocked, theyíre celebrated. It feeds on them; theyíre the gameís central aspect.
Yet at the same time, CLOP is an optimistic game. With all its failure and struggle, the game never ceases to be enjoyable. Itís portrayal of the unicorn is quite funny, and thereís humour to be found in its mean-spirited satire. Despite its nature, itís still likable and brought me positive sentiments as a player.
Perhaps thatís the point of CLOP. To show that thereís real, sincere enjoyment to be had in incessant failure, and clumsiness, and foolishness. It tells us, as oh-so-majestic unicorns, not to take ourselves too seriously. After all, are none of the things we do ridiculous, to some extent? Have our failures never been amusing, or enjoyable?
These are the kinds of questions CLOP is asking us. Theyíre insightful, important questions, ones that you could miss if you dismiss CLOP as some kind of joke. But itís very ironic how CLOP gets its ideas across. In order to get the message you may be taking yourself too seriously, you have to take the game more seriously than you normally would.
If anything, itís illustrative why CLOP is so deranged. Itís a mess of contradictions that are somehow cohesive. CLOP simultaneously presents us an idea and itís contradicting counterpart. Itís both a plea for humility and an argument of the benefits of serious analysis. Itís a destruction of oneís identity for the purpose of creating its own. And itís both a sadist and an optimist. Polar, much?
If you may be wondering where I was, I spent the last week writing/slaving in writer hell for a piece over on Nightmare Mode. It's similar to a blog post I had on here, actually. Check it out if you want!
But more importantly, I recently read Solar20XX's post on the online loneliness. Man, do I understand that. I was 16 once, too, you know! I just wish I was there when the post was fresh. Good on you, Solar20XX. I'll probably write something about that soon.
Remember: games are deep and full of meaningful, insightful ideas. Appreciate them! Love Them!