The "ragdoll physics" genre of addictive Flash gaming allowed a generation of impressionable 90s kids to fling, stretch, and explode digital people with realistic-enough effects to instill in us the sadistic tendencies that today explain the App Store's Editors' Choice section. Luckily, net artist Sam Rolfes has designed a more enlightened version of the ragdoll game, Limp Body Beat,for Adult Swim. Simply put, players get to use the physics-based conceit to make music, instead of spraying tiny versions of George W. Bush and the Numa Numa guy with a fire hose.
Set in a twisted, glitchy, 3D world those familiar with Rolfes' work will recognize, a drum machine sequencer sends cubes representing sounds at a fleshy floating ragdoll alien. The goal is to fling your character at these cubes. When they make contact, the note plays. When they don't, there's a gaping silence that functions like the screeching notes in Guitar Hero: a reminder that you need to game better.
Rolfes and his collaborator Lars Berg spent nine months creating Limp Body Beat, plus the passive time spent beforehand gathering the ideas that inspired it. "I'd been idly obsessing over slapstick and comedic violence and how it relates to manipulation or utilization of the figure, and had was daydreaming of ways that I could deform, fragment, or otherwise wield some of the surreal figures I'd been creating over the last year or so in a more performative, musical way," Rolfes tells The Creators Project. Given free reign by Adult Swim once they'd picked up his pitch, Rolfes says his goal is, "to allow themselves the primal joy of violently smashing ragdoll'd bodies to make sound, and play around with a novel mode of expression… a very disfigured one at that."
Like those flash games of old, Limp Body Beat floods the brain with wish fulfillment and dopamine, but turns those violent urges into beautiful music. Here's a track that was made in the game by Nick Weiss of Teengirl Fantasy, and check out more of Rolfes' personal favorites here and here.