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deliberate blinking in video games.

back when i was playing DDR competitively, one of the two minor weaknesses i had to contend with and try to overcome had to do with blinking at the wrong time. There were times when i would be in that Zone where my body felt truly in control and i was Perfect Attacking really well, and then i would blink at the wrong time and that brief break in visual contact with the screen would cause me to get a Great. I called it a "blinking great", and it was truly annoying at the times when i was on the cusp of AAAing something or SDGing something. I remember it happening multiple times during a song like Trip Machine Jungle Mix or even frickin' Keep On Movin' if i was sloppy about it.

the issue of blinking at the wrong time translated to other rhythm games at the time too, particularly IIDX when i was trying to Just Great Attack isolated note sections or if there were the repeated quarters on the 1 key or something. In that it was easier to deal with because i wasn't physically my whole body around, i was just moving my fingers around a bunch of keys, so i could be more deliberate about what my body was doing - thus translating sometimes to deliberate blinking. i didn't have to do it much because those moments of isolated times were few and far between, and when things were moving otherwise too quickly, blinking wasn't an issue because i was already in a rhythm and doing the best i could with all of the notes flying by (so either my JGA was awesome or it totally failed).

it's been years since i've taken any of that crap seriously or played a game in which i had to ever think about deliberate blinking. And then came along Super Hexagon.

There are six stages of difficulty in Super Hexagon, and the last stage is fast. i equivalent it to (for those that will get the reference) playing Pandemonium on Expert on Random. It's relentless, nonstop, and requires a great deal of practice and persistence in order to achieve anything significant and even when you get good enough to do decent at it, it has such a small margin of error that it's difficult to achieve consistently. For the longest time i could never survive for longer than 10s, and even now when i've managed to get over 60s twice, if i'm not in the right mindset or my eyes are tired or something i still average between 10-15s before i falter.

One of the things that i discovered fairly recently in playing is that i have to employ deliberate blinking. Reaction times necessary to succeed happen so quickly that i don't really blink when i play, and after about 15-20s of this my eyes start to dry out and feel like they need to blink, but if i let my natural blinking tendency take over, it can happen at a moment in the game that makes me lose my flow which means Game Over. But there are three "long" patterns in stage 6 (and by long i mean maybe 1 to 1.5 seconds) where i don't need to see what's on the screen and react as opposed to just muscle-memorying the patterns, and so i choose those times to blink.

which is an incredibly odd sensation when i think about it too much because it's only times like that when i notice that i blink at all. it's such an unconscious reflex and action for most of my life (and i think anyone's life) that to deliberately notice it, much less deliberately choose when to do it, feels abnormal. in a neat way.


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March 2017