Wednesday, February 1, 2012

First Presbyterian Church of QWOP

The other day, as a part of his effort to share all good things he encounters with his dad just as I share them with him, my little guy presented me with what he described as the most confoundedly impossible flash game of all time.

The game, a 2008 release entitled "QWOP," is deceptively simple.   It involves trying to get a runner to move down a track using those four keys.  Two control his calves.  Two control his thighs.

But nothing, nothing controls the laughter that comes from the repeated, helpless flailing that ensues when you try to coordinate the whole mess.  My wife and I were both driven to fits of nearly unmanageable giggling at the absurdity of the game.  I had to stop playing, things got so hysterical.  There's a good reason QWOP has become an internet meme in it's own right.  

As simple as it seems, it's an exercise in total floundering incompetence.  Nothing works together the way it should.  Nothing meshes.  What appears on the surface of it to be the most remarkably easy thing is just utterly impossible.   The whole time you play, you find yourself thinking, "My gosh (or words to that effect), I should be able to get this!"  

That breakthrough seems as close to the tips of your fingers as the touch of grapeskin was to the fingers of Tantalus.   And then down again you fall. 

It reminds me, unsurprisingly, of trying to be Christian, and particularly of the efforts Christians put in to being church together.  

Just love one another!  It's so very simple.  L.O.V.E.  How hard could that be?   

And yet Jesus folk have floundered haplessly at the starting gate for two millennia, pounding haplessly at their keyboards, the Body of Christ hopping and stumbling and crashing.  

There are a few tricks to beating QWOP, in my experience.

First, be light of heart.  The more easily you are angered by failure, or get frustrated when things get in your way, the more likely you are to fail.   You're not ever going to get there if you get angry.  Laugh a bit.

Second, be patient.  Keep at it.  If you give up the seventy seventh time you faceplant, you're not going to make the finish line.  It's at One Hundred Meters, by the way.

Third, don't be afraid to look a bit stupid.  If you reach the finish line hopping on one bent knee, waggling one foot in the air as a counterbalance and dragging along a hurdle, hey, you still finished.  Well done, good and faithful QWOPPER, saith the Son of Man, as he stifleth a giggle.  

With those three things, you can beat the game.