Life is hard. Things are never easy. From the day you’re born until the day you die, everyone always has all these expectations for you. They want you to do this and that. Get a job. Go to college. Put your pants back on. It never ends.
But in reality, no one knows what they’re doing. Everyone just knows to do as they were taught from someone else that was taught what to do from someone else. But does anyone really know anything for sure? How do we know people aren’t just making shit up? I’ve never seen Alaska in person. How do I know it’s really there?
The world is a big place full of unknown certainty. What can I really be expected to do?
Magikarp Jump really, really speaks to me. The latest Pokemon mobile game, available on the App Store and Google Play Store, really carries a potent message. I relate to it in a lot of ways. The goal of the game is a simple one. Raise the strongest Magikarp. They need to be fed, trained, and pit against each other in fierce battles of strength and dexterity.
It plays out like a simple roleplaying game. You’ll get your choice of different rods to fish up your very own Magikarp, and you’ll get to care for it like a virtual pet. It’s a simple numbers game, there’s only one stat to worry about, and that’s your karp’s jumping power. You don’t actually get any direct control over your fish, you only tell it where to go and what to do. Tapping through text and watching randomly generated events unfold, with the occasional life or death choices, are what make up the meat of the game.
You’ll get in-game currency, and in-game premium currency of course, to upgrade the food and training tools at your disposal for raising your Magikarp. Ways to customize your pond and more are available, if you grind enough or pay up for them.
It’s not a particularly in-depth game, its entire hook is in its charm. It’s cute, colorful, and quirky. That’s what girls usually say about me when I try to ask them out and they say no, though.
The game is still mildly addictive, like most mobile games. It gets you with that steady stream of instant gratification. You’ll get all the free stuff within the first hour or so of playing. It’s particularly generous, handing out free energy recharges and in-game money left and right. But as your level cap starts to rise, the time between free stuff slowly spreads out, and you’re left with long periods of watching your fish eat.
And it’s in these times, where you sit and stare at a virtual fish tank, that Magikarp Jump really shines. Magikarp is, according to Pokemon lore, a useless Pokemon. It flops around uselessly, unaware of its own inadequacy, and we are tasked with helping it become the best at flailing its miserable existence around. We, those on the other side of the screen, flopping around in our own inadequacy in our own way.
Our meaningless existence is spent tapping on a virtual fish tank, watching as this being we believe to be lower than us flails its way through a championship to compete for who can flop the most. It’s all a circus act of futility, feeding and training and caring for this being for the sole purpose of watching it flop harder than the others of its kind.
Our entire civilization is built on this concept, raising and training those that we know have no future, all in the hopes that maybe one day they will flop harder than all of the others of their kind. And in this game being developed, and released onto the masses, we may have finally hit the absolute peak of flopping. A meaningless game within a meaningless game, a miserable existence within a miserable existence. Just as a Pokemon swoops down on our poor Harambe and snatches him up, so too does death swoop down on us, snatching us up and spiriting us away to make room for the next in line, to flop just as we have before them.
Where does it all end? The cyclical flopping into the jaws of oblivion? There is none. This is our fate, trapped behind the glass of the fish tank separating life from death. We eat. We flop. We die. That is all there is to it.
Swim towards the light? Don’t swim towards the light? Does it truly matter which we choose? The light will not contain any answers. The light will not have anything truly meaningful. A blessing, a bauble, a brief and fleeting experience that will leave a lasting impression on our minds before they succumb to the dust whence we came. Or perhaps a swift release into death itself, circumventing the long and arduous process of the other possibilities. Either way, all of the options end at the same destination.
It truly doesn’t matter if the karp finds something or not. Your game will continue on regardless. A new karp will take its place, and a newer one will take that one’s place as well. Just as someday, another will stand where you stood. Until the day that where we stand returns to the place where it was born, the primordial chaos of nothingness.
It doesn’t matter, now what happens, I will never give up the fight. Long as the voice inside drives me to run and fight, it doesn’t matter who is wrong and who is right.