Dolphin teeth

Also: treepunchers, ‘80s sleaze, and Minecraft rackets.

Dolphin teeth

This week, we're talking about VR men on the street, barber beats, and exotic bullies.


A typical TikTok Live stream from ryanfauzann______. This stream wasn't archived, but here's a similar VOD.

The gaming section of TikTok Live is overrun with “Minecraft torture porn,” which has been around for months. In these streams, a guy using an AI crying face filter begs viewers to stop donating to him, as every donation drops more TNT onto the tower of blocks he’s trying to build. He can’t go to sleep until he finishes it! (This is communicated by the ubiquitous overlay “WIN = GO TO SLEEP.”) Often the guy will yell “Let me sleep, please stop!!” or “Don’t reset me, it’s not funny my friend!” at the merciless donators while cartoon voices chirp “thanks for the follow!” The overlay is always the same, usually with every counter set to 9/10 wins and 99% completion. It’s a casino experience: jingling sounds, explosion fx, psychological pressure, trilling little voices, nearby sobbing.

The accounts seem to move around a bit, with last week’s @ryanfauzann___ turning into this week’s @ryanfauzann______, so maybe TikTok doesn’t like them any more than redditors do. But the weepy Minecraft men are a constant presence on Live; there are guys crying "please stop giving me money, oh noooo" in shifts all day. It seems like an attempt to bottle the essence of a rage compilation or r/LiveStreamFails clip — one dose of upset human — then repeat it on demand for less than two cents (one TikTok “rose”) a pop.

A nation’s eyes turn to the crotches of Pokémon GO

Posted by u/Impossible_Pangolin6 on r/pokemongo.

People don’t like it when you change how their in-game avatar looks. And they really don’t like it when you suddenly give their avatar an enormous drop-crotch or a gender-neutral cameltoe, as the developers of Pokemon GO did with an ass-killing update that took even the game’s clothing by surprise. The game’s subreddit spent the week commiserating about the “worst, most buggy update I’ve ever seen in any game” and mourning the loss of their old looks.

A similar character-creator drama flared up recently in the MMO Final Fantasy 14, but quickly cooled off. Users testing the game’s upcoming graphical overhaul noticed that some characters now had dolphin teeth, some races were losing their fangs, and others had messed-up eyes. But after an apology and a few fixes, players were mostly appeased and soon started congratulating themselves for not playing Pokemon GO. The difference between the two games is pretty obvious: FF14’s creators listened to feedback, and Pokemon GO’s didn't.

Sniper Killer puts ‘80s sleaze back on the menu

Slasher sleaze and PS1 fuzz aren’t a traditional pairing, but horror developer Puppet Combo (Murder House, Night Watch) has been ironing out the style since the early 2010s. Their label, Torture Star, continues to publish new games that look like the most lurid box in the Employee Picks section of a video store. One upcoming entry, Jordan King’s Sniper Killer, channels the likes of God Told Me To (1976) and Maniac (1980). The demo has you play as both the serial killer and his potential victims; the full game apparently puts you in the shoes of an investigating detective as well. The low-poly look and crusty voice acting take some getting used to, but the main set piece, where you run from the killer through an empty subway, works shockingly well.

One thing that separates Torture Star’s output from the era of video nasties is they aren’t actually that prurient or disgusting — they copy some grimy scenarios from cinema, but the low-poly presentation blunts the nudity and gore that the movies were eager to splash onscreen. The games are all about building up scares and expressing their own horror fandom. Whether that makes them more noble than their red-blooded inspirations or less vital is in the eye of the beholder.

Who is Pimpy son Opp?

Twitter user @SoundOriented recently uploaded their “2X Pimpy Masterbox Collection” on YouTube, collecting ten unhinged meme edits that revolve around an inbred American Bully dog known as “Pimpy son Opp.” (To be clear, one dog is named Pimpy, and his son is named Opp.) You might have seen them before if you watch Northernlion, an outspoken victim of Pimpyrot.

For many, “Pimpy son Opp” represents a window into the world of demented dog-breeding graphics. On Instagram, dog-breeder accounts like @major_league_bullies, @bullyheadquarters_deebo, and @casa_de_robles__bullyz publish advertisements for dogs that resemble posters for mid-2000s disaster movies. They first breached the online unconscious in 2022 after this graphic starring a dog named “Dough Boy” was reposted to Twitter. (In the graphic, “2x Pimpy” and “3x Bape” refers to the amount of times dogs named Pimpy and Bape served as parents during Dough Boy’s breeding process.) Pimpy resurfaced this March after Twitter users discovered a post featuring “Pimpy son Opp.”

Welcome to the mid-email information oasis. EX is a free weekly-plus newsletter written by Chris, Clay, and Pao. It’s about the future of culture, and about turning each week’s mass of links into a few useful thoughts. If you enjoy reading EX, please share it on the social platform of your choice.

A VR explorer to watch from the comfort of your iso-pod

Slice of Life VR is a guy who walks around with an 8K VR camera. He usually shows up at like, Spring Break or Bourbon Street or Comic-Con — a place where people expect to be filmed, a place that’s in the news, but often a space you’re happy not to occupy physically. The gimlet eye of his FM DUO VR camera isn’t usually flattering. “Just walking around” is a familiar YouTube genre already, but this is something else: annoying as it is to say, if you watch these on a headset, you will feel Present through every man-on-the-street interaction.

On his Patreon, where you can soak your eyeballs in the uncompressed 8K datastream, Slice of Life explains the project. No one else was filming the kind of immersive VR videos he wanted, so he began making them himself with “the fanciest highest end VR equipment on the market - equipment so expensive that only the porn industry was using it (because there is so much money in that industry there is almost 0 incentive…to create anything else)”. Some viewers seem to love it (“the realism of your videos is going to make me homesick”), but the creator writes that the project isn’t yet profitable.

Stop motion stops eyeballs on Minecraft TikToks

TikToker jah_cub has been making arresting “stop-motion animations” in Minecraft featuring guys like the streamer Caseoh or Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon (this has 61M views). If you’re wondering how they made these, you’re not alone: many commenters chimed in with helpful responses such as “it says stop motion,” “you can do this in vanilla Minecraft,” or “it’s a mod.” In the comments, Jah_cub clarified that “It took around 6 hours, isn’t AI, and is a combination of blender animating and importing the frames to mc to screenshot.”

Bing continues to miss every shot it does take

An r/ChatGPT user posted the challenge above and opened a doorway to the machine imagination, from which poured a flood of forbidden Batman x Shrek content. The original post — Batman, Shrek, Sonic embryo — resembled a typical “red ball on top of a blue cube next to a green triangle” prompt in its challenge to an AI brain, which tends to confuse adjectives and identities, spreading them all over different subjects. Since current image generators are also semi-illiterate, the Gretzky quote adds another hurdle. The Biblical backdrop was never going to survive. The closest result may be one reading “You’ll always misss 10% of the shots you doon’t take,” which is admittedly true.

The people’s hero of MapleStory

via @SubluxeMK on Twitter.

Just as MapleStory streamer Niru was about to hit a historic milestone — first player to level 300 — he stopped at 99.993% completion, ranted about the state of the game for 40 minutes to 20,000 viewers, and quit. The game’s developer Nexon, which had promoted the event through in-game banners and social posts, was extremely owned; players on the game’s subreddit and Twitter were delighted. This may be the ultimate “played for 10,000 hours, do not recommend” review.

Drain scholars pick apart Bladee’s new mixtape

Bladee’s latest mixtape, a 30-track surprise release named Cold Visions, is rich with references to past works. Over on r/sadboys, Redditors with “PhDs in drainology” (a reference to Drain Gang, the collective of which Bladee is a member) have begun cataloging every borrowed lyric and interpolated melody they can spot. Unlike Psykos, the record Bladee released with Yung Lean last month, Cold Visions is planted firmly in familiar territory, featuring productions from frequent collaborators like Yung Sherman, Working on Dying, RipSquad, and Mechatok. It feels at once like a retrospective and an anthology of mini-sequels to prior Bladee releases, synthesizing the many sonic moods that have defined his discography.

Chum Box

  • Matthew Lillard hangs out on the Five Nights At Freddy’s subreddit. 
  • Purowave is Japanese wrestling footage + synthwave. The VHS filter is fake, but the emotions are real.
  • What are barber beats?
  • What happens if you shoot Yoshi with a shotgun?
  • Is “treepuncher” catching on as derogatory slang for crafting games?
  • Giant fighting game tournament EVO Japan kicked off last night and runs all weekend on Twitch. Schedule here.
  • Unreleased N64 game RIQA — some kind of mutant offspring of Tomb Raider and Goldeneye — was recently uploaded to as a playable ROM.
  • According to a patent, Square’s Racing Lagoon (1997) originally used an “ATB-like” system that would allow players to choose driving styles as their car accelerated automatically.
  • The latest trailer for Atlus’ Metaphor Re:Fantazio — an upcoming RPG from the team behind Shin Megami Tensei III and Persona — looks so good. Here’s a clip of its stylish UI in action.
  • Withering Rooms is a 2.5D oddity that crosses the Clock Tower series with Resident Evil and roguelike mindset. 96% positive reviews on Steam.
  • Splatooners have found yet another glitch that “undresses” avatars — players had already discovered a way to strip characters to their underwear about three months ago.
  • Troubled city management game Cities Skylines 2 released a DLC so bad that it became the worst-reviewed item on Steam, prompting the devs to delete it and basically apologize for existing.
  • The Knuckles TV show, which reviewers are calling “not exactly good,” apparently devotes most of its running time to a non-echidna, non-Idris Elba character named Wade. 
  • Andy Merrill, an actor best known for voicing Brak on Space Ghost Coast To Coast, posted a despondent life update. Twitter users rallied to request tons of new work for the actor on Cameo.
  • Old Scientology book covers had style.
  • An Elden Ring titan gets the soundtrack he deserves.

That's it for this week. We'll be spending next week just walking around.