That good old internet flavor

Also: jumpscare stimboards, sniper cats, and Dog World.

That good old internet flavor

This week, we're talking about stimboards that need content warnings, the decline of a once-proud emoji, and the game developer who said "there’s an ‘abnormal world’ inside of me....deep down, I really want to visit that abnormal world."

The slime vids deemed unsafe for consumption

TikTok has long been a purveyor of the sensory and oddly satisfying — slime, foam, soap, cake. “Stimboards” have become a popular way to curate these videos over the past couple of years, organizing clips according to a theme (color palette, texture, mood, etc.). They’re an import from Tumblr, where users have been posting them since the mid-2010s. They were originally intended for neurodivergent viewers; “stim” refers to a set of self-regulatory behaviors exhibited by people with disorders like AD/HD and autism. After they migrated to TikTok, though, users started posting “unsafe” stimboards that included jumpscares. As far as jumpscares go, they’re incredibly tame, cushioned by colorful margins and ample “unsafe / srs” warnings. (“srs” is a tag people use to indicate a “serious” tone.) Examples: 

  • A vampire-themed Tumblr stimboard circa 2017 [link]
  • A “safe” mango-themed stimboard [link]
  • An “unsafe” Ice Spice-themed stimboard [link]  

The jumpscare is one of the primordial internet pranks, an anti-love letter nestled into Flash game mazes and chain emails. Five Nights at Freddy’s effectively conditioned an entire generation of gen alpha gamers to love “analog horror” and Roblox games where a disfigured Shrek PNG pops out from around a corner and tries to murder you. Unsafe stimboards are evidence that the jumpscare has been fully assimilated into the lexicon of the internet; they’re common enough that stimboard curators can still lean on them as a way to entice viewers to watch until the end of the video, even for an audience with particular sensitivities.

An incredible 5-minute history of the internet 

Hosted by the sniper cat GIF, this brilliant shape-shifting animation clicks through different internet eras and mindsets at warp speed, erupting with pop-ups, download buttons, and the pixel-encrusted icons of ancient webrings. It starts with HTML sprouting up from the soil of circuitry and ends with a gamified nightmare of gig-work drudgery. Chris Zhang, the student animator who created it, shares some other cool bits and pieces on Twitter.

The dank Discord bot that makes Lil Yachty dance

Users are abuzz about a new technology that some are calling “one of the stupidest AI apps ever”: Viggle! Viggle is basically software for making deepfakes, but the wobbly way it mixes your subject image into your sample video makes it ideal for shitposts. It’s also free. They run the sixth biggest server on Discord (1.6M members), featuring a constant Midjourney-style scroll of live requests to their bot — mostly kids adding themselves to soccer videos. Last month's wave of Lil Yachty memes was the app's big moment, but people are still using Viggle to add their friends into movies and make characters from the pitch-black cult RPG Fear & Hunger (“Funger”) do funny little dances

Viggle’s creators are not alone: A horde of developers are now repurposing open-source AI tech into basic vfx tools that yield results you’d call “good enough for meme work.” Every day, AI guys link to hundreds of new papers about things with names like Wave-Distorted BiLBo Generation, and image generation enthusiasts add those into mind-boggling ComfyUI rendering pipelines, but anyone who isn’t building a mind palace of anime waifus can’t possibly keep up. Thus the endless stream of apps with names like Jimbler or Zaggoo that aim to make money by providing a one-button tool that normies can understand. A few weeks ago, TikTok users were creating Github accounts and giving their credit card info just so they could use an AI filter that makes you look like a PS2 character, so there's clearly a broad appetite for “stupid Stable Diffusion tricks.”

Dispatches from Dog World

screenshot from iPad Baby

walkedoutneimans is probably the only TikTok user to get a surreal 10-minute animated short to gain traction on the platform. They use emojis, Geocities-era GIFs, and text-to-speech dialogue to construct vignettes and digital dioramas. Most of their other stuff is short-form, like this video of “Special Dog World.” Backgrounds and characters are assembled through collage, cultivating an eerie aesthetic reminiscent of ‘90s point-and-click adventure games like Phantasmagoria and Harvester. walkedoutneimans is a developer, too: their latest release, iPad Baby, adapts their art style to a GZDoom-based labyrinth. 

Math man becomes fire man

Combo Class is a channel where a guy talks about numbers after jumping out of the bushes or while standing next to a barely controlled fire. It has a different feel from most educational channels on YouTube, in part because the speaker (Domotro) uses an incredibly scarred whiteboard propped up against old clocks, but also because the concepts he’s been studying don’t lead to any real-world takeaways for the viewer. (It’s more like, a bunch of facts about the number 7.) The mad science atmosphere is a big part of the draw: “this is the most flat earth theory vibe I've ever seen on a video that has actual substance,” one commenter wrote.

The obvious question, asked by many viewers, is “who the hell is this guy?” In an old stream, Domotro clarifies that he’s a musician and music teacher, he films in his family’s backyard, and he re-invests much of the money from his channel into more clocks and flammable material.  

Is the magic of ✨ dead?

The thesis explained in the first few minutes of David Imel's video is clearly true: every tech company now uses ✨ to mean AI. Michelle Cheng previously covered this phenomenon for Quartz, theorizing that sparkles help make AI “seem less alarming,” much like the ubiquitous hugging face. It’s unclear who started using sparkles this way — Imel suggests GDocs or GE — but it was a good move to brand the “magic” of AI before others thought of a better representation of its random outputs and hallucinations, like 🎲.



Underdogs is a VR game with a British accent. You pilot a big mech wot punches things — mostly other mechs — in a series of cage matches. Your heavy mitts slug and grab and toss everything in sight as your bruv King yells in your earpiece to keep throwing hooks until your arms fall off. Randy Pitchford would probably describe the game as “cyberpunk wasteland + Gorilla Tag movement + fitness game + roguelite + fish & chips.” But it feels fresh. A lot of Quest titles strike the same familiar tone — a Supernatural / Peloton exercise instructor urging you to sweat. This is the only one that puts a Guy Ritchie geezer in your ear screaming “fuck ‘em up, bruv!!” [Chris]

claire rousay, sentiment

sentiment, by claire rousay
10 track album

It feels like claire rousay has been skirting the periphery of a record like sentiment — which was released earlier this month — for years. Somnambulant slowcore emerges from a thicket of field recording ambience. Lone guitar strings ring open over warm room noise; aching, auto-tuned melodies slither across downtempo drum beats. Minimal orchestral swells suspend songs in a gentle stasis, focusing the listener’s attention on a single, repeating guitar riff. As a record, it somehow manages to split the difference between two of her 2022 full-lengths, finding a middle ground between the droning crescendos of everything perfect is already here and the animated pop delivery of Never Stop Texting Me (a record she recorded with common collaborator More Eaze). Yet sentiment is unique in its straightforwardness, favoring clarity over obscurity, pop over collage. It’s one of her most focused and intimate releases to date. [Pao]

Chum Box

  • Photoshop made an official video explaining how to use Content Aware Scale, the tool that squashes or blows up faces in old internet memes. [link]
  • “Big Egg” is another emanation from an older world of animation, courtesy of modern-day artist/musician Louie Zong. It looks like one of those 90s computer animation compilations sold on VHS; the same visual language has been popular this year in YouTube mixes of jungle/DnB. [link]
  • “Blunko the Talking Dog” is a live-action comedy sketch that seems like it’s trying to copy the look of an AI parody ad. [link]
  • In a recent interview with Grasshopper Manufacture’s Suda51, the CEO of Level-5 (Professor Layton, Yo-Kai Watch) confessed his desire to make hornier and more violent games. “There’s an ‘abnormal world’ inside of me,” he said. [link]
  • The Splitgate team released a befuddling YouTube video entitled “Say Goodbye to Splitgate” last week. Contrary to what many commenters think, it is not, in fact, an announcement about their servers shutting down; it’s a teaser for an upcoming title set in the Splitgate universe. [link]
  • Much as the FIFA franchise brought the thrill of real soccer to home consoles, Scran Game now brings the thrill of reading the @FootyScran Twitter account to your home computer. [link]
  • Crack open a can of brain-hurting juice with the puzzle game 4D Golf. Vinny played it: [link]
  • Stories from Sol: The Gun Dog is an upcoming visual novel that recaptures the soulful PC-98 aesthetic. [link]
  • Essential co-op survival game Valheim might be getting a whole new biome next Tuesday — or sometime soon, at any rate. [link]  
  • A new, unhinged PSP claw-style grip just dropped. [link]
  • Enjoy(?) a surprisingly tolerable Creed house remix. [link via Luke Winkie’s article]
  • This ’90s rap music video for a Sonic beat is eerily accurate. [link]
  • Here’s one of the most beautiful Twitter exchanges of all time. [link]

One Last Thing