Thanks to David Pogue of the New York Times, I now have a new addiction for the holidays.
It's a web-based application called Line Rider, that can be best thought of as the Web 2.0 version of the venerable Etch-a-Sketch. Here's how David explains it:
"Consider, for example, the amazingly simple, but overwhelmingly addictive Flash-based game/simulation/physics experiment known as Line Rider.
You start on a blank white screen. You draw lines—hills, ramps, valleys—with a pencil tool. When you click Play, a tiny, weird, funny little guy on a sled gets dropped onto the uppermost line you drew—and gravity takes it from there. Make your lines too steep, and he wipes out. Make them too shallow, and he runs out of momentum and stops. Cross them in just the right way, and the simulation goes nuts and spits him forcefully hundreds of feet in the air.
It’s spawned an entire mini-subculture of Line Rider nuts, who spend hours drawing elaborate fantasyscapes for their little sledder guys, and then capturing the results (either with a screen-capture program or even with a camcorder filming the screen) and posting them on YouTube."
As of this writing, a simple search for "Line Rider" yields over 5300 clips on YouTube.
David's post points to several noteworthy examples of Line Rider sketches done by folks. My favorite is this one, set to some great "action" music...it's the second most viewed Line Rider video on YouTube with almost a million views (number one so far is this one). Here's number two for now:
It rivals action sequences in any James Bond movie if you suspend your disbelief just a tad little bit. Of course someone's already done a James Bond sequence replete with the requisite theme music:
It occurs to me that whimsical web applications of this type might be the Pong of our times, leading to far greater things in the future.