Internet sucks now, play Hypnospace Outlaw

The internet is in shambles. Or at least, free internet as we know it. I’m part of a generation that remembers the internet’s pre-social media (almost), when forums dominated the web and you could only see tweets if you had a bird feeder. Well, listen to the tweets. You understand the joke. Birds, grass, moss, etc.

The early 2000s were a lawless time for the internet. I was a kid so mostly stuck to the Warhammer forums and Club Penguin, before moving onto the teen sections of the Warhammer and Runescape forums. It would surprise you how remarkably similar Club Penguin and Runescape are, but that’s a story for another day. I spent my free time after school in the library or on the family computer, playing little puzzles on Miniclip, drawing a complex curved line for a stickman to sleigh down in a browser game called Line Rider, or arguing with a thirty-year-old men, and I would have had no other way.

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Then social media hit. People will trace its roots back to Bolt dot com or even Talkomatic, but AOL was the first instant messaging craze in my school, and then Facebook took it to another level. Bebo hit first for many of my generation, despite launching after Facebook (I can only assume Zuckerberg was still doing that “hot or not” thing on his college campus for the first couple years), but soon everyone he had Facebook. Even as Twitter and Instagram also grew in popularity, social media used to be simpler. There were no talks, there were no influencers, social media sites were just places for you and your friends to hang out, share embarrassing photos of each other, and like silly pages like “spinning the pillow on the cold side” and ‘Gryffindor Suckz’.

Club Penguin (1)

Which brings us to today. Meanwhile there is a long period of social media stagnation, as sites copy each other’s features to try to stay on top, and Facebook gets into the business of selling your personal data to advertisers, becoming one of the the world’s largest companies in the process. There’s also an issue with elections and Cambridge Analytica, so check it out if you want to get into the political side of social media. Either way, along the way, these sites stopped working for the consumer and started working for themselves.

It happened everywhere at once, from people noticing your targeted Facebook ads, to the same incongruous ads popping up across your Instagram Stories and tweet replies. Since then social media, known as Web 2.0, has descended into a downward spiral of privacy violations and user-unfriendly design changes.

The Tik Tok, Facebook and Instagram logos on a blue background.

This came to a head with Elon Musk’s Twitter, which the billionaire rendered unusable. Musk has fired hundreds of employees, shut down countless servers and pulled back key identification measures. Misinformation is rife, and so is Facebook, where conspiracies and lies go unchecked because they’re good for engagement. It’s not just social media though. I recently logged into 8 Ball Pool, an older browser game where you just play PvP pool matches from the comfort of your couch. It has weekly leaderboards, monthly battle passes, and commercials between matches. The game is ruined, and for what? To get a bigger profit? Capitalism has blighted the internet, whether it’s Musk’s failed attempt to create a live-service social site or simple browser games of yesteryear. Now it’s all shit.

That’s why you should play Hypnospace Outlaw. This article wasn’t really about video games, it was about internet culture and how rich men screw everything up. It didn’t have to be about video games, I’m not dealing with a semi-related game so I can get my editor to greenlight this piece. I just think it’s clean. Hypnospace Outlaw is an internet simulator from the 90s and you really don’t need to know any more. In fact, there’s not much more to me Want to tell you. You’re an e-cop, patrolling the darkest corners of the rolling interwebs of the late 20th century, changing your wallpaper and downloading gifs you really hope aren’t malware.

A web page called

There’s a lot more play to this than I’m describing, but I’ve recently gone back just for the vibes. It’s a dose of mock nostalgia, harking back to a time we all remember but twisting those memories so they’re not quite what they seem. It’s a relic of what the internet was like, before every page was optimized to extract more money out of you directly or indirectly, before GDPR cookies and pop-ups drowned out every new page. Times you googled something and actually got the answer, not a lot of SEO nonsense, times you clicked on a news article and could actually read the story instead of having to accept cookies, close popups, click ‘read on’, avoid the spam links littered throughout the copy, then read sentence by sentence through the letterbox of ad-free space on your phone screen.

The internet is broken. Social media sites are burning to the ground. Similar to YouTube and Spotify are unsustainable for those who generate the content that sites commodify. Discord is not a replacement for forums – how can such communities be archived or searched? Future kids won’t know the joy of Googling some obscure question and finding a decade-old Quora user who had the exact same question, down to the same wording, and a dozen helpful strangers answered them and you ten years apart . Web 2.0 is at its death knell, and Web 3.0 isn’t going to save it. Web3.0 is a parasite that feeds on the last life force of the current Internet and won’t survive much longer than its host. I miss the free internet connection. Play Hypnospace Outlaw. Remember what we had. Remember what they took from us.

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