Dismount: Delivering iPad pain

Hasty readers shouldn’t even bother with this review. Dismount is a time sucking guilty pleasure that they would most likely sneer at because they have to take a meeting now:

  • The app tortures a hapless dummy
  • You can paste a photo of anybody onto the dummy’s face
  • It keeps score of every concussion and broken bone
  • You can replay the whole fall from any angle and send pictures to your friends

It’s definitely an app for wives and female felines to sneer at.

In addition I discuss the stresses involved with teaching, the dynamics of revenge fantasy and Christian charity, social networking opportunities for slackers, the mind set of brain dead teenage boys (of which I have many fond memories, or lack of them) and why scare tactics are counterproductive.

Dismount: stress management for the rest of us

The other day I had coffee with some former teaching colleagues. I won’t name them because they’re still teaching and I don’t want to give away their professional secrets.

Well, actually I do want to give away their secrets, but I don’t want to reveal whose secrets they are. The last thing they need is students knowing what these particular teachers are doing during in their spare time.

The truth be told, teachers don’t have much spare time, what they do have is a lot of stress. Most people believe that stress is caused by outrageous student behavior, but nothing could be further from the truth. Most of us enjoy the vast majority of our students, even the more challenging ones. The problem is we can’t really devote the time and energy we need to devote to student problems because we’re either:

  1. Too busy:
    • attending staff meetings and pointless professional development seminars;
    • revising lesson plans and curricula to deal with the latest department/school/state higher education board mandated changes to our curricula;
    • sorting through eight million emails a day from the department chair, department secretary, union rep, dean, dean’s secretary, human resources, payroll, offices of records and student advisement;
    • not to mention preparing our annual teaching portfolios and responding to each semesters’ student evaluations (which school administrators pay far more attention to than the quality of student education), or
  2. Bending over backwards to make every student happy so the students will return the favor with across-the-board positive reviews (which is really the only thing that makes their chairs and/or deans happy, but which actually consumes teachers with continuous self-doubt and anxiety), or
  3. Too busy sucking up to their department chairs and deans so they don’t have to worry about the rest of this crap, which actually makes administrators more happy

You may think I’m sniping at teachers who take route 3, but I’ll be the first to admit that that level of sucking up requires finely honed skills I was never able to master. Fortunately, the two deans I worked with were pretty supportive of a teacher with poor political skills like me otherwise my teaching career would have been as short lived as the careers I really wanted to try.

Which leads back to the discussion with my teacher friends about their latest stress relieving tool.

Teachers have begun to relieve stress with an iPhone app ported to the iPad called “Dismount.” Dismount allows you to kick a dummy down the stairs and watch him crash in the most humiliating ways. The app scores your dismount just like Olympic judges, and, best off all, you can paste the face of anyone who irks you right onto the dummy.

Imagine watching the person who most pisses you off take a tumble from a high wall and crash, neck askew on the concrete floor.

My teaching colleagues, when confronted by a particularly obnoxious student, or intractable administrator, pretend to answer their iPhones in the middle of the conversation and surreptitiously take the offender’s photo. When the confrontation ends, they crop the photo into the Photogene app (whose review got bumped from the list for Dismount) and then paste it onto a Dismount dummy.

For the rest of the day, or until they have an encounter with someone even more obnoxious, the spend their free moments kicking the dummy in the knee, neck, back or behind and watching them fall gruesomely to their doom with many painful broken bones and spinal fractures on the way down.

Good Christian pain

When I first told my very Christian family members about Dismount, they were horrified. How could I possibly enjoy, even vicariously, the pain and suffering of others?

My answer is: It’s far more Christian to work out your rage on a digital construct than to actually unleash Old Testament wrath. Vengeance may be the Lord’s, but can’t I at least set up the scenario and watch it play?1 Then, when I’ve watched the dummy tumble and fall twenty or thirty times, I grow bored and forget about them. The grudge is gone.

Yes, I know, the Biblical answer is forgiveness. But these days if you actually tell someone you forgive them they resent you for even thinking they did something that needed forgiving. Then they hate you even more. Who is Phillip to think I need forgiveness? He thinks he’s so much better than I am.

Now they’re holding a grudge and my act of forgiveness has put their salvation in jeopardy.

My advice is, kick their Dismount doppelgänger in the ass and if you do something to piss someone else off, point them to Dismount on the app store. Then they can vent their anger on your doppelgänger.

If Lucifer had Dismount, he might have been able to work through some of his father figure issues and the universe might have been a different place altogether.

Exploring Dismount

Dismount is extremely simple and cheap. It costs a dollar and the first thing it asks you to do is add a face from your photo library. Once you have the face you like, you are given the choice of ten different dismount platforms, from simple stairs to concrete diving boards and ledges.

Three of the Dismount platforms

Your dummy is positioned at the top of the platform and you have to decide where to kick it and at how much force to apply in order to send your dummy tumbling into the highest possible score. Dismount has a virtual 3D camera that allows you to follow the fall from any angle. When the fall ends, you can rewind and watch from different angles. You can even pause the action to savor a dramatic hit.

The physics seem very realistic. I say “seem” because I wouldn’t know real physics from a differential equation, and I suspect most users won’t be able to either. But the dummy’s body bounces and bends, and even kicks up dust when the body really takes a bang.

Look at the dust.
Dismount features stop-motion and instant replay.
It also tallies your score and shows you the internal damage.
PS: If you want to know whose photo I pasted, read the footnote.

The dismount is graded on a number of factors (as best I can tell because the documentation is less than stellar). The key is to hit as many obstacles as you can on the way down. If the stairs bend to the left and the dummy falls to the right, and therefore straight down, you don’t earn as many points as you would if he hit every step. The severity of each impact is also graded; the harder the hits the higher the grade.

Finally the scorer keeps track of the number of bones broken and the type of fractures. Although dismount doesn’t tell you what each fracture is worth, you can see the numbers dialing up at the top of the screen. I took screen shots of my 525,000 personal high score fall and include them below:

The bones break and the score rolls higher.

Instant Replay

Dismount wants you to be able to relive each dismount over and over again. You can rewind, play, pause and even email snapshots to your friends of highlights of their virtual tumble down the platform.

A series of snaps emailed to myself from Dismount.

In fact, I see this as the new trend for student slackers during class. No more spitballs, paper football, texting or sexting. They’re going to take a cue from my colleagues and Dismount their teachers during boring lectures. In the meantime they will be able to blissfully ignore any useful information on quantum thermodynamics, how the Great Compromise ultimately led to the Civil War, the importance of the subjunctive class in conversational English, the role of deconstructed texts in the emergence of Postmodernist thinking and how to use a vector path as a clipping mask.

But how would that be any different than now? As an added bonus, they could paste teachers’ faces to virtual dismount dummies and post them on the internet.

In fact, Dismount could probably expand into a social networking site. In addition to reading reviews of teachers online, students could see highlights of their top scoring dismounts. The developers, Secret Exit Ltd, could then expand to the workplace, with a Dismount worst employers network. And then a political pitfalls network where fans exchange dismount pics of their least favorite politicians.

Can you see it now? The Obama/Palin Dismount Smack Down. The John McCain Downhill flurry. And speaking of John McCain, the developers could add a site where Arizona residents can post Dismount photos of legal Americans they think are terrorists from Mexico.

Oh no, you might say (especially if you’re an employer). Even more hours of lost productivity. No, I tell you, the worst that will happen is that the hours of the day wasted bitching about you at the coffee pot will actually be spent now making a profit for the Dismount developers. And that, my dear employers, is free enterprise at its best.

But is it real iPad material?

Dismount claims to be a universal app, which means it runs the same on iPad and iPhone. What it really means is that it’s an iPhone app that automatically scales to fill the screen. The resolution is no better than on the iPhone which makes the graphics less than underwhelming.

Here’s how it works. The app looks much sharper on the iPhone, and the icons are the same size. It’s kind of like the days before HD TV when big screen TVs looked, well, big. But the color and image were pretty dismal. It does load much faster on the iPad.
I’d be willing to pay an extra couple of dollars for an iPad HD version.

Fair warning

Dismount’s developers warn players that they shouldn’t try these dismounts at home. The moves are dangerous even for professionals.

Well, yes. The dummy always ends up unconscious with multiple contusions, multiple fractures and head trauma. I suspect a lawyer was involved in this warning.

Truthfully, the warning isn’t going to deter drunk teenagers from trying these stunts. They weren’t paying attention to their quantum thermodynamics lectures, how the Great Compromise ultimately led to the Civil War, the importance of the subjunctive class in conversational English or how to use a vector path as a clipping mask. Why anyone really thinks they would pay attention to this particular warning is beyond me.

The only kids who would pay attention to this warning are the kids who wouldn’t try what they’re being warned about anyway. In fact, that’s kind of how it worked with the “just say no,” and “abstinence only” campaigns.

To the kids who are likely to try this, the warning’s almost like a dare.

I think a better approach would be: “Hey kids, would you like to end up with half your bones broken, paralyzed, in a coma or dead? Try the stunts in here! Do your parents a favor so you can quit sucking their life savings into a black hole because, trust us, a funeral is a hell of a lot cheaper than supporting your lifestyle.”

Upgrades to really make this sing

The one shortcoming to Dismount is that once you reset for the next dismount, the old dismount video is gone. I would like to see a record-to-video capability. Even 320 x 240 h.264 vids would be nice.

And voiceover narrative. You know, like John Madden or Howard Cossell. “That last hit was spectacular, John.” “I’ll say, Howard. A hit like that will probably leave him brain dead but boy was it exciting.”

Do I expect his to happen? No. It’s a dollar app. Make it high def with video and sound and suddenly Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly and the Liberals will be up in arms. But they would sell five times as many apps once that happens. So maybe the upgrades would be worth their while.

Jenny rates Dismount

Unlike any of the other apps I reviewed Jenny Manytoes won’t give this app the time of day. I think she gets that attitude from Carol, who, when she finally remembers what app I’m talking about after I describe it five times, responds with nothing but the curl of her lip. Spouses all know what that means.

1When you think about it, revenge and pain fantasies are very much part of the Christian tradition. Just think about the joy many Christians get out of the Book of Revelations. Talk about fantasizing revenge. Many fellow Christians believe the works of Hal Lindsay and Tim LaHaye are actually a Third Testament in which God promises to supernaturally dismount every secular humanist, liberal Democrat and Bill Maher. I mean, literally smack the love of God out of them. Next to that kind of punishment, this little dollar app seems like a pretty tame good Christian pastime.
So how about this? Paste the face of one of those evil secular humanist bleeding heart liberals on your dummy. Obama, Hillary, Ralph Nadar (yes, he’s still around). And you secular humanist bleeding heart liberals can paste Glen Beck on three dummies because he’s big enough. I know you won’t because you lack any spirit of Old Testament wrath (or so you claim) at least until you’re alone in your own bedroom with no one but government spying devices watching you. It’s okay, Dismount doesn’t show up in any of their terrorist search triggers yet.
Me, I’m happy with a picture of GW. Not because I have anything against the guy, he’s pretty harmless now and Rick Perry would never let him be Governor of Texas again. No, I like using him because he and his dad were always pretty good at stumbling down stairs anyway.back

The Jenny Manytoes Rating System

Jenny Manytoes, our polydactyl cat
  • When Jenny makes biscuits on a product she thinks she’s in heaven.
  • When Jenny purrs over a product she’s very happy.
  • When Jenny naps next to a product it’s okay with her.
  • When Jenny bunches her tail she can live with a product, but she has higher expectations.
  • When Jenny leaves it in the litter box….I don’t think I need to explain this one.

In this case, when Jenny won’t even give it the time of day, you have to figure this is an app that appeals only to whatever fragments of teenage boy lie dormant in the male soul. Which is good enough for me.

iPad Envy is created entirely using apps from my iPad


About Phillip T Stephens

Phillip T. Stephens disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle twenty years before he was born, creating a time travel paradox so confusing it remains unspoken between physicists and sci-fi writers to this day. Follow @stephens_pt
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