161: Accident

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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As far as treachery-as-driving-music goes, Katamari music is matched only by Guitar Hero music.
Title text: As far as treachery-as-driving-music goes, Katamari music is matched only by Guitar Hero music.


After someone plays a game enough, various instincts develop. One might be ready to push the right button when a right arrow comes up on screen. One might learn the tricky sequences of moves needed for a situation in the game, and find oneself doing them in another game in a similar situation. Or, as in this case, one might get used to pushing a giant ball around trying to collect smaller objects, and try doing so with your car when the game's theme song starts playing.

In the game Katamari Damacy, the player has to grow a large ball of clutter by rolling the ball over smaller objects in the playfield, which become attached to the ball, growing the clutter ball larger and larger. As the clutter ball gets larger, bigger things in the environment will begin sticking to the clutter ball instead of acting as obstacles, giving the player more clutter to grab. How big the player can get this clutter ball, or "katamari," determines how well the player does in the game, as is also mentioned in 83: Katamari.

When Katamari Damacy's theme song comes on in the third panel, Cueball begins acting out the game's premise, and drives his car into a mailbox - which "looked smaller" than his car - trying to get it to attach. This doesn't work so well outside of the game.[citation needed]

The title text implies that music used in the game Guitar Hero is equally hazardous when driving. Anyone who's become accustomed to rocking out on a fake guitar to a particular song could find themselves involuntarily playing the air guitar when said song comes on the radio unexpectedly. Randall is pointing out that Guitar Hero-induced spontaneous air guitar performances are not safe activities while driving. Alternatively, one may try to hit all incoming objects in an attempt to mimic hitting strings of notes as they move down the fretboard, which would be immediately more disastrous. Another possibility is that the hazard is pressing several buttons repeatedly to mimic Guitar Hero, which would not only distract from driving, but also cause chaos in the car.

The theme song from Katamari Damacy is also mentioned in 851: Na.


[Cueball driving in a car while listening to some music.]
Music: ♫ ♩ ♬
[Another panel of Cueball listening to music while driving. Cueball's head is turned to the right.]
Music: ♬ ♪ ♩
[A third panel. Cueball's head is turned to the left.]
[Cueball and Megan talking.]
Megan: And that's when you veered into the mailbox?
Cueball: It looked smaller then me. It was just instinct.


  • According to this comic's official transcript, Megan is the owner of the mailbox.
  • Or, as in 1344, one might start to spot interesting number patterns after playing the "2048" game.

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The issue date of the comic is not given. Can someone add this? Rikthoff (talk) 18:53, 3 August 2012 (EDT)

http://xkcd.com/851/ - more katamari damacy shenanigans (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

In guitar hero you tilt the controler to active star power. If you did so with steering wheel you would crash. 21:47, 10 January 2014 (UTC) (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~) Any reason for an incomplete? 06:29, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

I have changed the last part about the title text, as it referred to playing the games while driving, rather than listening to the music. Although the idea is that you then think you are playing! I hope my wording makes more sense. I have never played either of the two games, and cannot say if the explanation for driving poorly while listening to guitar hero music makes sense. But if it does, I would say it was OK to remove the incomplete tag now! Kynde (talk) 13:45, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

I have never played guitar hero either, but I believe the game shows a series of objects approaching you to represent the notes. The point is then to "hit" large objects, much like the point of Katamari Damacy is to hit small objects. This makes more sense since otherwise any game music could simply distract you from driving.
Is there a guitar hero player reading this who could make a final edit?-- 00:45, 17 January 2014 (UTC)
I don't think guitar hero has to do with hitting things, as much as doing sudden turns and hitting your horn on certain notes.. 14:24, 19 May 2014 (UTC)

After I play a lot of Mario Kart, I feel urges to run over boxes, and to shake the steering wheel on top of speed bumps. - 15:06, 14 May 2014 (UTC)

After playing a lot of Elder Scrolls, I find myself wanting to harvest all the flowers I see. How else am I going to become an expert alchemist? (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

After playing an rpg for hours then going out into public, I find myself scanning windows, doors, vehicles. Staying close to the edges with my head on a swivel, eyes moving like turrets focusing on any one who gets within "range" and IFF them. Walk into a room and move to the corners scanning for targets. I can see the attraction to paintball and laser tag.04:32, 2 April 2015 (UTC)

When I first read this, I mist thought katamari music was some sort of bloodthirsty, rage inducing music, and that it motivated Cueball to go hunting. Boy, I feel stupid.Will X (talk) 06:01, 5 February 2016 (UTC)

JEW JEW JEW PogChamp 08:24, 11 May 2016 (UTC)

I think this comic may have been inspired by this Wired article from early 2005. 19:23, 16 November 2021 (UTC)

After reading the text, I found that I once played a variant of Katamari Damacy a few years ago, and I won the first place in my first try. ColorfulGalaxy (talk) 19:35, 4 December 2022 (UTC)

I guess Randall hadn't heard of eurobeat in 2006. Don't you think it would be more dangerous to drive to Deja Vu (the Initial D one, not the other dozen songs by that title)? GreatWyrmGold (talk) 22:07, 20 December 2023 (UTC)