HART Now Makes Video Games
by Randall O'Toole, The Antiplanner, June 22, 2020
KHON News discovered that the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit (HART), which has yet to operate any transit (and will never operate truly rapid transit), has a link to a video game on its website called “Outrun Da Train.” HART apparently paid $190,000 to create this video game.
When asked why it spent so much on something that has so little to do with completing what is likely to be the most expensive above-ground rail line in the world, HART responded that the price was cost-effective since it was developed in Hawaii rather than on the mainland. Yes, but why a video game?
“The game is part of HART’s commitment and obligations under stipulation VII of the programmatic agreement.” The “programmatic agreement” has to do with HART’s obligations to mitigate its impacts to Hawaii’s historic and cultural resources, made necessary by the fact that some of its construction is on top of archeological and historic sites. “Stipulation VII” requires it to do outreach to children.
The video game follows the rail route. With none of the 3D sophistication gamers have come to expect today, it is more like something from the 1980s. Players run on a road beneath the ominously looming elevated rail line. Crude representations of plants are scattered on the road; players who hit a native species get a speed boost; players who hit an invasive species stumble and fall. If they only hit the native species, they end up outrunning the train. PacMan was more exciting.
The game teaches children several curious lessons. First, it’s perfectly fine to run down the middle of a freeway. Second, native species should be trampled on and invasive species should be left alone. Third, with the right diet, anyone can run faster than HART’s trains, assuming HART ever actually begins to operate trains. Only the last lesson is a good one.
The game is supposedly incomplete and maybe the final game will be better. That still leaves the question of why a transit agency that can’t complete the only transit line it is supposed to run is paying someone to make a video game. Hey, HART, here’s a better way to reduce your impacts on historic and cultural resources: stop construction, as the part that has yet to be built will go through the most historical district in Honolulu.