Blow up words (not worlds). Hear funny, human-made sounds. Play the Major FUN Award-winning Arteroids – “A literary computer game for the Web — the battle of poetry against itself and the forces of dullness.”
Note that this game is actually funny, and fun, and, well, puzzling in a poetic sort of way. Try the play mode. Increase the level. Note – this is very cool.
Then read the essay.
Part of the idea of Arteroids is to investigate the slide of game, play, and art into one another. When is a game art? When does a game impose a competitive emphasis that rules out certain types of play? If the text becomes unreadable, it rules out certain types of play that are simply a part of reading. But, also, when the text becomes unreadable, it makes for a better game, if you like playing the game.
Arteroids shifts the focus between game and play, between text as readable literary object that gets its primary meaning from the meaning of the words to text as meaning via sound, motion, and destructive intent. When does “poetry” mean poetry, and when does it mean arteroid? It is a question of velocity, density, and other such concerns of visual (even multimedia) rhetoric, of emphasis and intent. This slides around in Arteroids.
What are the possible roles of language in dynamic multimedia work for the Web? Can poetry go here and live? Well, judge for yourself.
My own feeling is that a synthesis of media and arts, including text, along with things like programming and its domain of art such as computer games, changes them all in certain ways, limits them and expands them in ways that are challenging and generative of new media language.
A bit more about Jim: “I’ve been a programmer since about 1990. Before that, I worked in radio/audio and did a literary magazine. My site has been up since 95. The Canada Council gave me a Senior grant to do Arteroids. Currently, I’m Artist in Residence at a college in Toronto.