Learn to Write Through a Video Game Inspired by the Romantic Poets: Shelley, Byron, Keats

Can a com­put­er game teach writ­ing and free up the cre­ative mind? Ele­gy for a Dead World, a Kick­starter-fund­ed game for Steam PC, Mac and Lin­ux sys­tems, hopes to do so. The cre­ators Ichi­ro Lambe and Ziba Scott brought the game to E3 last year and debuted it with a brief intro­duc­to­ry walk­through.

The game con­tains three post-apoc­a­lyp­tic worlds based on the works of a trio of Roman­tic poems: Ozy­man­dias by Per­cy Bysshe Shel­ley, Dark­ness by Lord Byron, and When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be by John Keats.

Play­ers explore the world by walk­ing and fly­ing through it like a reg­u­lar plat­form game, but encounter writ­ing prompts that begin to flesh out the back­sto­ry with the help of the player’s imag­i­na­tion. The devel­op­ers hope that by the third or forth prompt, the play­er will be invest­ed in the tale they are telling and per­haps ignore the prompts alto­geth­er.

Play­ers can share their sto­ries with friends. They can also print out their fin­ished work through sites like Blurb and Lulu.

It’s hard to know with­out spend­ing the $14.99 whether or not Ele­gy real­ly can lead you to some decent writ­ing. Expe­ri­enced writ­ers may find the worlds too lim­it­ing, but per­haps for a begin­ning writer it might help with the fear of the blank page. A lot was promised in the Kick­starter cam­paign:

You can read oth­er play­ers’ works, brows­ing through the most-recent, the best-loved, and recent­ly-trend­ing sto­ries. In our game­play tests so far, play­ers have expressed a vari­ety of thoughts about what hap­pened in each world — the sil­hou­ette of what looks like a tele­scope to one play­er looks like a rock­et ship to anoth­er, and a plan­et-destroy­ing weapon to yet anoth­er.

In a larg­er con­text, Ele­gy is anoth­er attempt by game design­ers to free play­ers from the deter­mi­na­tion of goal-based, nar­ra­tive video games. Leave a com­ment if you’ve played Ele­gy for a Dead World and if you cre­at­ed some­thing out of it. In the mean­time, watch game review­er Nate­WantsTo­Bat­tle for his own expe­ri­ence, and just rev­el in the beau­ti­ful graph­ics. We’re a long way from Type!

via Big Think

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

William S. Bur­roughs Teach­es a Free Course on Cre­ative Read­ing and Writ­ing (1979)

The Inter­net Arcade Lets You Play 900 Vin­tage Video Games in Your Web Brows­er (Free)

Sev­en Tips From Ernest Hem­ing­way on How to Write Fic­tion

George Plimp­ton, Paris Review Founder, Pitch­es 1980s Video Games for the Mat­tel Intel­livi­sion

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the FunkZone Pod­cast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, read his oth­er arts writ­ing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.

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