This work combines poetry with one of the oldest native genres in digital media: the videogame. Based on the 1979 Atari arcade game Asteroids (which in turn references the 1962 ur-videogame Spacewar!), Arteroids replaces the ship and asteroids for words and phrases. The game begins easily enough, because the words move slowly on the screen, but as you advance in levels the game becomes incrementally faster and more challenging, until you reach the point in which you can barely read the texts because you’re focused on survival.
This poem sets us up for an experience of language that is both familiar and alien. Playing a videogame and reading a poem are traditionally such different kinds of experiences that require vastly diverse skill sets that when they come together in this work they startle you into new ways of thinking about these genres. There is much poetry to read— and write— in Arteroids’ multiple interfaces, which go beyond simply playing the game.
This e-poem is prominently discussed in the opening chapter of C.T. Funkhouser’s “New Directions in Digital Poetry.” I dedicate the final chapter of my dissertation, “Mining the Arteroids Development Folder,” to this work, its versions, and the digital preservation challenges that it poses (pgs. 255-289).