Elegy for a Dead World - Games Weekly

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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Elegy for a Dead World

Elegy for a Dead World challenges you not to play it but to write it. Think of it as a muse, or a quiet invitation to get creative, set in a game-like place. You’re simply an enigmatic, space-suited person and can say what you believe most poignant, given context. Based on the visual impression of a planet, know your words, clumsy or lovely, will serve as its legacy forever. Who has died here? You owe them a beautiful end, so create it with care.

Further, for a challenge, you can follow the form of the Romantic poems referenced, by Byron and Keats. If, like me, you’re not incredibly au fait with these poets, comparing your work to theirs can be intriguing, and hilarious. Will you fill in the blanks provided, rhyme and find a merry meter? Or will you eschew the suggested path and invent your own form? There is no correct approach, only experimentation and words.


As to content, again you can simply let the artwork inspire you how it will. I found I most enjoyed unravelling the mystery of what had happened in each place. At face value, my favourite context involved ice, a long, cold civilisation, evacuation and some kind of machine targeting the sun. I thought I’d captured what had happened there. Of course, you then read someone else’s interpretation of events and it is completely different. They will have referenced details you never even saw.

Structure or context, the game provides just enough of a prompt to compel you to want to write. You don’t have to share the results with the world, but your words are so beautifully presented with little peepholes to the original artwork provided, why wouldn’t you? The final result is to be proud of. I know I find it difficult to publish my creative writing. It is much easier to share within this framework and next to other similar pieces.

The visual contexts are relatively similar to each other. These are worlds evidencing varying cultures and technology, but the narrative output should usually be science or speculative fiction. This doesn’t prevent you from writing a letter, a shopping list or an homage to the colour pink, if you want to, but writers do often thrive when working to stimulus. The process relies on the artwork being beautiful and it really is.

After a few hours, I did notice myself longing for these game narratives to be something I remembered playing in actual games. It was an odd feeling because it didn’t undermine the enjoyment I experienced in writing them myself. It just left me wishing these settings were more real. Perhaps that was the point, I’m not sure. Either way, this is a gorgeous way to get creative. It’s the kind of experience that makes you want to buy a copy for everyone in your writer’s circle, to discuss over your next coffee and cake.

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