I have two new poems up at Cartridge Lit today. As far as I’m aware, this is the only literary journal that specialises in game poems and other game-related writing, and the fact that it’s updated frequently with work of quality suggests that the genre is starting to take off, in the US at least. They’re even publishing an e-chapbook in the coming month: Prepare to Die by Jess Jenkins.
The poems are paeans to two characters from the same game, and the game isn’t even out yet. Nuclear Throne, developed by Dutch duo Vlambeer, is available on Steam as an ‘early access’ prototype. This means you can play it while it’s a work in progress, with the developers adding a new update every week, partially responsive to player feedback.
Nuclear Throne is set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland where disfigured mutants – the remnants of humanity – gather to swap stories of the fabled throne, and occasionally set out to find it. It’s a roguelike (or, pedantically, a roguelikelike) game, which means that the levels are procedurally generated and different each time, and death always means starting over, not from a checkpoint or save file. It’s bloody difficult. I’ve only reached the throne twice, and neither time survived the encounter.
The poems celebrate my two favourite characters: a sad assemblage of bone and sliding flesh called Melting, and a very small, spidery, gun-chomping robot called Robot, who may once have been a person. As with a lot of the characters I write poems about, they are doomed and broken, but always up for one last scrap.