I just backed my first Kickstarter project, Elegy for a Dead World, and I’m excited.
I originally noticed the game last week via Rock, Paper, Shotgun who covered the game. After looking over the details of the project I was very intrigued indeed. Elegy for a Dead World lit the coals under the fire of the English major that roams within me still, yearning for a chance to prove its worth. Any game that evokes my novel-esque side always grabs my attention (hello Alan Wake). This “game” essentially places you in the role of an explorer on one of three different worlds based on the famous poets Yeats, Shelley, and Byron. Each world is distinct and uniquely crafted based upon each poets works. As the explorer of these long forgotten and visually stunning worlds your mission is to create the narrative of the civilizations that once inhabited them. This opens up the game to a multitude of possibilities as each player will see the world differently and leave behind a unique history for each world.
A visit to the Kickstarter page reveals an interview with the developers from Dejobaan and Popcannibal in which they discuss how the game was born out of a side project they explored for fun. To create the beautifully haunting worlds, the creators scrawled drawings of their interpretations of poems, Percy Shelley’s “Ozymandias” in particular. They then took those drawings to colleagues and asked them what the drawings were of, and the colleagues ended up interpreting an entirely different narrative. The developers found that incredibly fascinating; as do I. This fascinating outcome of their side project became Elegy.
To create an entirely new interpretation and narrative based off of someone else’s poem is truly fascinating. The hybridization of narratives and combining of different source materials to create something new and unique was the basis of my thesis paper in college. The parallels between the combining of two narratives creating a new original story, and sexual reproduction also involving the combining of two individuals genetic “narratives” to create a new and unique individual is infinitely awesome to me. A cavalcade of thoughts and possibility emerged from the multiple layers of interpretation at work in this kind of game. Dejobaan and Popcannibal have taken poets’ works and interpreted those into (scrolling) images, and in turn players are asked to interpret that interpretation into a new story of their design. The layers don’t stop there however. What affects the narrative that any player will create? A multitude of factors and lenses through which they’ve learned and inherently see and analyze the world. The stories of a player in Russia versus a player in America or Brazil will vary due to a complex kaleidoscope of lenses: socio-economic, socio-political, historical, previously experienced narratives (print, film, or video game), the list of lenses goes on. Elegy for a Dead World reveals a veritable onion of literary and artistic interpretation ripe for peeling and exploring.
I haven’t experienced this kind of cascade of thoughts of analysis and reflection tumbling into one another since I studied literature in college. This is what excited me so much about Elegy. The exciting possibilities that this game opens up in terms of narrative, as well as the fact that stories can be shared on Steam for the rest of the world to see and up-vote is incredibly cool. This means people will be able to experience and learn from or improve upon others’ stories. I gladly backed this game and eagerly await its release sometimes in early 2015.