The Game Behind the Game

Jason Nelson’s Game, Game, Game, and Again Game is a piece of electronic literature presented as a game. It resembles games such as Super Mario or Donkey Kong, but Nelson himself calls it poetry. He describes it as “ a digital poem, retro-game, and anti-design statement and a personal exploration of the artist’s changing worldview lens.

In this piece of electronic literature, you play as a squiggly orb that you maneuver around the screen with the arrow keys.

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You weave this avatar through a maze of obstacles , collecting “coins” that unlock stanza after stanza of poetry.

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A lot of this poetry is erasure poetry.

His purpose for creating this “game” was to critique the style of the majority of the web. He believes that everything is made up of clean lines and overly polished, deleting any originality and personality.Game, Game, Game, and Again Game is made up of thirteen loud, colorful, busy, and crowded levels, demolishing any resemblance of the style that Nelson seems to detest. 

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While his criticism of this style is clearly represented in these levels, I see another level of the critique. The fact that this digital poem is presented as a video game leads me to think that Nelson had a few things to say about this medium. Each level is layered with loud audio, flashing graphics, and looping home videos. The more levels you beat, the more there is to see. With all this blasting audio and bright flashing, Nelson seems to be creating a commentary on the obsession that people seem to have with all kinds of media. We gravitate towards screens that display anything that will distract us. 

On top of this, each level is based around different subjects like religion, real estate, tourism, capitalism, etc. This supports the idea that he was commentating on the fact that we, as people, have a constant need to be distracted from “reality” and that we are much more willing to deal with “reality” when there are no real stakes in it.


If you would like to play through this digital poem, click here.


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