Wednesday 30 April 2008

George Ttoouli - Computer Games vs. Poets

Following on from a recent exchange with Andrew Bailey I quickly realised it would in fact be a good thing to compare poets to computer games.

Here is the list so far, which can be considered open-ended and highly questionable:

Pac-Man - Wendy Cope
(Gobbles radio space like little white pills and every so often goes on a rampage through the ghosts of poetic history)

Mario Bros - Seamus Heaney
(Instantly recognisable, endlessly serialised)

R-Type - JH Prynne
(My own description of this game would be damn nigh impossible, with too many opportunities for instant failure, but I was pretty crap at this, much more in favour of Xenon II)

Galaga - John Clare
("a highly under-appreciated classic" - AB)

Ikaruga - The Cambridge School
("massively difficult, and probably wouldn't reward the input it demands to someone who'd picked that up immediately without having a history of serious exposure to this genre")

Defender - Beowulf

Dragon's Lair - ...
("flashy and impressive on first exposure, but ultimately reveals itself to be a hollow waste of your attention. Pick your own poet for that one, I'm not risking the sheer venom that may result." - AB)

Golden Axe - Simon Armitage
(repetitive but fun, easy to get through, with some nice moments and a good finale)

Here are some random games without names:

Rambo: First Blood
Space Invaders
Spectipede (anyone other than me that remembers this one is instantly soulbrother/sister material)
Escape from the Planet of the Robot Monsters
Planescape: Torment
Wipeout (the original, based on TRON, not the stupid handheld space-racer)
Wolfenstein 3D
Monkey Island
Altered Beast
Space Harrier
Jet Pac
Jet Set Willy
Bubble Bobble
Final Fantasy
Bomber Jack
Shadow of the Beast
Eye of the Beholder
Max Payne
Grim Fandango
Ping Pong (should this automatically go to Sappho?)

Suggestions, reasons & complaints on postcards, or failing that, in comments.


The Editors said...

Monkey Island - Lee Harwood? Beautifully crafted, but in such a way as to give the impression of being made up on the spot, shot through with an irreverent humour. Deeply absorbing.

Shadow of the Beast - John Burnside: pretty enough on a first viewing, but repeated plays prove it to be something of a one track pony.

Escape from the Planet of the Robot Monsters - I've never played this, but part of me thinks that Ted Berrigan would have relished being compared to it, so that's that one settled.

Alistair Noon said...

Civilisation - Ezra Pound, specifically the Cantos. Masses of fiddly detail to get more and more lost in, epic scope, inadequacy of democracy as a form of government, not-so-hidden xenophobia ("The Russians are revolting"), degeneration of civilization (pollution, increasing civil unrest as population increases), importance of grain supplies, impossible to finish.

AJ Bailey said...

The Lee Harwood thought delights me. I should maybe mention that I was trying to make a point about the way that anything depending on depth of knowledge is potentially sacrificing a width of appeal... but this is far more fun.

Valkyrie... is about to die.


Anonymous said...

Jet Set Willy - Andrew Motion

no further comment needed.

I'm not remotely educated enought in the world of computer games to do any of these, but I'm glad I can't immediately think of a poet to put to Grand Theft Auto.

Anonymous said...

Silent Hill - Geoffrey Hill
(the definite sense that you are in the hands of an expert, yet the recurring sense of "what the hell just happened?!?")

Anonymous said...

Ah I love this kind of thing! Great idea.

John Ashbery is Tetris - very absorbing once you recognise that it's never all going to fit together exactly.

Philip Larkin's poetry is most like Goldeneye - clearly in a league of its own, but undervalued, probably because tainted by association with a character easily dismissed as nihilistic, death-obsessed, woman-hating and, worst of all, old-fashioned.

And I'm going to have to disagree with Anonymous here. Geoffrey Hill must be Myst. Beautifully designed, and obviously the work of a great mind; but unless you're very clever it's hard to get far without being completely baffled. Though maybe I didn't give it enough of a try...

Anonymous said...

Grim Fandango - Les Murray. Densely allusive, with an odd cross-cultural flavour, populated by bizarre and larger-than-life creatures and periodically hilarious. Great soundtrack too. Sometimes infuriating in show how clever it is, but great fun when you feel like you're in on the jokes.

Or maybe it's just the man himself reminds me of the giant demon 'Glottis'.

Anonymous said...

Peter Reading - Grand Theft Auto: drawing its addictive quality from the fascinatingly bleak hypothetical.

Niall O'Sullivan - The Getaway: Drawing most of its inspiration from America but with a whiff of London geezer about it.

Jack Kerouac - Mario Kart: exponentially funner after taking drugs.

Charles Bukowski - Leisure-Suit Larry: they're the same character from what I can tell

The Editors said...

Kerouac = Mario Kart explanation has to be my favourite so far. :D

And following on from last week's discussion, I have to add:

Championship Manager - David Morley (self-confession, might be more what the poet is, rather than the poetry.) Although he secretly wants to be Assassin's Creed.