How Text Enhances A Game’s Mechanic

Brunt Matches is visual novel game with a choose your own adventure style story and a concrete poetry style interface. The game consists of a screen with a concrete poem. You can click on the green words which will end the game. Or you can search for the clickable words (either highlighted in red or slightly visually different). There is sometimes the option to look at a screen. This will lead to a black screen with characters, normally a mix of Chinese characters and code vomit, that you can click through. Otherwise you click on a word and it will change the screen according to how the word functions.

For example, in one screen I ended up on, I was walking along a “river of concrete” and descending. I only knew I was descending because of the shift in how the words were presented. Every time I clicked on the word “walk”, the next part of the story would appear diagonally leading me father down. It went far enough down that I had to scroll my screen diagonally in order to click to the next part. The screen felt like a river of concrete because of the diagonal nature of the text and the background gradient of light grey descending into black.

This screen helps Brunt Matches to show how hypertext and concrete poetry work hand in hand for digital poetry and visual novel games. Hypertext allows creators of concrete poetry to be more flexible with how they present the atmosphere and tone. It forces the viewer to interact with the poem which “forces readers to oscillate between reading and viewing modes” (Priestman). This means that the viewer becomes more invested in the screen and poem because they have to move it along themselves. For example, with the “concrete river” screen, I had to follow the text down and down and click the walk command which had me more into the game than if I just had to read it. The connection forged through the action of clicking hypertext has deeply changed how effective concrete poetry is as a genre of expression.

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