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3 Fun Poetry Video Games

Simon Slangen 04-09-2009

poetryIs gaming art?


This question has envoked a discussion that has been going on for the better part of gaming history. With pro’s and con’s, a definite answer is not present.

Some claim gaming is indeed an art, but not one of the greater arts, like painting, poetry and literacy. But where do you draw the line?

Some games integrate these ‘greater arts’ in a gaming concept. It’s hard to answer that same question again when the borderlines are fading.

Today we’ve gathered three poetry video games – games that express, test, or are poetry.


Silent Conversation

Silent Conversation – created by Gregory Weir as a ‘July project’ – might be best described as a physical reading game.

Gregory tells us how as a child, he started to see the structure of words, sentences and paragraphs as something physical. This game grew out of that idea.

“…the end of a paragraph was a fissure in a cliff edge, and each indentation was a handhold. I could visualize a little person running along the lines, exploring every crevice of the story.”



In Silent Conversation, you run and jump through lines of stories and poems. The objective of the game is to ‘touch’ as many words as possible, some of them with a higher ‘value’ than others.

This process of chasing words, especially when they’re poetically arranged around the level, makes you read the works more closely and concentrated. It’s a very creative way to urge people into intensively reading stories and poems, and more so because of the grading system (see top right corner of the screenshot above).

Perhaps if schools would work with a similar system for reading assignments, children would be a lot more willing to learn!


Contrary to the other two games, Passage doesn’t use a single line of existing poetry. In the game, there isn’t even a single line of dialog or text. No, although the definition poetry video game doesn’t strictly fit, Passage may be considered as a poem itself.


There isn’t much I can say about the gameplay without spoiling everything. My suggestion to you would be to download the game and play it yourself before reading on. The game runs on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux, so everyone can partake in the experience.


Warning – the following paragraph will contain spoilers. If you haven’t played Passage at this point – please do, reading on will spoil the whole experience.

In Passage, you are a boy in a small strip of 8-bit gaming. You’ll quickly notice that this is your vision, but does not limit the level around you. After you’ve wandered around for a while, you’ll encounter a woman. When you first meet, a heart appears around you. No words are exchanged, but the result is obvious. You’re now married and move as one.


Together you wander on through the level. You’ll notice something changing about your character. Your hair is graying and you’re balding. After a while your wife disappears, a tombstone now in her place. It doesn’t take too long before you die as well. This is where your journey ends.

Passage tells its tale slowly and subtle. Its tale is life.


TruPoets is an online community, devoted to reviving poetry’s place in the cultural world. One of their members created TruHangman, merging the well-known game with a wide base of poetic knowledge. True, this isn’t the most artful media on the internet, nor is it innovating gaming material, but it’s a nice way to test your poetic knowledge.


The ground layer, hangman, works the same as always – guess a word letter by letter, but if you’re wrong too often, the little guy will hang. However, instead of using words, this game uses sentences from famous poems and pieces of writing, or quotes by writers. Are you wondering how much poetry you know? Do the (fun) test. Don’t worry, it’s pretty easy.

Did you enjoy this article? If you’ve got any other poetry video games to add, surprise us and your fellow MakeUseOf readers in the comments section below!

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  1. aion kinah
    September 6, 2009 at 12:16 am

    Video game-inspired poems...totally fresh to me and I'm quite impressed. Well, everything is possible in the world of literature, right? I may not be an expert in writing but I'll try making one for WoW or Aion perhaps.