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Artist description: This is a game created by spencer and kelsey for the 8th issue of taper, a computational poetry magazine. The idea is a subversion of the classic pacman, where instead of eating food, the player eats words to make their own poem. The words come from a very limited word bank, but because they are curated to be multipurpose, the limited word set and constraints of movement on the grid provide a lot of fun playability. Play around! Your poems will save automatically (local to your browser) and you can optionally submit them to the public gallery.

An 8-ball is reimagined as an 8-bit game reimagined as a poetry machine. Readers play the game using their arrow keys to move the 8-ball around to consume words. Rather than collecting points like in Pacman, readers eat words and punctuations to create their own poem, which automatically fills in the space below the grid. The grid is filled with a select number of random words from a pre-filled work bank for each part of speech, including punctuation, and the game is over when all words have been consumed. Replay variety is amplified through randomization and words that multitask in sentence function (e.g. as both verb and noun), despite a limited word bank. Toying with consumption (eight=ate), luck (8-ball), constraint (the 4 directions), and poetic composition (with 8 words in a grid of 16), 8-Bite is a playful poetic contraption that literally makes you eat your words. How do you win a game of poetry? What happens when luck is a functional constraint on beauty?

What does it mean to create poetry by eating your words (taking things back) in an irretractable gameplay?

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Jill Walker Rettberg