Minecrafted Meaning: The Rhetoric of Poetry in Game Environments

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

This essay is a synopsis of my fourth chapter from my dissertation. My research consists of game-poems and how they fundamentally alter the experience of “reading” poetry. Ultimately, my argument is that poetic experience is no longer initiated by text, but by the kinetic, audible, visual, and tactile functions in the digital environment that I label as trans-medial space; in effect, these functions sustain the poetry experience, and, thus, require the reader/user of the poem to play, rather than read, as a new form of “reading” the digital game-poem in order experience and interpret a poem’s meaning.

As a result, this essay explicates my theory and purpose for constructing and presenting an online, multiplayer game experience of a digital poem ironically titled “How to Read a Digital Poem”. Set in Markus Persson’s Minecraft platform, I demonstrate how this trans-medial space functions as an expression of poetry, mediating our interaction with digital poems. As a result, my Minecraft Poem challenges the level of immediacy and ephemeral notions of space that has been associated with technological advancement in digital poetry advocated by N. Katherine Hayles, Stephanie Strickland, and Mirona Magearu. The environment is a space oscillating between constraint and unconstraint methods to produce a poem, but results in a stable trans-medial space for the digital poem to perform and be experienced by the user/player.

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Jill Walker Rettberg