As a sort of before-after experiment, I wanted to see if there were going to be significant differences in terms of coverage before and after the GDC for Poesysteme. My hypothesis is YES, but we’ll see.

Until now, only four people have blogged about Poesysteme.

The first one is Pippa, over at @joburg. Pippa is, in a way, my first “fan”. She played the game right after I was done with it and hadn’t sent it to any contests. She asked me to give a lecture for her faculty, which I did gladly. It was my first public speech too, good practice!

Also pre-IGF nomination, Marie Lechner over at Ecrans talked about the game when she saw it at e.magiciens 07. I’ve written (in french) about that encounter some time ago.

After the IGF, and barring the numerous sites that copied the game list straight from the site, Blain Newport wrote about his play sessions about the IGF nominees offering a playable version to the public. He thus wrote about Poesysteme.

It’s more of an experiment than a game. I got bored after a minute or two and moved on.

Then, Matthew Williamson picked random independent games and ranked them after a 30-minute play session.

[…]ultimately I just think that this is an interactive screensaver and a boring one to boot.

So that’s it until now, I guess we’ll see (or not) how everything goes after the GDC tornado passes…

Update: I had forgot about Ian Schreiber’s piece on student games where he mentions the game.  He was in the IGF’s judging panel, so I guess he must have a different opinion than the latter two ;-) .

4 thoughts on “Poesysteme – critical reception

  1. This is just the comment I left with Matthew Williamson, maybe I’ll get a reply, maybe not – Just because it irritates me at the simplistic and narrow-minded view that so many game developers and reviewers have about things that are out of the ordinary and try to engage the player in a slightly more intellectual manner…. sorry, irritation abounds….

    Pippa says:

    Just a comment about Poesysteme.

    Whilst to some people it might appear to be a boring, interactive ’screensaver’ I think the real premise that many people miss is that this game is designed to be performative. Whilst many art games, for this is indeed what I think this game should be classified as (see http://www.selectparks.net if more explanation is required along these lines), are not designed to stand up to hours of gameplay, this is no way negates the fact that they explore issues other than quest based missions.

    This game is about the exploration of language and the way we attach meaning to words, even when they logically mean nothing. The poetry that is generated from the interaction between words should be read aloud to an audience, performed in a public space, where people place emphasis on certain syllables and the performer moderates their rhythm etc.

    This is not to say that I think this game is without fault. Granted, the interface is reasonably simplistic and there are some other problems that could indeed be ironed out to make the game seem slicker, but as an artwork, the designer’s exploration of language and interaction is reasonably sophisticated, drawing inspiration from OuLiPo http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oulipo loosely translated into English as Workshop of Potential Literature.

    Do not be too quick to dismiss this game based on it’s appearance – engaging for long periods of time? Perhaps not… Intellectual and well thought out? Definitely….

  2. Hi Balthazar,

    Couldn’t find your email through the game site or here (if I missed it in my haste, my apologies).

    Would be able to drop me a quick email at the addy in the comments field? I’m trying to get in touch with you about hosting Poesysteme in an imminently running “top online downloads” feature for PC World! :)

    Kind regards,


    Matt Peckham
    Editor, Game On
    PCWorld.com
    953 Scott Park Drive
    Iowa City, IA 52245
    e-mail: matt_peckham@pcworld.com
    skype: 715.203.0025

  3. Pingback: @joburg | Art & Technology, johannesburg » Blog Archive » Academia in game development - Rare’s Academic Expansion

  4. Whoops. Looks like I should Google myself more often. Anyway, I think what Pippa’s saying is essentially fair. I have specific tastes in games. The old “Game of Life” was never my cup of tea, either, and that’s a classic to many, so you’re in good company there.

    As for graphics, I do care about them, but I’ve played plenty of text based games from the Apple II onward. Poesysteme ran very slowly on my PC at the time (AMD 1.8GHz, IIRC) so it wasn’t so much about the graphics as that very little was going on. I tested Bender’s catch phrase. The words jerked around for a bit. A couple of them combined. It didn’t really seem like I was being involved / engaged. If it’s supposed to be a performance piece, than I agree that it probably needs a different label, like art game.

    Anyway, I didn’t mean to discourage. I try to save my vitriol for the professionals. :P

Do, or do not. There is no try.