Back when I was at university, I submitted a piece of prose to a student anthology where the theme was something around interactivity. The piece didn’t get in unfortunately, and looking back, that was probably the right decision as they undoubtedly received many far superior pieces. But, still, I was proud of it, and as I sat down to figure out a blog post for this month, I remembered it and decided to write a short poem based on the same theme.
I love my video games, and it all begins with that moment you press start. I wanted to try and capture some of that love and excitement in a short piece of writing. I hope you enjoy it!
The Poem: Press Start →
The world bursts into life.
One moment nothing,
the next everything.
A prologue told
A story bold
And now you’re in control.
Run a circle
You know what to do now.
Your quest begins
A journey of heroes
A series of wins
Made of ones and of zeroes
A fantastical world
Reaching far beyond
Into the screen where it’s spawned.
So, get ready for this work of art,
It begins that very moment you press start.
The original prose: Press Start
That’s all the screen says. A title bursts onto it. And the words that say “Press Start” just keep flashing at you. This is it. This is the beginning of your journey. As soon as you press that button your world is going to change. You will no longer be in this room. In fact, your room will cease to exist. It will just be you and the game that so desperately wants you to play it. It wants to live and you are its reason for living. Without you, it is simply lines of code. Without you, it is simply a disc. Without you, it cannot live.
“Press Start,” it tells you again. It wants you to play it. So you do. You start the game and then you are in, right inside a world beyond your imagination. Have you ever looked at a film and thought: ‘It’d be so awesome if I could be the hero, slaying the dragon, rescuing the princess, earning glory and saving the day’? Well, the game lets you do that. You are the hero. You will slay the dragon. You will rescue the princess. You will earn the glory and you will save the day.
Your character appears on the screen. They are you but they are not you. You control them but they exist in their world. You make them fight but they give you the reason to do so. Even if the character is not you, you are still them. For the period that you are playing you are one. You fight together, you solve puzzles together and you witness the most amazing things together. You are both alive. It doesn’t matter whether you’re rolling around at the speed of sound, punching the Creator so hard that its soul flies into the Sun, trying to solve the puzzle of an ancient civilisation or simply collecting items, you are both in this together. The universe is at your fingertips. This world that someone else has created is yours. You co-exist with it. In those few hours the creativity of anything from a few to thousands of people combines to create an unforgettable experience.
And then, you die. The life of your character has ended but you still live on. It’s a heart-wrenching feeling as the screen tells you one way or the other that, ‘You are dead!’ Maybe it mocks you with ‘Love is Over!’ But that just instils more fight in you. As the clock counts down, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, you press a button to “Continue”. This is not over yet. You return and you learn from your mistakes. You defeat that final boss and you sit back and watch as the ending plays and the credits roll.
You did this. Without you, none of this could have happened. The world would not have been saved were it not for you. As the screen finally fades to black you remember the time you spent traversing the land, battling evil and living your dream. The game may be over but it will stay with you. The memories that you have made will be there and most of the time you will look back on them fondly.
But then there is something that will live on long after your memories. After all, memories can fade but it will always be there. The game will sit there patiently until the time comes again for it to live. You only need to do one thing.