portion of the artwork for James Ardis's poetry

James Ardis’s Comments

These poems are part of a book-length collection, Damage Values, that track physical and mental decay occurring in video game worlds. When I start writing a sequence, I benefit from having a really clear idea of what world I am going to inhabit. This lets me know what vocabulary is available to me (“fight mechanics,” “non-player character,” “punishment for dying”) and what voices I will investigate as the project expands. For example, the deplorable comments from the Office of Product Development in “(With her palms dirty in her best thoughts),” are directly lifted from comments made by Jeremy Stieglitz, co-founder of Trendy Entertainment, as reported on by Kotaku.

So at the start, the poems of Damage Values were connected simply by the question: “video games?” and everything fell into place from there. The web series Extra Credits (highly recommended) taught me that video game development should start with a particular game mechanic the player is expected to perfect (jumping, shooting, etc.) and a narrative can be built around it. In much the same way, the methodology I used to construct the world of Damage Values gave me innumerable mechanics with which I could build my own themes, narratives, and neurotic ticks.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 47 | Spring 2016