screenshot of if we were allowed to visit

If We Were Allowed To Visit is an anthology of poems by Gemma Mahadeo rendered by Ian MacLarty.

As you move through the game’s environment, the poems are rearranged into the shapes of the objects they’re about, each frame becoming a new generative poem.

So many delightful moments in this. An infinite arrangement of text, text as surface, text as pattern, text moving in time, text as thing. MacLarty is well situated in art games and doesn’t think twice about calling this a game and retaining WASD, hidden cursor, first-person navigation that people who play games might expect. And why shouldn’t he? A player is a different thing than a viewer. Moving through the space of the game there is delight in making out the gestalt forms of a tin-roofed open barn, a tree, a swarm of summer flies, all represented as text projected on a page that still might have been typed out on a typewriter or a shell console. The sky holds a sparser concrete poem about the meeting of air and land. The forms of trees tell us they are eucalyptus, making the symbolic specific enough that we might imagine smelling it. A doll lies on dusty ground, negative space cut out from the clay, revealing a wall of evenly spaced words, “doll”.

“The Earth and it’s inhabitants let out a relieved sigh