Experimental Game Turns Players into Poets and Writers

What do British Romantic Era poets and video games have in common? The answer is Elegy for a Dead World, an unlikely game that leaves the players with “no game to play,” but to explore three long-dead civilizations, observe, and make notes... or stories — or poems — or songs.


The three lost worlds feature beautiful scenery, moving music, and are inspired by Percy Shelley's Ozymandias, Lord Byron's Darkness, and John Keats' When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be. They create a strong, moody atmosphere that becomes the breeding ground for feelings and ideas.

The game began in 2013 as a collaboration between Dejobaan Games and Popcannibal. Ziba Scott, one of the creators says, “We have three great Romantic poets — Shelley, Byron, and Keats — and they each wrote these really moving poems about end times, the end of the world. So, we get this really good, brooding feel of where man’s place on Earth is, and it really sets the tone for writing.”

“The most important thing for us is that someone sits down and has a positive experience, doing something creative.”

The game eases you into the writing process with challenges, prompts, and fill-in-the-blank sentences. It has 27 writing challenges that might ask you to write a short story about an individual’s final days, a song about resignation, or a poem about war. In one challenge, you’re and archaeologist uncovering clues; in another, you’re a thief. In the more advanced levels, you’ll sometimes get new information halfway through the story, which casts a new light on things and forces you to explain or justify past actions. Once the game stirs your creativity, you can delete the prompts and use all the creative freedom in your writing you want.

“The most important thing for us is that someone sits down and has a positive experience, doing something creative. We avoid doing any kind of scoring, or handslapping, because writing can be personal and frightening enough, without attaching a score or anything negative to it,” says Ichiro Lambe, another of the game's developers. 

When you’re done with the game, you can share your story with other players, read their works, post comments, and participate in discussions. You can also reproduce your writings in digital and print media.

The game is perfect for overcoming writer’s block, engaging students with writing fiction, or just for motivating you to do something creative. You can play it now on Windows, Mac, and Linux on Steam.

Photos: Elegy

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Scientists study tattooed corpses, find pigment in lymph nodes

It turns out, that tattoo ink can travel throughout your body and settle in lymph nodes.

17th August 1973: An American tattoo artist working on a client's shoulder. (Photo by F. Roy Kemp/BIPs/Getty Images)
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In the slightly macabre experiment to find out where tattoo ink travels to in the body, French and German researchers recently used synchrotron X-ray fluorescence in four "inked" human cadavers — as well as one without. The results of their 2017 study? Some of the tattoo ink apparently settled in lymph nodes.


Image from the study.

As the authors explain in the study — they hail from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment — it would have been unethical to test this on live animals since those creatures would not be able to give permission to be tattooed.

Because of the prevalence of tattoos these days, the researchers wanted to find out if the ink could be harmful in some way.

"The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body," they write.

It works like this: Since lymph nodes filter lymph, which is the fluid that carries white blood cells throughout the body in an effort to fight infections that are encountered, that is where some of the ink particles collect.

Image by authors of the study.

Titanium dioxide appears to be the thing that travels. It's a white tattoo ink pigment that's mixed with other colors all the time to control shades.

The study's authors will keep working on this in the meantime.

“In future experiments we will also look into the pigment and heavy metal burden of other, more distant internal organs and tissues in order to track any possible bio-distribution of tattoo ink ingredients throughout the body. The outcome of these investigations not only will be helpful in the assessment of the health risks associated with tattooing but also in the judgment of other exposures such as, e.g., the entrance of TiO2 nanoparticles present in cosmetics at the site of damaged skin."

Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash
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