December 27, 2012

Gap - A Navigable Poem

Gap - A Navigable Poem - A Screenshot
Gap is a navigable poem that explores American masculinity.

What defines a "man" in America? Clothes? Job description? Dominance, through physical force or weaponry? Culturally acceptable addictions (eg. beer, coffee, gambling, porn)? From where are we choosing to learn about masculinity? From our parents? From our churches? From TV? Who gets to tell us what makes an acceptable/ideal man?

Gap explores these issues via navigable text. Within the poem, the reader controls a letter "A," a supposed Alpha male, a boat that can navigate the waters filling the gap between what is and what is not a man. This water gap through which the reader navigates is represented by an intentional text river, white space that is typically re-aligned in text to aid in readability, that runs between two mountains of words that comprise the poem. By sailing through this text river, the reader's "A" completes words and phrases as the poem is read from bottom to the top.

When discovering what defines manhood, not everything is clear. The world of the poem is dark, unknown, and the reader's torch illuminates a limited view of the entire text. In fact, the reader will never be able to discover every word written. No one male knows everything it takes to be a "Man."

As gender gaps slowly close in America, it is hard for a man to know his place concretely. While socially men may be (at least at some point) equal to women, naturally and biologically we are markedly different, and that's okay. Women amaze me at their ability to celebrate their womanhood.

Men scare me.

To read this poem:
- download the entire .zip file from here:
- Open the file Gap.exe.
- Control the "A" boat with the arrow keys (up, left, right; there is no going back).

At this point, this poem is only for Windows. It was written in .python and therefore I'll technically be able to create linux and (ugh) Mac versions; I just haven't yet.



December 16, 2012

BUILD UP - A Playable Poem

BUILD UP is a playable poem about work, family, and the walls we build between them in just 8 hours per weekday.

BUILD UP is based on the classic game Breakout; or rather, it is an anti- version of the game, wherein you build up rather than break out, and is based on JavaScript by Nick Young (those web-nostalgic will love his link!).

Unfortunately, this poem only works in Chrome and Safari (looks smashing in Safari, actually). It will not work in Firefox or IE (sorry).

Click the alarm clock to begin, and use your mouse to play.

You may play it here: BUILD UP



December 10, 2012

And Sensibility Sense - A Novel of Cut-Up-Dialogue

And Sensibility Sense is a randomly generated novel based on Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility.

Actually, it's pretty much the same novel, though each time the page is loaded, the dialogue within the novel is randomly selected from an array of all the dialogue in the original novel.

Let me give you an example:

From the original text of Sense and Sensibility (Chapter 9):
Sir John called on them as soon as the next interval of fair weather that morning allowed him to get out of doors; and Marianne's accident being related to him, he was eagerly asked whether he knew any gentleman of the name of Willoughby at Allenham. 
"Willoughby!" cried Sir John; "what, is HE in the country? That is good news however; I will ride over tomorrow, and ask him to dinner on Thursday."
"You know him then," said Mrs. Dashwood.
"Know him! to be sure I do. Why, he is down here every year."
"And what sort of a young man is he?"
"As good a kind of fellow as ever lived, I assure you. A very decent shot, and there is not a bolder rider in England."

Now here is the same excerpt from one run of And Sensibility Sense (Chapter 9):

Sir John called on them as soon as the next interval of fair weather that morning allowed him to get out of doors; and Marianne's accident being related to him, he was eagerly asked whether he knew any gentleman of the name of Willoughby at Allenham.
‘I sent you up the young man. Did not I do right?‚-And I suppose you had no great difficulty‚-You did not find him very unwilling to accept your proposal?’ cried Sir John; ‘I think, Edward,’
‘Colonel Brandon!’ said Mrs. Dashwood.
‘A very simple one‚-to be of use to Mr. Ferrars.’
‘you know that all this is an invention of your own, and that there is no such person in existence.’
‘I could meet him no other way. Eliza had confessed to me, though most reluctantly, the name of her lover; and when he returned to town, which was within a fortnight after myself, we met by appointment, he to defend, I to punish his conduct. We returned unwounded, and the meeting, therefore, never got abroad.’
An exploration of unintentional narrative, each reading will be quite unique, as the rearrangement possibilities are, while not endless, certainly more than I'm willing to calculate.

As Burroughs would have recommended the scissors, I recommend the javascript. Steal this work, and create your own.

Once again, here is the link:


November 29, 2012

Conway's Game of Good and Evil

Conway's Game of Good and Evil

Taking John Conway's Game of Life and infusing the words "GOOD" and "EVIL" within the void, a page (world) of ever-evolving text appears.

If you're unfamiliar with cellular automata or Conway's Game of Life, it essentially places a certain set of rules on displayed objects that determine whether or not they'll live or die in the next "step" of the program depending on how many "neighbors" each object has.

The Game of Life program has me hypnotized and amazed every time I open it. It's available for a variety of platforms and languages, but if you haven't seen it before, check out this page: Emergent Universe - Game of Life.

Textual Automata
I've altered the code found here to grab letters from an array, in this case the letters from GOOD and EVIL, and display those letters instead of simple pixels. What results is a fascinating, living, breathing, dying, evolving text that explores many ideas inherent in life.

As the text evolves, you get typical Game of Life patterns (blinkers, boats, gliders, spaceships, &c). In addition, you get a story that begins with a VOID, and fills this VOID with GOD, LOVE, and even EVE. Allow the story to self-evolve, and you may come across the VILE, the DEVIL, maybe an IDOL or two.

Moving beyond a story of creation, the text becomes populated with DOVEs, DOGs, even an occassional EEL. As the story progresses further, these concepts may be replaced by an attraction to GOLD or OIL.

These words LIVE, EVOLVE, and DIE like any other life as we know it. By adding equal parts GOOD and EVIL to the system, I find it fascinating to see the products of the blend of the two.

Stable Configuration

This program is available for Windows and can be downloaded here: Game_of_Good_and_Evil.exe

If you'd like to build the program yourself, the C++ code is here: Game_of_Good_and_Evil.rtf
Run the program and watch it evolve into a stable pattern. Run it again, and the void will be filled with a different pattern (they're created at random). Run it to read it or run it to stare. If nothing else, run it to create worlds.


November 11, 2012

UNWELCOME - a Screenshot Poem

Original Screenshot - Metroid, NES

Experimenting with sprite poems, I decided to see what an entire screenshot would look like. For this piece, I chose a screenshot from the initial scene of Metroid for the NES.

Replacing each pixel in the screenshot with a color-corresponding letter infuses the word "unwelcome" throughout the scene where Samus first arrives in the game-world.

Unwelcome is the hostile world to her. Unwelcome is she to a world into which she was not invited. Unwelcome is she in a 1986 8-bit sci-fi video game where she hides her identity until after the game is over, so not to offend or excite the target market.

The resultant poem seems less like ASCII art and more like a cross stitch pattern. Each pixel is carefully mapped and its color referenced as one letter in the word "unwelcome."

This project was done entirely in a text editor, with a monospaced Courier to maintain an even character width. As such, it is copy-able and paste-able into any other text editor. It is not an image. It is a string of letters, one pervasive word.

Here is the poem as plain text: UNWELCOME_bw.pdf

Here is the poem in color: UNWELCOME_color.pdf

(Downloading and opening looks much better than previewing on Google docs.)

Zoom in. Zoom out. Forests and trees and such.


October 2, 2012

A Picture Worth 11,739 Words

A picture worth 11,739 words

This afternoon, I was playing around with some images, glitching them up through a hex editor, because sometimes that's what I do during my downtime at work. Those who recognize the screenshot as Spiceworks will probably guess what I should have been doing while I was creating this image. While modifying the code, I began drifting into thought. I began wondering what, deep into this image's code within which I was working, was this image trying to say, beyond that of the product of a typical image viewer?

So I removed myself from the hex editor, and tried a text editor. Well, we all know that the text editor will display a bunch of gibberish, since looking at the code of such a file is not really the text editor's job. Okay, I understand that.

So here's what I did next:

1) Changed the character encoding of what the text editor (in this case: Word) presented into Chinese.
2) Copied the Chinese characters into Google translator, and translated into English.
3) Copied the now-English text back into the text editor.
4) Ran a spell check, making every suggested change along the way.

The result is here in .pdf format: CAPTURE.PDF

What began as gibberish is now 11,739 words, most of which are readable to some degree. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from this text:

"and obesity have been implicated with premature failure of the implant by loosening, fracture"
"throwing the world the sobbing tender"
"Beam roars me? Radiance of fire, the petal"
"Song s? Naked? The Run violence?"
"the defecate + ingot official pay the Hour Ling F * N, few paid"
"Complain? 0 species of bamboo"
"executive irresolute Shang trafficking curse? earn?"

are among many others.

Try this on your own, with a variety of images. Look for stories unfolding within.

Find out exactly, and in how many words, the worth of your picture.


September 17, 2012

Famicommunist Poetics

Famicommunist Poetics flyer

This fall, I will be teaching a class at UnderAcademy College entitled Famicommunist Poetics. The course description is as follows:

"This class will explore Famicommunist aesthetics and constraints from within a post-Fujian framework. We will experience existing work that has ranged from the textual, to the visual, to the procedural, through many points in between. In addition, we will produce an extensive portfolio based on our non-digital experimentation with ASCII, sprites, volition, easter eggs, cheat codes & passwords, as poetic forms and constraints, in addition to others that will be created within the class."
In a nutshell, in this class we will be composing concrete poetry based on the visual aesthetics and input methods of classic video games. By classic, I am referring to games released during what I call the Fujian era, i.e. the years during which the Atari VCS was produced (1977-1992). This will by no means limit us to games released on the Atari console, but rather the games and consoles that were released during this time period, including, but not limited to, the Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega Master System, various handhelds, arcade cabinets, &c &c &c.

Anyone is welcome to register for the class through the UnderAcademy website. If you are unfamiliar with UnderAcademy, I highly recommend checking out their website for further info. Registration will be closed once the class hits 15 students, so don't wait!

In addition to Famicommunist Poetics, I will also be co-teaching a class with every other UnderAcademy digressor entitled Too Many Cooks. You may find more info on this class, and others, here: UnderAcademy Courses

While I'm discussing UnderAcademy, I also want to note a couple things that have developed there since my last blog post:

During the summer, Associate Professor of writing at University of Southern California Mark Marino led a special, steamy seminar entitled Grammar Porn, and has posted highlights of student work in Bunk Magazine, which can be found here: Bunk Magazine

Quite recently, The Chronicle of Higher Education posted an article on their Wired Campus blog regarding UnderAcademy, which you can read here: The Chronicle

If you have any questions about UnderAcademy or these classes, feel free to contact me. Hope to see some of you on the roster!


July 18, 2012

17-Syllable, 43-Word Haiku

** You will need a browser that supports animated gifs in order to truly appreciate this blog post **

In an attempt to create a microstiche, I began using my phone to create tiny animated gif poetry (via free apps; do a simple search and experiment to find one you like). My first attempt resulted in this:

Feel free to zoom in to see the animation. I know it's tiny, but I like the micro aesthetic.

The idea was to use the text within a template word as a visual constraint for writing additional words within this template word. In other words, I was trying to either use the words that naturally appear within the "title" word, or "engage" only certain pixels of a letter, in order to produce a letter (punctuation, whatever) that doesn't appear in that spot within the template word.

For instance, there's this:

Again, zoom in if you'd like.

On paper, this microstiche could be titled and written as:




In the microstiche version, however, you get an entire poem (albeit pedestrian in this case, feel free to do better!) all wrapped up into one word. I am a huge proponent of terseness and economical language husbandry, so this is a nice, quick way to experiment.

I am very pleased with how this microstiche has turned out, and I'm sure it has another term for it technically and it's probably been done a hundred times before. But I'm having fun with this, and in Moment Art terms, this is a perfect way to spend only a few minutes a day creating fun little poems. I highly encourage it!

After playing with a few microstiches, I became curious about how much language I could squash into these single words. For instance, how could I expand something like a haiku, so that an entirely new dimension of narrative would appear overtop a constraint of 17 syllables?

Well, it goes a little something like this:

Within each template word of this 17-syllable haiku exists an additional narrative, that allowed me to expand these 17 syllables into 43 words, which are all relevant to the overall story I had in mind when composing the haiku. Additionally, each individual word tells its own story. So as far as being economical, I think I succeeded. I acknowledge that I will need to put more effort in to writing a better haiku, but hey, it's a prototype.

And yes, the fonts are all hand-drawn. I hope some of you get a chance to play with these forms!


June 7, 2012

Ginsberg's Tweet: Howl Revision via Twitter

On June 3rd I performed Ginsberg's Tweet, a retweeted revision of Howl, on Twitter @GinsbergsTweet. Using the Howl text as a foundation, I went through the original work, line by line and comma by comma, and searched specific keywords in recent tweets, Twitter-wide. Utilizing the most angry, upset, overwhelmed, and hopeful of the search, I retweeted these results in succession as they were presented in Howl.

Ginsberg's Tweet remains viewable on Twitter @GinsbergsTweet. You will need to scroll through the retweets to find the beginning, which is clearly marked.

Straight reading from beginning to end (especially when one is familiar with Howl) reveals an honest, crowdsourced (oh boy...) retelling of current fear and hope in much the same vein as Ginsberg himself did. Sometimes the succession of retweets is more relevant to the next/last than others, and sometimes it's as though the authors of these tweets are speaking to each other. Reading Ginsberg's Tweet aloud is something I would like to try alongside a concurrent reading of Howl.

However, I chose the Twitter platform more for its hypertextuality and its relevance to our digital culture. In Allen Ginsberg's time, words you might see scribbled on walls are now presented and archived (limitedly on Twitter itself, at least) as tweets for anyone with internet access to view. Instead of inscribing shocking headlines into concrete, a tweeter may simply display a link to a troubling article. Instead of wondering who wrote such words upon the wall, all one must do now is click on the tweeter's profile, straight to a bio and a comprehensive list of every tweet they've been making. This is the beautiful part.

The pathways that clickable words create within Twitter are so dendritic that I have yet to get through Ginsberg's Tweet fully by following the hypertext. Now, if I'm wondering just who wrote a particular tweet, I can view their bio, their tweets, the conversation that the tweet may have been part of, (their Twitter wallpaper!), who they're following, their bios and tweets, as well as read online articles (discovering their author, raging at the comment section, finding related articles), view pictures embedded within the retweets, and on and on so that to engage Ginsberg's Tweet fully is to peruse what seems like the entire internet. So I wonder: What would a full, critical reading of Ginsberg's Tweet look like?

I'm not asking anyone to do this, just merely trying to wrap my head around the expansiveness of hypertextuality.

What I will ask, however, is that you take a look at Ginsberg's Tweet, and explore it as fully as you are able.

Overall, I am very pleased with the result of this experiment. When I began this project, I never realized the expansive narrative it would create. I was mostly hoping that it would be relevant to Howl, as well as appreciated by the man whose birthday it was to commemorate.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Allen Ginsberg.

Also, to the Twitterers who unwittingly wrote this entire thing: Thank you.


May 19, 2012


Ginsberg's Tweet is a re: vision of Howl that I will be performing live on Twitter (no bots) on June 3, 2012, in honour of Allen Ginsberg's birthday. It will be an arrangement of voices that mirrors the text of Howl in its entirety. The show will begin at 8 pm EST on Twitter @GinsbergsTweet.


Zork N plus 9

"In the bisexual's nest is a large eiderdown encrusted with precious jingles, apparently scavenged somewhere by a childless sore." 
Zork N+9

Zork N plus 9 is an Oulipo-ly rewritten version of the classic text adventure. Utilizing Dean Merenzes' Inform7 port and , each noun is replaced with the ninth noun from the original in the dictionary.

Some basics for those who are unfamiliar:

Inform7 is a programming language that uses English in a natural way, without the oft intimidating

function {
  math-like code;

that may prove difficult (though not impossible, see Mez Breeze) to render into a poetic form. Therefore, the process wasn't as simple as pasting the entire code into the website above, catching all the "irregular" nouns. I needed to select each noun carefully, because altering the wrong noun would cause errors.

This project was more an exercise in tenacity than it was in coding.

For example, the phrase "twisty little passages" could easily become "twisty little pastels" because the Inform7 interpreter doesn't use "passage" as a command. However, changing a noun such as "man" would cause a little trouble, because defining the Cyclops as a "mandrake" instead is something Inform7 cannot handle semantically (at least that was my experience; I'm not deeply familiar with Inform7).

I could have only altered the displayed text outputted by the program, though the player would need to input the same nouns as the original Zork, which would render the displayed text irrelevant. If the White Housekeeper has a semi-open "wink" through which to enter, the player should not need to enter "open window" to do so.

What drove me to complete this piece was to discover if the (N+9) replacement method makes the adventure any more or less exciting, or if it merely serves to add absurdity. I appreciate the Oulipo methods and the reader-driven mechanisms of interactive fiction, so I mostly wanted to play with colliding worlds.

I haven't played through the work entirely, but I've been through enough to know that it may cause a type of literary vertigo, the kind you might experience in a dream if you've fallen asleep after too much caffeine. Best I can say is: Make a map.

If you cannot navigate the newly-obscure vocabulary, I encourage you to browse the source text. If nothing else, reading the Inform7 source (esp. as (N+9)) is a remarkable poetic experience.

And thanks to the generous hosting donation from Mark Sample, we are now able to play Zork N plus 9 directly from our browser: Zork N plus 9

Next up: Oulipo-ly, a board game; or Monopoly (N+7)

Just kidding.



May 7, 2012

Camel Tail: Generating Narrative in Metal

It's been 30 years, Metallica; what is the story you are trying to tell?

Camel Tail is a generative poem using every line from Metallica's 9 major studio albums, and is my attempt to find an overall narrative within Metallica's prolific work.

I was pleased to discover that often the lines become arranged in mutually relevant ways. At times, the verses share rhyme and meter, with the resultant stanzas grouped thematically, even though the songs could be written decades apart. Out of their original context, the lines become more personal, and seem to speak of hate bred through pain and loss. The scenes seem more grey without the pounding rhythm. The man behind the words becomes more contemplative, almost pitiful.

And other times it doesn't make any sense at all.

You can find it online here: Camel Tail

All words were written by Metallica (please don't sue me).
All lines are rearranged at random by your browser.
All lyrics are sic from (except for gross misspellings which I corrected here and there).

The javascript is based off Nick Montfort's generative poetry.


May 4, 2012

one [seed] - Bonsai Grass for Atari 2600

The fruit of one [seed]

From the UnderAcademy files:

one [seed]
nō joystick required

one [seed] grows one blade of grass from your Atari VCS.


Bury one [seed] about an inch deep into your Atari VCS cartridge port. Power on.

Within an hour, a single blade of grass will sprout.

Make sure to give it plenty of sunshine (colour); your blade of grass will not grow in the dark (b/w).

Water your blade of grass at least once a week (reset). Without water, your blade of grass will turn brown and die.

Within about a week, your blade of grass will be fully grown.

At any time, you may trim your blade of grass (game select) to a desirable level. The height and the reason are yours.

With proper care, attention, and focused meditation, your blade of grass will last as long as you do.

Download .bin file here: one [seed]


UnderAcademy & Press

For the past few months, I have been participating in online courses taught at UnderAcademy College. Here is their mission statement:

UnderAcademy College is an unaccredited undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate anti-degree institution (of absence). UnderAcademy College situates itself as a shadow-academic environment offering alternative courses and anti-degree programs in a variety of subjects. The primary mission of UnderAcademy College is to remain open, marginal, and unaccredited

The classes at UnderAcademy tend to experiment with digital media (I have focused mostly on digital poetics), are taught by college professors and others from around the world, and are campus and tuition free (for me the ideal situation). Without going on and on about how ^_awesome_^ this unaccredited (take that, permanent record) institution is, I will leave it to you to explore their website, as well as some of the work that I generated during the first cycle:

Ionic Mascara Precinct - A selection of works by the students of Talan Memmott's Advanced Macaronics course.

[NŌ CODE (DEPROGRAMMING 101)] - An exploration/explanation of my compiled works for Eric Snodgrass' class. Includes: generative poetry, interactive fiction, books, a board game, Atari 2600 pieces, and even more!

Student Work - Et al projects from selected classes.

I was very pleased to be able to (non)attend UnderAcademy's first cycle, graduate with a CALLIDUS PARVULUS degree in Applied Marginalization &c., and am now honoured to be their first ever (in)valedictorian, as well as invitee to speak RE: my experience at the ELO (Electronic Literature Organization) conference in June. I look forward to letting you know how that goes.

In the meantime, I am currently taking another Memmott-led course entitled: Catabolic Poesis, the blog of which may be found here: Catapo

In other news, I also had the honour of being included in a Kill Screen Magazine article RE: William S. Burroughs and cut-up, generative poetry. You can find that here: Gunning with Scissors

Finally, I have been asked to once again begin broadcasting Daily Moment Art exercises. Therefore, some time in the near future, I will be splitting this website in two, allowing one side to focus on moment art, and the other to focus on my experiments. I apologize for letting this blog take a narcissistic turn. I'll make it up to you.

For those of you disinterested in Moment Art but are following along with my digital poetry experiments, until I have a dedicated website for it, I will likely hold off posting my experiments in Sonny's Work page separately, though you can still find everything by browsing the blog posts (ugh...).

Thank you, come again!


March 9, 2012

abbr. Game Poem for Atari 2600

abbr. is the final Atari game poem in my Monday triptych.

It was premiered at the Louisville Arcade Expo, March 2-4. Over a dozen people were genuinely interested! I want to thank everyone who was courageous enough to try it out.

I will have a postmortem in some form in the near future. Until then, however, I would like to offer you the game poem, the source code, as well as directions on how to build the bridge rail controller*. These can all be found at the Sonny's Work page, or by clicking here.

The directions to the game poem are found on the cartridge itself (look at the main label).

* though you could just use the right player's fire button. Remember, to simulate standing on the railing, you must hold the fire button in, and to simulate jumping, you let go.

Now, here's the spiel I used at the expo:

"Okay, now: You've spent eight hours at a job you loathe. You've spent hours more in traffic just getting you to and from this job. It is at this point where this day, this Monday, you find yourself on" [turns game poem on] "the 2nd Street Bridge.

"That little line there is you. You stand there amidst traffic. You have no money. You're topped out in anger. These are the only things you can think about, and you do so obsessively. Impulsively, you stand on the railing." [instructs player to stand on bridge rail controller]

"See you now, standing on the bridge railing? Now, just close your eyes and listen to your heartbeat. Breathe. Can you imagine being at a point like this in your life where this is the best alternative?

"Your time has come; jump off the bridge." [player jumps off controller; character jumps off bridge to blackness]

"And that is the end. It's over." [player reacts]

"Now, since this is my creation, my re-imagining of my world, I can do something about it. Since this is on the Atari, I can do what I've always dreamed of: I can put the difficulty switch to easy," [switch difficulty to easy] "hit reset," [hit reset] "and boom: I'm on the beach.

"I'm on the beach, where the world is black and white, everything is right or wrong, and I know exactly where I fall morally and ethically. Simple.

"The storm is always off in the distance, and all I can do now is pick up rocks, and chuck them into the water. Listen to the ocean roll, and throw rocks into the water.

"A perfect life."


February 4, 2012

Nothing is 0k: Atari 2600 Generative Poetry

Nothing is 0k is a randomly generated poem for the Atari VCS.

Because of the size limitations of the Atari 2600 (4k rom), it is nearly impossible to hold text of any substantial quantity in memory, let alone display it on-screen. In order to do so, I've chosen to represent words in the playfield with each letter's binary form of its ASCII hexadecimal equivalent.

Nothing is 0k for the Atari 2600

With six lines total (two stanzas of three lines), each line contains words with either four or two letters (4-2-4 stanzas). The playfield itself displays the binary form of the hexadecimal code for each letter.

Secondly, the colours of each line represent one letter of a six-letter adjective that represents the mood of the poem, or could also be inferred as the title for each two-stanza poem. The Atari 2600 uses hexadecimal code to represent colour, so by looking at the TIA colour codes (NTSC), you can decipher the randomly generated words.

The poem from above, decoded.

The dots on the bottom of the screen are to aid in reading. Each dot represent one bit; a space, another.

I found the graphical representation in this abstract form an interesting way to view these poems. It can be likened to reading poetry from another language with a different iconography. I suppose it lets you see the forest without knowing that it's made of trees.

Generative poetry on such a constrained platform represents, to me, not only a personal challenge, but also a way to prove that the Atari VCS is so much more diverse and capable than imagined, or even originally intended. I love exploring its boundaries.

Both the .bin and the .asm files are available, free.

Press left joystick button to begin, and to generate a new poem.


January 10, 2012

iFound Jesus: An Interactive Acrylic Painting

or, My Act of Contrition.

iFound Jesus is my latest iOS creation for the iPhone. It is an interactive acrylic painting, wherein you get to play hide-and-seek with Jesus, his disciples and apostles. When you find them all, Jesus gets to find you!

Basically what happens is this: You start at home base, and have to look behind buildings, trees, graves, and other such objects for Jesus and his friends. Upon finding them, the children begin running, with a 3-second untaggable head start, toward home base. If you manage to catch these elusive youngsters, they will teach you a passage from biblical scripture. Then, when everyone has either been tagged or returned safely to home base, you get to play as Jesus, finding his friends, and ultimately, you.

Screenshot from iFound Jesus for iPhone

Everything in this game, sans text, was painstakingly painted with acrylic at the exact scale of the iPhone screen. Why? Masochism. Personal challenge. Also, I'm a stickler about wasting paint. Mostly, because I wanted what you see on the screen to represent the actual painting itself. I know it would have been much easier to paint everything larger and then downsize them, but having the brush strokes be actual size was important to my vision.

Everything painted at scale of iPhone screen

Once painted, the images were scanned and saved. Each frame of animation was numbered, labelled, and reversed for direction. All in all, each character has between 22 and 28 frames, half of which were painted, at a size that was especially challenging with the types of brushes that I own, and the thickness of the paint applied.

I especially thank this picture for animation models.

It's hard to say how many man-hours went into painting this piece, since I worked on it over the course of a couple months, at short intervals when I had the chance. I must say, however, that overall I was pleased with how the images turned out.

GameSalad is another "no coding required", "build it yourself" game creation engine. In the past, I used the Scrolling Game Development Kit 2 (SGDK2) to create my Adventures of the Overgrown Oatmeal game for the PC, and GameSalad is very similar. The reason I chose GameSalad this time is because they allow for iOS game creation.

Essentially, in GameSalad, you drag and drop the images and sound you wish to include, then go through a veritable labyrinth of drop-down menus in order to create your game. Perfect for people without a lot of coding experience (i.e. Me). Although it crashes frequently, isn't the most efficient method of game creation, nor is it easy to define AI behaviour, GameSalad is a great way for us to create this type of art without spending countless hours in Xcode. In other words, for you more adventurous Moment artists, I highly recommend GameSalad if you wish to give this type of art a go.

Peaceful Play:
For this project, I was going for the most nonviolent, peaceful experience I could think of. A scoreless game of hide-and-seek with the Son of Man seemed to me the most innocent form of game play imaginable.

However, upon reading Devin Monnens' War and Play, it became clear to me that what I created was a jihad against a Christian horde.


Okay, so through a certain lens, this game can be viewed as a seek-and-destroy mission. Please believe that that is not my intention. While I highly recommend reading Mr. Monnens' paper (an analysis of war in games of all sort), I intended this to be a calm, self-paced game of chase and reflection, family friendly for all.

Now that I have become better acquainted with the concept of conflict in games, I have a much better understanding of how to approach my next game, which will instead address conflict resolution.

Intended Rhetoric:
Naturally, I have chosen to try to say something with this game beyond that of just playing hide-and-seek, and beyond that of promoting a peaceful way of thinking.

First of all, there's the very act of searching, actively seeking Jesus, his friends, and more importantly spiritual guidance.

Also, there's the rule that you play as Jesus as often as you play as you. This is me trying to say that we are all one and the same as Jesus.

And yes, I do realize that I painted all characters as white people.

That, too, was intentional.

I'm certainly not a bible thumper in any manner; in fact, I addressed my issues with the Christian concept of God in an earlier blog about my first iPhone app. The Word. This piece of game art is mostly my attempts to reconcile with my own issues. I consider myself a spiritual seeker, yet have hit a road block which I believe I cannot get past until I work through previous foundational trauma. Knowing that I'm not the only one, I hope that this may help others along the way, or if nothing else, awaken others to a different light.

Intended Audience (and Inadvertent Alienation):
Intended audience, again, is mostly myself, and those in the same boat as I. Furthermore, I hope this game can be enjoyed by children while learning about selected beautiful ideas of the bible, without any of the hatred and violence that so profusely scatters its pages.

The problem is the inclusion of Thomas and Mary.

On the one hand, by including some gnostic literature that was not deemed acceptable by the church so long ago, I am trying to spread ideas that are foreign to most of today's Christians, but ideas that are just as enlightening as many other mystical traditions. I consider these relatively recently found writings (Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Mary) just as important as anything included in the New Testament.

Others will disagree. In fact, most may disagree. For that, I am heartily sorry. I realize that this will be a deal-breaker for many. But again, while I would like as large an audience as I possibly can, I will not sacrifice my integrity for a couple bucks.


I am incredibly pleased to have put my heart and time into this project, and am more than happy with the result. Yes, I believe I could have created something "better" by doing the coding myself.

But I didn't want to.

I wanted to enjoy the process of creating a painted work of art, which was both interactive (forgive the term, academics) and as animated as the paintings at Hogwarts. In this arena, I believe I succeeded.

Moreover, I wanted to use this as a tool to alter some signification when it comes to God. Has it worked?

I don't know yet; I have a lot of work to do.

In the meantime, the game is available here: iFound Jesus

Your comments are welcome here, and I would love to hear from you about your experience with this game.

Thank you all for checking in. I can't wait to show you my next project!


January 8, 2012

Cimmerian Cell: My First Card Game

Presented with minimalist artwork to replicate the style of early ASCII mazes, Cimmerian Cell is a logic-based adventure-style card game that brings the concept of randomly computer-generated dungeon games to a non-digital format. The narrative is intentionally left out for maximum imaginative play.

The rules are designed to be simple. There are no character stats to stumble through, and no complex battle system to learn. Games are easy to play for all ages, don't require hours to finish, and allow for virtually limitless dungeon-space possibilities, demanding endless and exciting replayability.

Cimmerian Cell is a single and multiplayer game, provided each player has their own deck.

45x ROOM cards
2x STAIR cards
3x MONSTER cards
1x SWORD card
1x SCEPTER card
2x Instruction cards

Check it out here: Cimmerian Cell

The kids had a blast play-testing this one!