In my Remediation Class back in the Fall of 2013, we were challenged, in our last week of study, to design a hypothetical videogame based off one of the poems or stories we had learned about in our course.
Below I have listed my response to this prompting, and my hope and desire for this hasn’t changed. Perhaps one day, I will have the skills or perhaps the money to see this game made into a reality.
Note: The following essay has not been edited in any way since the day I submitted it for grading.
Focal: Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came
Gametype: Hidden-Object Picture Game
The Childe Roland poem can be broken into four sections; the crossroads, the desiccated horse, the river of cadavers, and the Dark Tower’s proper. Were I, myself, to make this poem into some sort of game, I would follow on a hidden-object picture game; a game specifically designed to see how much stuff someone can hide in a scene without it being readily available to your optics and then saying “Find Me”.
Hidden Object games hide various objects inside other objects; a dirigible inside a painting of a hot-air balloon, if you would, or a magnifying glass hidden inside a scene of frying pans. A multitude of objects may be hidden in something complex or mundane, and it is your job, as the player, to find them. Every portion of the visual spectrum may be played with in order to hide these objects; from shape to angle to color. Often the objects to be found is presented as a list to you, and may or may not be set to find them in a time limit.
Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came would be a curious game where the end result would doubtlessly be for you, the player (“Roland”) to find the Dark Tower and blow your slug-horn.
The first ‘scene’, likely after a select number of levels, would walk you down the road to the crossroads, where the old man would give you an option of left or right. Choosing the correct path would take you closer to the Tower, whereas the wrong one would lead you in a long circle back to the crossroads.
Either pathway you choose, many of your “goals” after a level, bonus goals of you would, would be to find animals or plants and thus “treasure”, though the plants and animals would starkly differ from either pathway. Invariably the correct path would have darker animals– things assigned with death– and the plants would invariably assigned with poisons and the like. The objects to find in the correct path would be things like gravemarkers and nooses, whereas in the wrong path they would be things like flower crowns and butterfly nets. I would do this because the centerpiece of Childe Roland is not an island of cotton candy, puppies and butterflies, but is, in fact, a much darker story (to me) of loss, hate, and misery. And death. Obviously.
The second major scene, down the correct path (most likely a dark forest), would doubtlessly be the horse; I imagine it black as pitch, and skeletal, all bones and no flesh to speak of. It would be wearing gear, of course, though it would be thin– this would be the Grim Reaper’s horse– and eventually, after the assigned levels for the scene, you, the player (“Roland”), would find the slug-horn in the saddle-bags and continue on your journey to the river.
The trip through the river both the backing and the find-me images would change to something Hollywood-horror. A human torso with an exposed chest cavity, and in place of his own a stylized ‘Valentine’ heart and other such obviousness to lighten it, but invariably the river is the symbol of war and suffering, and it’s hard to make light of such an impactive thing like war. It is not a trivial subject. However, I would refuse to depict just horrors; other things to find would be gold trinkets or jewels, and probably bottles of “Love Potion #9”, a childhood cartoon staple of make-him-love-me. All of which are causes for war.
After crossing the river there would be more of the forest until it broke into the field with the Dark Tower in the distance, and then more levels as you crossed that field to the Dark Tower itself. At the tower you would be given a choice of blowing the slug-horn to enter, or turning around. Turning around takes you through the woods again… and brings you out in a loop, at the Dark Tower. Entering the Dark Tower finishes the game, but inside the Tower you can replay the various scenes as you wish, with shifting object lists.
This is the game I would build, if I could build a game.