To recap: this month, we're trying to crowdfund half the printing costs of Sidekick's next book, Coin Opera 2: Fulminare's Revenge. This means we're asking our allies and admirers (and, more to the point, the wider gaming and literary communities) to effectively pre-order the book, or the deluxe edition, or pledge more for bonus extras, through a Kickstarter page. If you pledge £12, you'll be buying the book and helping us to reach our target of £1,500, but if we haven't hit that target by the end of the campaign, we get nothing! Any money you pledge won't be taken from you until the second week of July.
What follows is our week 1 update:
Progress report from Dr Fulminare:
"The sun rises, albeit in leisurely fashion, upon my empire! The task is under way and a score or more fearless pioneers have dared to join me and my team in our most radical mixing of two unstable elements. You are to be commended, you most intrepid of intrepids! But still we need more, of course. More curious cats, drawn in by the smell of conflict and crackling words. More wandering wildmen, unable to ignore the sound of poets taking games apart to see what makes them tick, unleashing their characters, recklessly confusing our world with theirs. Let us go out together and find them, so that this most unnatural thing may live!
Dr F (still alive / doing science)
Progress report from the editors:
Huge thanks to all the backers who've helped us pass the quarter-way mark in the first week! As Dr F says, you are adventurous souls - this project is an unusual proposition, almost a one-of-its-kind, with the first Coin Opera being more of a tentative experiment. A quarter of the way there is exactly where we need to be right now, but from our point of view, it's no excuse to rest on our laurels. Most of the work still lies ahead of us!
Here's a round-up of the publicity we've managed to snag for ourselves in the last week:
- Pxlbyte extol the virtues of Coin Opera 2: "As an artifact it stands alone on the gaming landscape as bringing together two disparate forms of entertainment and smashing them together in ways not previously considered."
- Den of Geek feature us as part of Crowdfunding Friday: "From London-based publisher Sidekick Books comes an absolutely charming Kickstarter project: a bumper book of poems about videogames. "
- Jon was interviewed and read a poem out at the Etoo live gaming event, which was livestreamed to the Guardian. A recording should be up on Youtube shortly.
We've also been hard at work producing related features and writing, just to keep things a bit interesting. Here are two articles we posted to our blog this week that explore matters related to both literature and gaming:
We've also added a short Q&A:
Is Coin Opera 2 a light-hearted sort of affair or a serious literary endeavour?
It's both. We believe games are under-appreciated as artifacts and as both abstract and non-abstract art, and that their forms, their mathematics, their ways of expression ideas and conflict, are ripe for fruitful exploration. A better understanding of the way games work, the way they engage us, informs a better understanding of ourselves, and poetic expression is one of the ways humans reach towards this greater understanding.
But at the same time, the way games engage us is through play, and one of the best ways of engaging them is through play. Most of the poems we've collected for this anthology demonstrate a creative-critical approach, a light touch, and an awareness of tropes and of the surreality - sometimes absurdity - of game-worlds. These are not poems which need to be run through a factory of academics in order to be understood. They're packed with visual and verbal jokes, and a sense of wild experimentation runs through the collection.
I don't know much about games. Is this book going to be pretty heavy-going for me?
While there's obvious a lot that will be familiar to gamers, the poems collected are not rammed with in-jokes, and are no less accessible than poems about countries you've never been to or events you've never witnessed. At least a part of the delight in a literary focus on games is the re-recognition of their strangeness, the way they occupy a space similar to dreams or myth: recognisable, but at one remove from our own world. If you have a taste for literature that falls in any way outside the bracket of domestic realism or historical account, you should find much to like in Coin Opera 2.
I don't know much about poetry. Is this book going to be pretty heavy-going for me?
Poetry is, of course, like any art, easier to grasp the more you read of it, but many of the young writers who are included in the book are well practised in writing for new audiences and have a background in live performance. If you're remotely interested in the subject matter, and so long as you're willing to embrace a certain amount of ambiguity and word-play, you shouldn't have any difficulties with Coin Opera 2.