"evidence of everything exploding" is the third installment in a series of flash poems/games by Jason Nelson. Like the previous two installments in the series ('game, game, game and again game' (2007) and "i made this. you play this. we are enemies." (2008)), the player/reader is asked to navigate a series of levels of side-scrolling mazes to progress through the poem.
The basic level design of the game element of the poem is relatively straightforward: simply navigate though the maze to reach a goal, while avoiding obstacles that send you back to a previous point on the level. The challenge element of the game mostly stems from the sense of sensory overload one experiences throughout the game. The game space is purposely cluttered with text, explosions, fire, links to short animations, and hand drawn lines. This coupled with a repetitive in game music and spoken word lead to a disorienting experience for the viewer.
The work focuses on the obsession in the media with “doomsday and conspiracy”. The storyline of the game is that in 2004 a set of ten papers treated with unknown chemicals was found in the Artic. Each of these pages serves as the background for each of the levels. As the player navigates the level, they will pass over a numbered series of highlighted sections of the text that will open a text box relevant to the topic described on the background and the greater fake conspiracy at work. The player is, in part, enticed to figure out the “conspiracy” related to these ten pages, which, as the game puts it, feature “NASA, Bill Gates, The Spanish Flu, Dadaism, James Joyce, Fidel Castro and other strange and wondrous evidence.” These people and topics are not chosen at random as many conspiracy theories and controversies surround each of them. In this way, the work plays of established fear instead of trying to create its own.
As a reward for completing levels, the player is treated to a series of videos in which stories are created using the textual content of various books of matches. Each of these videos are their own individual narrative and do not relate to each other save the use of the matchbooks.
The line between game and poem blend in such a way that they support each other. As he navigates, the player delves into the deeper meaning of the piece as text appears due to the player’s movement. Each is a puzzle for the player to figure out independently, as well as in relation to each other. The chaotic nature of each level reflects the overflow of information in modern media, so much so that there is no way to keep track of everything all at once. To enjoy both poem and game, the player must engage in quick point-to-point multitasking that in a way is another puzzle unto itself.
The absurdity of the supposed conspiracy as well as the “messy” levels leaves the player with a sense of just how silly and blown out of proportion the media and its doomsday prophesies are.