Individual Work
The Dead Tower

The Dead Tower is one of Mez Breeze and Andy Campbell's first collaborative projects. It merges two important sub-genres of electronic literature, codework and games. From this intersection, The Dead Tower says something unique about how digital literatures encourage reader interaction in a radically different way than print-based poetics. In The Dead Tower, the user is dropped into a dark narrative gaming world where the wreckage of a bus crash is littered throughout an uneven, rocky landscape. Throughout the landscape, bright white text written in Breeze’s trademark codework poetic language, mezangelle, provides hints about navigation, and recounts, in fragments, the narrative of the bus crash, the wreckage of which is all around the user navigating the space.

Because the text in the game is bright white, set before the dark background of the landscape, one might expect that it would draw the reader’s eye. Instead, the creolized utterances and programmable code tends to merge, sometimes illegibly, with the rocks and cliffs of the landscape. Using the cursor to look around, the direction keys to move, and the space bar to jump, the user must figure out how to navigate with the presumable end-goal of making it to a text-covered tower, the work’s namesake. Campbell and Breeze work from the context of gaming narratives, particularly in the form of first-person shooters and other similar gaming interfaces through which the reader as player navigates these systems. Gamers might have difficulty adjusting to the point-of-view and navigation functions because they are used to a more integrated relationship between the two in typical gaming controls.

Ultimately, as the reader navigates textual space in the virtual world, they are encouraged to make substantial use of their own whims, desires, and subjectivity. Making their way to the vantage point at the top of the titular tower is perhaps only one way of reading the work: suggested because of the title. Once the user finally makes their way to the top of the tower, they are awarded only with a different vantage point; nothing about the world or the text that fills it changes in any way. The freedom with which the reader navigates this textual space is an obvious metaphor for reader freedom. It is heavy-handed; nothing about the ominous music, broken languages, or dark and foreboding atmosphere of The Dead Tower is subtle. Instead, the work flaunts its disruptive practices just as it flaunts the freedom of the reader to navigate this space.

Author statement: 
Set in a dark and abstract dream world that revolves around a crashed bus, the atmospheric literary game environment The Dead Tower can be freely explored at full-screen with the mouse and keyboard. Like the proverbial moth, the reader's attention is drawn towards the brightest things around: white words float in the air, static or rotating. And the lines of Mezangelle verse heighten the dread by telling fragments of a ghostly narrative prefigured by the bus crash site the reader finds herself in. Andy Campbell is a digital writer and the author of, a website described by the Times Educational Supplement as “a semi-cinematic, semi-literary blend… a distinctive voice that couldn’t be replicated in print.” He is Director of Digital Media for One to One Development Trust ( heading up website and multimedia design and working on a wide range of arts projects in communities often with challenging and hard to reach groups. Campbell was a judge in 2010/11 for the New Media Writing Prize established by Bournemouth University; the annual prize, now in its 3rd year, is supported by sponsors, including Dreaming Methods. Campbell is the Creative Developer for the pioneering digital novel Inanimate Alice written by award-winning novelist Kate Pullinger ( Mez Breeze is an Australian-based artist and practitioner of, working primarily with code poetry and digital multimedia works combining text, code, image and sound. Born Mary-Anne Breeze, she uses a number of avatar nicknames, including Mez and Netwurker. She received degrees in both Applied Social Science [Psychology] at Charles Sturt University in Bathurst, Australia in 1991 and Creative Arts at the University of Wollongong in Australia in 2001. In 1994, Breeze received a diploma in Fine Arts at the Illawarra Institute of Technology, Arts and Media Campus in Australia.