i made this. you play this. we are enemies. is a Flash-based poetry game by Jason Nelson. Like Nelson’s earlier games (game, game, game and again game and Alarmingly These Are Not Lovesick Zombies), i made this is built around a modified platform game engine layered with hand-drawn notations, poetic texts, video, and animation. Each level is played/read against a background derived from one of several popular web portals, from the partisan news outlet The Huffington Post to the satirical news aggregator Fark, from powerful presences like Google and Yahoo to open information insurgents like Mininova.
As readers navigate across the repurposed screenshots of the various iconic web sites represented in each level, a curious poetics is at play in which the adversarial relationship between web sites and their customers is central. On the one hand, there is clearly a satirical function to the flashing texts which seem to highlight the implicit agenda of each portal. In this reading, the poet, in revising, decoding, and reframing the visual language of each site, is pitted against the various information outlets and their respective agendas. Here, the title seems to describe the interaction between the web (“I made this.”) and the poet (“You play this.”), locking the two in mortal combat (“We are enemies.”)
On the other hand, the very structure of this work—a poetry game—enfolds the artist and his audience into this oppositional relationship. Nelson the poet has placed his readers in peril, forcing them to dodge obstacles and risk death (or, as the game cheerfully says, "You purchased a farm!"). Though Nelson’s appropriation of popular web sites might seem to suggest an iconoclastic populism, the title itself seems to be a playfully antagonistic message directed at his own readers (which Nelson describes as an "Appalachian-style battle between the game maker and game player"), suggesting that communication is powerful and potentially coercive, regardless of its point of origin or form.
In i made this, independent hypermedia poets, corporate communications offices, and humble readers are locked in a joyful tangle of competing agendas, confused desires, and codependent antagonisms. While the ultimate "message" of i made this is best left to argument and debate, the very process itself seems to suggest that there exists in New Media forms the potential to unsettle even the most stable and recognizable voices of authority, whether they come in the form of corporate branding, programmed interfaces, authorial intention, and, even, the customer or reader (who might not "always be right").