Since our audience tends to be literary nerds, many of you probably already know that today is National Punctuation Day in America. To celebrate, we’re going to do a game about the pinnacle of language, which is of course the haiku. It is a 3-line poem with the first line having 5 syllables, the second having 7, then the third having 5 again. Most of them involve swearing, at least when I write them.
Haiku Hero is a game where you write haiku while a computer gives you arbitrary restrictions, such as words to include, letters to use (or not) and other random rules. In my favorite mode, “survival,” you have a constantly decreasing timer, and completing haiku increases the remaining time. This mode sounds simple, but when you complete a masterpiece of a haiku only to realize you’re not making up the time difference, the pressure is very real, and some hilarious haiku can pop out. In the next mode, “deadline,” you have a simple 5-minute deadline in which to write as many haiku as you can. Finally, there’s “endless” mode, which basically lets you write haiku to your heart’s content.
The computer also verifies your haiku so you can’t skirt the rules and use weird pseudo-words like “argh.” It will also catch if you mess up and use something that’s not a word like “haikus” instead of “haiku.” In this way it’s much like Erik, our editor, only less angry.
The simple addition of a time limit, random rules to obey and a computer verifying the haiku really makes for an intoxicating mix. You get the sense that the computer is judging your haiku, which is largely because it is. The pressure adds to the creativity, and when the game is over it lets you post your haiku masterpieces to Twitter, Facebook, Buzz and email. Honestly, it feels very much like writing to me. “Oh damn, I only have 30 seconds left. Quick, think of something!”
Why You Should Check This Out: Haiku Hero shows that games can simulate more than just music. With a very simple game concept, this game remains simple and approachable while at the same time managing to evoke some of the feel and rush of writing. Plus, sharing your haiku is a fun way to show off your skills (or lack thereof).