Thursday, July 10, 2014

Waste Land: A New Literary Experience

Waste Land

Waste Land is an immersive world, a mystery waiting to be unraveled. Designed by Remo Arpagaus, principle designer at White-Ibex Games, and curated by Andrew E. Colarusso, editor-in-chief of the Broome Street Review—Waste Land bridges poetry and game design to create an all new interactive literary experience. The first of its kind!

Waste Land was in part inspired by T.S. Eliot's seminal work of modernist poetry. The game also features new poetry from Kate Schapira and Joshua Edwards—to be published in the Broome Street Review no. 6. For more information (and to download the game for free!) visit:


In November of 2013 I wrote to Jenova Chen of ThatGameCompany with an idea for a fully immersive/interactive world which would also be a serial literary journal. I was so inspired by their masterwork Journey, that the idea dawned on me--why not bridge poetry and game design? With ThatGameCompany's expertise and my curatorial efforts we could co-design a serial journal which would also be an immersive digital world. The general idea being that the reader would assume an avatar and explore an environment uncovering not only new works of literature, but interactive illustrations of new literature. 

Of course, like many of my ideas and letters, it was not received as serious. Perhaps it was routed to the trash or spam folder. 

Fast forward. 2014. Browsing twitter I happen upon the twitter handle @WhiteIbex. A few screenshots of a game in development caught my eye. Obelisks sinking in an arid world, set against an urgently twilit sky. So of course I wrote to @WhiteIbex. And to my joy and excitement, he wrote back--an ambitious independent game designer working on a game called Wasteland. It felt like Kismet. 

So began our collaboration. His name, by the way, is Remo Arpagaus. He worked exclusively on the game design, building all of its elements from scratch--self-taught--primarily using Java (JMonkey). 

TBSR: Tell us a little about yourself. Who is Remo Arpagaus?

REMO: I am a software developer from Switzerland and currently I live at the heart of Switzerland in the city of Lucerne. Married to a wonderful wife and blessed with a young boy, I like to spend time with my young family at the lake which is just a few steps away. If the weather allows it, I enjoy riding my bicycle back home from work.

TBSR: So love and the natural world are a couple of things that inspire your imagination and contribute richness to your personal life. What are some other things that inspire you? How would you describe your aesthetic and what games (and arts in general) have shaped your aesthetics as a creator?

from "The sleep lab of Koschkei the Deathless" by Kate Schapira.
Featured in-game and to be published in TBSR no. 6.
Hear her read it >>> here

REMO: Well that is a difficult one. I'm not sure actually, but sometimes when I let my thoughts drift away looking at a building, drawing or the landscape I find inspiration for my work. It can be anything really. For me it's mainly about looking closely and analyzing what's right in front of me. Though I have to say this is easier when visiting places I haven't been before like going abroad or to a museum for the first time.

When it comes to games I have to admit that I haven't played a whole lot of them. Of the few which I have played, Myst and Riven definitely left a lasting impression on me.

TBSR: What’s the story behind Waste Land? How did you get started on it?

REMO: Well, Waste Land is my first real project. I've been messing around with minor experiments on game engines here and there but it's the first experiment that actually formed into a small game. However, what actually got me started making games was the lack games I wanted to play, particularly on my Android tablet. In my childhood I used to play Myst and Riven on my friend's computer and I kept that as a good memory. Now almost 20 years later I thought there must be similar games. But I couldn't really find them. Maybe I just didn't search hard enough or I'm the only one who feels like this. Anyway, I decided to try developing something I'd like to play. Looking back now, I realize just how naive I was. Of course I knew it would be difficult, but there are just so many things I had to learn. On the other hand that was also what kept me going.


I am grateful to have shared in Remo's vision and talent. Remo is now working on a new game, honing his craft as a game designer. Keep an eye on White Ibex Games. 

To download Waste Land visit:
For more on the Broome Street Review visit:

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