Phygital

The Sony Mega Drive was discontinued in 1997.

I had one in 2002, eight years after I was born.

It was all my parents could afford. I was a burden

then, undiagnosed. My parents told me stories

from when I was a child, like when I pulled the

big-backed TV down on top of me. In a sore loser

rage mode, or out of curiosity, to see what was

inside it, I’m not sure. And how I thought I was

a dog; I’d bark on all fours and eat my food off the

floor. There was a time when I had a Playstation 2,

and I was Spider-Man. I had all the games and didn’t

take the costume off for two weeks. I wore it

underneath my school uniform, and I blinked really

fast, pretending it was my ‘Spidey-Sense’.

 

I was given the Mega Drive in hope it would calm me.

I negotiated platformed levels, and collected gems,

so I could progress to the next stage. I saw the world

in 16-bit. It was brightly coloured and full of tone.

My first game was The Jungle Book, and I was Mowgli.

I always wondered if there was an error with my coding;

I climbed the living room curtains like they were vines

and ripped them from the curtain pole. I hated wearing

clothes. I screamed and cried when the hairdresser’s

scissors came too close to cutting my mane. She was

an enemy snake to be taken down with a banana

projectile. I wasn’t allowed to be Mowgli after that

incident at the salon. I never completed the game,

never found the human village. That version of me, as

Mowgli, like the Sony Mega Drive, was discontinued.

  

Replay

I kiss the code that makes the neck feel real. Knuckle-deep in pixels, I wipe myself clean. Game Over. Start Again. I’m always starting something. A game, an encounter, until I realise, they’re rigged: no one ever wins. I could burn in her digital bush, replace his nipples for joysticks. A new character each time I start afresh, multiple save slots. If I win, if I finish, it’s back to the start. I kiss the code that makes the neck feel real. Knuckle-deep in pixels, I wipe myself clean. Game Over. Start Again. I’m always starting something. A game, an encounter, until I realise, they’re rigged: no one ever wins. I could burn in her digital bush, replace his nipples for joysticks. A new character each time I start afresh, multiple save slots. If I win, if I finish, it’s back to the start. I kiss the code that makes the neck feel real. Knuckle-deep in pixels, I wipe myself clean. Game Over. Start Again. I’m always starting something. A game, an encounter, until I realise, they’re rigged: no one ever wins. I could burn in her digital bush, replace his nipples for joysticks. A new character each time I start afresh, multiple save slots. If I win, if I finish, it’s back to the start. I kiss the code that makes the neck feel real. Knuckle-deep in pixels, I wipe myself clean. Game Over. Start Again. I’m always starting something. A game, an encounter, until I realise, they’re rigged: no one ever wins. I could burn in her digital bush, replace his nipples for joysticks. A new character each time I start afresh, multiple save slots. If I win, if I finish, it’s back to the start. I kiss the code that makes the neck feel real. Knuckle-deep in pixels, I wipe myself clean. Game Over. Start Again. I’m always starting something. A game, an encounter, until I realise, they’re rigged: no one ever wins. I could burn in her digital bush, replace his nipples for joysticks. A new character each time I start afresh, multiple save slots. If I win, if I finish, it’s back to the start.

  

These two poems explore how the act of gaming influences the mental and personal spheres. The word Phygital is the concept of using technology to bridge the gap between the physical and the digital. The poem of the same name is a deep dive into memories of childhood, coupled with the knowledge of childhood in hindsight. I realise now as an adult how beneficial video games were in providing relief from the difficulties I faced as an autistic child with ADHD. Replay interpolates lust and sex with digital cultures as a reflection on the addictive nature of capitalist, consumerist society, in a closed circuit loop. 

Joshua Jones is a queer, autistic writer and artist from Llanelli, South Wales. He has an MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, and is currently studying to become a teacher at Cardiff Met. He likes to paint and make collages and releases poetry with music under the name Human Head. He writes about music for Nawr Magazine. 

 

Joshua can be found online at ermose.com, on twitter @nothumanhead and Instagram @joshuajonespoet