I asked an expert to read My Ghost of Tsushima Haiku. Was not impressed

Illustration for the article titled I asked an expert to read My iGhost Of Tsushima / i Haiku.  Was not impressed

Screenshot: Sucker Punch / Kotaku

When you don’t fight the invaders, Ghost of tsushima offers players peaceful ways to catch their breath. The island is full of picturesque places that host a haiku composition mini-game, and by the end of the journey players should have “written” some of these short poems. Unfortunately, they probably won’t be very good.

“I hope I don’t hurt your feelings here, but none of these are close to competent haiku, if you’re interested in the history and value of the genre,” Jim Kacian, founder and director of The Haiku Foundationhe told me by email after reading some of my Ghost of tsushimagenerated poems. “Do they achieve something for the game? I guess so. But are they haiku in any meaningful sense? Not really.”

Kacian, who literally wrote the book in haiku in English and operates the prestigious Red Moon Press Editorial, has been reading, writing, and studying the art form for 35 years. When he first came to his experience on the subject, Kacian was quick to point out that a thirteenth-century samurai like Ghost of tsushima Protagonist Jin Sakai likely would have dabbled in other writings instead of haiku, which at that point in history were known as hokku and functioned as openings for larger poems. That being said, he was more than happy to provide his experience.

Many of the flaws in the Ghost of tsushima Kacian told me that haiku minigames have to do with how they are structured. Finding a peaceful place to compose poetry, the player has three trios of prewritten lines to choose from based on their surroundings, which eventually leaves them, apparently, with a haiku. As someone with minimal knowledge of the subject, I thought my poems were fine, if a little generic. But according to Kacian, the game does not compose haiku “in anything but the most superficial and populist sense.”

“The options they offered made it impossible to achieve something like a ‘strong example’ [of haiku]”Kacian explained.” These are ideas and conclusions, not the ‘thing’ the haiku intends to employ. In each case, the options available to you all had a ‘point’; in other words, you weren’t discovering what it is hidden from view, awaiting revelation through the poem, but they are asked to produce an emblem of the offered image. “

Poetry in Ghost of tsushimaFor example, it relies heavily on metaphor, an abstract way of describing something by comparing it to something else, rather than the more direct language of haiku. “A golden temple” would be a true golden temple in haiku, Kacian said, instead of the autumn forest depicted in the setting. The game’s strict adherence to the stereotypical 5-7-5 syllable format also fails to make it more than a generic haiku generator. Many serious haiku poets reject these restrictions, which apparently was never more than a basic guide in Japanese anyway.

Looking at specific examples of Ghost of tsushimaHaiku issues, Kacian also took the time to analyze one of the examples I sent him:

Illustration for the article titled I asked an expert to read My iGhost Of Tsushima / i Haiku.  Was not impressed

Image: Jin Sakai

“‘Brilliant blooms’ might be suggestive in haiku, but it would relate to something really brilliant in bloom, perhaps a blooming flower or tree, and that would be her first image, probably followed by the kire (which could be a hyphen or a comma or a period, or just the end of the line) ”, explained Kacian.

“Then a different image would come, the purpose of which would be to release the depth of the image in relation to his psychological and emotional being. Instead, a couple of verbs come out of nowhere (verb tenses don’t match the first line, suggesting that too much attention was not paid to the verbal aspects of this project), and they get ridiculous. Suppose it is a flower: is it struggling and asking for help now? Do the flowers cry a lot? And how is the fight of a flower? Strange, to say the least.

“But the third line, instead of creating the gap we need, just continues the thread, and in an additional melodramatic way: if it’s a flower, how does it break? I can believe that he is alive, but after that emotional surge, I imagine that he is hardly like that. Instead of creating a haiku, the program allowed you to create an extended metaphor, which I suppose you have to relate to the sensitivity of the samurai: it is the samurai that is flourishing and that has suffered trauma and has emerged, bloody but without bowing. it has nothing to do with haiku: it is only a trope to sell a part of the samurai ethos. ”

Poetry, like all forms of art, is subjective. Although Kacian himself was hesitant to assign any need to haiku writing, he compared the exercise to the question: “What colors should a great painting include?” It is clear that there are fundamental problems with the shape. Ghost of tsushima Gamifies the artistic process. It would always be difficult for a video game to provide players with the tools to craft competent poetry, especially in a complex format based on a different language. Still, it might have been nice to see a greater effort from developers to convey these complexities in a game that’s presumably about celebrating Japanese culture.

“We never reject people, no matter how they come to haiku, so if this has that effect, we will be grateful,” Kacian said of the players who find interest in haiku through Ghost of tsushima. “But they will be surprised to find out what haiku really is when they do (and hopefully happily surprised). Ultimately, that’s the best thing about haiku, the people you come to share time and mental space with, and most people who come here end up staying. ”