Haiku is a journey. In 2006, I served as editor for “Haiku Journey,” a computer game published by Hot Lava (later MumboJumbo, and now Big Fish Games). In the game, you travel a route through old Japan to the base of Mt. Fuji as you become a haiku master. To advance, you find words in letter grids of various shapes (the shapes get harder as you progress). As you find words, you start filling in blanks for a mystery haiku—bonus points if you guess it correctly before all the letters are provided (somewhat like TV’s “Wheel of Fortune”). The poems are all by well-published English-language haiku poets, and one pleasure of the game is finding out who wrote each haiku once it’s completed. As you progress through the game, you also build a “book” of haiku that you can stop and peruse at any time. The game also includes power-ups and surprises to keep it interesting and challenging. Whether you use the time mode or the turn mode, the game is very relaxing, a lot like haiku. Beautiful music and great graphics, too.
The database of haiku in “Haiku Journey” includes 540 individual haiku by 45 different English-language haiku poets from around the world, which I solicited and edited. Each poet has twelve haiku included, three for each season. To reach the master level, players typically encounter 150 to 200 haiku, which can take many sessions. If you choose to start again as an apprentice, or switch to a different game mode, you’ll likely encounter entirely different haiku along the way. As you progress through each level, you can also read text I wrote about haiku, including a definition, introductions to haiku techniques, histories of the great Japanese haiku masters, and more.
Click the following links to learn more about the game. You can play free for an hour, or download the full game for just $2.99 at Big Fish (also available at many other locations online, but Big Fish is cheapest). Currently for Windows only. + +
—26 February, 15 May 2013, Redmond, Washington
Big Fish Games (cheapest price here; click to watch the video and to read the five-star reviews)
Moby Games (good game description, plus photos of the box and lots of game screenshots)
Wild Tangent Games (the price is higher here; view player comments on the game)
Amazon (a little more expensive here, but you get the boxed version instead of just the download; interesting reviews here too)
If you download and play the game, please let me know what you think!