A Word from the New Meat (Boy)

It’s-a me, William Hoffacker, new co-editor-in-chief for Cartridge Lit.

A few years ago, in an Ohio dive bar, I sat and talked with a grad school chum (such a poet even his name rhymes), discussing writing and publishing. In passing, I mentioned a literary magazine that exclusively publishes writing about food. Not only had my friend never heard of that particular journal, but he had never heard of such a thing, i.e., a literary magazine with a theme to its content. He could not understand it, and he thought it was silly. So I found myself taking the “for” to his “against” position, and we went back and forth for far too long, him arguing that every editor should be out to publish simply the best literature with no restrictions on subject matter, and me attempting to explain that the literary community is a vast, diverse network overflowing with independent magazines and small presses, and so it’s smart that editors should identify and publicize the specific niche that each journal will occupy in order to separate theirs from the pack and attract a dedicated readership.

He seemed baffled by the food journal example, and I felt baffled by his bafflement, and in my effort to illustrate how acceptable and commonplace this type of publishing venue really is, I said, “I bet you that one day soon, if it’s not here already, we will see a literary journal devoted solely to writing about video games.” I was aware of Boss Fight Books, Brian Oliu’s NES-inspired lyric essays, Hobart’s “Games” issue featuring Matt Bell’s essay on Leisure Suit Larry, and others, so I felt I was on pretty firm footing.

Little did I know that Cartridge Lit was at that moment in its infancy, thanks to the masterminds of Justin Daugherty and Joel Hans.

Smash cut to today: Here I am, about to run (with lots of help, of course) one of my favorite lit mags, in awe of the work that Joel and Justin have done over the past three years, honored to take a place at the top of the masthead alongside Alison (A.A.) Balaskovits.

Video games have been a love of mine for as long as I can remember, from Mario Kart to The Witness, and writing is my lifelong passion. Around the time I completed my Master’s in creative nonfiction, I started to combine the two, writing flash fictions, prose poems, micro essays, etc. based on Pokédex entries or my favorite indie games (Shovel Knight, Fez, Super Meat Boy, to name a few). As I intend to demonstrate in my new role, I think all this adds up to an editor who will work hard to see that this journal achieves its mission: to showcase, celebrate, and expand the center of the Venn diagram between “video games” and “literature.” And in doing so, we may lend some additional legitimacy to a medium that some would dismiss as mere entertainment instead of recognizing its significant cultural contributions.

Plus, we get to have fun doing it! Stay tuned in the coming days for information on how you might join in that fun. Until then, thank you for the warm welcome, and keep mashing those buttons and keys.