Podcast Series

Microphone

Note this additional post with a bunch of nuts and bolts guidance on completing the podcast assignment!

Due: Fridays

This semester, as a class we’ll be producing a podcast series about games and gaming, in which we’ll share our thinking with each other and with listeners outside the class. Early in the semester, we’ll spend a class period developing a more specific plan for how we want to structure the series, coming up with a title for the whole series, and making some decisions about the process. We will also work together to record an introductory audio segment, which will go at the start of each episode of the podcast, and to design a logo and other visuals for promotion.

Read on for further details so you have a sense of what to expect.

The first episode should be published on Friday, February 5. Each Friday from then until April 15 one or two more episodes will be published.

Roles

As instructor for the class, I will be the Executive Producer for the series. In this capacity, it will be my role to consult with the individuals responsible for any given episode, to provide some guidance in order to ensure that each episode maintains the standards of the whole, and to provide feedback on the production.

Each student in the class will be responsible for serving as Producer for one single episode. The Producer initiates, coordinates, supervises, and controls all aspects of the podcast episode production process, including creative, technological, and administrative. A Producer is involved throughout all phases of production from inception to completion, including coordination, supervision, and control of all other talents and crafts, and publication and promotion of the completed episode.1

Each student in the class will also serve as the Assistant Producer for one episode. As the title suggests, the Assistant Producer helps the Producer to create a finished episode. Usually the Assistant Producer will come in after the initiation of the idea and will help to think through how to bring the Producer’s ideas to fruition, including providing assistance with storyboarding, recording, and editing. The Producer is responsible for final decisions and should be the primary coordinator for the entire process, with the Assistant Director serving to offer suggestions and feedback.

The Producer or Assistant Producer might ask other students in the class or outside of the class to participate in an episode by providing voice talents, being interviewed on a subject, or participating in a game session. Help out your fellow classmates when you can.

Publication

The Producer will publish his or her episode by uploading an MP3 to his or her own domain as a blog post designated in the category “podcast.” As with every other blog post you write, the post should include an interesting featured image that goes with the post in some way. The title of the post should be the title for this episode of the podcast. Your post should include a paragraph of text that describes and summarizes the episode in an intriguing manner. The Producer might also promote the episode through various social media channels such as tweeting a link to it or posting about it on his or her Facebook wall.

When you publish the episode to your blog page, it will be syndicated onto the main course site on the Podcasts page. We’ll use the RSS feed for that category to create our podcast on iTunes, which will allow each of us in the class as well as other listeners to subscribe and receive each new episode as we release them.

Episode Structure and Content

(We’ll discuss this topic as a class and develop guidelines for our expectations of each episode, so the following is almost certain to change.)

Each episode should be approximately 5 minutes in length and will begin with an introductory audio bumper that will repeat at the start of each episode. After the series introduction, there will be an audio introduction for this episode that will identify the title of the episode and name the Producer and Assistant Producer.

My initial thinking is that each episode will focus on a single game title, though I might be convinced otherwise, and should also address one activity that we can do with games, drawing from Ian Bogost’s book How to Do Things with Videogames. Ian Bogost lists 20 different ways computer games are used today: art, empathy, reverence, music, pranks, transit, branding, electioneering, promotion, snapshots, texture, kitsch, relaxation, throwaways, titillation, exercise, work, habituation, disinterest, drill. The Producer of an episode will choose a game title and one of these terms, or supply his or her own additional thing that we can do with videogames. The podcast episode will then explore the relationship between the game and the thing.

Should the podcast be only about videogames? Should we allow podcast episodes to focus on board games or other types of games?

Schedule

Sign up on the form here.


  1. Adapted from the Producer’s job description developed by the Producers Guild of America

Unpacking Manuel’s

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Due: 2/9

For this assignment, each student will be taking part in the project to document and “unpack” Manuel’s Tavern. You’ll be choosing artifacts from the walls, researching more about what those objects depict or represent, and then composing texts that describe and play with the item. You’ll submit your entries to the folks at Unpacking Manuel’s and hopefully they will eventually be included in the site once it’s fully unveiled.

As you compose your Manuel’s text, I’ll ask that you be thinking about the process of such research and writing — what rhetorical situations does this sort of activity apply to? what sorts of audience(s) do you imagine for your text? how does writing your own descriptive text help you to think differently about similar texts you encounter in your own life, particularly in games but perhaps in other settings as well?

Some Context Unpacking Manuel’s

Last semester, this project was described in the New York Times:

The artist and documentary filmmaker Ruth Dusseault calls the stuff that has found its way onto the walls of Manuel’s Tavern, a beloved Eisenhower-era dive bar here, an “organic archive” and a “60-year installation piece.”

[…]

Ms. Dusseault, a lecturer in the communications department at Georgia State University, is convinced that these items tell a rich and complex story of Atlanta. In an ambitious and slightly weird act of scholarship, she and a group of local academics have begun digitally documenting all of the curios and ephemera for an online research project they have titled “Unpacking Manuel’s Tavern.”

Ms. Dusseault likened the idea of examining the junk on the walls of a bar to the work of archaeologists. “They’ll go to a site, and they have a fascination with garbage,” she said, “because it can tell them so much about the civilization they’re studying.”

You can see some of the sample walls to get a sense of where this is headed:

There is also an early trial version of a single room of Manuel’s that you can preview.

Assignment Details

You will each choose one object from Main North Wall (this link goes to the very high resolution gigapan of that wall).

I’ve loaded a spreadsheet in Google Drive that lists 29 objects on that wall with some very basic information about each of them. (On that spreadsheet, columns E and F relate to the x and y axis grid on this lower resolution screenshot of the same wall.) Once you’ve chosen the item you want to write about, enter your name in the first column of that spreadsheet so that we don’t have two people working on the same item.

You will research that item and then write an entry of something like 500 to 1000 words. You’ll publish the entry as a set of pages (not blog posts, but pages) on your own site, with images, audio, and any other media as appropriate. You’ll also publish a piece of reflective writing in which you analyze your own process and learning as one of those pages. When you’ve finished your draft, you’ll write a blog post on your own site, linking to the splash page (introductory page) of your piece, and provided a bit of additional reflection on your work. When your post syndicates to the class site, that’s when your assignment is “turned in” to me.

I’ll expect each of you to read each other’s work and to comment on and to discuss with each other the work. There will be opportunities for review and revision, both formal and informal, before I officially grade your final draft.

Assignment Steps

Research

Once you’ve chosen an object from the wall and signed up on the spreadsheet, zoom in as close as you can on the high resolution gigapan of the wall and grab a good screenshot of your object.

Based on your observation of the item you’ve chosen and the information provided in the spreadsheet, research that object and try to ascertain as much information as you can about the significance of the object and what it represents. Take notes for yourself of not only the results of your research but of the steps you go through and of your own thinking about the process.

As part of your research, make sure to perform a reverse image search using your screenshot to find other similar objects. The reverse image search will probably be most fruitful with advertisements but definitely perform the search with your object and pay attention to any interesting comparisons you get back.

Writing

Publish a page to your class site with a 500 to 1000 word entry on the object that you have analyzed and researched. This write up should include a fairly detailed description of the item itself as well as a discussion of the relevant details you have gleaned during your analysis. A student at Georgia State has produced an excellent example in her blog entry on object #21, the Dekalb Seed Company flying ear corn sign.

Your page should include at least the good screenshot you took from the wall. You might also include other images that you turned up during your analysis (make certain you provide captions for any images, with attribution information and links to the images).

You should also publish a second page, as a subpage underneath the one described above, in which you explain your research and thinking process as you analyzed the source. List the sites you went to as your researched your object and what you found useful or difficult along the way. How did you determine what sources were relevant in your search?

(Note that in class, I had raised the possibility that you might be allowed to write something fictional in your entry, but for now at least, stick to a strictly nonfiction account of the object.)

Once those two pages are published, make certain they show up in your menu and are accessible. Then publish a blog post, which should include a link to this assignment page and a link to the main page describing your object. That blog post should also include a paragraph which serves as preview of your discussion of the object — think of it as a brief teaser that a reader might see and be interested by, and thus follow your link and read the essay you’ve written. Make certain your blog post includes an image too (and image credit) too!

Next Steps

Once you’ve completed the first drafts of this work, there will be additional steps for revision and for building on these entries as a class, but let’s discuss those once you’ve made some progress on the drafts first.

Works Cited

Fausset, Richard. “Digital Dig Unpacks Atlanta Dive Bar Rich in History.” The New York Times 9 Nov. 2015. NYTimes.com. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.

Testing Side Quests Post

"The First Documented Rage Quit" by Señor Gif

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Attendance

Multicolored beach shop with sign: "Slow Down. Life's Too Short"

Life’s too short. Are you familiar with that truism? A semester really is too short a time to cover all this material unless we’re each here every day that class meets; therefore, I look forward to seeing you at every class meeting, contributing to a discussion on each of the topics we’ll cover.

I make no distinction between excused and unexcused absences, so no documentation or excuse is required for an absence. If some sort of dire circumstance — such as serious injury or illness, death in the family, thermonuclear war — should arise, please notify me as soon as possible so we can try to make arrangements. (Note that malfunctioning alarm or automobiles, extended vacations, poor time management skills, or an overactive social life do not qualify as dire circumstances.) You should also remember that you are still responsible for any information or assignment covered in a class that you miss and that I do not provide make-up quizzes or other work.

If you are absent more than 5 times over the course of the semester, your final grade for the class will be lowered. You will lose one letter grade for each absence beyond 5. I do not give make ups for assignments completed in class if you are absent or late enough to class that you’ve missed that assignment.

Class Participation

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Participation means more than simply being physically present – it means coming to class with the assigned reading completed and being ready to contribute in a thoughtful and respectful manner to discussion, peer editing, or other in-class assignments. You should have whatever text we’re discussing that day and any other necessary materials with you in class to refer to during discussions. To receive full credit for class participation you must contribute actively and regularly to in-class discussions in an informed and constructive manner.

I expect students to take their work seriously, to come to class prepared and willing to participate, and to treat peers and their ideas with respect.

Participation also includes taking part in the asynchronous parts of the class by writing posts on your domain, commenting on your peers’ writing, taking an active part in collaborative writing tasks in Google docs or other writing spaces. Side quest assignments and other short writing assignments that you’ll complete this semester will be factored into your participation grade as well.

Short, Informal Writing Assignments

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The Assignments pages include descriptions of the major assignments for the semester. In addition, you will have frequent, shorter and generally less formal writing assignments. I’ll describe those assignments to you either in class or via blog posts here on this site.

It is vital that you keep up with these as they are assigned. They help prepare you for class, give you a direction to work, give you practice opportunities for writing, critical reading, and thinking. These assignments are due on the assigned date and will NOT be accepted late (unless we make a prior agreement). If you know you will be absent, you must post your assignment early.

Late Work

Banner image for the Late Show with Stephen Colbert

All work is due on the date and at the time specified on the calendar. I may refuse to accept or choose to deduct points for late work, and/or I may choose to provide a grade but no detailed feedback for late work.

If something comes up and you cannot get a major assignment completed on time, please email or speak with me as early as possible to make arrangements. If you come to me in advance, I will do my best to be reasonable and to work with you to come up with a solution that allows you to succeed while remaining fair to the rest of the class and meeting my needs as the instructor of the course. If you email me 10 minutes before an assignment is due, or 3 hours after it’s due, I am much less likely to be able to make such accommodations.

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