After playing Act I, Act II seems much more like a puzzle. By walking around, exploring, talking to people, and interacting with the environment, it makes it seem more like a role-playing game than I felt in the first part, but I still felt a disconnect from the character. I didn’t feel like I was fully in control because there was a loss of identification. It was frustrating how I felt like I was traveling in circles, but then I would end up somewhere different than I anticipated. Also, it was difficult because it had been a while since we played Act 1 and I forgot the purpose and my goal, which was apparently to deliver a package.
I just created my first podcast. While I never thought I would have said that this year, it ended up being an interesting experience. When I found out we had to make a podcast about a video game and a term, I was dreading it. Mostly because I hate the sound of my voice on recording, but also because I realized we had to talk about a video game for five minutes while keeping people entertained.
Luckily, I had Mady as my partner. We were able to help each other through picking the game and term, even complimenting each other’s recorded voices. Through this experience, I think I achieved the learning outcome of Writing as a Process. Mady and I went through a process of figuring out the video game we wanted to talk about and the vocabulary term that could be applied to it, which was more difficult than we thought. We originally researched Mario Kart, but when we struggled to find a term that fit, we revised our podcast to cover Wii Sports.
I tried to take a similar approach to working on this podcast as I do with writing traditional essays. We started with research, writing down information about Wii Sports and from Ian Bogost’s chapter about Exercise. We did our research and drafted up our approach to forming connections between the two, finding key points and ideas that would be important to mention. After recording and rerecording, we edited the podcast to flow smoothly. We even added the classic Wii Sports theme song! Eventually we successfully created a podcast about Wii Sports and a theme of Exercise, since the game is about fitness and exercise.
My suggestion to my peers would be that creating the podcast takes more time than you think. Mady and I met and I thought we would be done in an hour, but we started to really get into the assignment and what we were creating. We wanted our creation to be good and we became invested in it because we wanted to be proud. I am proud of my ability to create the podcast. Originally I didn’t think I would be able to apply the vocabulary term to a video game and talk about it for five minutes, but now I have the confidence of apply similar concepts to media, like video games.
Fiasco was quite the experience. It is a tabletop role playing game involving creating your own story with a plot and an individualized ending. The experience of playing a tabletop RPG was very different from playing a video game RPG because it involved relationships with other people and require you to become the character. I haven’t played many RPGs before so I don’t have a lot to compare it to, but I have played Sims, which is very individualized and doesn’t involve how I react with others because I am playing alone. We had some guidance from choices set by the dice but the rest of it was left for us to decide. After spending half an hour trying to set up the game, read and reread the rules, we finally started the game. However, through the frustration, we all had fun with the weird settings and characters we were supposed to manipulate and play as. Our relationship and the story we were supposed to tell was as the drug dealer/manufacturer. Immediately, we all thought of ourselves as Walter White from Breaking Bad.
The game started slow because none of us had experience playing tabletop RPGs, which resulted in confusion. None of us knew how to react to each other and the story we were attempting to tell while including the other roles. However, after we got started and gained confidence, we were able to establish our characters’ roles, create detailed scenes, and bring the relationships all together. Our story began as a cliché crime drama with romance in Antarctica but soon turned into a gruesome story with stabbings, affairs, and the loss of certain body limbs. I enjoyed seeing how my character’s actions affected others and brought on consequences throughout the game. The way the game was set up tested our relationships as we were essentially trying to bring down others in order to better ourselves. Unfortunately, I was one of the first to die so I wasn’t able to experience the satisfaction of “winning”. Despite the fact that we all ended up dying, we had fun while playing the game and we were proud of that.
Fiasco requires collaboration. Through this RPG, we were able to collaborate and actively engage with others. Our group was able to assume key roles in collaborative work as our roles in the story we were creating together. Although we were trying to win and put ourselves above the others, we were still supportive and helpful of each other because we wanted to succeed in creating a successful story. As I was playing the game, one of my weaknesses came from my struggle to separate reality from the game. While it is probably a good thing that I didn’t forget about myself and my friendships, I wish I was able to separate it more while playing the game. I didn’t want to hurt my friends and I felt guilt, which is why I ended up being one of the first to die. But I also see this as a strength because, after reading Wolf in White Van, I am glad I can distinguish between reality and games.
While I was not looking forward to spending three hours of my night playing a tabletop role playing game that took forever to set up and understand the rules, it was one of the most interesting and fun things we have done. Instead of sitting in my bed on a rainy day wandering through an abandoned house or a deserted island, I was able to sit with friends and collaborate to create a story. Fiasco allowed me to play the role of the writer and the audience at the same time, which I did not expect. Learning to balance these two roles is important for writers because by understanding both aspects, it creates an understanding that will improve writing skills.
This week we started reading Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle. This novel is about Sean Phillips, a game designer who shot himself in the head at age 17, causing disfigurement on his face. The narration alternates between different moments from his childhood, adulthood, and a role-playing game to describe his situation and how the characters use games as an escape from reality.
Sean suffers from his ability to distinguish between reality and games and, because of his appearance, he is alienated from people. In order to connect with the world while in the hospital, Sean uses the role-playing game that he runs, admitting that, “Sometimes I have trouble finding the edges” (9). His inability to find the “edges” and to distinguish between the two worlds is a problem that led to the death of two others. Sean’s life has changed since the incident, establishing the clear division between reality and games, but Sean tries to connect the two by viewing the world as a game.
Darnielle, John. Wolf in White Van. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2014. Print.
The controlling idea for my analysis of the Leifmans Cuvee-Brut sign that hangs on the bar wall at Manuel’s Tavern is Manuel Maloofs attempt at creating a European style tavern. I did not form the connection between my object and the controlling idea until after my first draft. After further research, I was able to form this connection, making my revised version significantly stronger than the first draft.
The Unpacking Manuel’s Tavern assignment has helped me to progress further in all five of the learning objectives for the course. For example, my critical thinking and reading resulting in writing has strengthened through my use of scholarly inquiry to produce my own arguments, summary, analysis, and evaluation of ideas. I’ve also learned about writing as a process which is learning about ones own writing by doing guided reflective work and critiquing their own and others’ work. I was able to meet this outcome with my work on this assignment through many meetings, revisions, and edits of the first and final drafts.
I have learned a lot about my strengths and weaknesses as writer through this process. I think my strengths include my ideas and connections I offer which are unique and add a new twist or perspective. However, I am not very good at expressing my ideas in a simple way. I tend to write around the idea rather than being direct and explaining what I am trying to say right away. I am most proud of the significant differences between my first draft and my final draft. I put in a lot of work to editing the assignment and I am proud of the final work I have completed.
I believe that I have progressed as a learner; however, I know that I still have so much more to learn. Before this class, I always thought of English writing as very academic and proper. I’ve now learned that writing isn’t about the complex ideas or about using the biggest vocabulary words, but rather it is about writing directed at the audience and forming a connection with the readers.
This week we downloaded Stella which allowed us to play old Atari (arcade) games. I decided to play some of the classics like PacMan, Frogger, and Space Invaders.
When I played Space Invaders, I had some technical difficulties. I couldn’t even figure out how to start the game so I desperately began clicking every button on my computer hoping something would work. Finally, I was able to control and shoot around in the game. I knew from previous knowledge that my goal in the game was to defend Earth, but when I was playing, I did not feel like there was a goal other than to shoot and dodge stuff.
Although I wasn’t able to fully appreciate it, I did enjoy playing the different Atari games because previously, I had only played modern versions. The graphics were pretty poor and, for some of the games, I couldn’t even see where my character was. The games were also very slow and, at first, that really frustrated me. But after a while, I came to appreciate the slow pace because it felt like life had slowed down and I was a kid again.
Empathy: the experience of understanding another person’s condition from their perspective
This week the two games we played, dys4ia and Depression Quest, both used empathy as their main theme. dys4ia is an abstract, autobiographical account of the author who is undergoing a sex change and the long process of coping with hormone replacement therapy. Depression Quest is an interactive game in which you play as a man living with depression and you are faced with every day tasks, forcing you to manage your depression while balancing relationships, job, and treatments. The intensity of the games, combined with the fact that I played the games on a rainy day while I was alone in my room, sparked strong feelings of empathy.
In dys4ia, the moment I felt was designed specifically to create empathy was from the different levels through the story, “Gender Bullshit”, “Medical Bullshit”, “Hormonal Bullshit”, and finally “It Gets Better?”. We move through these levels with the main character, constantly facing the challenges brought by society against trans people. From trying to fit the oddly-shaped blocks through an unaccommodating gap in the wall to manually shaving body hair, the game utilizes both abstract and straightforward imagery. Everyone has experienced a moment in which they felt uncomfortable in their bodies and as if they don’t belong anywhere. I attended an all-girls Catholic high school, so that background provided me with little insight to what all comes with being trans. However, dys4ia provides players with a real story, sparking empathy through the frustration and pain to courage and hope.
In Depression Quest, I personally empathized with the main character when he was struggling to fall asleep because of all the anxious thoughts that wrap themselves around his mind. It was very hard for me to play as this person who felt like he was drowning in this thoughts because I have experienced that many times. When I am stressed out, I can never sleep because as soon as I lay down, I am overcome by all I need to do and the time I am wasting by trying to sleep. I got very frustrated at this point because I was limited to one option when I really wanted to choose anything but the response I was limited to. It was frustrating at this point because I have learned how to overcome the worrying thoughts that come at night from talking to friends and family, but I was not able to share that useful information with the main character because I was limited by the response options.
Empathy: the experience of understanding another person’s condition from their perspective
In many ways, then, Her Story, might be the complete opposite of Beginner’s Guide. Before class on Thursday, write a post on your course subdomain in which you compare Her Story to Beginner’s Guide — is Her Story also an art game? Are there ways in which the two games bear similarities to each other?