That was surprisingly easy? Was the main thrust of my thoughts upon finishing the first, and only recording session, for Ian Heaven and me’s episode of the podcast. We had come to the main idea of our episode, that the fiendishly difficult Dark Souls was best analyzed with the term community building, after a number of conversations about the game. Evidently, that was enough time for quite a few ideas about the game to germinate into full fledged analysis and thus we didn’t have much trouble speaking rather off the cuff about our subject, using only a brief outline with an intro, conclusion, and bullet points for everything in the middle. It ended up being just enough structure to keep us on task without stymying creative ideas.
I definitely felt strongly that the work being done was not collaborative merely in the sense of two people working together, but that Ian and I actually built off another and were able to inspire different modes of thinking about the subject. For example, I had come to the idea mainly through the lens of the mechanics of Dark Souls while Ian was able to point out that the lore was just as impenetrable and therefore an equal unifier in the Dark Souls community. We were able to take that a step further and see some parallels and ultimately come up with the idea of Community Building as a term after kicking around ideas like responsibility and accessibility that were important, but as we later realized only really interesting because they led the players to form a community.
In terms of other podcasts, and especially ones in this class, ours was different because we recorded almost entirely in one take and combined with the conversational nature of the script created a, hopefully natural, feeling that one was listening in on two people having a conversation about the subject. We were trying to avoid excess formality and focus more on the content of the episode and expressing our opinion and ideas about the nature of Dark Souls.
Overall, I thought we did a fine job with the podcast though always given infinite time I would’ve preferred to map out all the ideas covered in the initial session, see how they fit together best and if we expressed them as well as possible (or if there was something else to them) and re-record as a smoother finished project. Given the constraints though, I am happy with the result.
I was extremely excited to create a podcast in which I would be working with someone else to analyze a game that revolutionized an industry with its art, music and seemingly endless story-line that is set in time periods before the game takes place and after. Going into the project I was unsure how to go about analyzing art in Halo in an in-depth manner. The sound and sky boxes, the characters, cut scenes all deserve their own analysis to be able to fully show that Halo is an art game. In the end, we decided that the weapons and a few ships in both the Human and covenant fleet would be enough to effectively prove our point.
After deciding what to analyze, our next challenge was depth. We could not just briefly explain all the artistic elements each of the objects had because it would have made our argument too simplistic and would not have emphasized the true art behind the objects. Our solution to this was to tie the objects to a theme. This theme was evolution and we looked at the objects and their designs throughout many of the games. We found that many of the weapons and ships kept the same basic designs but were built upon as the series progressed in order to maintain their belonging in the game.
The process of analyzing the art of Halo also helped me to see that most of the covenant weapons, while feeling alien, were not so unlike the weapons we are used to seeing in the UNSC and in the real world. This evolution of art is what makes the game unique and is something that I can’t say any other game I’ve played does.
When I was approaching the assignment, I was at first worried that I would not have enough to say to cover the 10 minutes. After all, my argument seemed obvious: halo must have fulfilled standards of art, gameplay, and story in order to have become so successful. However, as I began digging for nuances within the game, I realized that the initial approach I took may have been misguided. Instead of trying to, once again, advocate for the value of the game, I could use a symptomatic reading to order to determine what the game has become after being exposed so long to the gaming community.
It was with this perspective that I found the similarities and differences in game design between objects within the game. It is was also at this point that I realized I had much more discussion than space within a 10 minute timeframe. As a result, I decided to focus on only the most iconic objects within the Halo universe: the sidearms and the starships.
Even then, the number of weapons and ships were still too numerous and their roles within the story were so complex that I feared oversimplifying how crucial they were to each faction. The solution was to tie each object’s design to a larger theme that can encompass the entirety of equipment. That theme was the evolution of graphic design in Halo. I noticed that as the series progressed, much of the designs, although polished, remained fundamentally the same. The various new designs that were incorporated into the game did not seem alien; in fact, they contributed more to the over atmosphere of the game. The reason Bungie was able to maintain the fundamental essence of Halo is because they synthesized already existing designs to create something new.
I later found that the concept of evolving art was applicable to all of Halo’s design. In order to make the object feel like it belonged in the Halo universe, graphic designers have taken care to combine existing faction designs and create a new faction altogether. By doing so, they are truly maintaining and building upon the culture that is Halo.
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.
When my co-producer (Eric) and I first thought about our podcast episode, we were pretty lost. We knew we wanted to focus our discussion on Ian Bogost’s term “art” (because of the controversy surrounding if video games could be considered art), but didn’t really know what game would be best to showcase the term “art.” We considered choosing an “ugly” game to argue how it could be considered art. But that brought up the question, “What is an ugly game? What do we consider ‘ugly’?”
After meeting with Professor Morgen, we decided to go for Minecraft, a classic sandbox game that has a direct goal in mind, but also allows players freedom to do whatever they want. Although Minecraft itself doesn’t have much aesthetic appeal, there are so many possibilities for people to be creative, and to build “works of art.” (Some examples are shown below).
To us, a podcast meant doing improv, bouncing ideas off of each other in order to create a more natural conversation that would hopefully captivate the audience. We had an outline of what we planned on saying and what questions we wanted to address, but after that, we just said whatever was in our minds. It’s not easy to do a podcast by yourself, and definitely required a lot of collaboration. Being willing to meet up and spend perhaps 2 hours in a quiet room enthusiastically talking about games is something that requires effort for both people. By editing the podcast itself, I realized how hard is it to find a song that isn’t copyrighted. Thankfully, Professor Morgen provided us with an excellent website filled with free-to-use music. With the advancement of media comes responsibility, and you do not want to be caught up in a copyright infringement lawsuit.
In the middle of midterm season and our 10 minute time limit for the podcast, there were many things that I wish we could have added into our podcast. For example, Professor Morgen suggested finding an art historian and asking him/her about what art is. If we had more time, I would have liked to take a poll across campus to find out whether the general student population thinks of games (especially Minecraft) as a form of art. For the next three groups who need to record their episodes, I suggest booking a study room in the library EARLY so you’re not left trying to find a place to record yourselves. Also, don’t worry about whether you should choose your word or game first because it will all work out in the end.
For our podcast, it was difficult in the beginning to find the starting point for our discussion. The meaning of art has so many nuances and complications, so trying to find the angle of discussion required looking at the topic as holistically as possible. It was only after our discussion with Professor Morgen that we were able to find three questions to anchor down our discussion. My co-producer (Emma) and I proposed multiple talking points for each question and sketched out a rough outline of the podcast. We both agreed that the podcast would be more engaging and interesting if it was more conversational, avoiding reading words straight from a script. Some podcasts before us went with a set script, which made the podcast more informative and worked well for certain topics. Since art doesn’t really have a static definition, it was better for us to discuss it rather than sound like we were delivering facts.
Our primary goal was to allow listeners to contemplate the questions we proposed with us while they listened. We didn’t have any “right” or “wrong” answers for our questions, simply because art as a topic is so subjective. It was challenging for us to flesh out our own answers to the questions. Also, the initial search for a game was unproductive, because we were conflicted on choosing between a game that looked pretty aesthetically or a game that was a great “sandbox” game for creative expression. But, both Emma and I were very flexible, which helped make the production of the podcast efficient and enjoyable. We definitely developed some chemistry during the podcast, and we collaborated very well. Also, the production process was a much more different process of writing compared to the typical analytical essay. There was less of a draft with editing and more of a free flowing of ideas coming from two different minds.
I think the strategy to let the podcast be more conversational and free flowing worked well for us, allowing all of our ideas to come naturally and influence the podcast. By avoiding reading off the script, it helped me learn how to choose my words effectively and formulate my thoughts rather than just recite it off a sheet of paper. I feel that this skill can be applied to other writing pieces I do, as well as help me hear my own voice and better myself as a public speaker (used “like” too many times). I have learned that I am good at speaking casually without nervousness or anxiety.
This assignment was unlike any other that I have done throughout my years at school. The best way for me to describe this podcast is an essay in the form of audio that was way more enjoyable to produce than writing an essay. Cibele is a game that neither me nor Laura had played before. I think most people plan to produce podcasts about games they know fairly well which makes our situation a little more unique. In Rohan and Zach’s podcast they didn’t really give much background on how GTA works because its such a well known game. Since our game was very obscure the first thing I made sure to do was write a brief synopsis to read at the start of the podcast to give our listeners a better understanding of our overall analysis. So obviously to start this process Laura and I had the play the game through completely. Based on our knowledge of Nina Freeman’s other game, Freshman Year, and our meeting with Professor Morgen prior to recording, we thought it would be interesting to examine the difference between male and female perspective of this game. We specifically wanted to examine the difference between which character male players felt empathetic towards in comparison to who female players felt empathetic towards.
After playing through the game ourselves, Laura and I felt bad for the main character Nina aka Cibele because she has her heart broken. In order to assess the male reaction, Laura enlisted her friend Willi to play the game and interviewed him during game play and asked him pre prepared questions afterward. These questions were aimed to help us get a sense of which character, Blake or Nina, he felt empathetic too while playing and why. One major decision we had to make was to determine which parts of the interview we wanted to use and which would be most beneficial to our argument. I think Willi’s interview was extremely important part of our podcast, it effectively displayed the difference in empathy between male and female players of Cibele. After Willi’s interview, Laura and I spoke about our opinions while playing to show the direct contrast between the views.
Making this podcast allowed me to be able to better understand video games as a piece of literature. In most freshmen english classes my friends are reading novels or excerpts and then writing a response about them. Our english class has a similar process to this but instead we are playing games instead of reading. In order to write valuable responses to these games I realized I needed to learn to think of them as pieces of literature rather than just a animation on a screen. Applying the concept of empathy from Bogost’s book encouraged me to see video games in a new way. I look forward to using this new mindset when writing reflections for games we play in the future of this class.
There were multiple options for games on the table but we ultimately settled on The Binding of Isaac, which turned out to be extremely advantageous for the both of us. Stephen tackled the technical aspects of the podcast from the get-go, which was definitely in our best interest—technology and I have a complex relationship. I started by playing through the game and taking notes on the symbolism I came across and the significance of those symbols. I took and Ancient Mediterranean Studies class last semester and I am currently taking a Biblical Literature class so I was in my element and was able to identify and analyze the abundant religious symbolism in the game. We both roughed out a script together and in the end Stephen finished editing the podcast and we agreed on the final product.
Looking at podcasts that were already produced we wanted to stay within the general outline but we also wanted to add our own twist. That twist happened to be our style of script. Our script was outline because we wanted most of the material to be conversational and question guided. I thought this format made the podcast flow better and allowed us to explore the game more in depth because we didn’t have to work within the confines of the one script. We had our own reactions, our own take, and we were able to include the information that was most intriguing to us.
Our primary goal was to explore how reverence was presented in the Binding of Isaac even though the game is presented in a way that one might think it is mocking religion. We did this mostly through the exploration of symbols in the game so it was imperative that we paid close attention to the story, the drop items, and the characters. By relating the blasphemy rating to the symbols in the game we were able to effectively explore the relationship between reverence and The Binding of Isaac. Sadly we were not able to go as in depth as I would have liked to, there were some conversation topics that got cut out, for example the setting Sheol and the boss battle with Satan. The boss battle is briefly addressed in the podcast but Sheol is never touched upon. This game was so rich in content there was no time to discuss all of it, in fact we barely skimmed the surface in our podcast. If we had more time I would have loved to go deeper into the religious analysis of the game.
This podcast project emphasized Critical Thinking and Reading Resulting in Writing because it required Stephen and I to evaluate the product of another’s ideas and produce our own thoughts and arguments related to it. All in all this podcast was a huge learning experience for me and was extremely fun to create. Please check out the podcast episode Doing Video games with Reverence about The Binding of Isaac here!
We split the work up so that I did the editing and we did the recording together. During the note taking process that would guide the discussion of the episode, we discovered that we had completely different interpretations of the games intent with respect to Christianity and religion in general as the result of the our different experiences during our individual playthroughs. I thought The Binding of Isaac criticized religious zeal as a separate entity from religion itself, while my partner believed that The Binding of Isaac criticized religion itself. Both beliefs about the game were based in our different experiences with the game and the different drop items picked up and the different bosses encountered.
While producing our episode, we knew the first component we wanted to improve on was our introduction of the episode. We made our own title that was separate from the title of the series and was unique to our episode that we introduced in our own intro following the series intro.
On the first day we recorded and as I was going through what we had recorded later that night, I noticed that there was noticeable echo due to the location we had recorded (Chandler Theology Building). We moved to Atwood the next day to find a quiet place that did not echo as badly as Chandler. Having a dedicated place to record would a have removed a number of issues that we had to go back and fix. More knowledge about actually recording the audio and making it sound good with and without editing would have greatly improved the quality of the audio and reduced the time it took to record and rerecord and edit the podcast episode. Despite our deficiencies in technological experience in recording and editing a podcast, I am proud of the quality of the end product.
This class has been a series of firsts for me. First English class not reading books, first time playing so many video games, first time creating a podcast. Creating my own podcast is something I never thought I would do. My first experience with a podcast was listening to the Yogcast and their famous series of YoGPoDs. The quite comical duo of Simon and Lewis kept me laughing until night’s end. Now here I am having just recorded my first podcast.
It was an interesting experience to say the least. Firstly, I hate listening to my own voice. “Do I really sound like that in public?” is a question I kept asking myself throughout this whole thing. But that wasn’t even the biggest concern. The most important thing Billie and I had to do was play the game and pick what we wanted to say about it. Talking about a game for five minutes isn’t something that necessarily captures an audience so we as the producers needed to have something of sustenance or an argument in our podcast. We both decided that because Cibele is a game that is intended for a female audience, that it would be interesting to get a male perspective on it. It was quite interesting to record my friend and see how different our opinions of the game were.
I think I achieved the learning outcome of collaboration. Billie and I didn’t really know each other before this class so it was great getting to know her and working on this project. I took care of the male interview and equipment while she wrote down our main objectives of the game and recorded our intro. Though we’re only the second podcast in this series, Billie and I tried to make our podcast more lively and personable compared to the first one. Together, I think we created a good podcast and I’m proud of our work.
To my peers, I would recommend that you start early! You may think you have a direction you want to go in but that may change completely as you’re working through it. Also, have fun with it. It’s a good opportunity to have your voice and opinion heard by others in a media form that is new for most of us. This assignment has pushed me to try new things and I’ve learned that video games aren’t so different from books after all.