Reflecting on Wolf in White Van…one last time


Image by flickr user Mathias Appel

My analysis on Wolf in White Van went further than the assigned topic. This novel further taught me the importance of games in life, outside of the realm of entertainment. This whole semester I have become more open to what a game can actually do. It can be and is more than a mindless game; it can tell a story and deliver messages in a platform that has several advantages over regular text. Although a fictional novel, Wolf in White Van showed me an application of games in real life. Sean relied on Trace Italian to help him cope after his accident. The whole novel served as another example of the significance of games. I thoroughly enjoyed the novel and it was quite a refreshing read. In my final draft, I quoted another student’s paper to support my argument and made minor adjustments to my overall argument.

You can read my revised argument here.

A Lone Wolf

Sean uses the game Trace Italian to escape from the real world. Although he becomes separated from reality, in the end, this helps him personally recover from his trauma.

You can read my full argument here.

Kentucky Route Zero

It was a really weird game to say the least. In the beginning, it seemed like a pretty normal game. We were riding around on a road trying to find things, and connect the pieces. At first I thought our choices meant something. As it turns out, you’re just delaying or speeding up what is bound to happen in the game. That in itself was pretty frustrating but I liked the game enough to play Act II before it was assigned. Once I found Kentucky Route Zero in Act II, it was an out of this world experience. It transcended reality and honestly made for a fun game play. There’s something to say about the scenes in the church and bureau but I’m not sure what. The only thing that was frustrating about this game was completely forgetting what the goal was. I had to look up the game to remember that we were trying to deliver a package. But maybe there’s something to be said about that too…

Life’s a Fiasco

This class continually surprises me. There was no way I would enjoy playing video games every week, but I do now. I didn’t think I could create a podcast, but now I have produced one with over eighty views. Most recently, I didn’t think a role playing game would be fun, but how wrong I was. Unlike other tabletop role playing games, Fiasco focuses on storytelling and a collaboration among the players. With only a couple of tips to get you going, it is completely up to you to create your very own Fiasco.

The gaming experience was interesting. Unlike my classmates who all played amongst each other, I played with my family at home. It was difficult to start in the beginning because I was playing with people who were not as invested in the game as I was nor were required to be. I was apprehensive as to how it would all turn out. I ended up playing with my brother and friend Willi. With some storytelling madness and inside jokes in mind, Diego and Willi became drug friends who ran a drug circle together, Willi and I became friends with benefits, and I attempted to enact revenge on my former coworker Diego. Our story was one of total revenge. As the driving force behind our whole story, I did everything I could to try to put Diego behind bars for making me lose my job. I was very interested in the progression of my own character instead of developing the whole story. In simplest terms, Diego was jealous of my progress at work and, using his drug lord connections, planted marijuana at my work place which eventually led to my termination. Finding out that Diego and Willi knew each other, I planned to use Willi who was enamored with me to get close to Diego and murder him. At first, I thought I was going to be successful in carrying out my plan; keep in mind that I really had to set things up and keep the ball rolling. Eventually though, Willi and Diego threw the game some curve balls. I was impressed. In the end, I was really proud of the story we crafted. One of my biggest problems when trying to write poetry or short stories or even painting is not knowing where to start or where to draw inspiration from. I appreciated that we were given freedom in choosing how the story played out but were given some starting points. It was just a matter of putting it all together. This experience really gave me insight on the writing process as a whole; it made me realize how every character is important for a story.

During the whole game, I mainly looked out for myself. I consistently made choices that would advance my character’s story without regard to anyone else. As the mastermind behind the whole story, I took it upon myself to try and make things happen as I wish. Throughout this process I definitely achieved the learning outcome of rhetorical composition. I learned to write a story using a game instead of a keyboard. It was weird in the beginning, but I really got into it. It was different than other things I have done in this class because I was collaborating with real people and trying to come up with an interesting story. Overall, I really enjoyed this experience.





Smiling’s a Good Thing

I have an announcement. For the first time in this class, we are reading a book. Mind you it is still a book about a game, but I have enjoyed the first half of Wolf in White Van so far. It is a bit difficult to follow the plot as is it presented out of order and takes place at different times in the narrator Sean’s life. From what I can gather so far, Sean shot himself in the face when he was younger which led to the disfigurement of his face. To cope, Sean created a role-playing game which recently led a teenage girl to kill herself and left another young man in a severe condition.

Sean’s face causes many problems for him. He is constantly being looked at by strangers and people are afraid when he speaks or even smiles. He knows to keep is mouth shut, which is why I was surprised when he, “smiled [his] horrible smile” while talking to two men he met (Darnielle 75). For me this signifies something big. Sean is comfortable enough and willing to smile with these men who he just met. Kevin and Steve are probably the first people who have been honest with Sean about his face and situation, which I think is something Sean appreciated and why he was able to smile. People usually stop at Sean’s face, but they decided to look past it and get to know him as a person. This encounter is important because ir brings some light into the dark life Sean seems to have.

New Year, New Things to Try

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.

You’ve Got a Friend in Me

For class this week, we had to two play two very different games with one common theme: empathy. dys4ia is an autobiographical game that portray’s the life of the author while she undergoes a sex change. Depression Quest is a game that was made to try to help those who do not understand depression, understand more fully and to show sufferers of depression that they are not alone. While both dys4ia and Depression Quest both evoked emotion and empathy from me, I felt more closely connected to Depression Quest.

I will say it took me a little while longer to feel empathy in Depression Quest than it did in dys4ia. At first I felt that I was being told who I was. It was weird reading, “You are ____…you have a brother” etc. It felt very forced. However, I ended up becoming emotionally invested in it. The moment where I really felt connected to my character was when he encounters his mom. She is completely unaware of what is going on with her son and her attitude keeps him from speaking up about it. Even when he does start to say something about his depression, she completely shoots him down. It made me angry. Though I don’t know if everyone had this experience in the game, I think the game designers did a good job with the scene. It happens at a point in the game where the player has played enough to be emotionally into it. It fosters empathy because you feel terrible but cannot say or do anything to your stubborn mom because your depression has taken over. Personally speaking, I also felt more emotion at this point because for a long time I didn’t have the best relationship with my mom. I know what it’s like to not be listened to and also know how hard it is to speak up. So for me, that scene was differently where things shifted in terms of empathy.


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Freshman year. What a time to be alive, at the bottom of the totem pole once again. With freshman year comes the freedom to make many regrettable decisions, forget to do some homework, occasionally get a little too tipsy, and dance the night away with your friends. It’s a year for many choices and many lessons learned.

Freshman Year has been my favorite game so far. While not a typical game, in the sense that there is no real action taken or controls, it grabbed my attention immediately. I think part of the reason why I liked it so much was because I felt a personal connection to the situation. I make those same choices with my friends, I send some of those same texts, I have that same fear. Though I have not been taken advantage of, it is a very real situation for girls; a girl gets a little too drunk, a boy is right there to ‘make sure nothing happens to you.’ Right when the bouncer popped up onto the screen, I knew what was going to happen. It’s just the mind of a girl I guess.

I played this game twice. The first time, I chose the prompts I would choose if I was her. The second time, I chose the other ones. Both times, the result was the same. However, I did enjoy the aspect of choice. Every day we are faced with choices that we have to make, and sometimes they determine the outcome of a circumstance. Because I played it twice, I got to know more about Nina’s story, which was interesting. Her thoughts were some of the same ones I’ve had with my friends. It was scary.

Out of curiosity, I made one of my male friends play the game. The choices he made astounded me. He was so oblivious to what was going on and at one point even said, “I feel bad for the guy (the bouncer).” I became really irritated with him. I decided not to say anything. I’m glad I didn’t because right when Nina is taken advantage of, he shuts up and his face is one of horror. “I didn’t expect that” he said. As a male, he didn’t understand the situation that was unfolding right before him. I asked him what he thought and all he could say was that it was sad.

Freshman Year definitely pulls at a player’s emotions. It tells a story, one that is ever so real, and that’s what got me interested. Though it may seem like a lame game with terrible graphics, it brings to light an issue that is usually viewed by society as ‘normal’. However, I do think that my opinion is a bit biased being that I am female. I thought of the game very differently than my male friend who had no idea what was going on. Though this may be, I still think it is worth a play for anyone.

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