Wolf in White Van is not only a novel about trauma, but also about healing. To investigate the novel through writing, I am able to understand the prompt well and analyze the plots of this book and dig the meaning under it.

After reading through the peer review of my essay, I revised the previous draft and add more details and explanations for some quotes to make the essay flow better. The revising process helps me to make up some points that I missed in the last version. In addition, reading the book the second time helps me to understand the book in depth. In the revised version, I made an argument that both of Sean’s physical and psychological trauma are not recovered or healed through the game, Trace Italian.

For more details, please read my essay on my website.


The Sims 4 Reflection-Life Simulation: Good or not?

I enjoyed the process of creating this podcast, The Sims 4, with Kiara. We shared the same ideas and we did really good job in integrating our thoughts and fitting it into our podcast. Furthermore, since we chose the game for the podcast rather than being assigned a certain game, we could design the podcast according to our interests, which was flexible and did not constrain our thoughts. At the same time of playing and podcasting the game, we dig deeply into our game and discover that it had both pros and cons.


Inspired by the different video games earlier this semester, I also wanted to do a Podcast focusing on role-playing game in which players can really escape from busy life, release their burdens, and take all control of their lives. Rather than composing of complicated plots and mysterious settings like the Stanley or Gone Home, my dream game is easy to play, close to real world, and meaningful to the players. Thus, I started to search online which game is most similar to my ideal game. Browsing the websites, I was attracted by pet raising games as well as life simulation game: The Sims 4. Fortunately, my partner Kiara also had that idea and we played the games together. However, we still were not able to decide which one was better and how to talk about a game through Podcast. Thus, we discussed with Professor Morgen about our thoughts and brainstormed the pros and cons of the games. In the end, we decided on doing the Podcast of The Sims 4, a life simulation game which provides the players with life experiences like ever before and like never before.

For Kiara and I, we first planned out the structure of our Podcast, intro and reflection of the process of playing, and wrote the scripts for them. However, we found it was difficult to talk about a game without any thesis and deep meaning behind it. Therefore,Instead of doing the Podcast according to the structure we had before, we discussed the pros and cons of The Sims by referring to some topics in How To Do Things With Video Games, which is written by Ian Bogost. “Empathy”, a topic in this book, best reflects the deep meaning behind the game. When we were playing this game and enjoyed the happiness of living another life, we put ourselves in the characters’ shoes and have the empathy of them. For example, my character Wendy broke up with her boyfriend because her busy life of being a tech-industry woman. I felt blue during those days and tried to come up with some ideas to fix their relationship while still keep her interests in industry engineering. The process of playing the game influences my life. Also, this game also reminded Kiara of some experiences during freshman year. Our own experiences in this game and vivid description of the characters would give the audience a more straightforward sense of it. In addition, the pros and cons of this game enable the audience to get rid of it negative effects and misleading part.

After figuring out all the things we need to include in our podcast, we started our recording part. The easy part was that we could read record according to our scripts; while we needed to find background musics, combine all the sound track into one, and make sure our voices are loud and clear. The Podcast took our hours to finished, however, we expressed our own ideas to the audience and encouraged them play in a more vivid way through voice rather than plain words. The this project requires our collaboration and teamwork, which includes encouragement and understanding.

We did all the things together happily and were both very excited to see our collaboration outcome on podcast website of this class.

Work Cited

Bogost, Ian. “Empathy.” How to Do Things with Videogames. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota, 2011. 18-23. Print.

FIASCO: Directing a Unique Film

Before we met together to play the game, I ‘studied’ the instructions a lot and read many reviews online. However, I still did not really understand how to play it because every review is different in terms of content( every one has a distinct and unique story), but that is the core  element of this game, giving the players unique experience in a new world.

When we started to play the game, we were confused by the number of dice and how to set up the scene by choosing locations and other details. We spent about half an hour sitting there and figuring out the procedure. Fortunately, we took a look at other group’s script and roughly had the idea to continue. Since it is a game, everyone was trying to pick the most weird details such as drugs and murders and ridiculous characters whose names are like Deerboom, McDiggity and Badass to make it fun. We had a very pleasant time setting up all the elements we need and proceed to Act 1. After a pause for 10 minutes, we wrote plots in our head and played them and connected them to  really direct a film. Even though everyone only has a small piece of scenario, we combine them altogether to an integrity which contains intro, complication, climax and conclusion. And as we proceed, the characters are given more detailed personalities through their actions and dialogues in the game. We are in THE ICE, a place of nowhere and a place where all the weird things happen. McDiggity and my ex-boyfriend badass want to kill me to get the one kilo of drugs. I am so afraid of that, so I dig a hole to hide the drugs and kill myself (tilt). And in the end, we all die in the aftermath, which is a bad ending as how the game is designed.

Fiasco is my favourite game in this semester so far (my favourite list is always updating because the games in this class keep giving me surprise). Throughout the game, I was so engaged in our stories and nothing else distracted me from them. The absurd elements throughout the game enable us to create a new world where we can do everything we want in Act 1, screwed up everything in Tilt, going far away from what we originally expected in Act 2 and probably we all die at last in the Aftermath. It is a game which enable us to laugh a lot when someone is died again and also think a lot when coming up with a new scene. The process of gradually figuring out how to play the game with others also made me addicted to RPG, role playing game which I can collaborate with others and have an open ending. The video games I played earlier in this semester only have designed and limited endings and which bored me to play the second time, such as GONE HOME or freshman or the Stanley. Compared to them, the unexpected results are more engaging and compelling because I am able to play different games each time I play, with or without the same players I played together before. In addition, the interactions with friends during the game make the scenarios more real than playing with fake people online.

I learned how to collaborate with others to create a complete story, like reacting to their stories and to relate everyone to my stories. Besides collaboration, I realized that I also need to work on thinking as process. When I was thinking about my plot, sometimes I was unable to proceed based my previous plots. At this time, I listened to their stories first and then went back to my plots and revise it. It is similar to writing process. When I am stuck on one point, I can study other works and improve my own process, which will largely help me to streamline my writing process and flow.


Wolf In White Van Reflection


ug0aam1z8wqycbinnntwWolf In White Van is a novel which tells a story of Sean Phillips whose face is disfigured. I felt it was confusing at first because this story is not written according to time progression. Then I searched some background information and found that the protagonist Sean Phillips has a face disfigurement after a incident of gunshot and suffers from the social isolation. This reminded me of the video games I played before spring break, Dys4ia and Depression Quest, because they both reflects the authors’ psychological suffering through the games. In addition, he receives different treatments from the society before and after the change of his appearance. People do not accept him, as a result, he also gradually alienate himself from the society. Throughout the book, I can feel the sadness and self-struggling of Sean, the same feeling of sympathy as playing Dys4ia. Fortunately, while in the hospital, Sean found a creative and efficient way to release his feelings of loneliness and unhappiness. He write a role-playing interaction game called Trace Italian, which also provides himself a way to interact with real world. Similar to Anna Anthropy, who is male to female transsexual, he created Trace Italian based on his own experience. Thus, video games are also a way for other people to acquire a different life.



Simplicity & Memories-Donkey Kong and Space Invaders

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 4.25.34 PMStella emulator is a very useful platform that provides me the chances to play Atari games on my laptop. Atari games are old games, which were invented 10 or even more years ago. They do not have fancy decorations, complicated plots or various characters. For example, In Donkey Kong, the only thing I need to do is to help Jumpman to save her girlfriend Pauline from the Donkey Kong. How? I simply just used the ‘up’, ‘down’, ‘left’ and ‘right’ to start from the bottom and climb to the top while avoiding the rollers that the Donkey Kong keep throwing at me. In this game, I do not need to consider the plot or analyse the characters to figure out what I am supposed to do next to kill the game. Compare to Donkey Kong, the games we have played so far are almost complicated: GONE HOME and Her Story both require me to pay full attention to finish the game. Even though I enjoy thinking throughout these games, I feel that I am doing an assignment to reach a certain goal through my efforts instead of playing a video game for fun. The format and the design of Donkey Kong and Space Invaders make me relaxed when I was playing. Thus, this is one reason that I like Atari games: simplicity.

Mario_Bros._GameplayIn addition to simplicity, nostalgia also intrigues my interest in these two games. When I
opened Donkey Kong and press ‘space’, the game starts with a sound of ‘past’: a familiar sound back to my childhood. As I proceeded and died because of the rollers, another familiar sound appeared. I suddenly reminded myself of “Mario Bros”, which I played a lot with my friends in elementary school and brought me happiness after school. Then I researched Mario Bros and surprisingly found that it and Donkey Kong are both Atari games and the Jumpman in Donkey Kong is actually Mario. What a coincidence! Because Space Invaders is not compatible with my laptop, I can only play it online. Even though the online game has higher image quality, it still brought me of a sense of past and childhood. Similar to Donkey Kong, Space Invaders is also a game I played a lot in middle school and remind of lots of memories, even though I did not know its name is space invaders at that time. I really enjoy Atari games I played this week: they brought me to my childhood again.

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 4.47.41 PM


Photo credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/c/cf/Mario_Bros._Gameplay.gif

Empathy and Depression: Dys4ia and Depression Quest

This time I played two games, Depression Quest and dys4ia. Both of them are about psychological stress and provided me a chance to see their world in depth. Unlike the previous games I have played so far in this class, they are both based on the website and the playing surfaces are simple: Depression Quest is simply consisted of text and dys4ia is consisted of simple graphics and text and arcade tropes.

dys4ia-Feel-WeirdDys4ia is developed by Anna Anthropy, who is male to female transsexual. Thus, she created this game based on her own experience in which sex is brought up many times in her works. It reminded me of the GONE HOME, the very first video games that I played, which is about gender and homosexual love. Even though gender topic is a grey area that people don’t want to talk about that much, it appears often in games. As I played the games, I can really experience the author’s struggles for the hormone therapy through the daily life experience in the game. The game itself is easy, however, the sentiments that author put in it made the game complex. I gradually felt depressed that I put myself in the author’s shoes and was suffering what she was. The narrative form really engaged people and felt connected to the game.

2631389-steamworkshop_collection_1386186177_collection_brandingDepression Quest seems a little boring at first because it is consisted of text and multiple choices. It reminded me of a psychology course I took before. Even though the stories are descriptive and relatable to real life, I felt like I was doing a psychology survey or homework rather than playing a game. I think it is because of the psychology class, in which I learned a lot terminologies. Thus, I like Dys4ia more because    my empathy was more easily aroused by it and it is more game.


Her Story and The Beginner’s Guide

Compare to The Beginner’s Guide, Her Story really caught my eyes from the start. Her Story is a detective video game which is mainly consisted of watching over two hundred different videos to find the truth, which is a new category of game which I have never seen before. In the previous games I played, I simply figured out the truth through to every piece of evidence from Thus, I spent two hours to finish the game by taking notes and did not feel bored at all. In Her Story, I could go into the police office and find as many detail or evidence that can help me see the truth behind the murder of Simon as possible. And I felt that I was really detective.

The protagonists are Hannah and Eve, who are twins but grew up in different environment.I had a hard time figuring out the protagonist Hannah (actually Eve) because I had no background information and they look the same at the beginning. However, as I watched more videos, I gradually found that Hannah may have two different personalities( maybe some disorders because some of her actions were not consistent: tea or coffee, the scars on her face were healed quickly, tattoo on the arms). Until the police found the hairpieces and fingerprint of a different person, I realized that there might be two people who killed Simon together. Then the stories behind the two sisters surfaced: Hannah and Eve were born, grew up in different environments, and fell in love with Simon. I think the plot is the most attractive element in the game. The process of watching the videos and taking notes was a mock detective process. I needed to pay lots of attention to details in their stories and pick out the most useful information and go to the next step. The huge amount of evident was really confusing. However, it interweaves truth with fiction, which is not close to our life but fulfilled maybe most people’s dream as a detective. From my perspective, it is not just HER story, but also THIER stories.Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 8.03.15 PM

Even though the Beginner’s Guide is also intriguing from the beginning, I became bored in the half way since I was wandering around without doing anything. It is very similar to the Dear Esther, which is simply walking around to observe or enjoy the beauty of an island. Moreover, compared to The Stanley Parable, The Beginner’s Guide is lack of interactions with the players. The Stanley Parable provides the players different choices which can receive different feedbacks; while The Beginner’s Guide was telling Coda’s and Davey’s process of creating a game, which is not as engaging as Her Story.





In the beginning of the game, I was dropped on an island called Hebridean island as a shipwreck castaway. Thus, my first impression of DEAR ESTHER is that it might be the same type of game as GONE HOME because it is also a first person perspective interactive game with some terrifying elements, like the endless dark sea and loneliness. Unlike GONE HOME, however, DEAR ESTHER did not provide any background information, which made me very confused throughout the game. Moreover, the scope of DEAR ESTHER (landscape of the island) was weigh larger than that of GONE HOME (a house), which made me think it took much more time than GONE HOME. Thus, I was walking around in order to explore the whole storyline and characters.

As I walking along the roads, the gorgeous visual effects intrigued my interest because it did a very good job of depicting an island with lifeless looks as well as lighting effects. Therefore, I gradually enjoyed the “arts” of the game rather than focus on the storyline. The details of rock, sea and even road conveyed a sense of loneliness and depression. In addition, the cave was the most beautiful scene I saw in the game.


The storyline itself was very confusing throughout the game. Some snippets were revealed as I progress. However, these messages were very vague, hard to understand, and seemed very disconnected to each other. When I played till the end, I was still unclear about the characters in it.  Therefore, I feel like the DEAR ESTHER is more like a ‘video’ not a ‘video game’.


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