Fiasco Reflection

Due: April 4

(Edited to add: If you can’t get a substantive response as outlined below done by 4/4, then please put up at least a quick reflective post by then — at least write a paragraph or two in which you describe what was most interesting about the experience of writing this collaborative story together. I want you to at least take one pass at putting your thoughts down in writing before our class discussion on Tuesday.)

Once your Fiasco play group has finished playing, make sure as a group that you’ve filled out the Google sheet for your game session — note which playset you chose, the setup information, the dice rolls for Tilt and the Tilt details chosen, and the rolls for the Aftermath and the result from the Aftermath table. This information will help you to reflect on the game session.

Then each of you should write your own Fiasco reflection posts,in the form of an essay with complete paragraphs, not as a list of bullet point answers, about 500 words total. I’ve divided up the questions below along two lines, but structure your essay however is best for your argument. Your essay does not need to start with part 1 and then move to part 2. Ultimately, your reflection essay should be an argument where you explicate what you observed in the process, rather than a narrative.

As you reflect on playing Fiasco, I want you to think about the game session itself as a kind of writing while also thinking about the reflection on the experience as a writing exercise. In other words, for this assignment the primary text that you composed is the Fiasco game session and now you’re writing a reflective essay about that writing. Think about and explain in your essay how the game session itself and the reflection you are writing about it bring you to fulfilling the learning objectives for this course.

Note that there are way too many questions below for you to address all of them. You should read over all of them and spend some time thinking about all of them, then choose to specifically address the ones that will lead to the most thoughtful reflective essay.

Describe the Experience

Without just recounting the narrative in briefer form, describe what the game session was like. Identify some of the key choices that you made (for example, you should definitely indicate which playset you chose and identify the relationships you defined with the two players to left and right, at least) and give a sense of the type of story that you created with the other players in your group. Instead of retelling the story that your group wrote collectively, step back and consider the shape of that story and describe it:

  • What sort of story did you tell?
  • What sort of characters and conflicts did it contain?
  • How did the plot unfold?
  • What sorts of narrative moves did you all make together?
  • How did your Aftermath montage play out?
  • Are you proud of the Fiasco story that you crafted?
  • Look over the list of literary terms on the course site and think about how your story employed these devices.
  • How did playing Fiasco give you insight into elements of fiction or narrative structures, and can you apply these insights to other types of literature (video games, comic books, movies, or traditional literary texts)?
  • How was the experience of playing a tabletop RPG similar to, or different from, playing a video game RPG?

As you describe the experience, you should also explain your own feelings and choices during the process:

  • How did you feel at the start?
  • What were you expecting and were you surprised by aspects of the game session?
  • What sorts of roles did you individually take on during the game session?
  • Were there certain times when you were more active or more forceful versus other times when you sat back and invited others to drive the plot forward?
  • Did you take on particular roles during game play (were you the one always turning the story towards comedy? or the one always bringing darker elements in? were you the one keeping the group focused on moving the plot forward or always pulling off towards digressions? were you consistently narrowing or broadening focus?
  • Were you more interested in role-playing your character directly (acting the part) or in describing scenes from an outside perspective?

Pattern Recognition and Learning Outcomes

In your reflection essay, you should also identify patterns that you noticed in your own behavior and thinking and the story that you created. Identify which of the learning outcomes you fulfilled during the process of game play — name and link to the specific outcomes, while providing at least a sentence or two explaining how this composition speaks to that outcome.

You might also address some of these questions:

  • Were the strategies, skills and procedures I used effective during gameplay?
  • Do I see any patterns in how I approached my role in the writing of this story?
  • How was playing Fiasco similar to or different from the other work you’ve done this semester?
  • What have I learned about my strengths and my areas in need of improvement?
  • How am I progressing as a learner?
  • How can I apply the skills I used in crafting this Fiasco story to future writing projects? Where can I use these skills again?
  • What was the most interesting aspect of writing a Fiasco story?

Wii Sports

Jordan and Mady explore Wii Sports, by Nintendo. Wii Sports is an interactive, exercise simulation game. Its purpose is to promote active lifestyle through alternative methods to conventional exercise, such as video games. We examined Wii Sports and incorporated Ian Bogost’s analysis of exercise through video games.

Background Music: Wii Sports Theme by Wii Sports

Fiasco planning


I’d like to shoot for having you play Fiasco starting in the middle of next week. For starters, I’ve created a Doodle poll that basically includes the entire week in 3-hour overlapping blocks from 10a until midnight. Please respond to the poll and just denote each three hour block that you’re free. Count our class period on TTh as free for the purposes of the poll, because I’ll probably cancel a class period to facilitate gameplay scheduling. (I’ve made the times overlapping because if I put on the poll noon to 3 and then 3 to 6, maybe lots of you would be available from 1 – 4 but would mark no to each of those two. Does that make sense?)

So just indicate any 3-hour windows you’re available and I will see how difficult it is to create groups of 3-5 of you that include the entire class. I understand that it’s possible this process won’t work, and if it doesn’t we’ll go to a plan B but let’s see how it goes.


Once I’ve got scheduling options, I’ll assign you to groups of 3-5 based on when you’re available. Your group will need to decide on a space to play — pretty much the only thing you’ll need is a table large enough to sit in more or less a circle around it. I’ve ordered a huge box of black and white dice and will give each group enough dice and some index cards or post-it notes.

The Fiasco rulebook is now in our shared folder. Let me know if you have any problems getting to it.

You should read over the basic rules before meeting together to play. Note that it has a lot of pages, but the text is very large and includes lots of pictures and tables. (I read the rule book from start to finish during a flight, in less than an hour.) Also, the actual rules run from pages 8 – 60 — the next 40 pages are the playset tables you’ll use during game play, but you don’t need to read them in advance. It’s worth reading or at least skimming over the “replay” that starts on page 101. Don’t worry if the rules seem a little confusing — you will probably feel a little confused and lost as you start to play, but once you get going it will be fine.

We’ll talk a little more in class on Thursday or next Tuesday about gameplay.

Hyborian War play by mail game (and Krull)

I mentioned in class on Tuesday that when I was young (pretty sure I was in middle school), I briefly participated in a play-by-mail game set in the Hyborian Age, the fictional period created by Robert E. Howard in his Conan the Barbarian books. I had forgotten all about this game until I read Wolf in White Van for the first time as I was deciding whether to include it on our syllabus. I searched around online a bit, just hoping to remember what the game was called, and I found that it evidently still exists and is still running as a game: Hyborian War!

I link to this game mostly to show that the fundamental conceit of White Van is valid — these games did exist and they still do.

Also, if you’re interested in watching the bad, old fantasy film Sean watches in the first part of the novel, Krull is available on YouTube.

Week Ahead: 9

9 3/15 Wolf in White Van. Part One: Chapters 1-7 (pp. 1-75)
3/17 Wolf in White Van. Part One: Chapters 8-10 (pp. 76-109)
3/18 Podcast Episode 5 due

Everyone have a relaxing, enjoyable, and safe spring break!

Upon return, we’ll spend the next two weeks discussing John Darnielle’s Wolf in White Van. Read the first 75 pages for class on Tuesday. Please publish a response post on this topic — we’ll begin class discussion with a look at these posts, so please get yours up by the day before class.

Please also make certain that you’ve listened all the way through to the first 4 podcast episodes produced for this class so far. We’ll spend some time discussing them in class this week.

4. FIFA and Music

Nick and Jay explore FIFA by EA Sports. FIFA is an interactive soccer game simulation. Because FIFA is one of the famous games around the globe, its soundtracks attract people’s attention from a wide array of backgrounds. Though FIFA’s soundtracks make users elated and pumped to play the game, they mean more than that. Ian Bogost believes music in video games no longer carry themes and messages with them, however, FIFA is the perfect counter example. Let’s find out why.

Background Music: Wavin Flag by K’nann (recorded from the game)
Works Cited
Quill, Greg. “The Story behind K’naan’s ‘Wavin’ Flag.’” N.p., 27 Sept, 2012. Web. 02 Mar. 2016.
Goble, Corban. “FIFA 14’s Steve Schnure on Compiling ‘the Only Annual Soundtrack for the World’” Pitchfork. N.p., 24 Sept. 2013. Web. 02 Mar. 2016.

Doing Video Games with Reverence

Stephen Black and Max Faass explore The Binding of Isaac by Edmund McMillan. The Binding of Isaac is a 2011 Indie 2D dungeon crawler that portrays a modified version of the the biblical story of the same name. After Isaac’s mother hears a message from God commanding her to sacrifice her son as proof of her faith, Isaac flees into the horror-ridden basement to survive.

Background Music: The Binding of Isaac Menu Music (recorded by ourselves)

Our Manuel’s Twine Game Draft

I quickly fleshed out the Twine game that I started to draft with you all earlier today. Please check it out. Note that once you get to a page that describes a specific artifact, there’s a link at the bottom of that page that goes to the student’s web site; however, I could not (quickly and easily) find a way to have that link open in a new tab or to have a back button, so for now at least those links are dead ends. Once you’ve revised your individual passages, we could reprint your write up inside the game though, with a link to your site as a citation. Anyway, for now I’ve published this here so you can move through it and get some sense of where the dialog outline you’re drafting will go — we need some text in those hubs areas that will link to the artifact spaces.

Does that make sense?

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