Week ahead: 15

15 4/12 Kentucky Route Zero Act 2
4/14 Workshop day
4/15 Podcast Episode 9 due

Play Kentucky Route Zero over the weekend. I’ll get a reflective post assignment up — broadly speaking, I want you to think about how the magical realism of the story is meant to get you to think about/engage with the world around you. How does KYZ function as a game about place?

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.

Week Ahead 7

7 2/23 dys4ia & Depression Quest
2/25 Kentucky Route Zero: Act One
2/26 Podcast Episode 3 due

Warning for the games we’ll be discussing on Tuesday: dys4ia is an autobiographical “playable diary” about 6 months of the author’s life as she undergoes hormone replacement therapy. This game features low-rez pixel nudity and frank discussion of personal issues of sexuality. Depression Quest has the explicit aims “to show other sufferers of depression that they are not alone in their feelings, and to illustrate to people who may not understand the illness the depths of what it can do to people.” dys4ia is a short game. Depression Quest can be short depending on how you play it. Play it long enough that you give it a real shot and feel like you have a pretty clear sense of the lessons it has to impart. Response post assignment.

Play Act One Kentucky Route Zero for Thursday. Take notes on your interactions and choices that you make, as well as your reactions to the interactions you have within the game.

Unpacking Manuel’s Discussion

We’ll spend some time in class on Tuesday, and perhaps also on Thursday, discussing the Manuel’s Tavern assignment some more, specifically how we might pull together all your individual artifact analyses into some sort of a whole. As I’ve been meeting with students individually, I’ve posed the question for them to consider: if we were to make a game — maybe a short, vignette game — set in Manuel’s Tavern against the backdrop of the main north wall that you all have cataloged, what sort of game should that be? What sort of characters are implied by this setting? What kind of narrative should take place in this space, and how would these objects be used in the game in order to structure the character interactions?

Week Ahead: 6

6 2/16 Stanley, A Parable & The Beginner’s Guide
2/18 Her Story
2/19 Podcast Episode 2 due: Nina Freeman’s Cibele


The podcast is now live. Please make certain you listen to the first episode before class tomorrow. The link to the first episode has already been retweeted by Michael de Santa.

I’ve also published an additional set of instructions for future episodes and the instructions for the reflection post you should write once you’ve completed your episode.

Beginner’s Guide

We’ll spend most of class on Tuesday discussing Beginner’s Guide. Some questions to think about to kick off discussion: In “Art,” Bogost suggests 5 common properties of art games: procedural rhetoric, introspection, abstraction, subjective representation, and strong authorship. Is Beginner’s Guide an art game? How do you see those 5 properties at play in the game? Are there ways in which those properties fail to get at what is most interesting about the game?

We’ll also compare Beginner’s Guide and its predecessor, Stanley. The website for the latter includes the following: “The Stanley Parable is an exploration of story, games, and choice. Except the story doesn’t matter, it might not even be a game, and if you ever actually do have a choice, well let me know how you did it.” And on its Steam page, we find this epigraph: “The Stanley Parable is a first person exploration game. You will play as Stanley, and you will not play as Stanley. You will follow a story, you will not follow a story. You will have a choice, you will have no choice. The game will end, the game will never end.” How are those claims extended, undercut, revised, or how do they otherwise come into play in Beginner’s Guide?

Her Story

For class on Thursday, play through the game for awhile. You might not be able to finish it in the time you’ve got, but play enough to get a strong sense of how it works. It’s a nonlinear crime fiction game, depicted through FMV (full motion video). 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?


Week Ahead: 4

Here’s what’s on tap:

4 2/2 Dear Esther
2/4 Podcast and Manuel’s workshop day.

In Class Plans

We’ll spend a bit of time in class today discussing the updates to the Manuel’s assignment (see below), but mostly we’re going to focus on Dear Esther, in particular comparison between it and Gone Home.

Thursday is going to be devoted to giving you opportunities to brainstorm together about the podcast assignments and to touch base about the Manuel’s assignment. You can ask me questions, ask each other questions, work near each other and bounce ideas off one another, and so on. Come to class ready to work!

Upcoming Assignments

I’ve updated the Unpacking Manuel’s assignment page. You should pick an object to research quickly so that you can get started on your essay and reflection.

Only half of you have signed up for a podcast episode. Those of you who have already signed up, please consider moving up to an earlier due date, since you seem to have a better sense of what you want to do. I know that nobody wants to be first, but there are distinct advantages to being the first episode turned in — including that we’re all going to think whatever the first group does is great because we won’t yet have anything to compare it against!

Edited to add:

Thus far, I have not been giving anyone a difficult time about just pasting URLs onto pages and posts but as of today, I will begin to do so. Remember, URLs are for computers, not humans. Show an awareness of audience and of the generic conventions of web publishing, instead of printing on paper, and use links!

Week Ahead: 3!

3 1/26 Play through Gone Home to completion.

Due: Gone Home response and your Player Character Avatar.

1/28 Richard Bell, “Family History: Source Analysis in Gone Home.”

Begin “Unpacking Manuel’s” assignment.

Bogost HTDTWV “Art” & “Empathy” (9-23) was assigned for last week, will discuss today, so if you didn’t read it before do so this week.

Due: Drafts of visuals and a script for the series intro segment, which we’ll discuss in class on Tuesday.

Class Plans

We’ll spend most of class today discussing Gone Home while also deciding on next steps for getting podcast ready for publication.

On Thursday, we’ll continue discussion of Gone Home after having read Bell’s piece. And will spend much of the class session going over the Unpacking Manuel’s assignment and beginning to work in it.

Looking ahead: podcast series

The episode sign up sheet has been updated per our class discussion and agreement, so there are now 10 episodes with due dates on Fridays throughout the semester starting 2/12. You should be forming pairs and claiming slots on the sign up sheet.

Also needed for the podcast series:

  • 2 images for iTunes distribution: a square avatar (1400 x 1400) and a rectangular header (2480 x 520).
  • An audio intro for the series