Let me start off by saying that this site was used throughout the semester to progress and display my writing in Mr. David Morgen’s English 101 class, “Play, Make, Write, Think” (https://eng101s19.davidmorgen.org). I would say that this course’s main objective was to investigate, analyze, and dissect the science and meanings behind different games, something I didn’t even think was possible regarding something as simple as games. To me, games were always straight forward, fun, and childlike, that they weren’t that deep, and all you had to really do was play them without giving it much thought, but man was I wrong.
The first thing we were told to do was to make our own avatar and come up with a name. This excited my creative side for sure; it was a way for me to design a square image that showed how I wanted to be perceived in class. I took designing my avatar very seriously, even contacting my artistic sister for tips. I settled on the name “Moon”, since this is what my close friends and family call me, and I wanted my image to somehow project the moon in space, which I think I achieved:
Next, we investigated the different aspects to a game being a game. During this class we discussed the rhetorical situations found in games, such as audience, purpose, medium, genre etc. This is the class where I realized games had more to them than just fun, that they can be writing outlets incased with an outer layer of a game.
The first game we played was “Depression Quest”. The game intrigued me, but I was a bit weary due to my own experience of depression during the semester, however, I didn’t want it to stop me from playing the game. Upon first opening the game, I could tell it wasn’t going to be your regular graphics/simulations game. It was a choice game, read the situation and decide which path you want your character to take. As I played Depression Quest, I realized that I was envisioning myself as the main character, choosing the option that I would have chosen for myself; this, for me, was the beginning of the fourth learning objective: “Demonstrate visual thinking strategies to analyze and interpret visual information and to experiment, assemble, and arrange visual and written documents of their own”. Even though, we hadn’t written anything yet, the first part definitely applied to this situation.
Next, we played “Gone Home”, had our first writing assignment (live blogging), and were introduced to the idea of a class podcast. Gone Home was more like the games I was used to: simulations with a goal. Live blogging was a new concept for me and was a bit difficult considering I got stuck playing the game and didn’t know what to do next; this lead my writing to be cut off short and abruptly, which I didn’t like. Our next class involved introducing the class podcast, which would be, later, named “Playing Yourself: The Rhetoric of Games”. Naming the podcast was definitely the best part of class that day.
Making our podcast was eye opening. My group and I picked a pretty complicated game to play for our first podcast, but dissecting it showed us how games could have secret agendas. “Illimat”, the game we chose for our first podcast, was pretty complicated; it sought to show us how modern day life differed from the old days in the aspect of agriculture. Today, we don’t worry about what needs to be sowed or harvested, we just go to the grocery store, and that’s why we had such a hard time playing it, we didn’t even know what sowing was, and that’s what we centered our podcast around. Our second podcast was about the game “Mentally Stimulate Me”, a multiple choice card game used to get to know each other. After having a bit of experience behind analyzing games, analyzing this one came much easier and we were able to follow the patterns of the last game to uncover the agenda of this game, which we were able to do within twenty minutes of playing. Producing our podcasts correlated to the first learning outcome, “Compose texts in multiple genres, using multiple modes (Written, Aural, Nonverbal, Digital)”, where we were able to express our thoughts and opinions within the non-traditional way of using a digital medium. Producing our podcasts, also, established the second learning outcome, “Summarize, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate the ideas of others as you undertake scholarly inquiry in order produce your own arguments”, in the aspect of us analyzing and discussing our opinions and interpretations in a group setting.
Playing “Fiasco” and writing about our “Suberbetter” numbers: Fiasco, a story-constructing game where black and white dice determined the negatives and positives of your story, was definitely the game I enjoyed playing the most this semester; it really was a way to let your imagination flow and allowed for the creativity to spill out of you. As I played, I realized that, even though, I had a certain path that I wanted the story to take, it wasn’t going to end up that way because I was playing with two other people who had their own paths they wanted to follow, this led to unexpected plot twists and cliff hangers, which, all in all, made our story that much more exciting. Our “SuperBetter” numbers were based off the book we read in class called “SuperBetter”, where games were used as an outlet to better yourself. Throughout the week, we recorded our positive and negative emotions on a scale of 1-5, and with that created graphs to visually compare how our emotions oscillated. This writing assignment was the hardest for me because of the fact that I didn’t want to record my true emotional patterns, but after writing and deleting, writing and deleting, I decided to write truthfully about my positive and negative emotions of that week, even if I wasn’t 100% comfortable in doing so. My experience in the “SuperBetter” numbers assignment exposed me to learning outcome number three, “Practice writing as a process, recursively implementing strategies of research, drafting, revision, editing, and reflection”.
How have I changed over the semester? Looking back at the semester, I’ve learnt that I am a writer that can explore multiple depths of the topic I am writing about, especially when it came to the rhetoric of games. Regarding rhetorics, I see myself analyzing T.V shows and movies, subconsciously figuring out the purpose, audience, and genre.
” I mean, I can write about what’s in my bag, but what’s the hook? The plot? You know?” -Me, “What’s in my Bag?”
What I was really trying to convey in this quote was if your writing doesn’t include clear rhetoric, how do you expect your reader to be intrigued? This was, also, something that Mr. Morgen once said in class regarding our class podcast, “If you’re just going to talk about how fun the game is, no one will want to listen because it’ll get boring to listen to”.
All in all, this was a class that opened up a new idea of games to me, a more sophisticated one; games aren’t just games, there’s always something to them, and, I think, this concept can be applied to the many different aspects of life: everything has a meaning.