January 5, 2010 Archives

If you haven't already watched and responded to the first and second parts of the opening lecture that I posted yesterday afternoon, please do so now.

A specific, brief (500 words) personal story that makes a point about your relationship with gaming.

Rather than a list of your earliest memories or favorite games, choose one specific incident/experience/memory. (I have posted my own gaming anecdote on my blog, to give you an idea of what I'm looking for. You are free to focus more on the game itself, or more on your memories, or more on something else... I don't have any one particular kind of story in mind, so please feel free to offer your own creative take on the assignment.)

  1. Upload to Turnitin.com. (Use course ID 3042951 and password "levelup".)
  2. Post a copy for the class to read in the GriffinGate forum for EL250. (Collaboration -> Forums -> My Gaming Anecdote -> Add a Thread.)
  3. By Jan 06, return and post 2-4 comments on the anecdotes that your peers have posted.
Assigned Text:

Intro to SHU weblogs

Respond to these videos by posting a sample page on your SHU blog, and posting a link from this page to your sample entry. Those of you who have already blogged for me before, please write a few informal lines that describe how you think blogging an online-only course will affect your comprehension of the material and your interaction with your peers. If you have a blogging-related anecdote or favorite entry that you'd like to share, I'd welcome a brief account.

Check your e-mail for your login and password.


  1. Post a practice entry on your SHU blog, in which you post links to and comment on 2-4 of the "Student Choice" selections recommended by your classmates.
  2. Upload your Ex 1 file to Turnitin.com, as described on the Ex1 homework page. (Be sure to post your anecdote in the GriffinGate forum,too. Again, see the Ex1 page for details.)
  3. Ready for you on GriffinGate: A short quiz that checks your comprehension of the syllabus and various course procedures. (It's open book... not a memory test, just a way to make sure you are starting the course on the right virtual foot.)
Remember also to return to the GriffinGate forum to read and comment on your peer's gaming anecdotes.

Remember also to return to class discussion topics, to contribute to the conversation and share your insights.

Start putting your in-depth comments on your own individual blog, and participating in conversations on your classmates' blogs.

Post links to interesting conversations you find on other people's blogs, ask insightful questions, and look for ways to make connections between assigned materials.

Okay, so all this tech stuff is kinda overwhelming... what do we do with it?

Make connections, and work with the rest of the class to strengthen and deepen those connections.  Practice, on a small scale, the kind of assembly, assessment, and synthesis that will help prepare you for your final research project. Make this kind of intellectual activity routine, and you will find it yields some very interesting results.
For example, what do you think Johnson would say about the amount of knowledge the Strongbad clip presumes we have, in order to fully appreciate the jokes in his cartoon?  What later developments in gaming culture have supported or disproved Rothstein's predictions about the importance of Myst? 

What connections can you come up with on your own? 

Once you've satisfied that your "Hello, world" post is working, see what kind of connections you can identify for the rest of us to explore.
Assigned Text:

Lego Indy 2 Review

How does Richard's review of Lego Indy 2 differ from Rothstein's article? Why are they so different?
The purpose of this assignment is twofold. First, I'd like to draw your attention to the components of a good game review.  Second, I'd like you to get some practice with your SHU weblog.  (I should have e-mailed everyone in the class with login instructions.)

1) Find an online a game review that you feel is particularly detailed and effective. ( It can be any kind of game.)

2) On your own SHU blog, write an entry in which you use your chosen review to help you identify, explain, and give examples of the components of a good game review. (You can refer to other game reviews, especially if you've written any yourself.)

3) Return to this page, and post the URL of your new blog entry. 
Make the page you just created easy for your classmates to find. Because soon you will start visiting your classmates' blogs often, you will appreciate having a convenient way to find what they've written on the assigned topic.
Just paste the URL in the comment box. The system will turn it into a clickable link.
  • Make sure the URL you paste looks like this:


    Not like this (which is too vague)


    And not like this (which is useless to a reader because it points to your editing screen)


  • Explain what's on the other end of the link,
    Something generic such as "Here's my homework" won't encourage anyone to follow the link and see what you have to say.
4) Bonus: Create a Trackback Link

Ground-breaking games Doom and Myst.

Use this space to discuss general issues that arise from your observation of Doom and Myst.

The graphics of Doom are, of course, very simple... but what would you say to someone who judged South Park or The Simpsons solely by the simple animation style?

The Myst video capture doesn't record the mouse pointer, so if you haven't played this kind of game, it may not be obvious that the way you play is hunting for buttons, levers, doors, and hidden objects on a rich but static screen -- more Where's Waldo than World of Warcraft. Since Doom shows you the level of real-time graphics that computers were capable of at the time, these richly-rendered, realistic images were all pre-rendered media clips, assembled in clever ways.

(I think Susan mentioned Choose Your Own Adventure books the other day -- stories that let you choose a path, assembling a narrative from chunks of pre-written stories. Not the same thing as making up as story as you go, but more interactive than a static novel.)

One more thing to note... if we were studying novels, or sculpture, the method for viewing older works would be pretty much identical to the method for viewing contemporary works. But as you can see, unless we have a room full of old computers for you to use, our options for viewing older games are limited.

So... what did you think of our trip back to 1993?

Assigned Text:

Doom Gameplay

One of the popular games from 1993: Doom (play online re-creation of Doom, which lacks the original music; then watch this video, which includes the music, but lacks the interaction.

Assigned Text:

Myst Gameplay

Another popular game from 1993: Myst. Note that the video does not show the player's mouse pointer; clicking buttons and flipping levers in-game helps create the atmosphere. (If you have an iPhone, you can play a free, limited demo of Myst.)

I spent this morning marking Ex 1.  If you submitted it before 3:45 today, it's already been marked.  Look for the red apple in Turnitn.com, and click it... you should see a screen with my comments and your score.

I enjoyed reading them all... if you haven't yet participated in the GriffinGate forum devoted to discussing your gaming anecdotes, please do that.

Part 3 of the opening lecture is uploading now... it ends a bit abruptly, but that's because I realized I needed to make a Part 4.  (I won't post it as Part 4 -- it will appear tomorrow morning as a separate lecture on the nature of theory.)

Now that we've had our formal introduction to the blogs, I'm asking that we move some of the in-depth reactions to the readings from the course blog, onto your own individual blogs.

So, after you watch Part 3 of the opening lecture
  1. Create a new entry on your own blog, and post a response.
  2. Then, go the page I created for Part 3, and leave a brief comment with a URL that points to the new page you created. You can either include a quotation you thought was worth reflecting on, a question that you want to explore, or some other very specific reaction.  Work that specific detail into your comment, and leave the URL so that your classmates will know  what you wrote about.
  3. From your own blog, include a link that points to the page devoted ot the readings. Now people can get from your blog entry to the assignment page, and from the assignment page to all the other assignment pages posted by your classmates. (Trust me, the extra 30 seconds you put into creating this two-way link will really help the online conversation.)
  4. After you have posted your initial reaction, visit the blog entries that 2-4 of your peers wrote, and contribute to the discussion they chose to start.
    1. You'll get bonus points for being the first person to post on a classmate's blog entry, for starting a thread on your own blog that attracts a lot of comments, and for linking from your blog to something a classmate posted on his or her blog.
    2. Keep track of where you left your comments, and return over the next couple of days, in order to keep the conversation going.
I'm asking you to follow these steps for every assigned text from now on.

If you already posted your reaction here on the course blog, it's not necessary to re-post that material on your own blog.

From now on, I will be looking on your own blog first, for evidence that you are contributing to the online discussion. 

  • I've heard from students who say they thought an online class would be lonely, but they feel encouraged by the level of interaction the blogs promise.  I'm very glad to hear that.
  • Since our blogs are our main tool for interaction, I am asking you to follow this same procedure -- post a response on your blog, then link to it 

  • Tomorrow, I will close the online conversations that I started on the first day of classes.
  • Note that an upcoming assignment asks you to write a game review.  While I was flexible the first few days of the course, all assignments are due at 10am on the day they are assigned... so if you wait until the middle of the day to start the readings that are due on that day, that could be a problem.
  • We're about to shift from watching a lot of media clips to reading textbook chapters. While I think you'll find Koster's book is very readable, most people find reading a book requires a different kind of concentration, so be sure you leave room for it.
  • I am working on a GriffinGate quiz for the Williams and Smith introduction.  I'll announce it when it's ready, and you'll have a window of about two days to complete it.

This video introduces mirrors, windows, and lenses as metaphors for engaging critically with texts.  (Most of us enter college at the "mirror" level, and in this course we will move towards "lens."  I'll have more on this concept in a follow-up lecture, so for now feel free to concentrate on the Pac-Man reading.

Use your own blog to respond to this discussion topic, which will remain open until 4pm Thursday.

(See also Parts 1 and 2.)

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