January 13, 2010 Archives
Propose a research project. What specific game(s) or research question do you want to explore? What has already been published about your topic, and what do you feel remains left unsaid?
Update (answering Jessie's question):
You can post your idea here, put it on your blog (and post the URL here), or e-mail me (with a brief note reminding me to check my e-mail for your proposal).
I'll offer feedback in whatever forum you choose. And if you feel it would help, we could arrange phone call, too.
Locate three peer-reviewed academic articles or books on a gaming topic of your choice. Note that not all books are academic; and encyclopedias, fan sites, and news reports are not peer-reviewed.
Read this review of a game that is designed to teach and persuade.
Complete the brief, timed, open-book comphrehension quiz on GriffinGate (now that you have finished the book).
In Williams and Smith (91-109)
Now that you have read a lot of background on interactive fiction games, and watched some playthroughs, I'm asking you to sample different IF games, so that you can see how the form has developed. You are welcome to choose an IF focus for upcoming assignments, but this marks the formal end of our IF unit, so this would be a good time to demonstrate your ability to apply what you have learned so far in the course.
1) From this list, choose 3 text games to play for 10 minutes each, and write a single blog entry with your initial reactions.
- Pytho's Mask (conversation and character interaction)
- Lost Pig (exploration, puzzles, and humor)
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams adapted his comic SF novel to this form in the 80s... Very difficult and unfair, just like the world is to Arthur Dent) (The original game had no pictures, but the BBC had a competition for who could create an illustrated version.)
- Zork (better-known successor to Adventure, with a more powerful parser; puzzles, exploration, and combat, forming part of the DNA of current gaming)
- ELIZA (from 1966; not really a game, but a simulation of a therapist who listens patiently, asks guiding questions, and echoes back parts of what you type).
- Dreamhold ("a tutorial adventure" designed for IF novices)
- Fine Tuned (got some attention for its humor, its setting, and its main character (you're a goggle-wearing turn-of-the century daredevil motorist -- or you will be, once you get the hang of using the parking brake) (written by an author you may know)
- Everybody Dies (play through a scenario form multiple points of view, trying to prevent tragedies. Includes images to illustrate key moments, but you have to download a separate program to run this game... clear instructions are on the site.)
2) Spend another 20 minutes, either choosing one or two of the games you just sampled, or exploring the Interactive Fiction Database and finding any game that suits your taste.
Some students have already posted their "Case Study" for tomorrow -- that's great to see.
I've chosen Mortensen's essay as the first student-requested essay from our anthology. A few of you requested Delwiche's essay, which was already on the syllabus; if as a result you've only suggested one reading, I encourage you to follow up with a back-up suggestion, so that everyone has recommended two.
Please remember to contribute to the discussion topic on your research process for Ex 5.
Leslie Rodriguez has left a number of thoughtful posts, indicating that she's interested in continuing the exploration of gender in video games, that she began in this class 4 years ago. I hope you all find a topic that you care enough about that you'll come back the next time I teach this class, and help the students discover their own insights.
I've enjoyed reading your reactions to the IF gameplay sessoin. I'll repeat the links I left on that page. These aren't homework assignments that you have to analyze, just media clips that you can appreciate now that you've gained the obscure knowledge necessary.
Friday: Presubmission Report
You may notice that tomorrow is a little light, in terms of reading, compared to last week.
That's because I'm encouraging you to use the time to prepare for the advance work on Paper 2. The "Presubmission Report" for Paper 2 is due Friday. It's more than a proposal, and much less than a rough draft. You won't be able to do this in one sitting, just before the deadline, because it requires you to find and quote from the academic sources you're planning to use in your papers. It asks you to find a range of academic opinions, including quotes that work against the argument you're promoting. (See the details on the Presubmission Report page.)
If you are used to a last-minute adrenaline-fueled rush to finish your paper, this assignment is designed to get you to start that process early, and to it stages, so that I have time to give you feedback on your ideas.
The only way you can truly bomb the presubmission report is by not turning one in. Please don't think of it as a hurdle, or a hoop to jump through; it's an opportunity for you to get feedback at an early stage, so that you don't end up spending hours churning out pages that turn out to be an intellectual dead end, or that re-invent the wheel.
Most students say that once they've written a successful presubmission, they've assembled all the details and sources they need, and the paper prettty much writes itself.
What follows is just for fun.