January 7, 2010 Archives

Watch lecture videos. Post response to each on your own blog; post a link from the course page, back to your online response. (Remember to post 2-4 comments on the entries your peers wrote, and return to those threads over the next few days, to share your insights before the topic closes.)

For the eagle-eyed who noticed that this entry used to be titled "History of Games," I'm pushing back the history lecture in order to make room for this introduction the academic use of theory.

Due Today:

Ex 3A: NGJ Proposal

Following the model of the NGJ articles you have read, briefly propose a topic for an original 1000-word article. (Upload to Turnitin.com. You are encouraged, but not required, to post it to your blog.)

In a few short sentences,

  1. identify the game you've chosen,
  2. note the central issue that would be of interest to
    • an expert player of the game, and also
    • someone who will likely never play the game.
For instance, racism and online identity are the core issues in "Bow, N*igger," and the general class reaction indicates that it was a successful attempt to engage readers who are interested in human issues, rather than a particular Star Wars game.
Due Today:

Ex 2 Peer Review

Within Turnitin.com, complete the "PR 1 (Game Review) activity. You will read three peer papers and answer some evaluative questions.

Assigned Text:

Wright and Koster

Read the foreword and prologue of Koster's book.

Assigned Text:

Koster, x-47

Chapters 1-3. Complete the brief, timed, open-book comprehension quiz on GriffinGate.

Assigned Text:

Koster, 48-109

Chapters 4-6. Complete the brief, timed, open-book comprehension quiz on GriffinGate.

Quite a few students got 10/10 and 11/10 on the peer review exercise.  I'm usually pretty generous with points on this exercise, but so many people went into so much detail that I felt it was worth a bonus.

If you're curious, you can read the following student response that earned 11/10 points.

I've posted feedback on the NGJ proposals and the peer-review exercise from Ex 1.  Good work!

I really commend all of you who are putting so much energy into the online discussion.  An online class can feel very lonely if it's just you and the professor. But I find it really energizing when I go offline for a while and come back and see the class is pushing on without me.

I saw a lot of constructive criticism and detailed analysis int he peer-review exercises.  If you're curious, see this example of a peer review exercise that helped earn the student 11 out of 10 points.  Great job!

I've also posted feedback on all the new games journalism proposals that were in as of 2pm.  You should be able to see my comments on Turnitin.com the same as before -- by clicking the red apple.

There's another peer review activity that I hope will help you to focus on how to improve your own proposal. (I see that Q2 and Q1 are repeats... I can't fix that now that the review is open for submissions, so just leave Q2 blank.)

I could not find any good video demos of Adventure, the game from 1976 that I want us to explore tomorrow.  I will need to record my that demo tonight, along with the demo of 9:05.  They won't be up until late, so you won't be responsible for them on the Portfolio 1, and I'll leave the discussion for those two titles open until Monday.

Upcoming assignments

Four GriffinGate quizzes for Koster (these are due tonight just before midnight, but I will accept them late for another 24 hours.. these are the same four that I posted yesterday).

After I post this message, I will work on the new GriffinGate quiz for tomorrow's Koster reading.  It will be due by midnight Friday, and I'll accept it late for another 24 hours.

Peer review of the NGJ proposals

Complete this assignment from within Turnitin.com. Soon I'll ask for a 1000-word new games journalism article. In the meanwhile, please feel free to contact me by e-mail to discuss my feedback on your proposal.

Media clips related to interactive fiction (IF)

The first adventure game ever was a text game called Colossal Cave Adventure (or ADVENT), which inspired many of the top-selling computer games in the early 80s.  It's an important game, but just as I wouldn't throw students at the text of Beowulf or The Canterbury Tales without some preparation, I wouldn't throw you at Adventure without some preparation. 

Start with the snappy video on Zork, and then some more sedate videos on interactive fiction in general, followed by some audio clips that give you more background information.  (They're all sorted in that order on the course page for tomorrow.)

I will work on some related gameplay videos tonight; I've also taken down a few other posts from this page, in part because they won't make much sense without the gameplay videos, and in part because the discussion and exercises have been going so well that I think I might be able to cut a few activities out.  But don't worry -- I won't spring any sudden new deadlines.  DO plan to play a text-adventure game this weekend, following the guidelines I'll post for you tomorrow.  (See also the assignments due on Monday.)

Instead of posting a new discussion topic...

...I'm just going to encourage you to continue the conversations you've been having about Koster, theory, and so on. The page for Portfolio 1 explains in detail the many ways you can get credit for interacting with your peers online, so please take a look and put some energy into starting, deepening, and broadening the online discussions.

I thought the class reaction to the Civlization III review was notably valuable -- Susan and Beth Anne returned to push the conversation in a new direction, and I gained some valuable insight from their comments.

Some notes on A Theory of Fun -- so far

Keith has been posting capsule summaries of Koster; Cody had some choice words to say about special-interest groups that protest games, and Beth Anne reportes "A Theory of Fun was actually fun!"

The introduction has so far attracted the most links; I hope that as more people get their textbooks in the mail, they'll go back and fill in the assignments they've missed.  In the meanwhile, those of you who have read Koster, please do try to slip in an appropriate quoteation or reference whenever possible.  Note that Koster goes into a lot more detail on the subject of getting bored with games, and his claim that games are really about learning is a lens that I think we're all very interested in, for obvious reasons.

So if you can, connect Koster's insights to the other ideas we've encountered (Rothstein saw Myst as a world to visit and an artistic creation, but Koster sees himself as a teacher... Johnson sees Pac-Man as unintersting, but several people responded favorably to my attempt to theorize it... what are some appropriate responses when we encounter opposing ideas like that?)

Recent Comments

Jessie Krehlik on Adventure Gameplay Video: http://blogs.setonhill.edu/Jes
Matt Takacs on Pac-Man Dossier: http://blogs.setonhill.edu/Mat
Jessie Krehlik on Pac-Man Dossier: http://blogs.setonhill.edu/Jes
Dennis G. Jerz on Games and Academic Research: I would probably need to pitch
Dennis G. Jerz on Ex 4: Article Analysis: Beth Ann, try logging off and
Susan Carmichael on Laurel, 1-52: http://blogs.setonhill.edu/Sus
Beth Anne Swartzweld on Ex 4: Article Analysis: Dr. Jerz, there is no slot for
Matt Takacs on Games and Academic Research: I'd be interested in that cour
Matt Takacs on Jerz, "Somewhere Nearby is Colossal Cave": http://blogs.setonhill.edu/Mat
Jessie Krehlik on Jerz, "Somewhere Nearby is Colossal Cave": http://blogs.setonhill.edu/Jes
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