Monthly Archives: October 2018

Text Parser Games

Last semester, I took a course on Topics in Media and Culture with Dr. Jerz, and we had a brief unit about interactive text. We also watched the video about the monk who had trouble opening a book, and although we might find it humorous, it goes to show how much technology affects what we write. The entire experience is different, and when a new medium is introduced, you have to “relearn” how to read in a way. As someone majoring in communication in addition to journalism, I definitely understand how important choice of medium is. Different mediums change your experience as a reader and writer, and we have to be aware of that.

In the Media and Culture course, I remember we collectively tried playing a text adventure game. It was frustrating to figure out the correct commands, but overall, it was interesting to put yourself directly into the game and experience the story as a character yourself. From the writing perspective, text adventure games definitely involve a lot of writing and storytelling, especially because you have to create different storylines depending on which choice your reader makes. I agree with Dr. Jerz’s point that making a text adventure game is a “very writerly process,” from the fictional story to the actual coding that is needed to make the story work.

I’m actually working on an interactive text project similar to the text adventures games for one of my journalism courses. My idea is to create a hypothetical situation where you’re an editor, and you learn information about the ethics and principles of journalism with real life scenarios. However, which information you receive will be dependent on which option you decide to take. It’s definitely a challenge to write different storylines, especially because I’m also incorporating facts, but in my situation, creating this text adventure game will be a good way to display my knowledge of journalism and improve my creative writing and research skills.

Source: Text Parser Games

Adam Cadre’s 9:05

Whenever my group and I first completed the Adam Cadre’s 9:05 game, we got on the freeway and left the town, and that was the end of the game. However, we were really confused because we had no idea why we were leaving the town, and figured we had missed something. Then, my second time playing through, I ended up dying trying to get to the office, so no luck there. Finally, I figured out the twist with the corpse in the bedroom and tried to get the ending where I would made it the office and presumably get arrested, which did happen. It was interesting how we got the “good” ending right away, but it wasn’t emotionally fulfilling at all, so we felt like we were obligated to go back and see how many endings we could reach.

It was helpful being able to play this game in a group. We sampled a text adventure game in our Media and Culture class last semester, so I was slightly familiar with the format, but it’s still frustrating trying to figure out exactly how to phrase a certain command. Being able to share our thoughts and help each other out made it a little less frustrating and a little more entertaining.

Source: Adam Cadre’s 9:05

Brief Intro to Electronic Literature: Background

When you look at the earliest video games, it definitely makes you appreciate what we have today. I can’t imagine anyone willingly sitting around playing Tennis for Two in 2018 all the time for fun, but back in 1958, that would have been riveting to people. When the earliest video games were created, it was important to just get the tech running correctly and develop the tech in the first place. Once technology was advanced enough, that’s when people were able to start incorporating more advanced graphics and stories.

I haven’t really played a lot of video games in my life, besides games like Pokemon and Mario Kart that are more just for entertainment than the story itself. However, you get to make different decisions as your character and create their life, so you could probably make the argument that Pokemon embodies digital storytelling. Even though I don’t play games a lot myself, I have watched YouTubers who game, especially PewDiePie. I would always watch his videos just because I thought he was funny, but I found myself most drawn to the games he played that had a story behind them. I remember watching his playthrough of games like Telltale’s The Walking Dead, and those stories emotionally drew me in and made me want to keep watching. The one video game I have played the full way through myself is Bioshock Infinite, and although it’s a first-person shooter game, the storyline is what makes the game really interesting and what kept me really engaged with the game.

Although a little mindless entertainment is fun on occasion, people want more than that. Our expectations as a society have greatly changed – now that we have all of this technology, we expect video games to look visually stunning. Even if we don’t realize it, we also expect video games to engage us with a story, because if they don’t, then we lose interest.

Source: Brief Intro to Electronic Literature: Background

Depression Quest or Choice of the Dragon

I decided to try playing both interactive games for this assignment.

I understand why a lot of people wouldn’t want to play the Depression Quest game, particularly people who have gone through this in their lives. The story feels so real because of the interactivity that places you directly in the game, which can be too difficult for people who have suffered with this mental illness before. However, I think the reality of this game is what makes it a valuable learning experience for people who do not understand what it’s like to go through depression. It might feel uncomfortable, but sometimes the only way you can truly understand something that you haven’t gone through yourself is by going through a simulation like this. It feels real, and that’s what makes a game/simulation like this one powerful storytelling. As I said, it’s difficult and uncomfortable and might not be the best option for some people, but for others, I think you can learn a lot from this. It wasn’t easy for me to go through the game, but I wanted to find a way to help my character improve her mental state, and I learned a lot about the ways you can do that in reality.

On the other hand, Choice of the Dragon was completely fictional, but the interactivity makes this game interesting as well. Besides the content itself, I think some people might be more interested in this game because of the way the content in Choice of the Dragon is split up. As you go through the game, there typically isn’t a ton of background text before each decision, and sometimes there were only a few sentences. With Depression Quest, there were usually multiple paragraphs of text before each decision. This was necessary for that subject matter, but with digital media, people expect short chunks of text and that holds their attention longer. Although this was a fictional game dealing with dragons, I still think you can learn a lot about who you are as a person if you make decisions based on your actual personality. Or, you can learn the results of doing something completely different than you would in real life. You can take risks in an interactive game like this and learn a lot from the process.

Overall, I think digital storytelling is an effective way to immerse readers in a story and learn. Although it is not easy thing to deal with and not for everyone, you can learn a lot about serious topics like mental illness by putting yourself in that position and learning how it actually affects people and what you can do to help. Even with Choice of the Dragon, even if you just consider it a “fun” game, you still learn what consequences come from different actions, and those personality traits are applicable in real life.

Source: Depression Quest OR Choice of the Dragon

Principles of American Journalism Ch2

In Chapter 2 of Principles of American Journalism, the following quote stuck out to me:

“What sets journalism apart is the stuff that happens between picking up on some interesting information and passing it along. It’s the checking, questioning, and corroborating of that information” (Craft & Davis 32).

I remember the Rolling Stone story and situation that followed very clearly, because this happened during the first year I was in a journalism class in high school. We had a lengthy discussion in class about the importance of verification when writing a story. Journalism is more than just taking information and relaying it to the public – it involves making sure that information is actually true. This rule applies to interviews too, especially when your story involves a serious subject like rape accusations. You can’t just quote people and trust their word – you have to verify in some way that what they said is actually true. It reminds me of a quote that my mom actually found and shared with me: “If someone says it’s raining and another person says it’s dry, it’s not your job to quote them both. Your job is to look out the f***ing window and find out which is true.”

Another part of this chapter that stuck out to me discussed the way journalists view the public:

“Thinking of people as citizens instead of as, say, an audience or consumers shapes how journalists do their work, both the kinds of stories they pursue as well as how they pursue them” (42).

As someone majoring in communication and journalism, I have to be able to separate the way I view people depending on the type of work I’m doing. In my communication courses, I am viewing people as an audience that I am trying to reach with a message that my company is trying to send. That message is crafted based on the goals of the organization or company. However, with journalism, I have to change my mindset to view people as citizens who are intelligent enough to make decisions based on the unbiased information I provide. In communication, your underlying goal is to get people to agree with your organization and make your organization look good. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but in journalism, we aren’t trying to persuade people to agree or disagree with anything. We simply provide the facts and allow the public to make decisions based on that information.

Source: Principles of American Journalism Ch2

Principles of American Journalism Ch1

As I read the first chapter of Principles of American Journalism, this passage stuck out to me:

“News is more than mere information; it is the result of processes and judgments constructed through institutions devoted to news gathering” (Craft & Davis 12).

When I describe the role of journalism, I often say the main goal is to inform the public. However, this quote put into perspective how much more is actually involved in the process of informing the public. Journalists don’t just report all the information they gather to the public – they have to decide which information they choose to present. As the authors stated, there is an abundance of information available, and what makes journalism unique is its ability to sort through that abundance of information and tell the public what is most important. Of course, journalists are always going to receive criticism for being “biased” based on what they choose to report, but good journalists aren’t reporting and withholding certain information to benefit their own personal agendas.

Throughout my work as a student journalist both in high school and college, I have engaged with this process of sorting through and choosing information to report. Typically, I interview multiple people for a news story, and not every quote from every person is relevant or informative enough to include in the article, especially when information provided by sources is repetitive or off-topic. I have to make decisions about which quotes to include in my articles, or else my articles would just be a very long transcript of information, not news.

Similarly, as an editor, I have to make decisions about which articles we include in our print magazines. There is an abundance of information out there, but we have to decide which information is most relevant to our audience of the Seton Hill community. This goes back to what we learned about what constitutes as newsworthy, and we make our decisions about which information to report based on that. One recent example is when I chose to cover the changes to parking on campus. This story was relevant to the Seton Hill community since it affected many people on campus, and I had to decide how to convey this information. I interviewed a commuter student, a resident student, an employee in the business office, and the chief of campus police to get a more complete picture of the situation, and I chose the most relevant quotes from each source to inform the public in the most effective way I could.

Source: Principles of American Journalism Ch1

Analyzing Shakespeare Through Psychological and Historical Criticism

For this response, I decided to return to an article I found earlier, entitled “Kate’s Froward Humor: Historicizing Affect in The Taming of the Shrew,” by Melinda Spencer Kingsbury. At first, I wasn’t sure if this article engaged with historical criticism or psychological criticism, but after our class discussion on Thursday, I think it engages with both theories.

Historical criticism involves background research about the “life and times of an author” (Gardner & Diaz 176), which Kingsbury incorporates in her article. She discussed how the biological and psychological relationship between mind and body was understood during Shakespeare’s time, along with how gender roles were perceived because of biological differences. This research about biological understanding during Shakespeare’s time clearly engages with historical criticism, as this research is applied to the motives of the characters in The Taming of the Shrew.

Going right along with that point, the historical criticism moves into psychological criticism. Psychological literary criticism can focus on the “unstated motives and unconscious states of mind of characters, authors, or readers” (178). In Kingsbury’s article, she explains how Petruchio’s motives would have been influenced by his understanding of gender roles based on his society’s understand of the body’s biological and psychological state. We never find out why Petruchio wants to “tame” Kate, so Kingsbury engages in psychological criticism to try to understand his motives.

Although I think you could make a case for this article mostly being based in psychological criticism, I definitely think that psychological criticism stems from and is influence by historical criticism as well.

Source: Article (TBA)

RWaL 9 (2 of 2)

In the second part of the “Literary Criticism and Literary Theory” section of Reading and Writing about Literature, I found historical criticism to be the most familiar to me. This theory involves “background reading about the life and times of an author” (Gardner & Diaz 176). I’ve been engaging with this theory since I was in high school, and I’ve already been engaging with this theory in our Writing about Literature course. Particularly, many of my blog posts and our class discussions about The Taming of the Shrew were based in historical criticism. There were multiple footnotes throughout the play to help us better understanding the meanings of certain words in Shakespeare’s time. We also discussed how gender roles and punishment were regarded in Shakespeare’s time, which involves historical criticism. By engaging with historical criticism, we can gain a better understanding of literary works that we might not have fully comprehended before, especially ones that are centuries old.

At first, I was confused at the difference between historical criticism and cultural studies. I immediately related to cultural studies, especially the trend that “attempts to broaden the canon” beyond “middle to upper-middle class, well educated, heterosexual white males” (175). In my American Literature course, our professor referred to how much of what we study in English classes is written by “dead white guys.” And he didn’t mean this in an offensive way – he noted that their contributions are valuable too – but it’s true that often times there isn’t much diversity in English curriculums, and that’s missing an opportunity to learn more about different cultures. We read a diverse amount of literature in his course and read background on the authors to understand more about how their lives influence their work, so cultural studies played a large role in that course. While historical criticism helps us understand how to interpret a text based on the time period it was written, cultural studies seems to focus more on how a text and/or author fits into that particular culture.

In terms of theories that were unfamiliar to me, there were two that stuck out: postcolonial criticism and reader-response theory. Postcolonial criticism focuses on “writing from former British colonies around the world” (175), which is something I am not super familiar with doing. However, I feel like this criticism could be applied to The Color Purple, which I read last semester, because in one part it deals with a British company tearing through an African village to build a road. Everything that the character of Nettie went through in Africa could be analyzed through this lens.

I was also confused by the reader-response theory, because I was not sure how you could turn that into an entire research paper. This theory involves trying to “understand the process by which we make meaning out of words on a page” (179). It reminds me of cultural studies in a way, because it deals with how different factors affect the reader’s perception of a text. However, I think reader-response theory can incorporate aspects of many other literary criticisms to understand how and why people interpret texts differently. For example, I think you could write a research paper about The Taming of the Shrew analyzing the differences in interpretation of the text over the years, or even the differences in interpretation between males and females.

Source: RWAL 9 (2 of 2)

RWAL 9 (1 of 2)

As I read the first part of Reading and Writing about Literature on “Literary Criticism and Literary Theory,” the literary theory I was most familiar with was Formalism and New Criticism. This theory gives attention to “the formal elements of a literary text – things like structure, tone, characters, setting, symbols, and linguistic features” (Gardner & Diaz 171). The elements of this theory are what I learned to analyze in my high school English classes, and we also learned about close-reading for these elements in Introduction to Literary Study last semester. Taking a look at what we’ve read this semester, in many of my blog posts about John Henry Days, I tried to analyze the symbolism of the mountain and the machine. When I look at my recent posts about poetry, I see a lot of this theory being applied in my analysis. I specifically talked about the implications of the repetition in “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”

The theory I was least familiar with in this section was Marxist Criticism. This theory was described by the authors as the application of Karl Marx’s ideas to literature, including that “the basic model of human progress is based on a struggle for power between different social classes” (173). I have brought attention to issues of social class and inequality in certain literary texts, but I have never really analyzed literature specifically through a Marxist lens where I’m only focusing on those inequalities. Marxist criticism is similar to some of the other theories the text discussed in the way that you have to specifically look at a text in one way. If you analyzed 1984 through Marxist criticism, you could probably find a lot to discuss about class inequality becuase of the system with the Inner Party, Outer Party, and Proles. However, you might miss some of the other themes present in 1984, such as the control of history and information and the physical and mental manipulation of human beings. At the same time, using a particular criticism like Marxist criticism might allow you to see a text in a new way and brainstorm new ideas.

Source: RWAL 9 (1 of 2)

Matthew Arnold, “Dover Beach”

When I was trying to decide which poem to analyze, my 17-year-old sister came into the room and mentioned she was reading Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. The poem “Dover Beach” by Matthew Arnold is featured in this novel, and since it’s been over five years since I read it, I figured this was a good chance to look at the poem with fresh eyes and more knowledge.

Arnold was a British poet and critic who lived in the 1800s. In addition to writing, he was a government school inspector and eventually became a professor of poetry at Oxford. The website poets.org describes some of the themes of his poems as “psychological isolation” and “dwindling faith.”

The poem takes place on a beach, and the speaker begins by describing a peaceful place, where “The sea is calm” (line 1) and “the moon lies fair” (2). However, that peaceful image is broken when the speaker says “Listen! you hear the grating roar” (9). The use of the exclamation point here disturbs the calm atmosphere, and Arnold uses caesuras throughout the entirety of his poem to separate ideas and bring attention to them.

After this, the speaker begins to introduce things that aren’t peaceful anymore, including “The eternal note of sadness” (14). He describes how “Sophocles long ago / Heard it on the Aegean, and it brought / Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow / Of human misery” (lines 15-18). When I looked up Sophocles, I found out that he wrote tragedies, so he understood that that the world was full of “human misery.” Although Sophocles existed a long time before Arnold, this shows that human suffering has existed across human history.

The speaker discusses how “The Sea of Faith / Was once, too, at the full” (21-22). This “Sea of Faith” could symbolize faith in general or religion, and once all people were faithful. However, now the speaker can only hear “Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar” (25) and see the “naked singles of the world” (28). Shingles in this reference would mean exposed pebbles on a beach, so without faith, the world becomes “melancholy” and empty.

The speaker then says that the world seems “So various, so beautiful, so new” (32). However, it’s not. Instead, the world “Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light, / Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain” (33-34). Although on the surface, the world seems beautiful, when you take a closer look at it, you realize how terrible the world truly is. This idea is continued as the poem ends with the speaker saying people are “Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, / Where ignorant armies clash by night” (36-37). The “ignorant armies” of people fight each other for reasons they do not truly understand, and because they fight at night, this means they are in the dark and not truly seeing each other or trying to understand each other. This could be attributed to the absence of faith in the world that the speaker discussed earlier in the poem.

Because of the “Sea of Faith” reference, it definitely seems like the speaker attributes the negative aspects of the world to an absence of faith. The sea is constantly present throughout the poem, spanning across time, as a higher power would be. Because the speaker is paying attention to the sea, he is able to see the world as it truly is, so it seems like he’s saying if people would have faith in God or a higher power, then they would understand the world and the true meaning of life.

Source: Poem, Your Choice