Video Gaming (EL 250)

5 January 2006

Ex 2a: Beyond the Review (Draft) 10pts

You will post the final draft on your weblog, but post the first draft to J-Web. Since the "new games journalism" we've been talking about does include a personal element, and because the students whom I know may not know each other very well (or at all), I'd like each of you to post on your own blog a very brief statement about how your personal experiences with games might affect the way you write. You are welcome to copy and paste from earlier J-Web exercises, and you are welcome to go into depth if you like, but three or four sentences would be enough.

For Exercise 2, you may choose to expand the review you wrote for Ex 1, or you may focus on a different game/topic. (Note: Ex 5 will ask you to choose a game that you want to study for your final paper. Please don't choose the same game for Ex 2 and Ex 5.)

Instead of writing another ordinary review, write a more reflective, thoughtful, intense essay. Trim the discussion of the controls, graphics, and technical specifications. While you should still specify the exact title of the game, what year it came out, and what system it's for, you should focus more on the passions and pleasures and significance of playing this game. 500 words.

From State of Play, suggestions for articles that game magazine readers might want to read: "an intimate account of a game that the writer knows well, and around which a community has grown with it's own emergent rules and traditions…it's in the magazine's interest to explore and get involved with gaming communities and to revel in gaming experiences that only become accessible after months of play. After all, there is still so much to say about Manhunt, about Project Zero 2, about Animal Crossing. There's a wealth of material out there. It could just be a lazy list feature (say, 'the best endings in Silent Hill 2 and what they mean'). People love lazy list features. It could be a decent one-on-one interview with a game's creators, or a chat with its biggest fans."

Also, "Subjective journalism does NOT mean glorifying the writer. Notice how, by the end of 'Bow, Nigger' we know everything about the player's experiences, the thoughts, feelings and theories that emerge during the short light saber battle, but we know nothing about the author him/herself. It's subjective, but it isn't self-publicising. It isn't autobiography."

While I agree that gaming culture at large doesn't need gaming-themed autobiography, I'd consider some autobiography, as long as the focus is on the game. For a good example, See M Heller, "Adventure."

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J-Web: A Theory of Fun 2

Administered through J-Web.

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We'll hold off discussion of Koster until more people have gotten hold of their books. If you've got it, keep reading, reacting, and responding. Leslie's blog is a great example of using a blog to help sort and organize your responses to a stimulating text.

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Portfolio 1 (Draft) 20pts

A compilation of the work you've contributed to the online discussion so far. You should have contributed at least *something* and interacted meaningfully with your peers for every text we have discussed in the course, and that you did at least some of this interaction *before* the daily class discussion period. Your portfolio is the vehicle through which you get credit for your best online contributions.

Please *do not* simply list all of your online contributions. Your task is to select your *best* online contributions, and to sort those contributions into the categories I provide. If you've blogged for me before, this will be nothing new. If you've never blogged for credit before don't worry. I'm deliberately not posting all the details now, because I've learned in the past that giving the details too soon causes everyone unnecessary stress. Once you get a little time to practice blogging, it will all start making a lot more sense.)

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Simulation in Movies

On the course blog, post your reaction to Matrix, The Truman Show, and/or Capricorn One (if you have already posted reactions to four movies, then participation in this group is optional, but of course I would welcome additional contributions).

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Video Games as Art? Roger Ebert says ''No''

We have spent some time discussing movies that raise important issues about gaming culture. Now that we're about to leave the cinematic frame of reference behind and focus on the academic study of video games, this exchange with film critic Roger Ebert makes a great transition. What's your take on the subject? :: :: Answer Man (xhtml)

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Today's Update

Kayla, Leslie, (whose explanations about how, specifically, her contribution mattered) are particularly worth noting) and Evan have a draft of their blogging portfolio up already. Good work!

I'll shortly post the J-Web study questions for Koster 3 and the 3 short readings. Meanwhile, the topic I'd like to introduce today is this short passage in which Roger Ebert explains why he thinks games cannot be art.

In other EL250 blogging, Kayla reflected on how boys have affected her involvement with video games. Her brothers got her interested in games, but other boys later attracted her attention away from them! Did you tween knowledge of Mortal Kombat come in handy in that regard, Kayla? ;)

Puff writes, "Gaming is more than entertainment, it is memories and life lessons." Some of you may have noticed in your discussion question work that when you frame games as "entertainment" or "escapism," I'm not content to let it settle there. We entertain ourselves in so many different ways, and reading, eating, running, sleeping, praying and suicide can all be classified as "escapism". Good job, Puff, looking behind the veneer of a very convenient word.

Evan makes an excellent observation about popular culture: "The fallacy is that we assume that things we consider frivilous are not important."

I liked reading Gina's response to the Scott Adams interview,

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