January 2010 Archives


What kind of person am I becoming as a result of all this stuff?

--Howard Rheignold's "Look Who's Talking" in Writing Material

I've found myself asking this question a lot more frequently over the past few years. I can honestly say that my iPhone changed my life. I can't imagine life without it--forget other cell phones all together. The iPhone gives me a different sense of being "connected" with the outside world. 
Like Maddie, I often wonder what it would be like to go a day without using my cell phone. Aside from Christmas cards, I never get any full-fledged letters in the mail from my friends or family. In fact, if it werent' for my cell phone, I wouldn't be in contact with very many people at all.
I still haven't decided whether all this new technology is for the greater good or not. Sure Facebook is a great way to stay connected with friends from high school and college, but so is picking up the phone and calling people. There are plenty of people on Facebook who I'm "friends" with, but never actually hung out with outside of classes.
What about all those E-Harmony and other dating website commercials we see online? Do you really mean to tell me that you can't meet anyone you might be compatible with without using an online dating service? Don't you people go out? Shopping? Dinner? Nothing?
As much as I love my iPhone, it's harming in more ways than I'd like to admit. When I'm in a public setting, if I'm uncomfortable or don't know a lot of people, I'll often turn to my phone to search the web, play games or text some of my friends. It's like a little virtual security blanket for me. I'd rather talk to my friends on that little phone than meet new people.
And what about texting? My parents always make comments about the fact that I send close to 5000 text messages every month. "How hard is it to pick up a phone and call someone?" My dad always asks.
My answer: It's not hard at all...its just not as convenient. What if the person I call is at work or in class and can't pick up the phone? Sure they shouldn't be answering my texts if they're at work or in class either but at least I can get ahold of them someway.

I've been saying for ages that technology has spoiled my generation. When the article mentioned that the internet will probably never be accepted in the Amish community because of fear that it would be used for reasons outside of work, I had to laugh a little. Sure my laptop's primary purpose is for me to do homework and write papers for school, but do I use it for fun too? Absolutely, and probably more frequently than I do to write papers or do my homework. Technology's definitely giving us a lot of opportunities that past generations will never experience, but I'm still not convinced that there are no negative side effects.

**UPDATE** Ironic as it may be, I thought I'd share with my readers that yesterday while I was eating lunch in Chic-fil-a, two full-fledged Amish people walked in and purchased food. I immediately thought about the article we read for class and started mentally debating whether or not they were of the Old or New Order. And, I found myself telling my boyfriend all about how the Amish are slowly modernizing in some ways, including the usage of cellphones and the like. I was completely astonished.

Wanna remember something? Write it down.

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"...for this discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learner's souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves."

--Plato in MW, pg 362

In Plato's Phaedrus, he begins with a long description concerning the creation of the alphabet through Socrates' explanation. It's really hard to believe that anyone would honestly think that the alphabet would do more harm than good. To say that it will harm someone's ability to use their memory seems like an extravagant stretch in my opinion. Personally, when I need to memorize something, I write it down...over and over...and over again. It helps to visualize what I'm trying to memorize. Even though the alphabet is just a bunch of characters, it gives a physicality to oral speech. How can anyone say that writing things down doesn't help with memorization? Look at college students. How are we supposed to remember everything we learn in class if we don't take detailed notes? Sure there are those few people in the world who are lucky enough to have a photographic memory, but what about the rest of us? We need something to help us retain all that information. Instead of saying that writing ruins our memories, we should argue that it actually improves it because it gives us a little peace at mind knowing that we have it written down somewhere so if we do happen to forget, we have somewhere to look back to remember.

Two Translations--Two opportunities

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Including two translations from the Illiad was a smart move. It shows how different, and yet the same, a passage can be translated. Even though the Lattimore translation was a lengthier and more complex reading, it's hard to say whether or not it's the more accurate of the two translations. You could easily argue that the Fagles translation is more accurate because it holds closer to Greek poetic rhythm. Plus, it was easier to read (because of the rhythm?). These examples of translations remind me of reading Beowulf in high school. Apparently there's a really difficult version to read and then there's the modernized version that my class had to read. While the text was still difficult to read at times, the less-wordy translation was easier to understand, just as the Fagles translation was easier to understand (at least for me). 
It's interesting though, if you take each translation and place the lines side by side, because they really do say the same thing. The introduction to this section said that the Fagles translation was less "literal," but I'm not so sure I really agree with that. It may not follow the original sequence exactly the same, but the same meaning still reaches the audience who is reading the passage.

It's all about control

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In each writing technology and in each text, the question is: how and to what extend does the writer control the reader's experience of reading?

Bolter in WM, pg 77

I really never thought of the how much control the writer actually has over the reader. I've always thought that the reader gets as much out of the text as he puts into it, but this makes sense. The amount of detail in a text dictates how much a reader can experience while reading. For example, an essay is going to have a lot less sensory details than a short story might.

But what about oral writings? Are they more experiencing because you have to pay attention more actively and rely on your imagination. Some printed or manuscript texts might have pictures to go along with the written texts.

We cannot say how Homer's original audience exercised that control: they may have shouted advice, or they may simply have shown greater or less interest as the performer proceeded.

I guess this is just another way to look at viewing a play versus reading a play. The author has a different amount of control of the audience in each situation. It might be easier for the audience to understand what's going on in a play if they see it with their own eyes, but if the audience takes the time to read the text, they might also learn a lot about stuff that was overlooked during the physical production.

Video Game Violence Presentation...again

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This is a smaller version of the same video...you can probably just play the audio while watching the bigger youtube video if you guys are still interested :-)


EL 250 Portfolio 3

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Ah the end at last...This last group of entries deals mostly with the Peer-led discussions with a few entries that were class topics. I linked to several of my peers blogs in this portfolio to emphasize my contribution to the blogging community this time around. It was nice working with all of you! Have a nice rest of your semesters!

  • Scratch that Itch was my reaction to the MIT program Scratch which teaches kids how to do basic programming for video games. I question whether it would've been easier to learn IF programming if I'd had experience with Scratch.
  • Children's Online Gaming--Anything but Childish was my response to Susan's discussion questions. I used NeoPets as my main example concertning online gaming with children.
  • Gaming Reflects Who We Are was my reaction to Keith's discussion questions about what type of gamer I am. I expanded by mentioning that I am a different gamer depending on what kind of game I'm playing.
  • A Future for Indie Games? was my response to Cody's discussion about Indie Games. I don't have a lot of experience with them, so I really didn't have a lot to say this time.
  • Modding...Sims Style was my reaction to the class topic of Modding, Machinima and Motion Capture. I chose to discuss the Sims because it was my first real interaction with Modding. I share my story about combing the web for all kinds of user-made objects and clothings, etc. I also mention that Maxis utilized user-created content in the The Sims 2 & 3 by including object exchange on the Sims2.com.
  • FarmVille vs. Harvest Moon was my take on social networking games like FarmVille. I mention that it took me a while to "jump on the band wagon," but that it's another way to pass the time. I then spend a little bit of time comparing FarmVille to Harvest Moon.
  • Violent Video Games Presentation is my final project for EL 250. I discuss the importance of following and understanding the ESRB ratings, because violent video games do harm our kids and heighten aggression. Unfortunately, YouTube disabled my sound because I used music that's copy written. Sorry Guys.







Violent Video Games Presentation

For those of you who read my rough draft, I tweaked my research topic a little to focus more on whether or not violent video games really do affect kids and decided to argue that we need to enforce the ESRB ratings in order to keep our kids safe from unnecessary violence. I created a video showcasing a lot of the research I uncovered during my revision process. Hope you guys enjoy it!!

FarmVille vs. Harvest Moon

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Ahh Farmville...I wish I could say that I resisted jumping on the band wagon with this one, but that's simply not the case. Although it did take me a while to finally give in, once I did, I was hooked. It happened at the worst possible time too, right before finals. So from then on, I was playing Farmville every day, visiting my little farm several times a day to harvest my crops. And then winter break hit. By new years, I kinda lost interest--I have more important things to do than check on my plants every day.
I think one of the whole reasons I'm turned off by FarmVille is because it's a social-network game. I hate that we're encouraged to send gifts to our neighbors. I rarely bother. And it really annoys me when my request box gets filled with FarmVille requests.
It really is a pointless game--it's got the same basic functions as the Harvest Moon series, only Harvest Moon is SO much better.
In HM, you can actually watch your plants grow, and you have to water them and fertilize them yourself. You can breed your animals as well. And, the story-line aspect of the game is great too. It's just a more complex version of FarmVille. The graphics are better too.
All in all, FarmVille's just one great waste of time. It gives kids a reason to procrastinate from doing their home work. I'm guilty of that, aren't you?

Modding...Sims Style

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As soon as I read the intro to Dr. Jerz's Modding, Machinima, and Motion Capture, I immediately thought of The Sims, but not for the reasons Dr. Jerz included in his introduction. The Sims really was my introduction into Modding. Users have been creating custom content ever since the release of the original game. The Sims Resource (TSR) was just one of dozens of sites I used to visit back in the old days of The Sims 1. Users created custom sim heads, clothing, furniture, carpet, wallpaper--you name it, and there was a mod. 

I used to spend hours upon hours pouring over user-created content, downloading from various websites. This was how I discovered what a Trojan Horse virus was...one of the objects I downloaded completely crashed our computer (or something like that--I don't really remember), but after that I was pretty much banned from downloading stuff off of the internet for the Sims. Looking back, it definitely taught me a lot about Modding before I even knew what Modding was. In a way, it was an educational tool, because I needed to learn how to use zip drives and also use a special program to download the objects and clothing into my game.

One particular mod allowed players to turn their children sims into "teen" sims, which were really just children sims with stretched out arms and legs. They looked really freaky, but could do everything an adult sim could, which included "whoohoo." 

Unfortunately, the mod also made the game unstable (for obvious reasons). However, the original modding of the first Sims games really opened doors for future Sims games. The Sims 2 and 3 both offer exclusive exchanges for user-created content, but sites like TSR still exist and thrive. 

A future for Indie Games?

Off hand, I can't think of any indie games that I've played. This isn't to say that I haven't played one--maybe I just didn't know it was an indie game while I was playing it. 
Because I've never played one, I decided to try out Tuboflex, one of the games mentioned in our assigned text. The game wasn't very entertaining--it was more annoying than anything else, but I still admire the indie developers for creating such a game. To answer some of Cody's other questions, the only game I've ever created was an Interactive Fiction game for Dr. Jerz's EL 236 Writing for the Internet course. My IF game was based on T.H. White's The Once and Future King, a story about King Arthur.

I'm not sure if the gaming industry is better of now that high-end technology is limited to specific people and companies. On the one hand, it's a good thing because creating a game takes a lot of time with a lot of highly skilled people working together. I'm not saying that Independent developing companies don't have the same capabilities, but you need a lot of money to produce a good, complex game. It's a shame that larger companies get such a huge advantage, but I guess that's how everything is these days.

Gaming Reflects Who You Are

Most of the multiplayer games I play are war games. I don't respond the same way in these games as I might in the real world. I typically play games like Gears of War and Halo in co-op mode instead of multiplayer, because I like the story-line game play. When I play these games, I'm a lot more courageous than I think I would be in real life. I take chances, running into an area that's surrounded by AI, because I know that I've got a partner to cover me, and because I know that if I die, I'll just respawn at the last checkpoint. If I were faced with these same situations in real life, I'm pretty sure I'd try to be a lot more stealthy. 
If I expand this idea to include moral based single-player games, such as Fable or KOTOR, I typically play the good side of the game. In this situation, my actions do reflect who I am as a person. I could never harm someone in real life, so when I have the option to be nice, I always go that direction.
I guess what I just said ties in with Keith's question about which person we are when you look at that diagram. I'm definitely the person who plays herself in the game.

Children's Online Gaming--Anything but Childish

In response to reading Grimes' article, "Terms of Service and Terms of Playing Children's Online Gaming, I feel rather appalled, because of the extent at which marketing companies are taking advantage of children.

I honestly couldn't tell you the last time I read and understood a TOS agreement. I'll admit that I'm actually guilty of just pressing "I agree" without reading any of the information. I do remember, however, when I was younger and wanted to play Neopets. In order for me to access the entire site, I had to print out a TOS form for my mom to read, sign, and then either mail or fax to Neopets. That's probably the only time I've ever actually spent more than a few seconds on a TOS page.

I really don't see how a kid would understand the TOS of any site, let alone one from myuville, as Susan suggests. Even if a kid did understand everything they were potentially agreeing to, I doubt any child would have the attention span to read the whole document. Why would they want to waste time reading this boring bunch of text when they could be playing.

I don't really know how I feel about the ownership issue. Part of me feels like I should have a right to claim my own property, but at the same time I understand that these companies need to make their money some way. As for kids, it's just wrong to take advantage of them to this extent. I don't see a problem with learning from what they enjoy playing, but owning all of their online content seems like overkill to me.

I do think that a TOS contract would hold up in court. All the company needs to say is, "well you agreed to it, didn't you?" Whose fault is it if you didn't read all of the terms of agreement before clicking that little button? Sure it might seem unfair, but this isn't the first time a company found a way to exploit its potential consumers.

Although it might seem wrong for marketers to target children, they're really smart in doing so. It becomes a problem, however, when the kids do not need to hit "accept" or "agree" when they visit a website, because they and their parents have no clue that their innocent game play is being used by large companies. 

After reading this article, I'm not sure I'll ever look at the online gaming community the same again.

Scratch that Itch...

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After watching Dr. Jerz's tutorial videos for Scratch, I can't help but think back yet again to our days of Interactive Fiction coding in EL 236. Would coding for an IF game be simpler if someone already learned basic coding from Scratch, or would it make it more difficult? 

On the one side, it would be easier, mostly because the noob programmer would better understand the "if...then..." programming concept. Throughout Dr. Jerz's video, he implicates the importance of this simple statement. It seems like the majority of his coding has "if...then..." as a basis. 

On the other hand, one of the big advantages kids have to using this program is the fact that the "puzzle pieces" of code don't always fit together. When you're programming a game on your own, you don't have that luxury, as you have to write every word out. Missing a "/" or even sometimes just a "." can completely throw off whatever you're trying to do. Although kids will learn the basics, they'll definitely be confused when they move on to bigger and greater things. 

Regardless of the pros and cons I listed above, this is a fantastic learning tool. It's almost a game in and of itself. It provides an excellent alternative for those of us out there who didn't dive into C++ in high school or ever for that matter. If I'd had the opportunity to sample a programming software like this when I was younger, who knows what I'd be up to now. And I thought IF programming was exciting...

Educational Entertainment

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"People who grew up with games are now entering positions of power, and they're saying, why shouldn't we embrace games?"

--Jenkins, in The Serious Business of Serious Games by David M. Ewalt

I love this quote. He's so right! I don't think that some people realize that video games are here to stay and they're just going to continue to grow even more popular as time progresses. Why not find a way to use them as more than just a means for entertainment? It's not like this is an innovative idea...Over the past few days, I've been raking my brain, trying to remember what games I played when I was younger that were educational--even if I didn't realize that they were at the time. One of the major games that comes to mind for me is The Magic School Bus games. When I was little, I loved these games. I'm sure that in the back of my mind I knew that they were educational, but I just had so much fun that I don't think I even realized I was learning. These games were low-graphics and cartoon animated, and I had a blast. Think of the possibilites we have now. If they rereleased The Magic School Bus games with 3D souped up graphics, I'm not ashamed to say I'd at least give them a try, but maybe that's just the kid in me.

Taylor Discussion Intro

Further, moost academic game studies have examined only the cultures present in multiplayer games, rather than including the large gaming communities that are formed around single-player games as these cultures begin and develop in online discussion bulletin boards forums, magazines, and other venues.

--Taylor in A Player's Realm, pg 223

Why do you think it is that academics choose to ignore single-player games? Is it because of the different types of interaction expected out of game play?

Gaming cultures often divide themselves based not only on game titles or game narrative types, but also based on gamng platforms.

--Taylor, pg. 224

Why do you think this is so? I know plenty of people who scoff at one game console while glorifying another. Personally, I enjoy all of my consoles and invite their differences. What about you? What about console loyalty?

Why do you think some games, such as Resident Evil: Code Veronica have yet to be ported to the computer? How is this different from Resident Evil 4, which has been rereleased a few times now, first to include extra game play on the Playstation 2 (I think) and then again when game designers came out with Resident Evil 4 Wii Edition?

About a year ago, About.com released an article covering PC vs. Console. The article features various advantages and disadvantages to console and PC use. What's your take? Which advantages definitely outweigh the disadvantages?

EL 250 Portfolio 2

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So here we are, at the end of week 2 and we've learned and applied so much! Although we're starting to move into the more research-oriented portion of the class, I'm still happy to say that the coursework is very engaging and I'm actually enjoying what we're studying. Below is a showcase of all the work (worthy of mentioning) that I accomplished in the second week of our course. Pay special attention to my discussion, interaction and xenoblogging sections, because they give examples of my most successful blogging experiences this week.

  • Peter's 9:05 gameplay is a short reaction to Peter's first experience with Interactive Fiction. In this blog, I mention that Peter's minor experience with Nancy Drew games probably prepared him for Interactive Fiction.
  • Reaction to Peter's Adventure Gameplay offered enthusiasm concerning Dr. Jerz's D map of the world within Adventure. I also mentioned that he had a huge advantage to playing this difficult game because Dr. Jerz was sitting with him to help him out whenever he needed it.
  • Farewell Koster, Who's Next? was a final entry for our Theory of Fun text. In this entry, I expressed amazement over Koster's Tetris analogy, referred back to the Shanahan review, argued that video games are art and entertainment together and ended my entry arguing yet again that we shouldn't blame violent video games for our youth's voilence.
  • He She It was my response to an article in The Player's Realm. I expressed enthusiasm over Keller mentioning female gamers inadvertantly, but then expressed dismay over the fact that 17/20 players polled were male. I concluded this blog with a comment that what attracts me to most games is their ability to put me into their stories. I love getting lost in a good book, movie, video game, etc.
  • Long Live Paper!! was my response to Montfort's Continuous Paper, in which I connected the text back to my own personal experience. While playing some video games, I used to take notes to help myself progress through a story.
  • Coding for Dummies was a response to Dr. Jerz's article about Colossal Cave. I expressed a lot of interest in the coding that went into this game, because it was a lot more technical than what I experienced with Inform 7.
  • Pac-Man goes Complicated? was my reaction to reading the Pac-Man Dossier. Aside from being amazed that Pac-Man was actually such a complex game, I found the section concerning the ghost and Pac-Man passing through each other to be interesting, mostly because it's amazing that gamers not only found the glitch, but also figured out why it occurs in the game.
  • Lara Croft, the icon for both genders included a video from G4's Xplay that illustrated just how sexist some male gamers could be by exploiting Lara Croft in her early games. This blog was a response to another blog by one of Dr. Jerz's former students, Leslie Rodriguez. I explained that Lara Croft was initially created as a sex object for male gamers, but still appeals to female gamers because of her hard-core nature.
  • Loss for words--Reaction to September 12 gave my initial reactions to an online game where the player's objective is to shoot all of the terrorists and avoid killing innocent civilians. I had several links in this entry, including one to Keith's blog, as well as to a few sites that gave statistics on how many casualties have resulted in the Iraqi war.
  • Heartbroken--Reaction to Darfur is Dying was an opportunity for me to address the importance of awareness concerning this tough subject. I mentioned that the game was probably more effective than reading a book (They Poured Fire on Us from the Sky) could ever be, because interaction holds interest much easier than reading a book.
  • Gaming for Columbine showed my change of feelings over Super Columbine Massacre RPG. Initially, I was horrified that this game was even created. I then mentioned Bowling for Columbine, and discussd some of the safety issues that were apparent at my high school. I concluded the entry with a comment concerning the creator's statement. I was very impressed with his reasoning behind creating such an awful game.
  • Thank you Laurel! was my response to the first half of Utopian Entrepenuer. I agreed with Laurel in that saying "no" isn't the right answer with our youth, and then disagreed with her saying that if something is popular, it's probably bad for you. I closed my blog with a friendly comment concerning Mario Brothers, Tetris, and Myst being games women typically played, because my mom played all three of those games while I was growing up, and Tetris continues to be a favorite of hers.
  • Pokémon & Gender :-/ was my Classic Choice Case Study on guess what? Pokémon and Gender. I talked briefly about the fact that despite many young female gamers, the Pokémon franchise did not release a game that allowed the player to be female until 6 American game releases later. I also linked to an article that suggested that some of the pokémon in the game were stereotypical female characters.
  • Project Proposal gavemy primary idea for my research project--video game violence and its effects on people. I listed a few links to EbscoHost articles that I found to be useful and mentioned which games I'd like to focus my study on.
  • War & Peace gave my response to another article in A Player's Realm, about video games being used for propaganda. I expressed my discomfort that the government thinks it's okay to use a video game as propaganda.
  • Review of a Review gave my opinion on what Dr. Jerz had to say about Fatworld. I mentioned that I briefly tried playing the game, but the majority of my entry focused on Dr. Jerz's method for writing the article. I compared his article to one that we read earlier in the course and explained why I thought Dr. Jerz's piece was more effective.
  • IF Experience was part 1 of 2 blogs in which I experimented with a few different IF games. I've done this exercise before, as I mentioned in my blog, so I tried two games I've never played before, and then went back to Fine Tuned.
  • Finely-Tuned Extended Play was part 2 of 2. I chose to write about Dr. Jerz's IF game and raved about why this game is so much game, agreeing for the most part with the review of the game that I found online.
  • Thanks for the Good Advice! finished off my analysis of Laurel's Utopian Entrepeneur. In this entry, I commented on the value of personal storytelling, the value of being well informed and the value of business innovation working together with technological invention.
  • Personal Blogs--Public Diaries was my response to a blog posted by a famous blogger. I expressed my own issues with blogging and explained why I agreed with Mortensen. I also expressed aprehension towards personal blogs because I think people who write personal blogs are a little bit self-centered.
  • What if God was one of Us? was my Case Study on Black & White. I linked to a previous blog that showed a video of the intro to the game and also provided a link to a review of the game, arguing that it is worth studying simply because it forces it's players to weigh the pros and cons of every action they make.
  • "Just for Kicks and Giggles" was an entry that I wrote just for fun. I talked about introducing one of my friends from high school to Dr. Jerz's Fine Tuned and my friend's initial reactions. 
  • Games & Learning--Endless Possibilities. was a chance for me to mention how important I think it is to utilize games for learning, because kids learn by doing.
  • Video Games Aren't Training Our Kids To Kill was another blog entry dedicated to video game violence. Starting to see a trend? I quoted a few passages from the selected reading, and then explained why there are more factors than simply video game violence to consider.
  • Taylor Discussion Intro is the beginning of my guided discussion through the reading in A Player's Realm that deals with the battle between PC and Console Gaming. I pose several thought-provoking discussion questions and link to an article online that gives the advantages and disadvantages to each type of gaming.
  • Educational Entertainment was my response to an article about how modern video games can be used in today's society. I reflect back to my childhood educational games like the Magic School Bus and question what the future for educational games may hold.



  • Peter's 9:05 gameplay--After Jeremy's initial comment, Dr. Jerz and I held a brief conversation concerning Nancy Drew games. I mentioned that I hope his kids continue to enjoy them as much as I did (and still do).
  • Farewell Koster, Who's Next?--Dr. Jerz and I continued to discuss who we should blame youth violence on and provided suggestions for why kids turn out "bad."
  • He She It--Keith, Beth Ann and I discussed the fact that female gamers are finally being acknowledged, especially in Keller's article.
  • Lara Croft, the icon for both genders--I shared a brief discussion with Susan and Dr. Jerz about Lara Croft's role in Tomb Raider. 
  • Heartbroken--Reaction to Darfur is Dying--This entry spawned 3 comments from 3 different people concerning Darfur is Dying. Susan and Matt commented on the overload of information within the village (I later agreed with them), and Dr. Jerz responded to my book/video game comparison.
  • Video Games Aren't Training Our Kids To Kill--Beth Ann and I agreed in our discussion that video games are blamed too much and that it is important to consider the environment in which a child grows up in.


  • Coding for Dummies--The Comment Gracious: I linked two both Susan and Beth Anne's entries. Both commented that they were amazed that Adventure was based on a real cave--I already knew this, so I used this as a contrast for the base of my entry.
  • Loss for words--Reaction to September 12--The Comment Gracious: I linked to Keith's entry on September 12, because he pointed out something that I overlooked in the game involving the civilians and terrorists being one in the same within the game.
  • Keith's Columbine tragedy--The Comment Grande: I link to the Artist's statement concerning the RPG game we were looking at, telling my peers that I'm not trying to change their opinions of the game, but I wanted to give them another view.
  • Shellie's Montfort--The Comment Primo: My initial comment about how childhoods have changed since the creation of video games was responded to by Susan on Shellie's entry about how technology has progressed.
  • Keith's WiiFit--The Comment Informative: I mention that Sony's EyeToy webcam application had some exercises as well. Dr. Jerz follows up with an example of a similar application on display at a museum.


Video Games Aren't Training Our Kids To Kill

Grossman describes contemporary first-person shooters as "murder simulators," suggesting that since the military uses such games to train troops to kill, they serve the same pedagogical functions in everyday life.

I remember the first time I heard Grossman's opinions in my Intro. to Psych class back in high school My teacher was adamant that video games are training kids to kill. I disagreed with Grossman then, and I still do.

What Card got right--and Grossman gets wrong--is the importance of how games fit within the overall educational environment; how and why you play a game, who you are and who you hope to become, and how playing the game allows you to participate in social practices.

This is exactly what I tried to tell my teacher way back when. Playing violent video games does not make you a violent person. If you're playing games for entertainment, you'll be entertained. If you're playing them to be trained in the military, then that's what's going to happen. 

There are real consequences if you don't master the material or if you fail to apply it correctly to real-world situations. None of these factors apply when games are played at the arcade or in our living rooms.

Exactly. If you die in a video game from being shot, it's okay, because you've probably got infinite lives. You'll just respawn where ever your last checkpoint was. Sure, it might be a little bit of a hassle if your last checkpoint was towards the beginning of a game and you've just spent the past hour trying to reach the next checkpoint, but you'll live. The same definitely doesn't apply in real combat. If you get shot, you could die, and even if you don't you could be physically impaired for the rest of your life.

I wish critics would understand that video games are no so black and white.

Games & Learning--Endless Possibilities.

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What can we learn from games about creating better learning systems for kids?

--James Gee on Games and Learning

It's so refreshing to see that people like James Gee are really pursuing the idea that games have so much to offer for the future of our youth. It's a proven fact that people learn by doing, so if you're playing a video game, you're learning as you go. I'm not saying that text book learning should be completely thrown out the window, but from past experience, when kids are able to interact, they seem to do better than if they are just reading. Maybe that's why elementary teachers always hold review games before a big test. The idea of it being a game shadows the fact that the kids are applying what they've been learning.

"Just for Kicks and Giggles"

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This morning, while catching up on some of my commenting, I had Facebook open in another window while I worked diligently. One of my friends, who's an avid gamer, messaged me complaining that he was bored in class. I told him that I was working on homework for an online class on video games. Intrigued, he asked me what we were studying, so I told him about IF games. "What?" he said. So I explained, and suggested that he try Dr. Jerz's Fine Tuned. I told him it'd keep in busy in class--not that I condone playing games when you should be learning (unless it's this class) XD

His first response to me was, "It won't let me kill Aloysius."

I got a real kick out of that, because I'm pretty sure he's never played any IF games before. It just goes to show that even people who've never played these games and didn't receive the background that we did can easily learn the basics. Unfortunately, his class ended a few minutes ago, so he didn't get very far in the game...I just thought I'd share this little anecdote with the class to show that I'm engaging in the text by talking about class to others :-)

What if God was one of Us?

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Similar to The Sims, in that the player acts as "God," Lionhead Studios' Black and White takes players into the realm of Eden, where they are faced with endless opportunity. In a previous blog, I showed the intro to the game in a youtube video. Unlike The Sims, the player does not have control over the people in the game. The villagers are at complete mercy of the player-God. You can choose to be good or evil, and your creature will most likely follow in your footsteps. 

So why study this game? It causes players to weigh the pros and cons of every action. If you are a benevolent God, it will most likely take you longer to convert other villages to believe in you. If you are an evil God, you will convert villages much quicker with the use of "evil" miracles, such as throwing fireballs or using lightening to reek havoc on villages. But, such actions have consequences. If you kill too many villagers, the village will become a ghost-town and no god will rule over it.

The game teaches its players the importance of patience. Aside from slowly converting villagers, you must also use your villager's worship to gain power to perform miracles. The more villagers worshipping, the more miracles you'll be able to perform, but with a price. Worshipping is a constant activity, so villagers sometimes die as a result. Plus, the more villagers worshipping, the less you'll have to do other activities in the town, such as farming, breeding, fishing, logging, etc. You have the option to use sacrifices to boost your miracle power, but willl you use people? animals? plantlife? 

The game teaches the importance of economizing. 

Maybe I just really enjoy this game, but I feel there is merit to discuss it only because it touches on so many levels. You have to learn to manage the entire world, what would you do if you were God?

Personal Blogs--Public Diaries

While I can see the value of them, I don't want the hazzle of maintaining and editing a blog where I need to check to see what others have written into it. I treasure my peaceful little slog on the net.


After reading both Dr. Jerz's blog concerning Mortensen and Mortensen's entry No Personal Touch, I feel slightly relieved. Before SHU, I never had any desire to have a blog (some journalist, right?), but then Dr. Jerz created my own weblog. But, unlike some of the blogs my friends hold, this blog has a real purpose--an academic one. While we occasionally get comments from non-classmates, for the most part, these entries are exclusively for our classmates to discuss. I'm not sure I agree with Mortensen that all of our blogs lack a personal touch, but I can see where she's coming from. At the same time, I still feel like personal blogs are more like public diaries, but I suppose that if you were to choose a specfic topic to only blog about, then you might be able to avoid that tendency. I've been throwing around the idea for a while of creating a blog dedicated to only reviewing various media that I encounter, whether it be new books, movies, video games or something else. 

Thanks for the Good Advice!

The art of personal storytelling is still alive in some ethnic and regional cultures, and the practice of live storytelling as concert-style entertainment has gained popularity in recent years. 

--Laurel, pg. 61

It's a shame that personal story telling isn't what it used to be. Sometimes I feel like it's a lost art. I still find a lot of entertainment in listening to my elderly grandmothers tell me stories about their youth and experiences raising my parents. Even personal narratives and autobiographies aren't what they used to be. People don't talk to each other like they used to--they'd much rather bond while watching a television show. How long is it going to be before the art of personal storytelling completely dies out? Or is it being revamped in the form of Facebook and Twitter statuses? Surely those are forms of story-telling just like Laurel says "weblogs" are.

[W]hen people aren't well-informed, they're likely to wake up one morning to find their government--and their lives--don't belong to them any more.

--Laurel,pg. 68

When I read this sentence, I couldn't help but think about the 2008 election. So many of my friends were completely uninformed or didn't care enough to even vote. It completely throws me that there are people out there who don't care about the direction our country goes in. At the same time, I'm not sure the general public has a whole lot of control in where our country goes, but if you aren't well-informed, you don't have a right to even be angry with the government because you never really did anything to try to help make it a better system.

Business innovation is as important as technological invention.

--Laurel, pg. 93

She's got an excellent point here. Why bother with technological advances if we don't have the means to market them and inform the public of the latest and greatest? Without innovation, invention wouldn't even exist. The two really do go hand-in-hand.

Finely-Tuned Extended Play

I decided to play Fine Tuned as my extended game play again like I did a year and a half ago, because I'm determined to make it further than I did last year. With the help of Dr. Jerz's comment to wave at the girl on the side of the road, I made it all the way to the train station this time and greeted Miss Sweet. I really enjoy playing this game, shouldn't be surprising since I found a few reviews who praised it as well. In a review by Jacqueline A. Lott, she comments on how refreshing it is to play as a character rather than yourself in the game. She also mentions that there is a lot more freedom in this IF game than in most. Jerz produces multiple outcomes for various puzzles. That's one of the reasons I've always enjoyed his game, because each time I play it, it's possible that I'll figure out how to do something else that I over looked initially.
For example, I'm pretty sure Miss Sweet wants me to help her into the car at the train station, but I can't for the life of me figure it out. After waiting so many moves, she lowers her raised hand and enters the automobile on her own. I'm anxious to see what would've happened if I'd figured out the correct command. When I have more time, I'll probably try to get a little further in this game. Out of all the games I've played, this one, and the Spoon River Anthology game I played when I was a Freshman are among my favorites.
Like Lott, I agree that Finely-Tuned really has been tuned up a bit since it's released, and I'm happy to say that Dr. Jerz really has a nicely polished game to be proud of.

IF Experience

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I remember doing this exercise back in EL 236, so I decided to try some new games, as well as one of the games I've played before. 
I chose to play:

  • Fine Tuned--I remembered some of the beginning, but I was still having some issues with where to go next. Dr. Jerz did an excellent job giving his prospective players just enough hints to get them moving along. 
    • I think I might've found a glitch, though? ( could be wrong tho) When I typed "read flyers," the game responded "(the <illegal object number 3364>Aloysius) You discover nothing of interest in Aloysius"
  • Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy--I think this game was actually more difficult because of the graphic representation. The illustration was more distracting than anything else. It was a nice  change of pace, but I didn't last very long before I died. 19 moves :-(
  • Zork--Zork was fun...until I got lost, which was about five minutes in. I grew very frustrated...It definitely reminded me of Adventure and Adventureland. I always get lost in the forest in these games. Big surprise, I got lost again :-(

Review of a Review

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Wait a minute... I'm supposed to "enter" the race by pressing the space bar. Okay... gotta remember that.  (Is that what the problem was?)

As I began to read Dr. Jerz's review of Fatworld, I grew interested enough to download the game onto my macBook to see just how bad it really is. After trying to run the race twice (and failing twice just as Dr. Jerz did) the game crashed. Way to go Fatworld. Major let down. Furthermore, reading Dr. Jerz's detailed review really helped me with game play. He wasn't kidding when he said you have to hit "space" to "enter" a location. If I hadn't read that in his review, I don't think I would've even made it into the race area... 

I really liked that Dr. Jerz spent a lttle bit of time on so many aspects of the game, because it gives the reader a broader idea of what to expect from playing this game. Although he definitely covers as much information as Ajami's review, but I enjoyed Dr. Jerz's review more, I think, because of the tone of his paper. Even though he presented a vast amount of information, his sarcasm and tone really helped hold my interest. Maybe I just like negative reviews more than positive ones? It's important to be honest with your audience.

War & Peace

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Games are immersive, which means that they are capable of transporting users into compelling virtual environments. They are intensely engaging, provoking states of intense concentration that can last for hours on end. They foster intense identification between players and game characters, and they are interactive media that dynamically modify content in response to use actions.

--Delwiche in A Players' Realm, pg. 95

I've heard before that war games do encourage both young men and women to enlist in the army, because players get so lost in these games. Although I would never enlist in the army, I'll admit that I feel a different kind of rush in a FPS than I do in an adventure game. I definitely agree that these games can be used for propaganda--the more realistic these games become the more they'll resemble actual combat. It's different to play games that take place in WWII and other old wars than it is to play ones that refer to today's wars, because in games based on older wars, we're learning history too.

It kind of bothers me that the U.S. is using a video game to elicit propaganda to our society. We play plenty of war video games; how is this experience different from a game created specifically to encourage enlistment? Furthermore, I feel like the U.S. is taking advantage of a new fad--but I guess that's a given, isn't it?

Project Proposal

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As I've mentioned several times in other blog entires, I'm very interested in video game violence and its effects on gamers, primarily on children. I'd like to pursue this topic and argue that violent video games are not as influential as many scholars claim. I'd also like to try to fit in the argument that the video game companies should not take all of the responsibility over what our youth plays/watches. I'd like to use not only First-Person Shooters but also various Action/Adventure games to provide evidence.

Possible games to focus on:

  • Halo Saga
  • Call of Duty Series
  • GTA Series
  • (Adventure game to be determined w/ more research)
I've found a few good articles on EbscoHost...

There's still a lot to be covered concerning this topic, especially because video games are growing ever more popular and the graphics become more and more realistic with every passing game. 

Pokémon & Gender :-/

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When Pokémon first hit the stores, it became a huge phenomenon for children. Gamers, both male and female, would assume the role of a young boy, determined to "catch 'em all." This game should be considered a classic, because it reached so many children, including me, and the company continues to produce new games regularly. However, after releasing 5 games in the US, and who knows how many in Japan, Pokémon Crystal was released, allowing female gamers to finally be a female character. I still remember my excitement over that little blue-pigtailed avatar. 

On Pokémon Connect, the article Gender Effects: Is Pokémon Sexist deals with some of the other gender issues within the game. According to the article, some of the creatures were definitely stereotypical. Take Jigglypuff--clearly a female pokémon (at least until the game allowed *most* pokémon to be of both genders).

Thank you Laurel!

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Saying no again--this time to movies and games that provide the illusion of personal power through violence--is more likely to lead to classroom shootings and suicides than so-called violent media. The answer for our kids and our culture is not "no" as a default response. Socially responsible people must take up the challenge of creating games and movies and stories that both engage and nurture young people.

--Laurel, pg 9

I wonder if Laurel is sitting back, patting herself on the back for acknowledging this nine years ago. Although game designers and programmers should be held responsible for the content they provide for gamers, I also feel like that's what ratings are for. If a game is rated M for Mature, there's a reason for that, and it's up to parents to enforce those rules. There are just some games that should not be played by youngsters, boys or girls, like GTA...Why should video game companies take all the responsibility?

If it is popular, it is bad for you; if it is bad for you, it is probably popular.

--Laurel 11

I'm not sure how I feel about this statement. I guess the whole "junk food only tastes so good because it's bad for you" could apply to this statement, but at the same time, there are a lot of things that are popular that improve your life. Take books, for example. Sure they're not nearly as popular as video games, but they're popular nonetheless.

Given all these barriers, who knew if girls and women would play computer games or not? Were there intrinsic gender differences that caused females to be repelled by computer games? How should we understand the exceptions--games that attracted a higher than usual percentage of female players, like Mario Brothers, Tetris, and Myst?

--Laurel 23

It's funny Laurel should mention these three games specifically. From my childhood, I can remember my mom playing all three of these--along with a handful of others, but Mario and Tetris have remained two of her favorites of all time. It really fascinates me that more girls and women were not interested in games back then. Although I grew up playing "girl" games like the Interactive Barbie games, I also grew up playing games like Donkey Kong Country  and Super Mario. I guess I just fit into that exception. I'm really glad Laurel took such a risk creating Purple Moon and Rockette. Even though her company fell through, Laurel opened up so many doors for female gamers. Before reading this, I'd never heard of Purple Moon or its video games, which surprises me--I guess I was just too hung up on Barbie to notice other games. But more importantly, why did the company fall through? Just because it didn't make enough money for its investors? 

Gaming for Columbine

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When I first watched the video about Super Columbine Massacre RPG. How could anyone think a game like this would be entertainment? When I was in high school, I was obsessed with school security after I watched Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine. In 9th grade, I wrote a research paper on the effects of the Columbine Shootings had on modern institutions--turns out schools really weren't doing much to protect their students. At my high school, there were about 15 doors that lead to the outside world. In between classes, we could walk outside. If anyone can walk outside, doesn't that mean that anyone could walk in? This question was answered my senior year of high school when a student from *another* local school walked on campus with a gun. No one was injured, but it definitely woke up our Administration.

After reading the creator's statement, I had to give it some more thought. Although I'll probably never play this game, because it just rubs me the wrong way, I was pleased to see that the author didn't do it because he wanted to make a joke out of a serious event. He wanted to get the truth out after so many rumors were in circulation concerning what really happened. I'm still not completely sold that a video game was the best way to do this, simply because some kids might not get the message he's trying to convey, but it was brilliant nonetheless. I was also pleased to read that he has no intention of creating another video game based on any other school shootings, such as the Virginia Tech Shooting in 2007.

Heartbroken--Reaction to Darfur is Dying

As bad as I thought September 12 was, Darfur is Dying hit me in a special place in my heart. I was on the verge of tears the entire time I was playing this game because I kept thinking of all the Lost Boys of Sudan who experienced this genocide first hand.I liked this game a lot more than September 12 though, because this game is definitely trying to encourage awareness of the suffering that is still going on in our world.

Darfur is Dying forces gamers to open their eyes to the pain and suffering so many miles away. Back in 2008, my freshmen class had to read They Poured Fire on Us from the Sky, a book written by three surviving Lost Boys of Sudan. According to an article on BBC news, Darfur Activism Meets Video Gaming, the objective game creator Susana Ruiz had in mind was to put gamers in the shoes of the Darfurian refugees. She succeeded. As useful as I think the book was back in 2008, I definitely think an interactive game like this would've interested more of my peers. I loved the book, but I also see a lot of merit in playing this game, because it tells gamers a lot of the same information featured in the book.

Loss for words-Reaction to September 12

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I'm at a loss for words. After playing September 12 for less than five minutes, I had to close the browser. What really scares me is that there are people out there who probably find a lot of entertainment in a game like this. I'm not one of those people. For every terrorist I managed to kill, I had at least two more casualties. Most of the time, I missed the terrorists all together and kept landing my missiles on the civilians. This game makes me sick.

Unfortunately, the more I think about it, the more I realize that this game is giving off several messages. It could be a message that we shouldn't trust any Muslims, because they're all secretly terrorists, as Keith pointed out on his entry.

I'm taking a different approach. I see this game as a suggestion that war is not the answer. As silly as it might sound, I find myself thinking back to the scene in Eagle Eye where the Government decides to send missiles into a crowded town because they're 75 % sure that there's a high-security terrorist hiding there. Turns out he's not there, and a lot of innocent people die. According to Antiwar.com, American soldier casualties in Iraq alone are in the thousands. What's even scarier is the number of casualties in Iraq due to violence. The graphs here provide a more in-depth analysis of deaths in Iraq. It frightens me that so many people die with so little media coverage.

Lara Croft, the icon for both genders


This video from G4tv.com's Xplay says exactly what Rodriguez was saying in her blog, only Xplay illustrates it in a minute-thirty.

I remember the first time I played Tomb Raider. I was pretty young, probably 9 or 10 and I thought Lara Croft was the ultimate role model for girls with low self-esteem (or something like that). When I was around 15, I spent a lot of my free time watching the G4 network. This was where I saw the Icon episode pertaining solely to Lara Croft and her legacy. I was shocked to learn that early game designers created Lara Croft as a piece of ass-kicking eye candy. At this point in the video game realm, Croft was still sporting pyramid-shaped *assets.* She's come a long way since then, and I don't think the original designers ever thought she'd become such a smash hit for both men and women. I'll always love Lara, because she's one of the most hardcore characters out there and she's a chick. Yeah, chicks rock. 

EL 250

Pac-Man goes Complicated?

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Pac-Man and Blinky are at just the right position and speed relative to one another to cause them to swap tiles with each other simultaneously. In other words, Pac-Man's center point moves upwards into Blink's tile in the same 1/60th of a second that Blinky's center point moves downwards into Pac-Man's tile, resulting in them moving past each other without colliding.

First of all, don't hate me for saying this, but I've never been that much of a fan of Pac-Man. Maybe I played it when I was too young or something, but even now, every time I play the game, my heart starts pounding in my chest and I get majorly stressed as the little ghosts move ever closer to poor Pac-Man. My Pac-Man never stands a chance.

Now that that's out of the way, I hafta say I was pretty surprised when Jamey mentioned that there are patterns in Pac-Man. I had NO clue. Not even an inkling that the ghosts in Pac-Man moved in patterns.

Who knew Pac-Man was so complicated? I have a new-found admiration for the game, and I'm probably going to play it sometime in the next 24 hours once I get all caught up with homework. 

I just think it's fascinating that gamers even found this glitch and figured out exactly how it works. But, I guess that's what a true gamer is all about. When you have a passion for a specific game, there are evidently ways to keep yourself interested forever.

Coding for Dummies

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Unlike some of my peers, including Susan and Beth Anne, I already knew that Adventure was based on a cave in Kentucky--but I only knew this because Dr. Jerz told me when I was a freshman in EL 236. Still, like my peers, I am amazed at the amount of accuracy Crowther managed to achieve with technology not nearly as advanced as what we have today.

The numbering identifies the typed commands "ENTER", "DOOR" and "GATE" with a value of 3, marking them as synonyms.

What really interested me, however, was the section on the coding involved with the creation of this game. When I created my IF game over a year ago, we used Inform 7, which was a very easy tool to use, even for Noobs. I can't imagine what Crowther went through in creating his game. In Inform 7, if we wanted to create a synonym, all we had to type was "understand "Fido" as "Dog" or something like that (I'm a tad rusty on my Inform 7 coding...it's been a while...) I can't imagine trying to use all those numbers...is it still like that for video game designers?

Long Live Paper!!

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Players also used paper in their adventuring, just as they did in their Wumpus-hunting. Tracy Kidder noted that one Adventure player's desk held "roughly drawn maps. They consisted of circles, inside of which were scrawled names such as Dirty Passage, Hall of Mists, Hall of the Mountain King...Webs of lines connected the circles, and each line was labeled, some with points of the compas, some with the words up and down. Here and there on the maps were notatins--'water here,' 'oil here,' and 'damn that pirate!' "

There's a lot of merit in this section of his essay, because Montfort shows that the relationship between paper and the computer continued even after the computer could exist without paper. It makes me laugh--I remember when I was younger I used to write down a bunch of video game-related information on a piece of paper so I could do everything on my console without having to return to my desktop for more help from walk-throughs. The creation of the little maps mentioned in this quote are similar to that. It's just more convenient to create a map on paper. Although I gotta say, Dr. Jerz's map at the end of his Adventure video with Peter was very impressive.

He She It

While the player is free to type whatever she wants, her level of interaction is limited by the author's design...If the author does not want the player to be able to complete a certain action, he/she will create a response that blocks such an action.

--Keller in The Player's' Realm, pg. 278

Keller's use of "her" rather than "him/her" when referring to the player caught me off guard. Maybe I'm over analyzing, but I think it's worth some looking into. Did Keller only do this in order to differentiate between players and authors? If so, why use "her" instead of "him?" Does Keller think that women will be more likely to play IF games? Like I said, I may be over analyzing all of this way too much, but it's definitely worth some thought.

Out of the twenty participants in this survey, seventeen are male.

--pg. 278

I guess that answers one of my questions, or does it? Perhaps it's a simple as more men participated than women. That doesn't mean women don't enjoy a good IF game...right?

As the interviews with players will show, the offer to put "you inside our stories" seems to have been the lasting appeal of IF.

--pg. 281

That's exactly what appeals to me with IF games. They're like giant, graphically simplified RPG games. While I still think Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is phenomenal in part due to its graphics, I can't help but wonder how successful an IF version of the game would be. I bet it would get an impressive following. I know I'd at least try it out.

Farewell Koster, Who's Next?

Let's picture a mass murder game wherein there is a gas chamber shaped like a well. You the player are dropping innocent victims down into the gas chamber, and they come in all shapes and sizes. There are old ones and young ones, fat ones and tall ones. As they fall to the bottom, they grab onto each other and try to form human pyramids to get to the top of the well. Should they manage to get out, the game is over and you lose. But if you pack them in tightly enough, the ones on the bottom succumb to the gas and die. 

I do not want to play this game. Do you? Yet it is Tetris.

Koster, ch. 10 pg 168

Whoa. I really wish I hadn't looked at the illustration on the next page before I read this paragraph, because I wonder how much stronger my reaction would've been. When I looked at the illustration, I thought it looked vaguely like Tetris, but shrugged my assumptions aside. I don't think I'll ever be able to think of Tetris the same way again. Maybe I'll just stick with Dr. Mario from now on.

Games thus far have not really worked to extend our understanding of ourselves. Instead, games have primarily been an arena where human behavior--often in its crudest, most primitive form--is put on display.

--Koster, ch. 11 pg. 174

This made me think back to the Shanahan article, dealing with racism. I don't know how I feel about this though, because I don't think that gameplay always reflects who we are as people. We might choose to play a game like Fable or Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic as the evil character, but that doesn't mean we're evil in real life. It does, however, show that we have a lust to explore, something that we're unable to do in real life. I for one would never be able to treat people disrespectfully, and my actions in my video games reflect that, because every time I try to play the evil track, I feel bad and convert back to the benevolent track.

Most importantly games and their designers need to acknowledge that there is no distinction between art and entertainment. Viewed in context with human endeavor and what we know of how our inner core actually works, games are not to be denigrated. They are not trivial, childish things. 

--Koster, ch. 12 pg. 190

I hate when people call video games childish and useless. They are anything but...they ARE art and entertainment all wrapped into one. In fact, if you ask me, video games are more entertaining than movies or books, because you have the option of interacting with them. Look at the Universal Studios' rides. As amazing as Spiderman was on the Silver Screen, he was even cooler in his little 3D ride, because the riders were able to interact with him. Isn't that what it's all about? Finding something that will keep you entertained for hours upon end?

Are games a tool for evil? Or for good? Are they frivolous at best or frivolous at worst?

--Koster, Epilogue pg. 202

Instead of determining whether games are a tool for good or evil, consider this. Many people say that guns kill people--and I used to agree with that, because it's obviously true, but the more important thing to consider is that people kill people. It doesn't matter if they have a gun or a knife or a lamp. If they intend to hurt someone or something, they'll find a way. So, in that respect, video games are the same way. I've said this many times--I don't think video games are to blame for our youth having issues with violence. I think those youths' parents are to blame for not raising their children properly. In one of Dr. Jerz's videos with Peter, they mentioned that Peter used to be an evil god on Black and White. That in now way makes him an evil person, so how can video games be seen as a tool for evil?

Reaction to Peter's Adventure Gameplay

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Again, it was very interesting to watch Peter trial and error his way through a more difficult IF game. What I found most interesting, though, was Dr. Jerz's 3D map of Adventure. It's really fascinating that he managed to figure out that so many directions lead the player back to the same location. I guess this is just a more advanced version of a hand-drawn map by a user. I also think it would be interesting if Dr. Jerz and Peter did continue with this series by providing Peter with some other IF games, such as the ones we played back in EL 236.
I definitely think that Peter had a great advantage in having his father sitting next to him to help him out through the game. I grow very frustrated as I play these games and usually give up, so I wonder if it would be more fun if I had a friend to play the game with. What do you guys think?

Peter's 9:05 gameplay

Drive car without crashing due to lack of Knowing what to say.

--9:05 part 2

This part just made me chuckle, because at this point, I'm pretty sure Peter knew that typing that command wouldn't get him anywhere.

It was really interesting to watch Peter play 9:05 because I'm pretty sure I played this game back in EL 236. Even if I didn't, I knew when Peter's commands weren't going to work. In a way, this made me slightly frustrated, because I knew what he was supposed to be doing. When we had to ask people to test the IF games we created for class, I felt very similar to the way I felt while watching Peter play this game. I wanted to tell him what to do, because for me, it was very obvious where to go next. I was very impressed with Dr. Jerz's ability to sit back and watch his son make those early mistakes in order to learn the conventions of the game on his own. I was also very impressed with how quickly Peter picked up the basics of IF games. I also felt myself smirk slightly when he mentioned burning down the hotel in the Nancy Drew game...Even though I'm almost 20 years old, I still buy the new Nancy Drew games now and again...I dunno if it's because I can't let go of my childhood friend or if I just enjoy Nancy Drew games. Either way, I definitely think that playing Nancy Drew prepared Peter for playing an IF game, because when you can't do something in Nancy Drew, she'll tell you, just like in an IF game. Keep up the good work, Peter!

Cheater Cheater Pumpkin Eater

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Ceating is a sign that the player is in fact grokking the game. From a strict evolutionary point of view, cheating is a winning strategy.

--Koster, Ch. 7, pg. 112

I never thought of it that way, but it makes sense. Koster said early on in the book that players become bored when the game is too hard, so cheating is a way to revive their interest. But, what do you consider to be cheating in a video game? Cheat codes only? What about walkthroughs and strategy guides?

The most creative and fertile game designers working today tend to be the ones who make a point of not focusing too much on other games for inspiration. Creativity comes from cross pollination, not the reiteration of the same ideas.

--Ch. 8, pg. 138

I couldn't agree more with Koster on this point. The award-winning games are almost always the most innovative games we've seen in a long time. Think about it, would Halo really be as popular as it is if it were just a copy of an older game? I'm not saying that remakes of the classics don't sell, but they always have some form of innovation in them as well.

[M]odding is just playing the game another way, sort of like a budding writer might rework plots of characters from other writers into derivative journeyman fiction or into fan fiction.

--Ch. 9. pg. 142

I don't have a lot of experience with modding myself, other than when I used to download user-created content for the original Sims. My career with modding ended abruptly when a trojan horse attacked my computer, effectively causing us to completely restore the entire system. Aside from my bad experience with modding, I do see a lot of value in its work. It's a mode for people to express themselves and also to keep themselves from completely grokking a video game. To all of you out there, what types of modding are you most familiar with?

Mind Maps

The typical way that people would figure out how to get around in IF was by drawing a map.

--Montfort, Exploring Interactive Fiction

I remember drawing maps when I was creating my first IF games, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that I never thought to draw a map of the IF game I'm currently playing. It makes a lot of sense, because I used to get very confused by my directions. I just couldn't comprehend that if I went west in a room and ended up in another room with exits to the east and south, my only true option would be to go south, because I'd already gone east...

On a side note, I have to say that I'm really interested in Get Lamp. I guess it's just the nerd inside of me bursting out of my seams, but I think this documentary would be really interesting, because it actually shows how far these games have gone. Even though they aren't widely popular as they were in the 1980s, there are still several online that we can play, as Dr. Jerz assigned back in EL 236.

Adams & Jerz, Revisited

I went through my blog archives and found my original blog entry on the Adams and Jerz text.
In Don't Play Word Games with Me, I complained about my inability to figure out Adventureland
For those of you wondering...I'm still stuck in the forest somewhere.

As I said in my old blog entry, Adams did give me hope for something nonconventional that I can use my Journalism degree for. I even made a short IF game as a term project that semester. You'd be surprised how much work really goes into it. I only knew the basics for coding, so it took a lot of work to make my game functional. While I don't see myself becoming a professional text-based video game writer--because I don't forsee making a lot of money in that market, I can see myself writing scripts for modern video games someday.

Zork Fan

This isn't my first meeting with IF games. Like Keith said in his entry, what really interested me was the fact that this game was completely finished in only 6 months. I was also caught off guard by the mention of the Internet's predecessor. It's really hard for my generation to remember life without the internet and all that jazz. The first time I was introduced to an IF game, I was very frustrated, because I was used to killer graphics and easy controls, but as I've said time and again, playing Interactive Fiction has allowed me to appreciate modern video games, as well as the oldies in a way that I never have before.

EL 250 Portfolio 1

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Welcome to my first portfolio for EL 250 Video Game Culture and Theory. It's been a whirlwind of a week, and I've done my best to keep up with the classwork as best I can. This first portfolio showcases all of the work I've completed thus far in the course as well as the most successful contributions I've made to provide ample discussion with my online community of classmates.


  • Adams & Jerz, Revisited, because I link to several locations on this blog, including an older blog entry on the same subject, a link to play the classic Adventureland, and a link back to a comical video on Dr. Jerz's EL 236 class website

I learned a lot from Dr. Jerz's presentation, Mirror, Window, Lens. For me, it was really easy for me to understand what he was talking about because he used the Sims as an example for his theories. Prior to this class, I'd been aware of some of the issues Dr. Jerz touches on in this lecture. My mom made fun of me a few weeks ago for saying "It's just like real life," when referring to the Sims. Although that was probably a stretch, I still see some merit in that statement, especially after Dr. Jerz identified environmentalism, economic determinism, gender and psychological issues concerning the Sims. Like Civilizations 3, I'm confident that the Sims could be used as a teaching tool for kids as well. It teaches you the necessity to being ambitious in the real world. While I'm sure it's a heck of a lot easier to be promoted in the Sims World, their objectives are very similar to our own.

If I were to theorize for a game, I think I'd stick with another simulation game. Like the Sims, in Black and White, you play God. You control tiny villages full of people who need food, shelter and expansion as their village grows. As in SimCity, Black and White forces players to acknowledge their lust for power and expansion, while also reminding its players of moral values and the difference between good and evil. Will you be a benevolent god, or a malevolent one?

Check out the opening to the original Black and White.

EL 250

Me: The Exception to Koster's Conclusions

In many games, you are asked to find "secrets" or to explore an area completely. This teaches many interesting things, such as considering a problem from all angles, making sure that you should make sure you have all the information before you make a decision, and thoroughness is often better than speed. Not to denigrate training by rote and reflex, but this is a much subtler and interesting set of skills to teach, and one that is more widely applicable to the modern world.

Koster in A Theory of Fun, Chapter 4, pg. 76

This idea is pretty common in my favorite type of video games. While reading this section, the particular game that came to mind for me was Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, because the game has a ton of side missions. Furthermore, in this game, you have the option to play as a good or evil character, and your actions influence your level of purity or lack there of. Usually, when faced with a new objective, you are given several options for how to proceed. The game designers want you to check them both out so you make the right decision for yourself. Sure, you could play the fast track and just immediately go for good or evil, but sometimes it's really nice to test the waters. Some people play games only to beat them; others, like me, play them because they love the storylines. In KOTOR, you could probably beat the game fairly quickly, as in less than 25 hours, but I think it took me about 65 hours to complete the game, because I was so determined to complete as many mini missions as possible, because I love finding all the secrets.

By and large, people don't play games because of the stories. The stories that wrap the games are usually side dishes for the brain. For one thing, it's damn rare to see a game story written by an actual writer. As a result, they are usually around the high-school level of literary sophistication at best.

Chapter 5, pg. 86

I hadn't read chapter 5 when I wrote my comment concerning chapter 4. I find it slightly humorous that I just finished saying that I played KOTOR because I loved the storyline and then I read that most gamers don't do that. Maybe it's because I'm a chick...or maybe it's because I'm a writer. Maybe it's my wild imagination. Maybe it's all three of those things and so many more factors that I won't even get myself into. My whole point to this rant is, does any one else disagree with Koster's statement? Surely I'm not the only person out there who actually plays the game because of the story. If the game doesn't have a good storyline, typically, I'm not interested.

Female players would gravitate toward games with simpler abstract systems and less spatial reasoning and more emphasis on interpersonal relationships, narrative, and empathy. They would also prefer games with simpler spatial topologies.

Chapter 6, pg. 106

I'm not sure how I feel about Koster's assumptions concerning female gamers. Part of me feels like he's right about most of the stuff, but then I can't help but feel like I'm an exception to his rules here. When I was younger, I definitely fit in these stereotypes--I only played "girly" games when I was younger. Games like Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time actually frightened me a little bit (Okay, the spider boss in the first dungeon terrified me). But my point is, I evolved into a more rounded gamer. I still like the girly games, but I'm also all about the guy's games. I'm actually more likely to spend my day playing a 1st person shooter than Cooking Mama or Diner Dash--although both games are quite addicting.
So what about my fellow female gamers? Are they evolving too, or am I all alone?

Groking is Shocking (lame title time!!)

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Games are puzzles to solve, just like everything else we encounter in life. They are on the same order as learning to drive a car, or picking up a mandolin, or learning your multiplication tables.We learn the underlying patterns, grok them fully, and file them away so that they can be rerun as needed.The only real difference between games and reality is that the stakes are lower with games.

Koster in Theory of Fun, pg 34

Thank you Raph!! I mentioned on the Civilizations 3 page that my mom once said that she thinks video games have helped with my problem solving skills. This brief paragraph just proved her point! It's so overwhelmingly to realize that she's right and that video games really don't rot your brains out. They do quite the opposite!!

On a side note, I also thought it was very interesting when Koster mentioned groking video games on page 38, because it explains a lot about my gaming habits. Although I full-heartedly refer to myself as a gamer, I go through periodic lulls where I can't seem to find a game that holds my interest longer than fifteen minutes. I used to think that it was just because I thought I had more productive things to do, like homework or something...but now I'm realizing that it's really more that I've grokked just about every video game that I own. This is especially true for the Sims...although there are still plenty of areas in all three versions (the sims 1, 2, and 3), I still find myself bored at times, because it just gets boring after a while. I think that's why Will Wright's company, Maxis releases two expansion packs a year--they're aware that somewhere out there, gamers are getting bored, so they have to find ways to spice things up, even if it does take up your whole hard drive to do it.

EL 250

Wright's Theories

Games (both video and traditional) are tricky to study because they are so multidimensional. There are so many different ways you can approach them. The design and production of games involves aspects of cognitive psychology, computer science, environmental design, and storytelling just to name a few. To really understand what games are, you need to see them from all these points of view.

Will Wright, in A Theory of Fun for Game Design

Wright's on the right track here. It's really a lot to let sink in. Video games are more than just a means for entertainment. I don't think we realize how many dimensions, like Wright said, make up a video game. I'm sure people don't realize how much code goes into creating video games, because they're too focused on the end result. As for the storytelling aspect of the game, that's usually what gets us hooked. This is where the interaction comes into play. Without a good storyline, we really wouldn't have the drive to continue to play. The environmental design of a particular video game is essential as well, because gamers really appreciate a crisp and clear environment to play in. The more realistic, the better. I can still remember the first time I played a game on the Xbox 360--the water looked so real, I felt like I could touch it. 
I like what Wright's saying about us needing to view games from all dimensions in order to fully understand it. If you don't know the ingredients, how are you supposed to know what it's going to create?

Warning: Interaction Required

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Gaming researcher Carsten Jessen is explicit that the first question to be asked is "not what the computer and the games do to the children, but the opposite: what do the children do with the computer and the games?" 
"...the essence of a game is rooted in its interactive nature, and there is no game without a player [...] If we want to understand what a game is, we need to understand what happens in the act of playing, and we need to understand the player and the experience of gameplay."

--Williams and Smith, pg 7

Earlier in this introduction, the authors brought up the subject of video games being the cause for the Columbine tragedy. Like this quote suggests, it's really not what the video games do to people, it's what we do with them. I'm not saying that violent video games were not a contributing fact to this massacre, but I'm pretty sure that those kids had other issues. Plenty of kids play violent video games all the time--myself included--and they don't show up at school one day trying to kill everyone. There's definitely a relationship between the game and the gamer, but we still have a lot to learn concerning what that connection is.

Now for my comparison between this book and Koster's book. From what I've read so far, it seems like Koster's book is a lot lighter than Williams and Smith. While both books analyze video games, Koster seems to do his part in a more relaxed and less analytical nature.  His audience is very different from Williams and Smith, who seem to be more focused on analyzing digital media.

Rogue Wins!

I'm proud to say that I made it to level two of Rogue before becoming completely stumped. I died a few times, but it was not in vain, because I soon realized that one of the reasons I kept dying was because I didn't realize that the letters were actual monsters. My bad. If I had to choose between the three games we've sampled today, I'd say that this one was my favorite. I think what I liked about this game was the simplicity. The paths are already laid out for you. All you have to do is follow the little # signs until you have to battle a random letter. If I had to choose between this game and Adventure, I'd definitely pick this one...

Happy Birthday Easter Egg!!

Conversation between my dad and me as I'm watching the video for Adventure:

Me: Dad, look at this game. I don't know how this was possibly fun. Did you play this game?
Dad: Yeah, it sucked.

Dr. Jerz was right when he said Strongbad's Secret Collect was not far off from this. It's hard for me to believe that people actually found this game fun way back in the day. It looked more frustrating than anything else. But now that I think of it, I guess the basic controls are very similar to Snake, and to this day, I could play Snake for HOURS. So, I have to see the value in this game. I just thought it was really funny that my dad, who was so proud to be the owner of the old Atari and Nintendo admitted that the games were so basic that they "sucked."

And, can I just say that I was pretty excited when the narrator of the video mentioned the first easter egg? There's nothing more exciting in a video game than uncovering easter eggs. G4 even covers specials for various video games where they tell their viewers exactly where to find the easter eggs. It's great to finally know where it all started :-)

The Evolution of a House

While watching the video and reading the review about The Mystery House, two main things came to mind. First, I thought that this was very similar to a text-based video game, like the ones Dr. Jerz covered in EL 236 Writing for the Internet. The main difference with this, however, is that the basic graphics definitely helped with figuring out where to go next. With a text game, you have to leave everything up to your imagination. It sounds like the controls are basically the same though.
The other thing that came to mind for me was the 1990 NES game, Maniac Mansion. Call me crazy, but I wouldn't be surprised if Maniac Mansion wasn't actually based off of the Mystery House. The two seem *really* similar. The only difference is you have color graphics and click on the verb and click on the object that you're interested in. I just think it's amazing that videogames progressed so much in only a decade. Wow.
For those of you who think The Mystery House and Maniac Mansion are frustrating, just wait till you play a text-based video game. Then you'll really be annoyed.

For those of you interested, the above video is gameplay from Maniac Mansion. Enjoy!!

EL 250

Star Wars Multiplayer and Life Lessons?

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The environmental effects are eqully impressive. Your lightsabre leaves a scorch mark on any surface it touches and sometimes cleanly slices off the limb of a victim, and in one area, raindrops fizzle and evaporate when they make contact with it.

JKII: Jedi Outcast does one thing very well, and that's lightsabres. In fact, it's probably more accurate to say George Lucas et al did lightsabres very well in Star Wars films and Outcast does a good job of recalling the memory of those flashing contests. The emulation is near perfect, from the initial hiss as it slowly rises from the handle, the sweeping motion-blurred visuals to the pitch-shifting, threatening hum."

--Ian "Always Black" Shanahan in Bow N*gger

The Lightsabre is probably the only two thing that these two reviews have in common other than the fact that they're written about the same video game. While Ajami focuses on the specifics of practically *every* aspect of the game, Shanahan pinpoints one specific aspect of the game to focus on--the online multiplayer community. I'm not trying to point fingers or say that Shanahan does a better job. He simply addresses an issue within the game rather than just talking about the actual gameplay. 
The reason I *like* Shanahan's better is because he gives his readers an actual example of online gameplay rather than just complaining about how the game was ineffective. With what Dr. Jerz was talking about in part 3 of his opening lecture, we actually see through lenses in this review, because it gives us an example of how society naturally works when Shanahan goes into detail concerning the culture of the online lightsabre dueling.

You see what this has become? It's not just a trivial game to be played in an idle moment, this is a genuine battle of good versus evil. It has nothing to do with Star Wars or Jedi Knights or any of the fluff that surrounds the game's mechanics. I played by the 'rules' and he didn't, that makes me the 'good' guy and him the 'baddie', but this is real, in the sense that there's no script or plot to determine the eventual triumph of the good guy (that's me, five health), there's no 'natural order' of the fictional universe or any question of an apocryphal ultimate 'balance'. There's just me and him, light and dark, in a genuine contest between the two.

This short paragraph says it all. He proves that this is not about the video game--it's so much more, because the actions of his adversary are reflective of today's society. There's absolutely no reason for those racial slurs in a video game atmosphere, unless you're trying to fight dirty...

PacMan = Nomad? Whoa.

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PacMan encodes the survival values of the nomadic lifestyle.

--Intro Lecture, Part 3

Whoa, like Cody, I never saw that connection coming. I'm not saying that I disagree with this theory, because Dr. Jerz clearly backed up his theory with evidence. All I'm saying is that it would be a lot easier for me to see the "reflection" in a more complicated game. In fact, it would be a lot easier to see the windows and the lenses as well. I guess, that like all things literature (video games are literature, right?) we can theorize whatever we want as long as we can back it up. I just think that a theory would be easier to identify in a more complex game, such as Black and White.

Then again, maybe my problem is I don't have a whole lot of experience with PacMan...I kind of hated it when I was growing up. Too stressful for me to handle, lol.

Driving Digital Culture

Are video games driving digital culture?

Dr. Jerz poses this question early on in part one of his opening lecture. I'm not sure there's a definite answer, either. I do think that video games are making a huge impact on digital culture, but I still think that movies are the leading drive of digital culture, because we don't see movies being created based on video games, but we do see things the other way around. Now, I'm not saying some people haven't been taking creative licenses in creating youtube videos/webisodes. A great example would be the Halo videos, Red vs. Blue. Even though I'm a huge fan of Halo, I have to admit I've never watched any of these videos, which furthers my point that video games are not completely driving digital culture.

I definitely think they're making a huge impact on culture, but there's still a lot of other stuff out there driving digital culture.

Assassin's Creed II: More than an Action-packed Killing Spree

     Shhh. Can you hear it? Listen very closely...dong...dong....dong...that ominous bell tower's chimes can only signal one thing--the end. You'll be dead before you realize what hit you. Welcome to Assassin's Creed II, one of the most highly anticipated new game releases of 2009.

     While Ubisoft designers kept the same principles from the Assassin's Creed I, they managed to finally deliver what was missing from gaming experience with Altaïr in the new and improved game play. However, this game is more than just an action-packed killing-spree. This time, players actually learn a little history, had have incentives to complete mini-missions.

     Unlike Altaïr, who was trained to become an Assassin from an early age, this game's hero, Ezio Autitore, became an assassin after the death of half of his family, seeking not only revenge, but answers as well.

     One of the biggest adjustments game designers made for this M-rated Action-Adventure video game is the amount of freedom gamers now have, not only with Ezio's actions, but with various customization as well.

     A big complaint coming out of the originals' gamers was that Altaïr was so easily spotted by the guards unless he walked at a remarkably slow pace, blending. Game designers created a new "notoriety" interface, which allows gamers to roam freely throughout the city if they are completely "anonymous."

     Gamers will find a lot more challenge when trying to become anonymous. Hiding in haystacks no longer makes the assassin anonymous--it merely helps Ezio escape from guards. When you remove yourself from the haystack, your assassin icon will glow different amounts of red, labeling the amount of notoriety Ezio currently has. By ripping down wanted posters, bribing heralds or assassinating officials, Ezio can eliminate his notoriety to the point where he can literally run past guards without causing an instant chase--something that was all too common in the original game.

     Blending's become a lot easier in Assassin's Creed II. No longer do players need to hold down a button as they walk; as soon as Ezio finds himself surrounded by a small crowd of people (many of which he can hire), the ground surrounding his feet digitalizes, signaling that he's blending to keep hidden from the guards' watchful eye.

     Gamers now have the option to upgrade their armor and weaponry, which is divided into several pieces. The more expensive the armor, the higher your health bar will become. The same goes for weapons. While Altaïr was limited to his hidden blade, throwing knives, a dagger and his sword, Ezio is faced with seemingly endless options.    Again, different weapons offer different strengths. Some are faster than others, some have more deflection than others, and some deliver more damage than others. For example, a solid club might deliver a ton of damage to foes, but good luck swinging that mighty beast at a group of guards before being struck by a guard from behind.  

     Players also have the opportunity to pick up fallen weapons from deceased foes. With the help of Leonardo da Vinci--that's right, this game takes place in Italy rather than the Middle East, Ezio's arsenal slowly builds as players progress through the game, offering new "toys," including double hidden blades and a poison-tipped hidden blade to name a few.

     Players are encouraged to collect all of the armor and weapons, because the items are displayed in Ezio's home base--the Villa, which is surrounded by a small town, which players can pay to renovate. These renovations give Ezio larger allowances, which he can collect occasionally in the Villa.

     One other fascinating addition to the game is the educational aspect of the game play. Players are not obligated to read about each location and character they interact with, but if they do, they'll find themselves learning a little bit of Italian history during the Renaissance. Not a fan of reading? Never fear, you can play this game without reading any of the extras and still have a very fulfilling gaming experience.

     Countless other additions made their way into Assassin's Creed II, such as the Assassin's Tombs and the "glyphs" left behind by the mysterious Subject 16, but in order to find out the secrets behind these particular additions, you'll have to pick up a copy of the game yourself. Regardless of the type of gamer, everyone can find some type of enjoyment out of the much-improved sequel to Assassin's Creed.



Myst Reaction :-)

How scary is it that the beginning of this game is still vaguely familiar to me? Like I said in my Doom entry, my parents were gamers when I was growing up. So, while Dad was busy playing Doom, Mom was busy getting lost and stuck in Myst. Truth be told she never made it very far. When I was finally old enough to play the game, I remember getting stuck too. I don't think I made it much farther than her.

Looking at this game now, I can see where my old Nancy Drew video games got their inspiration. The game interface is very similar, but it looks like Myst is a lot more challenging than Nancy Drew ever was.

Dr. Jerz mentioned that you can download a version of Myst to the iphone. It might just be worth doing (and using a walkthough for when I get stuck), because as far as I'm concerned, this game remains one of the archetypes for adventure games today.

Doom Reaction :-(

First, let me explain that my parents were gamers, which explains why I'm such a gamer. So, it was only natural that my dad had Doom for our Super NES--though I'm not sure which version he had, I do remember that the game cartridge was red. Just the thought of it makes me cringe.

I absolutely HATED this game when I was little. But you hafta remember that when it came out, I was only 3 years old and still believed in monsters and all that business. This game horrified me. Now that I'm a little older, I have a greater appreciate for the game. In fact, if I took the time to play the game on my old Super NES (if I still have the game, which I don't think I do for obvious reasons), I bet I'd actually enjoy it, despite the crappy graphics, mostly because I can see how far we've come from Doom. In a way, it was the archetype for Halo and other first-person shooters. But, I also have to say that given the choice, I'd pick Halo over Doom, not even because of the graphics, but because it actually has a story line that I can enjoy.
It was fun to run around in Doom for a little while though!

Assassin's Creed 2 Review

You can't see me. I'm there in the shadows, crouched down on the roof above you, dangling on the ledge below you. Maybe you know I'm nearby. Maybe you're afraid for your life. You should be. Because by the time you realize where I am, you'll be dead.

 ***All of the Italics are quotes from the article***

Okay, so I'll admit I used this review last semester in my news writing class, but for a different reason. I still think the review is a great example of a game review, so I'm reusing it, and linking to my original entry concerning it.

The sequel is as vibrant as the first game was repetitive, as compelling as the original was boring.

This article does an excellent job of comparing Assassin's Creed II to the original, in an attempt to provide evidence that this game is worth purchasing, despite its predecessor's epic failures.

One of the things I really  liked about this review was the inclusion of not only screenshots but short gameplay videos as well. Although I already had my mind up that I'd be buying this game eventually, this media furthered my enthusiasm about the game.

You spend most of your time in the Mature-rated Assassin's Creed II playing Ezio Auditore da Firenze, a young Florentine nobleman with a penchant for getting into trouble.

Early on the article tells readers the game rating, which is essential for holiday shoppers (this game came out about a month before Christmas) and then goes into a brief description of the main character, who has changed since the first game. The author also describes the beauty of this game's enviornment, which is a major improvement from the last game. 

A great game review covers all aspects of the game, including the music, which this author commented on, as well as embedded a sample of the soundtrack in the article.

The gameplay is truly addictive because it keeps dangling carrots in your face, urging you to play just a bit more.

A detailed description of the new additions to gameplay are greatly welcomed in a successful game review. He covers the new actions as well as the old controls while bringing some of the *secrets* into the review, such as the Assassin's Tombs.

What really makes Assassin's Creed II work is that the assassination missions are much better. Staying undetected is easier since you can formulate better strategies to blend in with crowds, take back entrances and keep out of guards' way. There's more incentive to learn how to stay out of sight, because some missions end if you're discovered.

This article ends with a bit of a teaser. Readers are eager to see how the assassinations have become better--trust me they're incredible in this game. 

A last thing that makes this review successful is that the author links to other reviews to a few games, such as the first Assassin's Creed and Crackdown. He weaves a story about several games all into one while at the same time promoting an exceptional video game.

LEGO review vs. Myst review

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I am not blind to the fact that Traveller's Tales is trying to keep the LEGO genera fresh with some new ideas, and I applaud them for the attempt. 

Comparing this game review to the Myst review is like comparing apples to oranges--pardon the cliche. But seriously, while the Myst review focused more on what Myst will bring to the future of gaming, the LEGO review focuses more on the actual gameplay of the new Indy game and what it lacks. 
In this particular instance, I prefer the Myst article, because the author also gives the readers a visual into the world through his description early in the article, before bouncing around the video game world.
In some cases, I like to read game reviews that actually talk about the game play, because it helps me to decide whether or not I want to buy a particular game. 
At the same time, I'm sure describing the gameplay for Myst would be a lot more difficult than for LEGOs. Regardless, I prefer the Myst article over the LEGO one.

What a trip down memory lane...

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Nintendo has not been able to find a character or a style to match the Mario series, and its last major entry, "super Mario World," a few years ago was just a variation on a theme. The company is now mounting an agressive marketing campaign for its new "Donkey Kong Country" game, which keeps the old formula intact but uses striking three-dimensional graphics for its leading ape.

First of all, let me just say that reading this article was quite an experience, because most of the games touched in this article were developed in my childhood. A smile crept across my face at the mention of Super Mario World and Donkey Kong Country. All through grade school, my mom and I played DK after I got home from school. It was like my little reward for going to school. Work first, play later. It may sound crazy, but I even remember buying the first DK game with my parents at ToysRUs. 

The funny thing about the quote above, is that nothing's changed in the past 15 years. Nintendo still pounds out Mario games and the occasional new Donkey Kong game. Two years ago, I got the new "Super Mario Galaxy" for Christmas, which showcases the Wii's incredible 3D graphics and such, but what did Nintendo release this year? "Wii Super Mario Bros." I've heard people keep throwing their WiiMotes around the room because the game is so frustrating...much like the original game was. Go figure. Looks like 3D graphics have spoiled us a little. When we go back to platform style gameplay, everything falls to pieces...

Now let me get down to business. The article's title, A New Art Form May Arise From the 'Myst' could not be more fitting nor more foreshadowing. I don't think that the author had any clue of how correct he was when he made that statement. I bet he looks back and thinks, wow, I can't believe how much has happened in the past 15 years--I know that's what I keep thinking.

Video Game Violence--Who is to Blame?

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I thought that Cody's case study and Keith's case study fit nicely together, in that they both addressed the issue of violent video games.

I'll address Cody's link first. Although the youtube video does an excellent job of proving its point that gamers seek the freedom and accomplishment of a video game over the violence, I don't see game developers eliminating violent video games any time soon. One of the reasons games like Modern Warfare 2 are so popular is because they're so realistic. Who wants to play a war game where people evaporate instead of dying a bloody death? Personally, I feel much more comfortable playing a shooter like Halo or even a Star Wars game, because it's not *as* realistic as war games like Modern Warfare...Like Cody said in his Anecdote, even a slaughter in a video game can be a little disturbing.

On to Keith's link. I saw a lot of value in this guide. When I was in high school, my Psychology teacher kept pushing that violent video games lead to violent people, so kids shouldn't be allowed to play such games. I agree with him to an extent. Like this guide says, I think it's important for parents to remain in control of what their children play. My mom, for instance, wouldn't let me play the Mortal Kombat that my dad bought for me for Christmas one year unless I turned the Blood off. But, I think the most important thing to keep in mind is that parents need to teach their children that what they're doing in a video game is not REAL. It's pretend, so that means that the actions experienced on a game should not be taken literally. We need to remind kids that, while it's okay to play these games, it's not okay to go out to the local mall and shoot a bunch of people.

Hello EL 250!!

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This is my first online-only course, but not my first blogging experience. To be honest, I think that blogging for this course will be an excellent way to interact and comprehend the material for class. In a typical class with Dr. Jerz, we do most of our discussion on our weblogs before we further that discussion in class. So, I don't feel like I'm really losing much by not being in a classroom setting, mostly because Dr. Jerz and my peers usually just go over what was said in the blogs for those who were unable to keep track of the online discussion on a particular day. I'm looking forward to active discussions on my blogs and on my peers' blogs.

What is fun??

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What is my definition of fun?

That's a really tough question to answer. I guess anything that I find enjoyable would be considered fun. It has to keep my interest and usually if I'm having fun, I lose track of time, so it's kind of an escape in that respect as well. I don't really have a definite answer to the question, because I find so many different things to be fun. I suppose you could say that if it provides entertainment, it is fun, but then again, isn't entertainment just a synonym for fun?

What kind of videogame is not fun for me?

I hate real-time strategy games, like final fantasy, but I have to explain this one. I LOVE the storylines behind those games. For example, the main reason I played Final Fantasy 10 for such an extended period of time was mostly because of the story line.  I can't say that I absolutely hate strategy games like Final fantasy--it's just that I don't like the whole turn-based action. I guess you could call me impatient...I love a good hack and slasher or 1st person shooter. But I also like strategy games like The Sims and Black and White. It really just depends on the game. I'll give any game a chance, but I usually know pretty early on whether or not I like it.

How has my own definition of "fun" changed over the years?

Again with the hard questions! I guess I could say that it's grown wider as I've grown up, because when I was younger I hated reading books, but somewhere in elementary school I fell in love with reading, so that's a big part of "fun" for me. It's all about the escape to another reality that gets me, and taking risks. I'm a bit of a daredevil, so that's one of the main reasons videogames attract me, because I'd love to be able to climb cliffs and do all that awesome stuff that video game heros (and heroines) like Lara Croft do.

What other issues did this clip raise in my mind?

What about cheat codes? That question posed at the end of the clip really got me thinking. When I was younger--as in middle and high school--I was all about using cheat codes and walkthroughs. Gamewinners.com and gamefaqs.com were two sites that I frequented daily for help through my videogames. But somewhere along the way, I lost my interest in using cheat codes. In the sims, for instance, I could use cheats to give my sims enough money to build my dream house, but then what was the point in getting them jobs and all that jazz? The challenge evaporates. Now that I think of it, in a way, cheat codes have changed in my definition of fun. When I was younger, I thought they were fun, but now not so much, because they eliminate all challenge for me. I don't even use walkthroughs unless I'm absolutely stumped, because then I don't feel like it's an accomplishment when I finish the game.

EL 250

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