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EL 250 Portfolio #2 (Final Reflection)

My experiences in EL 250: MWG Video Gaming have been excellent and I really feel like I have been contributing to the class discussions over the past few weeks. This course has helped me build on my analysis skills as a journalist as well as a student. Coming into this course, I had always enjoyed playing video games because I viewed them as being a fun activity. Since I began this course I have reformed my definition of the word fun, and I have also come up with a new found respect for video games as an art form and serious genre. Through the many readings we have done, along with the close playings, and the textbooks we have read I have begun to understand that video games are more than just fun. They are indeed a way of life for many, and a significant part of our culture as a whole.

One particular topic in which I found great interest this week was simulations. There is a not a very distinct line between video games and simulations, but in class we (my classmates and I) decided to try and find that definition. We analyzed certain movies that dealt with simulations and then posted our thoughts on them. In my blog entry on The Truman Show and The Matrix, I brought up points about simulations being representations of a perfect utopian society and how it was very uncharacteristic for both Truman and Neo to reject perfection. The discussion in regard to simulations did not stop on my blog. I wrote a thoughtful response on Kayla Lukacs’s blog that detailed my own feelings about simulations as a game.

Another group of “simulation-games” that we examined in class were created by Kabul Kaboom and were politically charged representations of Kaboom’s thoughts on terrorism and military bombing in Afghanistan. The simulations, entitled “September 12" and “Madrid” stirred a lot of commotion amongst the class. On Kayla Lukcas blog, Stephan Puff and I began a discussion about what separates a game from a simulation and vise versa. I blogged a close playing on the two simulations as well and acknowledged the messages that Kaboom wanted the general public to know about the war on terrorism. On Evan Reynold’s blog I posted a comment about the interpretation of Kaboom’s messages and that there were various possibilities though they were all linked to terrorism. After doing these close playings, I began to see how games had a more profound impact on society than I had once thought. Games and simulations were now becoming tools for people to express their views on a certain subject or make a relative point about things like the war.

Other than having only social and political impacts, games can also have a great impact on the way we think and process information. Just recently a lot of research has been done on aggression and violence in relation to playing video games. I responded to a prompt on the class blog posted by Dr. Jerz that regarded a recent study that linked violent video games with the desensitized nature of people shown horrible images of massacre and death. The truth is that we see these things on the television news each night and that might be part of the reason we are used to them by now. No one is justifying a murder on television that we see, we are simply accepting it better because it is happening more and more frequently.

In regard to the text books that we have read in this section of the course, I must say that I have enjoyed most of them. I found Raph Koster’s book, A Theory of Fun for Game Design to be an interesting look at the function of the brain and how it can process a game’s patterns. In my final reflection on the last Koster reading I addressed the idea that Koster suggested that we use games to teach life lessons and valuable skills. Though I found Brenda Laurel’s book Utopian Entreprenuer to be a bitter and cynical look at the computer game industry, but I suppose I can’t fault her for being honest. Both Laurel and Koster had different ideas of how to use games as teaching tools and what exactly they should be teaching. Jesper Juul’s book Half Real, was the key to tying together everything that Laurel and Koster had been saying all along. Juul breaks down games and to me he is the middle ground between the previous two books that we have read.

Socially, video games have yet to reach their peak, though it was suggested in Wong’s article that some day we will reach the point of no return as far as games are concerned. I commented on the class blog that I was once part of the surge of people that went out and bought the next big game.

One of my favorite blogs that I did was on photo-realism which was discussed in the reading that we did for Hayward. This blog covers both the assigned reading for Hayward as well as the daily discussion prompt that involved photo-realism in video games. "Ever since I can remember the emphasis has been on photo-realism in “life like” kind of games some of which include the sports, fighting and war genres."

Overall I think that I have made some really solid contributions to the course so far. I am proud of my online as well as offline progress on assignments and I have proven that it is possible to do well in these types of classes (online ones).

My Blog Portfolio - A complete list of all my contributions in the second half of the course. Some of these may not be mentioned specifically in the above essay, but can be found here. Some entries not included above that you may want to check out include: Aarseth, Laurel-Close Playing-etc, and Analyzing Game Studies.

Comments (1)

Your blogging is always a delight, Leslie, but this reflection is a special treat. You put a lot of effort into this, making it look easy and natural in the process.

Keep up the great work!

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 11, 2006 10:06 PM.

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