This site is a compilation of all work done in my ENG101 class at Emory University
When I was first put in this class, I was a bit confused. I was not sure how an English class centered around video games would better me as a writer and a thinker. What I got out of the class, however, was far more than I expected. I was able to use various mediums to convey my ideas, while also analyzing different works, including videogames. Through trial and error, I was able to learn the writing process of each of these mediums, which I will now be able to use in the future.
In order to do any writing about games in this class, we first needed to learn how to analyze them. This idea is found in the course outcome “summarize, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate the ideas of others as you undertake scholarly inquiry in order to produce your own arguments”. In this course, the ideas we analyzed were those of the creators of videogames. Although it seems strange at first, games are as carefully made as books, and one can find meaning in them just like one would in a novel. Two of the games that I analyzed in the course show my progression in finding meaning; Gris and Gone Home. My analysis of these games first started with a liveblog of each individual game, something I have never done before. My first liveblog was Gone Home. This liveblog was at the beginning of the year, when I had little experience analyzing meaning in games, so I mostly made simple surface-level observations about what I found in each game and what my thought process was while playing. For example in one scene, I said: “I went into the secret room, and it was really weird at first. I thought it must have been from Oscar, but it ended up being from Sam too. There was a strange red light in one of the rooms, I will check that out next”. I did not properly analyze this scene, a scene that showed the bond between two important characters in the game. I just made general comments on events that happened. After gaining more experience playing and analyzing games my next liveblog of Gris was a clear improvement. In this liveblog, with guidance from the prompt, I decided to focus more on the meaning, analyzing it through the idea of the four stages of grief. Although I mixed up when the main character changed from one stage to the other, I still carefully analyzed moments in the game where one can see the stages portrayed. I wrote: “The first part of the game is meant to represent the first stage of grief, denial. This is seen in her arched back, low head, and bent knees. Clicking the x button on the controller causes her to fall, farther symbolizing her disbelief. She seems to not believe what happened and is looking through her mind to figure it out”. In this liveblog I was more accustomed to analyzing games. I focused more on details and was much more aware of the things that give the game meaning. This is shown when I analyzed something as specific as body language to get a better understanding of what the game was trying to convey. After liveblogging both games, I decided to analyze them for my game comparison essay. This is the completion of the course objective, where I analyzed the games, and then produced my own argument for what makes the games similar and different.
Although heavily involving the previous objective of analyzing games and making your own argument, the course objective “Practice writing as a process, recursively implementing strategies of research, drafting, revision, editing, and reflection” also played a very important part in the creation of my game comparison essay. The first step I took was to familiarize myself more with the games. Although I did do a liveblog of both, the last time I played one of them was a month ago. I decided to replay both games, taking notes on new things I noticed in each game as well as developments of old themes I observed. I wanted to take a deeper look into the mechanisms in which each game made the gamer feel rather than surface level comparison and contrast. While playing each game I noted how I felt after each key scene, and what the creators of each game did to cause me to feel that way. By doing this I was able to identify vagueness and repetition in each game as a mechanism to cause vulnerability in the gamer. This is what I ended up talking about in my essay. For this essay assignment, we were required to write an inductive essay, which I have never made before. The goal of an inductive essay is to start of very specific, and then broaden out the essay with your thesis at the end. I decided to start off an essay as I usually would, with a general nonspecific hook, and then lead into the specifics of what I was discussing. I did this just to get words on the page easier. After that I was able to cut the beginning of my essay that was general and leave the specific portion of my essay in the beginning, making it look more like an inductive essay. My goal for my first draft was to set the structure of my essay. My comparison essay was geared towards people who played the two games, but maybe needed a refresher on the details of the games. I summarized the parts of the game where the mechanisms I described were found, and then explained how they make the gamer feel. I did this to familiarize my audience with the content and easily explain my point. In my first draft I also did not include vulnerability as the theme linking my first two paragraphs. It was part of one of my first two paragraphs, and I didn’t write about repetition. I only added repetition as one of my mechanisms after realizing I could use vulnerability to connect the two mechanisms of vagueness and repetition. After my first draft I went back and further explained my main ideas and how they affected the gamers’ view of the game. I reread my essay a few more times to make sure I covered everything I wanted, but at that point I was finished with my essay. As with most of our larger assignments in class, and as the final step of the course objective, I made a reflection post describing my writing process. In this reflection I focused on the choices I made in finding the themes I would write about, and my approach in writing my first inductive essay. After each reflection I found myself always learning from mistakes I made in the process. In my game comparison essay reflection, I wrote: “At first, I included vulnerability, a word important to my thesis, in my first paragraph because it explained my theme well. I realized however that vulnerability also connected to my other theme, repetition. I then decided to use the word as the key part of my thesis.” Although not exactly a mistake, while writing this essay I learned that writing is a process, and you don’t always have an idea about how the final product will turn out. I wrote a whole paragraph on vulnerability just to delete it and put the idea in my thesis. This ultimately made my essay better, despite looking as if I messed up.
The last three course objectives “Compose texts in multiple genres, using multiple modes”, “Demonstrate collaborative skills in classroom discussion and while working together on projects and presentations”, and “Use technology rhetorically and appropriately, and engage responsibly in online spaces” were shown in the three podcasts we made during the course of the semester, as well as the website we made for our course. In this class we worked with multiple unconventional mediums to relay our ideas, one of them being the podcast. We worked with group members to analyze various games, explaining what one could learn from these games. Not only did these assignments familiarize us with unconventional mediums, but it also helped us learn how to share ideas with classmates and how to collaborate to create a piece of work. With each podcast each group got more accustomed to the process of making the podcast, and the quality of each podcast rose with each week.
Although skeptical at first, I ended up learning a lot from this class that I could apply in the future. The website itself helped us organize and compile all our work in one place. In addition, it helped us develop a skill useful in the future, creating websites. We learned the process of how to write in different modes and how to work with group members to create meaningful pieces of work. Analyzing an unconventional source material like video games also strengthened our ability to analyze different types of works.