This site is an archive of the work that you completed as part of ENG101 at Emory University during spring semester 2018. In this class, I explored the nature of games and analyzed different types of games. Please enjoy.
Eng101: Play, Make, Write, Think – https://eng101s19.davidmorgen.org/
Reflecting on my Year
This semester, I have been exposed to many untraditional forms of writing which have allowed me to expand my view of what writing is and taught me how to advance my writing skills beyond conventional college papers. One way I have developed my skill is by analyzing pieces of writing in both aural and visual forms. With assignments like listening to “The Landlord’s Game” podcast and analyzing the game Gone Home, I have learned how to use the different mechanics of the modes to convey thoughts in different ways. One example of this was when creating my podcast episodes for the Playing Yourself podcast. Initially, I was more focused on creating a structured argument and conveying it as if I were reading an essay. But after recording and listening to the first episode, I thought that the ideas and arguments weren’t properly conveyed. I realized that the traditional evidence and writing structure of essays didn’t translate to podcasts. The way I understood the ideas changed when heard them versus when I read them. For the next podcast, I tried harder to convey my ideas by initiating more discussion with my partner and by presenting my ideas more as observations than arguments, and then giving my reasoning afterward. I think that my second podcast was a far better than my first and I was much happier with how the ideas were conveyed. The varying types of assignments in this class have taught me how to use the medium of writing to my advantage and communicate my ideas in different ways.
Another area this course helped me improve in is my ability to incorporate other opinions and points of view into my arguments. Prior to this class, I primarily completed my assignments using only my ideas. I had rarely ever completed assignments which required me to develop my ideas using the ideas of others’. In this class, I was forced to do this in multiple ways when creating “Dooley’s Bowl”. One way was utilizing Jane McGonigal’s concept of gamification while not directly applying her methods myself. The assignment asked me to use the ideas she presented in order to develop a new method of gamification on my own unique situation. The second way I had to incorporate others’ ideas was collaborating with my group members. For most group assignments I’ve completed, my group has divided up the work and I just had to complete my portion. This project forced me to create and develop the ideas as a team, forcing me to both incorporate ideas I didn’t agree with and develop my own ideas using ideas I didn’t agree with. This was very difficult for me, especially considering the open ended nature of the assignment. I could not quite figure out how to properly use McGonigal’s ideas without directly replicating her methods, and it was even more difficult doing so while also having to navigate and understand the ideas of my peers. But after a lot of thought and discussion, we created a scavenger hunt application in order for students to get more acclimated to campus and feel more confident meeting new friends. I believe our game did a good job of utilizing McGonigal’s concepts in order to help students adjust to their new environment. An example of this is the collaboration feature, which states that “players will be rewarded 25% extra points for every challenge completed together” (Discover Dooley). This feature encourages students to interact with new people without making it the main focus of the game. This utilizes McGonigals idea of taking indirect approaches to solving problems rather than directly rewarding the desired outcome. Overall, this assignment is one of many that taught me how to truly build my own arguments off of others’ and embrace ideas that I otherwise would reject.
Almost every assignment in this course pushed me to continuously rethink my approach and consider whether I am properly completing the assignment. I constantly had to change my ideas and arguments and review the texts in order to feel confident that I was doing what was asked of me in the assignments. For instance, during the “What’s Your Number?” assignment, I had to decide exactly how I would quantify my emotions. Throughout the week of recording, I constantly changed how I was classifying my emotions. I read back through the instructions multiple times and kept reconsidering which emotions were strong enough to account for and which emotions were good and bad. By the end of the week, I still hadn’t found a way I was satisfied with. But I found that my perpetual reconsideration of my measurements ultimately made for a deeper and more thoughtful reflection. Challenging and doubting my methods of measuring my mood may not have lead me to a correct answer, but it did allow me to develop my understanding of the assignment better and I believe that understanding showed in my writing. The assignments from this class have taught me how to better shift my perspective to challenge my ideas and look at my own work with a critical eye.
This course has helped me improve my ability to analyze visual works and understand the messages they convey. Through exploring the stories behind different artistic pieces, I have learned how to better look for the underlying story and messages and focus less on the pure visual stimulation. An example of this is when I had to play the game Gone Home. When I first played the game, I didn’t enjoy it. I thought the video game aspect added nothing to the story and found the game overall irritating. After playing the game, I wrote, “I could have still gotten an engaging experience without having the frustration of walking in circles around a weird, creepy house.” But looking back now, I see why the story was presented in the way it was and have a new appreciation for it. I think that the visuals of the game engaged me in ways the story couldn’t have on its own, and that having to participate in uncovering the story made hearing it more rewarding. I believe that it took a more advanced appreciation of the art of the game to fully enjoy it, and that I developed that appreciation as the course progressed. Now, I know how to properly analyze the visual aspects of a game and understand how they can enrich the storyline.
This year, I have greatly expanded my writing ability by opening my mind to new forms of writing and challenging my ideas of what it means to be a good writer. The unconventional format of the class offered new perspectives on different games in different formats and showed me how writing appears in all kind of ways. This experience has given me more creative freedom to pursue writing without being restricted by the format or medium. I’ve had to challenge myself to think differently and approach writing in different ways, but have ultimately given myself a better understanding of the mechanics of writing in different modes and new tools to develop my ideas. I definitely struggled a fair bit throughout the year, finding it difficult to both understand and compose writings that I was not used to seeing. But as with many of my assignments, the struggle is what gave me the insights to really appreciate unconventional writing. I expect to employ this advanced understanding in other courses I will take at Emory, but I am more excited to use these skills in my personal writings. I have found that my appreciation for alternative modes of writing has inspired me to start creating on my own. I’ve always wanted to embrace creative writing, but I continuously hit barriers that stifle me to the point of losing my drive. With other forms of writing, I feel more free to create what I want and less worried about it fitting some mold. This class has certainly improved my abilities as an academic writer, but I believe the more significant takeaway from this course is the passion for writing that alternative modes have allowed me to embrace.