As suggested by its title, this class has really challenged my abilities on all four aspects – play, make, write, and think. For this assignment, I use each of these aspects as a component for my “Game cocktail” and list all the tasks I have completed this semester that cater to each category.

Twine game reflection

My experience making a Twine game was challenging yet interesting. Since I was doing it on my own and taking all the roles, I had the freedom to steer the story to the direction I want without compromising with anyone else. Learning how to use Twine and making sense of the mechanics was a problem at first. After knowing how Twine work, I immediately thinking of Tangaroa Deep, a game we played this semester, since it involves picking out options to progress through the game. I wanted to create a game that follows a chronological order but at the same time has multiple unpredictable outcomes depending on how a player plays the game. Tieing that idea with a social issue, I made a video vlog type of game in which I show a day in the life of a college student in the pandemic. This kind of daily vlogs were really popular on youtube in the past and I think they are even more relevant now when life satisfaction is low.

Overall, I think the presentation turned out well and I made some progress in writing the plot. The overall tone of the game is depressive and monotonous, which are emotions and thoughts of my character. Going forward, I will make a tragedy happen, possibly suicide of a fellow classmate due to mental health issues and some unfortunate events. This will cause the main character to be grateful for what he/she is having compared to others in these trying times – a roof to stay under, strong internet connection, an education he deserves, etc.

Making a Twine game was also a unique experience. It forces me to think in multiple scenarios and dimensions rather than linearly like how I usually write an essay or story. I find it similar to coding as well, except without an objective. I create the objective for myself. Completing this project is another way I have produced content through written text this semester, as with other methods like writing a podcast episode script, reflecting on my experiences, or liveblogging games. But as stated above, when making a Twine game I have to think of different scenarios and how to connect the branches instead of thinking linearly like in other works. I have learned to think gamefully and write critically through these experiences, and I will carry them to other assignments and classes in the future.

Podcast episode 2 reflection

Being the producer of this episode came with greater responsibility on my end. However, I am happy that everything turned out well and that we were able to have a productive conversation about the game. Oxenfree was certainly a huge jump for us from the first episode due to how polar opposite it was to Temple Run, from the mechanics to graphics to gameplay. It was in a nutshell a much more complex game. When I was writing the script, I made sure we explain the game well before going into critical analysis and exploring different aspects of the game. I think I laid out the arguments in a logical way and everyone had the chance to talk about at least one specific part of the game that they like.

Game comparison reflection

I find this assignment particularly memorable because it was so different from other essays and assignments I have done in the past.

First, I have never written an analysis on games before. By analyzing Gone Home and Gris, I was able to pick up on little details I would have missed had I not done the assignment. I think it was less about comparing the games and more about how different games benefit us in different ways.

Second, this essay was the first long writing assignment I have for a long time, since high school to be exact. I felt rusty getting back to writing but at the same time I can understand why it was so important to learn to articulate my thoughts well on paper. I felt much more organized writing an essay then say giving a presentation.

Movie scene remake

For this assignment, I chose to recreate a motivational speech by Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) in Wolf of Wall Street. The first quote: “there’s no nobility in poverty” is one of my favorite movie quotes of all time.

Visual notes

Drawn and taken by me.

For this assignment, I made a visual note page on mathematical induction – a proof method in my Math250 class. The main idea of this concept is that if a statement holds true for some simpler values ( typically 0 and 1), we can assume it holds true for a certain bigger value and then show that it also holds for values above this threshold, hence the statement holds for all values. I enjoy making this visual note because it came to me naturally, probably because Math250 is my favorite class and because I’m an intended math major. One aspect I could improve on, if any, would be coloring. I don’t have color pencils or a device with digital drawing tool with me so my work was rather simple and one dimensional. I am, however, still proud with the result.

Podcast reflection (episode 1)

Overall, I think episode 1 on Temple Run was a success. My main job as an assistant producer was to work on the script and help with generating outline for the episode. Choosing Temple Run was Anusha’s decision and although initially we thought the game was too simple and lacking substance to give us enough talking points, we decided to stick with it anyway. It stems from 2 reasons. First, we wanted to save more complex and mentally challenging game for later episodes. Second, we reckoned that developing a deep analysis for a game as simple as Temple Run would make the podcast much more interesting since we will be talking about ideas most people have not thought of before. And I think we succeeded.

Logistics wise, we started a little late but I am glad things turned out well. In our first meeting, we had a very productive hour bouncing off ideas about how the never-ending, no-winning nature of Temple Run mirrors that of the pandemic situation. Everything just seems static and boring right now. That was the backbone for this episode. We also questioned Temple Run’s popularity given its simplistic nature. It is quite interesting how the most successful game or product on the market isn’t always the most exciting or fancy or complex. This shows a lot about human behaviour and how we perceive things. Sometimes, all we need is a time-passer game, something less “mentally taxing,” something that can entertain us while we are busy thinking about other things. After we gathered all the points, Anusha rearranged them briefly and we started recording on Thursday. Again, we had a really productive hour as we only had to run it 3 times. The result was approximately 10 minutes so we were happy.

I would like to thank Anusha and Bob for making this first episode a success and I look forward to producing future episodes with them.

“Throwing” a piece of paper to a bin

Above is my most spectacular attempt at throwing a piece of paper to a bin. My throw is particularly spectacular because it is not actually a throw. I view my piece of paper as a ball and the bin as a goal in soccer (football for those who are cultured). I incorporated the drawing because I want to give this “throw” a context. I want to convey some meanings with this spectacular throw, hence I marked the successful attempt as a goal.

Hang in there, my guy!

Photo by me.

The first object on my desk was this green mask. I wanted to use it for this assignment because it is an interesting necessity in Covid time that I would not have had around me just 7 months ago. I tried thinking of an activity or things that mirror the shape of a mask and realized that the outer curve (when the mask is half folded) looks like it is inflated by air or being flown by strong winds. I then immediately thought of parachuting. The drawing above is only my first try and I am happy with the result. I think my character’s face makes the drawing look more animated.

Gris liveblog

The start

My first impression with Gris is all about its incredible visual elements. The graphics is super aesthetically pleasing and I am hooked already. The start of the game depicts a depressed female character, I assume, in a dark robe, trying to pull away from the desolate environment around her. As of now, her only “powers” are moving left and right :/

The beginning. Source: screenshot taken by me.

Stage 1: Denial

The “stars” she picks up along the way. Source: screenshot taken by me.

The game unfolds rather quickly, as expected. The storyline is prevalent and obvious. Gris, who I assume the main character, suffers from some sort of past traumas which cause her depression and mental pain. She is trying to find a way out. At first, Gris can only crawl slowly and cry. She can barely move.

Stage 2: Anger

As the Kubler-Ross model of grief suggests, after the initial disbelief in what happened, Gris now wonders why it is her. She can actually run now. The environment is still the same: a deserted empty void.

This hand looks like the Golden Bridge in Da Nang, Vietnam – a famous tourist attraction in my country. Source: screenshot by me.
Vietnam's Daring Golden Bridge Takes a “Hands-On” Approach to Tourism |  ArchDaily
Here it is. Source: google image.

Stage 3 and beyond…

It seems to me now that Gris is finally committed to “finding a way out.” She is running really fast and she can also jump. She can also “heavy,” a very interesting and useful move given her environment.

The color red is introduced. Source: screenshot by me.

Red is the color of victory and ambition and determination. I think it sends a message here that Gris is seriously trying harder to escape now. The visuals and color element is used to describe Gris’ current emotion and her stage in the grief cycle in very subtle ways.

Gris sliding down a hill. Source: screenshot taken by me.
A storm. Source: screenshot taken by me.

The bargaining stage shows in the “heavy” move I think. Before unlocking this power, Gris is pretty clueless. Now, with this move she can break the grounds or destroy rocks to discover new lands. Gris is making a bargain with her confined environment here, subconsciously asking “even if I can’t get out, what can I do to survive/deal with this pent up anger?”

Reflection. Source: screenshot by me.

Overall, Gris is a powerful game with a prevalent storyline. The platformer structure works well for the game because the emotions come off much stronger in silence. There is no need to explicitly show verbal cues such as crying or swearing or grief since the movement and 2D environment already displays it so well.