Side Quest 10 Reflection Post

In doing this Side Quest, I actually think I broke the rules in a few ways. Firstly, the image I made doesn’t explicitly reference my own learning. Since the game and the rules of the game are in second person, I didn’t actually show how I individually learned, but instead tried to have the player of the game go through the motions of my learning (the Podcast task explicitly says not to just argue what makes the Game fun, which is one of the traps I fell into in doing the first podcast episode.) The second way I broke the rules was that the writing for the game was not actually a part of the image, rather, it was attached as the rules. I enjoyed making this assignment a game overall.

Side Quest 10

Game made using Gimp-2.10 by Yono Bulis. Inspired by Monopoly.

Rules: Claim one of the three pieces as your own.

Start at Literacy Narrative, move clockwise using dice.

You must master the following at the following tiles to move forward:

Game Comparison: Create inner meaning from two games and then use their similarities and differences to understand an important facet of recovery from trauma.

Depression Quest, Firewatch, Gone Home, Gris: Play the game.

Reflections: Write about what the game meant to you, what you think the developers were trying to say, and how you think they said it.

Movie Scene: Find your favorite movie scene and act in it, making it as real as possible.

Photo-Editing: Practice using Pixlr or Photoshop to make creative edits to photos by combining two photos.

Throw Paper: Throw paper into a wastebasket in the most creative possible way.

Visual Notes: Find the most difficult notes in all of your classes and represent them in a fun, colorful way that is difficult to forget.

Steven Johnson: Understand the key tenets of the first 2 chapters of Everything Bad is Good for Your: How Today’s Popular Culture Is Actuall Making Us Smarter – be able to answer the following questions. What is Johnson’s argument about games? What is Probing and Telescoping? How can games have a medium?

Mary Flanagan: Read through Introduction to Critical Play by Flanagan and denote the main ideas. How are games defined, generally speaking?

SuperBetter: Read the first chapters of Superbetter: The Power of Living Gamefully and write about how games can help us in ways more than just hand-eye coordination.

Ian Bogost: Read 3 of Bogost’s articles: Media Microecology, Empathy, and Don’t Play the Goose Game: Untitled Goose Game is fun. The problem is, all games are also work and free write about the complexity that games instill within us.

Podcast: Create 3 Podcast episodes about games your enjoy playing – collaborate as a group member and make sure your Podcast has a claim – don’t just make it about why games are fun.

End at Player Narrative and Final Portfolio.

Works Cited

Johnson, Steven. Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today’s Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter. pp 1-62. New York: Riverhead Books, 2005.

McGonigal, Jane. Superbetter: How a Gameful Life Can Make You Stronger, Happier, Braver and More Resilient. Element Books (UK), 2016.

Fantasy Football Podcast Assistant Producer Reflection

Our group initially was planning on doing Madden as our game, but we found that Fantasy Football is a richer, more analyzable game, even though the game itself is a bit simpler. After deciding that we were doing Fantasy Football, we split up the work. I would say that I wrote a lot for the Google Doc we had for the script, since I have the most experience playing Fantasy, but Ranjan and Andrew filled in the numerous holes in the argument that we had, regarding why Fantasy Football was actually good for you, and not just an unhealthy sports betting/prediction competition. Andrew and Ranjan later did a lot of work actually developing the podcast by editing the podcast and doing the logo. After doing the script and recording, the only thing I did was the Bibliography. 

Our episode is different from other episodes mainly in the game itself – Fantasy Football definitely qualifies as a game, but there’s much fewer gamely elements. Although we don’t really discuss this in the episode, Fantasy Football definitely requires less work from the player than the other games we have done before and the games that other groups have done. 

Our goals in creating this episode were to demonstrate the value of playing Fantasy Football. Apart from being fun, it also has genuine benefits for its players. It fosters longtime social connections and most of all provides a great introduction to statistics, decision-making, and critical thinking. 

This particular podcast felt a bit more similar to essay writing than other podcasts since it felt like the burden of evidence rested a bit heavier on our shoulders this time. I felt a bit like Steven Johnson did in Why Everything Bad is Good for you: How Today’s Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter, as to me the audience felt initially skeptical of Fantasy Football’s benefit, whereas in games like Minecraft and Super Mario 64, the audience was already to a certain degree on my side.

Based off of this particular podcast episode, a few things I would suggest are extensive research into your topic. In the previous two episodes our group did, most of the evidence we needed was easily available, but for this episode, it was more difficult to find the data we were looking for since it was kind of hidden under a mound of articles disclosing why Fantasy Football was negative for one’s health or articles giving Fantasy advice. Extensive research provided us with a perfect resource; an actual college observational study about Fantasy Football’s relationship to teaching economics.

Twine Reflection

I would say that my most important contribution was integrating the ‘Groundhog Day’ idea into the project. Prior to this, our group was considering doing a narrative style gameplay, with multiple long storylines. We still maintained elements of this, but by adding an element of daily repetition, a la “Groundhog Day”, it better represented the grueling nature of quarantine, as most people can attest to the fact that for at least a short period during quarantine, life felt like you were doing the same thing every day, over and over again. 

One new technical skill I learned in doing this project includes using Twine to storyboard a situation with numerous options. As an aspiring screenwriter, this is a great online tool for planning narratives, as it allows for multiple different storylines based on a character decision. I would say the way me and my group approached this project was very different to the way we approached our podcast episodes, because in our podcast episodes we tried to first develop our argument based on the game’s medium, but in the Twine game, we had to sort of work backwards by creating a medium that fostered an understanding of what Senior quarantine was like. I’m hoping to use these skills as a creator – in writing stories, creating games, or even animating/doing art, I plan to make use of my work in developing a strong medium to express meaning.

Side Quest 8

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is screen-shot-2020-11-10-at-11.54.48-pm.png
Done using Gimp, with the title being a reference to the film Thelma and Louise and Waze being a reference to the app Waze. Note: Cis and Trans refer to the orientation of the Golgi Apparatus Cisternae (which are vesicles, basically).

Initially, I had no idea how to start doing this assignment. I knew I wanted to represent the Endomembrane system for my Biology Exam, but I truly had no idea how to do that, so I started by drawing a Protein using the app Waze, because they have no idea where to go. From there, the allegory of a road trip for the Protein clicked together, with all of the stops being necessary processes for the synthesis of a protein. The Rough Endoplasmic Reticulum starts it all, being the auto shop, so I figured I might as well keep rolling the dice on this metaphor and make it a mom-and-pop type auto shop, with a “since ….” I decided to make the year 5 million, since that was when bones of one of the first ancestors of humans that came from Apes that were able to walk upright. Unfortunately, I mixed the two up – ‘Ardi’ (the name of the Fossil) was 5 million years ago, not Lucy, who was 3.5 million years ago. Also Thymine is a nucleotide, not a Protein, but it just fit better in imitating the title of the iconic road film Thelma and Louise.

Doing this made me remember the material a lot better, and also it was a lot of fun! Practicing drawing on a virtual keyboard and engaging myself in a creative endeavor was super relaxing and definitely something I will do more often. Also if I could change one thing I’d make it a Toyota Vesicle, not a Honda Vesicle. Just feels right, I can’t explain it.

Side Quest 9

This is a scene from The Godfather. I do not think it is exactly word for word. I did my best to dress up like Don Corleone and to imitate the unique lighting of the film’s opening scene.

Game Comparison Reflection Post

In my Game Comparison essay, My argument is that Gris and Depression Quest demonstrate that success in recovery from trauma stems from consciously and actively working towards healing. I do this by showing that in the way they differ, Gris portrays a better picture of improving oneself while Depression Quest demonstrates the danger of being passive in recovery stages. Writing this inductive essay was weird – I’m not used to putting my thesis at the end, and my final paragraph had reasoning of its own, not just echoes, which was also new. One thing that surprised me about games in this essay is that game development is very complex. From the player end, it seems very basic apart from a few graphics, but there’s a lot of thinking that goes into each character and the decisions they make. Finally, I thought that writing this paper was a very interesting task – I’ve never actually analyzed a game (much less two) in an analytical essay, so this was a new experience for me. I think the discussions we had in class made it clear what evidence we should use in our argument.

Player Narrative Final Draft

Yono Bulis

10/18/2020

Good Problems

As a game player, I’ve been most influenced by the triangle of chess, Minecraft, and fantasy football, whose unique required skill sets morphed me into someone who found new passions and interests. 

The first time I played chess, I quickly emerged victorious against my younger sister, who, I should probably add, did not know how to use her knights. After my mom signed me up for an after-school chess program, I played very frequently, taking on a wide variety of elementary school opponents. Being an elementary school chess player, it often came down to creativity to win games: the person who could think outside the box found unique ways to hold onto advantageous positions and capture the ever-so-elusive king. In my most memorable play of chess (from fifth grade!) I mated using a bishop and a rook, as the opposing king, trapped behind his pawn, marked my victory. I’m still proud of it to this day. 

Still learning about the game and its infinite niches and possibilities, I try to play often. I’ve learned that chess teaches skills that are in many ways directly applicable to the real world: mistakes can bear heavy consequences, foresight and patience are virtues, and cockiness often leads to failure, just to name a few. But the most important aspects of chess that I learned were analysis and creativity. Not only were they important for winning games, but also for just ‘seeing’ the board, understanding what was going on, and making a decision. Later on in life, I’d find that having the means to look at problems differently contributed to more efficient solutions. 

In fifth grade entered Minecraft, a game that’s almost the polar opposite of chess. Minecraft allowed you to simulate the reality you wanted: an underwater house at the bottom of the ocean, a monster-hunting base, and a labyrinth of underground tunnels were all possibilities in Minecraft that real-world architects couldn’t fathom. Exploration and finding your joy is the name of the game. My most fond memory of Minecraft is playing Survival with two of my friends – we built a treehouse base with an attached hut specifically for chicken breeding to have ‘chicken fingers every night.’ Minecraft taught me the value of exploration and visualization, which would come in handy for STEM courses where trying new things leads to more efficient techniques to solve problems. My game-built skill toolbox, now consisting of creativity, analysis, and exploration, greatly changed the way I played both chess and Minecraft, as I found myself employing trial-and-failure tactics in chess games to see what worked, while also analyzing my position in Minecraft to decide what I should do next. 

Finally, Fantasy Football entered my life at the start of high school. Fantasy Football, at its core, made me a much better decision-maker. My head throbbing from decisions about who to start and who to sit on any given week, I learned the value of research, fundamental data analysis, and the careful observation of patterns. Being in a particularly competitive league, many of these things came the hard way and had real implications. No one would bail your team out if you made a silly trade, and the inability to make correct decisions on the waiver wire – where you could add and drop players – left you in the dust. Fantasy Football is very different from chess or Minecraft; creativity is swapped with analysis and luck plays a much bigger role, just to name two, but I still found myself using similar skills. My Minecraft exploration sense led me to explore different strategies and employ a trial-and-failure approach to developing my team, while my chess analytical muscle worked overtime, pushing me to give myself every possible advantage through trades and roster changes. 

There’s a belief that problems are bad because they provide work and prevent the peaceful utopia society craves, but these games showed me that the idea isn’t for one to rid themselves of problems, it’s to find the right ones, the ones that give meaning and joy. Seeing the way I enjoyed Minecraft, chess, and Fantasy Football, I came to odds with the skills I most enjoyed using: creativity, exploration, and analysis. Using any combination of these skills to tackle a problem – whether in a game or not – instilled a sense of passion within me, and ultimately, it became clear that the problems characterized by these skills are the problems that I should spend my life trying to solve. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is fullsizerender.jpeg
A chess game I won – via Chess.com through an iPhone screenshot.

Side Quest 7

In today’s world, everybody is always showing the best version of themselves, so I wanted to make a video that also showed the numerous failures that led to eventual success. I also thought the Circus music (cited below) would be funny.

The behind-the-back throw is a staple of difficult throws, the golden standard. When I was thinking about which throw to do, the behind-the-back seemed like the only feasible throw. This throw is spectacular for numerous reasons. It’s elegant, its well-documented, and most of all, it paints a clear narrative. The crumpled paper tried and tried again to reach its humble home, to no avail, until finally, it succeeded. What more needs to be said?

The bibliography. The bibliography needs to be said.

Works Cited

     <em>Circus &#8211; Theme Song</em>. Youtube, 1 Nov. 2009, youtu.be/EsY0B7qs-yc.

Gris Post

I’ve just secured my second white ball, or wisp, and so far this game has stood out in a few ways. Firstly, the vast amount of emotion expressed by a character whose face is only barely visible is masterfully done. Gris is simply broken, and you can tell by the way that she fell/sat down at the very start of the game. The background expresses a different feeling, one of haze and confusion, as clouds and wind obscure the undulating shapes. The actual structures make me feel as though I’m walking through ruins of an Ancient Greek city – I’m not totally sure how to feel about this yet. 

At this point, I’ve unlocked my first color – red. Gris has just gone down the huge hill and is falling through the air, her shadowy frame in stark contrast with the yellow sun. This is a very pretty shot, and I think it conveys the stage of anger well.

I’ve just been exposed to the maroon gusts of wind. I can’t seem to place a purpose for these yet, it just feels like they are there to make the game more difficult. The color scheme has stayed in red and white so far, but now it has taken a turn for a tiny bit more orange but still majorly red. The background shapes are changing too. 

In terms of themes expressed by the game, particularly relating to grief, I felt as though the idea of the game is for you as the player to help Gris find herself. This sounds naive I’m sure, but upon completion of the first objective, you receive your first piece of information: Gris, your character’s name. And as you probe through the courses, with the small white balls (I know there’s a better word here, I just can’t think of it) as ‘currency’ you learn more about Gris. You see the ruins of a once great city now crumbling at its seams, left to bear a terrible burden, perhaps a symbol of denial. The color red represents anger, with the gusts of wind only pushing you farther back along. But now, you can rebuild. Your world starts anew, rife with unique structures that make use of your anger (windmills) and temples literally built on your sadness (the columns are made out of a woman crying). But the important thing is that you move forward.

This, I think, is the most brilliant aspect of the game: it makes use of the platformer idea of continuously moving to the right to represent how one must continue to move forward after a loss. Do not be fooled: this does not mean success is reached when you are at the right-most pillar (tasks and such can be found all around the map), which is an example of how the genre has been broken. In Super Mario, if you make it all the way to the right, you’ve succeeded. In Gris, this has been turned on its head – the key idea holds true: moving to the right is a step toward a life anew, but the path to ‘success’ in coping with grief is not well-defined in the same way a platformer is.