Because this class will be online, you'll need to have a good internet connection, a Zoom account, and a pair of headphones (preferably with a good microphone or a separate external USB microphone). You'll also need a laptop computer (not just a tablet or smartphone) capable of installing and running the games listed below (all available for both PC and MacOS, all of them are older games that should not require cutting edge processors).
You'll also need to buy the book listed below and sign up for a number of free services that we'll use this semester. The games listed below that you'll need to purchase are all frequently on sale on Steam and Gog. If there's a financial strain involved in purchasing the games, don't hesitate to contact me about it -- I can make alternate arrangements as necessary.
McGonigal, Jane. Superbetter: The Power of Living Gamefully. Penguin, 2016. (Amazon link)
In 2009, internationally renowned game designer Jane McGonigal suffered a severe concussion. Unable to think clearly or work or even get out of bed, she became anxious and depressed, even suicidal. But rather than let herself sink further, she decided to get better by doing what she does best: she turned her recovery process into a resilience-building game. What started as a simple motivational exercise quickly became a set of rules for “post-traumatic growth” that she shared on her blog. These rules led to a digital game and a major research study with the National Institutes of Health. Today nearly half a million people have played SuperBetter to get stronger, happier, and healthier.
But the life-changing ideas behind SuperBetter are much bigger than just one game. In this book, McGonigal reveals a decade’s worth of scientific research into the ways all games—including videogames, sports, and puzzles—change how we respond to stress, challenge, and pain. She explains how we can cultivate new powers of recovery and resilience in everyday life simply by adopting a more “gameful” mind-set. Being gameful means bringing the same psychological strengths we naturally display when we play games—such as optimism, creativity, courage, and determination—to real-world goals.
Firewatch by Campo Santo
Firewatch is a mystery set in the Wyoming wilderness, where your only emotional lifeline is the person on the other end of a handheld radio.
The year is 1989.
You are a man named Henry who has retreated from your messy life to work as a fire lookout in the Wyoming wilderness. Perched atop a mountain, it's your job to find smoke and keep the wilderness safe.
An especially hot, dry summer has everyone on edge. Your supervisor, a woman named Delilah, is available to youat all times over a small, handheld radio—and is your only contact with the world you've left behind.
But when something strange draws you out of your lookout tower and into the world below, you'll explore a wild and unknown environment, facing questions and making interpersonal choices that can build or destroy the only meaningful relationship you have.
Gone Home by the Fulbright Company
You arrive home after a year abroad. You expect your family to greet you, but the house is empty. Something's not right. Where is everyone? And what's happened here?
Gone home is an interactive exploration simulator. Interrogate every detail of a seemingly normal house to discover the story of the people who live there. Open any drawer and door. Pick up objects and examine them to discover clues. Uncover the events of one family's lives by investigating what they've left behind.
Go home again.
Gris by Nomada Studio
Gris is a hopeful young girl lost in her own world, dealing with a painful experience in her life. Her journey through sorrow is manifested in her dress, which grants new abilities to better navigate her faded reality. As the story unfolds, Gris will grow emotionally and see her world in a different way, revealing new paths to explore using her new abilities.
Life is Strange by Square Enix
Follow the story of Max Caulfield, a photography senior who discovers she can rewind time while saving her best friend Chloe Price. The pair soon find themselves investigating the mysterious disappearance of fellow student Rachel Amber, uncovering a dark side to life in Arcadia Bay. Meanwhile, Max must quickly learn that changing the past can sometimes lead to a devastating future.
(Episode One is free.)
An account at Roll20
You'll need a free Roll20 account. You'll use that account to play at least one game together, Alice is Missing: A Silent Role Playing Game. It's likely that you'll end up playing other games using Roll20 over the course of the semester.
Audacity is a good, free, open-source audio editor (available for Windows, Mac, and Linux). It’s pretty standard software for mixing podcasts, so I recommend you give it a shot.
There is a very good tutorial wiki for Audacity online — this basic page on mixing voice narration with music probably covers 90% of what you’ll need to do for your podcast. It’s not terribly difficult, but there is a learning curve to it and you should definitely make an extra copy of your raw audio files before you start mixing and editing them. Expect for it to take longer than you think it should to do the sound editing and build time for mixing into your plans. There are some students in the class who have a fair amount of experience working with Audacity — make friends with them and ask them for help (make sure to give thanks for their help in your episode credits!).
Exporting as an MP3: Note that probably the most complicated part of using Audacity will be configuring the MP3 encoder. Because of copyright laws, Audacity does not come with a native MP3 encoder so you can’t export as MP3 straight out of the box. You’ll need to download and configure an extra plugin to do so.
hypothes.is is a free, open source tool that creates a conversation layer over the entire web that works everywhere, without needing implementation by any underlying site. Using annotation, it enables sentence-level note taking or critique on top of classroom reading, news, blogs, scientific articles, books, terms of service, ballot initiatives, legislation and more. Install the free hypothes.is browser plugin on the Chrome browser (there is an unofficial plugin by Diego de la Hera for Firefox too). We'll use it to annotate class readings collaboratively and for peer review and feedback.