The Binding of Isaac was our third podcast episode. Having the experiences from the previous Kids and Plague Inc. episode, our group’s planning and discussion became much easier. To be more specific, this time we knew how many meetings we would need, about how much time we need to work on our assigned parts, and the direction of our conversations were clearer and goal oriented when compared to talking about anything that came to mind when creating our first podcast.
Just like our previous episodes, how each group member contributed are not strictly tied into our roles. Each one of us works on all aspects of producing the episode. This time Roy was the producer, he planned out when we were going to meet and decided on the main direction of our discussion. I was the assistant producer, mainly helping Roy guide the direction of our discussion and adding details to what we were going to say in our episode. Wendy was the line editor this time, she made sure everything was put together into the podcast and properly submitted. Like I mentioned earlier, everyone of us contributed equally to coming up with the content of our episode during our discussion we had about the game.
The goal of this episode was the introduce the game The Binding of Isaac. This game is pretty well known and controversial, so there’s actually quite some topics to talk about, especially about religion and even domestic violence. Other than introducing the game mechanic and some of the key terms, I found it somewhat difficult to decide how much we should discuss about the religion and other sensitive aspects of this game. Therefore, we only stayed on the level on expressing our opinions towards the subject without diving into the should/should nots and right or wrongs.
Looking back at our 3 completed podcast episodes including Kids, Plague Inc., and Binding of Isaac (link to episodes), I would say I’m pretty happy with what we have completed. This was my first time creating a podcast and it was not as hard as I thought it would be. Working in groups have been very helpful as we were able to discuss about our content and have each person work on different aspects of the episodes. The podcast episodes created by the students from the rest of the class in “The Longest Rainy Sunday” series were also very interesting and enjoyable.
The acting Producer, Elaine Han, chose the focus on Super Mario Odyssey for this episode. I was excited to get into the game because I had never played it before. The creation process for the script was the same as always. We took the time to play the game and wrote our own points. The concluding product focused a bunch on the gameplay as well as interesting aspects that we saw in the game, such as intense probing that is involved in the game. The entire process was enjoyable. The great chemistry between the team allowed us to smoothly develop the script. Just like the other episodes our group has made, we successfully hit the learning outcomes. We took the game and synthesized the interesting points of the game and laid them out in the podcast script document after which we refined the points and converted them into talking points. Our group worked well as always, messaging each other frequently. We used technology well; I was involved in making the final product come together by making snippets of voiced recordings of the script and knitting everything together. One thing I would like to improve is connecting a game to other scholarly arguments. The current and past episodes were heavily connected with Mary Flanagan’s Critical Play and Steven Johnson’s Everything Bad is Good for You. And although it was necessary and appropriate to connect our games to those novels and their ideas, I wish to challenge myself to connect ideas to other scholarly books. After making 3 interesting episodes on 3 vastly different games, I think it is safe to say that our group—Jimmy, Elaine and I—are well equipped in the knowings of how to make a podcast on any game. I thought the most interesting thing about the episode was the game was the play experience, and how vastly different it was to my previous experience playing Mario. I remember playing the 2006 New Super Mario Bros that came out on the DS Lite. The improvement in graphics, the transition from the classic platform game to an amazing free-roam game. It was a delight to touch Odyssey after so many years of not playing the Mario video games franchise.
As the Co-producer of this episode titled “Valorant”, I assisted Andy Kim, the main producer in researching, analyzing, drafting, and recording. However, we agreed to let the main producer take heavy responsibility and initiative in shaping the goal and final effects of the episode. Throughout the process of making this podcast, I worked alongside Andy and learned about his passion about the game Valorant. Unlike Among Us, which is a game unfamiliar to us at first, Valorant is a game that Andy and I do play in our free time. Because of that, we spent time to specifically talk about how we should move out of a “player’s mindset” and work on developing analysis and arguing a valuable thesis. And I was thrilled to find out that we successfully switched from the perspective of being a player to the perspective of being a researcher.
In fact, we spent numerous efforts to avoid showing how great or popular Valorant is in the market, but to offer critical analysis about this game, like what messages it delivers, and what skills or qualities it helps people build, and why these things can benefit us in other aspects of our lives.
We met challenges like time management, setting a heavy and unrealistic goal, and overcomplicating our arguments. Under a tight schedule to finish our podcast, we still decided to find and incorporate three good sources from our research. We obviously set up a goal that was too aspirational and grand to manage.
The Binding Of Isaac Podcast Reflection
In the episode of The Binding of Isaac, I took on the role of the main producer. With the past two episodes, our group had always split the role fairly evenly disregarding of our roles, and it was no difference this time. As the main producer, I proposed the idea of the Binding of Isaac, which was a game I have played a lot in my childhood, and again during the pandemic. With the previous experiences, our groupwork has became much more organized and efficient. This only concern was that the game may be a little inappropriate in terms of its mentions and likely negative descriptions of religion.
After meeting with Professor Morgen, we have decided that we will put the concentration on the game’s visual and audio design, its playability, and touch on the social meanings behind it, such as domestic education and abuse. For me, I have always been impressed by this game’s rogue-like design where I can play through it for multiple times without feeling repetitive. The visuals and soundtrack also gave me the creepy, eerie vibe that matches the game aesthetic perfectly. I have always wondered about the backstory behind this game, and due to this project, I had more chance to research and discuss with my groupmates. After some research, we still incorporated the backstory of the Binding of Isaac while relating it to social issues and our lives during the pandemic.
In the three podcast series our group has done, we progressed every time on our collaborative skills and efficiency in fulfilling our individual roles. All of us have became more comfortable working with each other and cooperate better with effective communication.
CHECK OUT THE EPISODE HERE!
Journey through Quarantine
My co-producer Sam Grant and I split up the work the same way we did on our previous podcast episode, understand the playthrough through playing the game or watching videos, grouping together to generate ideas, formulating the podcast, producing the podcast, then finally he edited the episode. At the same time, I did all the other manners that needed creating. Our episode adapted from our previous episode by focusing on our perspective of the game because it is about enjoying their own experience. Additionally, we gained inspiration from our peers’ more significant comparisons to the pandemic in our newest podcast episode about Journey.
The goal of the episode we produced was to spotlight a game that people can significantly relate to during the COVID-19 pandemic, going through an unknown world completely alone. Loneliness has been a more outstanding issue than ever before due to the conditions put forth due to precautionary measures. However, producing this episode was somewhat challenging to reflect and ponder the idea of loneliness. Furthermore, the current episode production was put on a relatively tight time constraint due to the dropped episode’s conditions prior. If I had more time to produce the episode, I would have had the opportunity to play through Journey numerous times because of the different scenes and options available, allowing me to have a greater connection to the game and thus the podcast production.
Sam and I mainly put a tremendous amount of work into this podcast production, trying numerous times to communicate with others to no avail. We produced an episode that analyzed an entire game, evaluating the game through our perspectives. However, when it came time to create the podcast, we collaborated thoroughly with minimal hindrances. I was better able to gather the outlying factors to the episode, and Grant was able to be better edit the episode into our image. The Journey through Quarantine podcast episode had its charms and quirks, but we are okay with that; it is unique.
CHECK OUT THE EPISODE HERE!
Journey through Quarantine
CHECK OUT THE PODCAST HERE!
The Cake is a Lie!
The Portal podcast was split between the co-producers, Sam Grant and Brady Dolan (myself). Since Sam had already played Portal in the past, he watched Youtube videos to jog his memory while I played through the game. We both made sure to split the work relatively evenly. After he and I were aware of the playthrough, we brainstormed what we could take away from the game in an online call—both suggesting themes for the podcasts, resembling the podcast to other previous episodes, and how to make our episode stand out, which was the primary goal of the episode. Though we continuously argued back in forth between the podcast’s theme, we were able to produce an episode that shared both of our ideals.
We decided about the episode by reading articles and online videos about the lore behind the game and hidden meanings. After we decided upon a central idea for the podcast, we went through the vocabulary to search for terms that we noticed in Portal, writing what Portal aspects related to the word.
After constructing that aspect, we chose orders to put the terms in the podcast, allowing us to introduce the terms as we chronologically went through the game. In our Portal podcast episode, we focused on gameplay first, then the backstory, and finally the connections of our central theme to Portal, allowing an understanding of all of Portal’s details by the viewers. From our peers’ podcast episodes, we understood we had to restrain ourselves from only giving positive feedback about the game, including our fair share of criticism. Though our episode revolved around quarantine, we chose to invest in the pandemic’s emotional aspect of our relationships with others.
After we went over the podcast script, we attempted the podcast several times to fix the script’s issues not sounding natural. By the end of the podcast, we had established an idea of how to format the avatar, description, title, and background music. As Sam begin to edit the podcast, I worked on the remaining material. I favored this splitting of the work because I am not experienced with editing, and I already had an idea in mind of how I wanted the podcast’s avatar to look. Our collaboration throughout the podcast made the production a lot simpler despite it being on two members. We had to look at writing our podcast as a process that takes time to produce, not cramming all podcast production into a day. Sam and I created a podcast with minimal experience, but I believe we did a great job with the tools with had.
CHECK OUT THE PODCAST HERE!
The Cake is a Lie!
As the line editor, I would still like to reflect and discuss on the process of making this episode. In our group, we usually evenly split up the work, which mean that no matter the role, we put similar amount of input and ideas into the podcast. The reason why I was assigned line editor was because I am a producer who’s more efficient in editing audio clips. For this episode, we worked on a game that I have played throughout my childhood. The Plague Inc. went viral immediately when it came out a few years ago. At the time, I did not expect an actual global pandemic to ever happen in my life. However, when we brainstorm as a group and played the game together, I realized that all the things that are mentioned in the group had happened and is happening to our world. During the podcast, I tried to contribute my personal experiences and feelings toward this game. I think everybody had a chance to discuss about specific parts of the game that they liked and relate the game to our current circumstances.
In the latest episode of The Longest Rainy Sunday, my group explored the game Democratic Socialism Simulator in which I served as the assistant producer.
In this episode, we focused on how the game poses the argument that the most ideal form of government is a moderate one. The name implies that this is a game that will embrace socialist-like ideals, yet it instead, mocks them. The actual feedback loop and mechanisms of the game shows that when decisions are consistently made under one viewpoint, problems arise. One problem that we focus on specifically, is the bankruptcy of the country when we make decisions that lean left–decisions that in my opinion, are fundamental human rights.
I greatly enjoyed being a part of creating this episode because we were able to incorporate topics from current day life other than the daily despair each one of us faces amidst a raging pandemic. We published this episode only one week after the presidential election, a time when many of us were entrenched in the outcomes because the repercussions for people both domestically and abroad could be severe. We had the liberty to thus reflect on this election and what factors may have contributed to Biden’s win. One point we make during this episode is how this game came out in February, amidst primary season. Many people believed that Biden should be the democratic elect because we needed a moderate president who would appeal to undecided and even republican voters. This viewpoint came at a time when Bernie Sanders and Biden were neck and neck in the race. Coincidently, the description of Democratic Socialism Simulator says that the game is “an attempt to prefigure the opportunities and challenges of a Sanders (or Sanders-like) presidency.” This game may have influenced people to abandon their support for Sanders after playing because it illustrates that a socialist government is unattainable and unrealistic. Other topics that we were able to integrate into our podcast was the role of young voters in this election as well as a reflection on Lincoln and FDR. I think this mechanism of incorporating political issues was very helpful because we were able to share our own opinions on this game and what a moderate presidency really means. In this way, our opinions gave the episode more character and helped it seem more natural.
In respect to the process of producing, I think our group has gotten very comfortable with creating a podcast episode. When we produced our first episode, Temple Run, we were all coming to the task without any experience. Granted, we did choose a game we were somewhat familiar with–yet we were still very new to analyzing a game with a critical analysis lens. Deciding on a game, formulating a thesis, and recording took much more time that first week than it did during this episode. Now, I believe we have the ability to approach any game (including those we have not played) and effectively create an argument. We also very seamlessly have gotten into the flow of creating the other components of this podcast episode like the summary, cover photo, and script. I think that, in the future, if I ever have to create a podcast episode for another class, I would not find it a daunting process.
Given that this was our final episode, I also want to thank Jiachen and Hayden for being really great group members during this process. I think we worked really well and efficiently, and for Jiachen, I have a great deal of respect for coordinating times with us when he was twelve hours ahead of us.
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.