This essay was definitely the most traditional, analysis-heavy piece we had to write, asking us to formulate an essay looking at two of the many games we played in class and show how they dealt with trauma and emotions. Although it was “traditional,” the essay was still nothing like the boilerplate five paragraph essay that I was so tired of writing in high school. Getting started was really the hardest part, as the essay had to be structured in that the thesis of the argument was staged only at the end. This led me to floundering quite a bit when I tried to write the essay top-down. Only after planning it out and formulating my thesis was I able to frame my arguments; how sympathy and empathy were the main goals of Gone Home and Firewatch, respectively. After completing, I really could see that no matter how you structure your essay, the argument can still be strong as long as it is fleshed out, regardless of where the thesis was located.
For this essay, I followed the instructions of the assignment and wrote out a 3-part essay with the addition of an introduction as a hook. Instead of working from a thesis I have already built up, this time I concluded my thesis based on what I have written in the two parts prior to the ending paragraph. Although I have never done this before, I was quite surprised at how easily I came to the conclusion and built my thesis.
While working on the essay, I really got a chance to take a closer look the games I compared/contrasted with a second play through. I was able to find a lot more details in each of them relating to the theme of depression/trauma as I went in with a purpose this time. When I played through “Gris” and “Gone Home” for the first time, was not able to put myself into the situation and feel some of the emotions that I felt while playing through this time.
Before starting the reflection for creating DMD’s Revenge, I wanted to mention that I feel like our group slacked off when naming this game prototype. We kept the placeholders we used while writing. The only name that appears in the game, DMD, is actually a shorthand for “someone unlucky” as we jokingly decided to call him since he never made an appearance alive.
In the process of creating the game, my main role was to add in detailed descriptions for each of the scenes, making sure the tone of the game is consistent, and putting everything together using Twine.
The story of our game was inspired by an episode from the Japanese TV series, “Unnatural”. Before deciding on the subject of our game, we were stuck when deciding what social issue we should address. One of our members brought this episode and bully up as a theme. After that, while Wendy and Elaine wrote the main storyline, Roy and I worked on adding selection choices and details in scenes to make the story more interactable and game like. While writing out detailed scenes for the game, I tried to shift the perspective of the player onto different characters, hoping to increase their curious about what’s going on.
Looking back at the game, I’m pretty happy with what our group has created. DMD’s Revenge seems more like a visual/interactive novel as it is more plot based with less controllable options and paths to take. If we were to make this game fully, I think we could add in a lot more details into the suicide case itself, making it more of a suspense and even almost a detective game.
We could do this by developing a more complete and complicated case. Then, by adding more in depth interactable characters, a hint collecting system, and making different pathways for players to take based on hints that lead to different endings, give the players more control over their character in the game. Adding on to that, while players shift perspective onto other characters, we could write out parallel ongoing stories with actions that affect other character’s choices. This would improve characters’ development in the game and make the game much more playable repeatedly.
In terms of visual and audio, while it’s good to add them, it’s better to keep them limited to have the players focus on the plot and use their imagination for scenes through descriptions from the text. For example, some background noises of people talking could be added to the classroom scene and some sort of stream notification sound for the stream watching scene. Visuals we could incorporate into the hint system for players to observe and obtain some information.
Aside from the detailed writing, telescoping has been a very important skill as I needed to keep the main plot in mind while managing different options and descriptions for scenes, making sure they make sense and connect to finally make up the whole story.
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 plot of our Twine game is inspired by a Japanese tv series called Unnatural Death. We adapted from one of the episodes. The main character of our story is a forensic doctor and a bunch of high school students. In the story, the main character DMD undergoes tremendous school violence and begins to seek a solution to change his life. Due to the extreme mental trauma he received, he decides to commit suicide and try to impute his death to the one of the students that has been bullying him. The truth is discovered eventually, which means the main character failed to do so. By the end, we want people to pay attention to school violence, to actually understand what bullying is, which is not a simple physical attack between students.
The creation process was smooth, four of us decided to split the work. Therefore, we didn’t assign roles. Since I was the only one in our group that had watched the tv series, I wrote the original plot of the game first, and my group mates revised the plot to be more game-like. I think we did a great job choosing the topic, and setting up the framework.
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.
CHECK OUT MY ESSAY HERE: Embracing the Trauma
Life involves trauma; however, how people choose to let that trauma affect them matters and how healing occurs. Gris and Gone Home are about learning to heal from traumatic events and acceptance of oneself and others; the games are about finding love and acceptance in the darkest places, such as the underwater trench or the hidden pathways of a seemingly-abandoned home.
Writing this essay, I chose to write the thesis and final paragraph first. However, I included information that I did not want as my last paragraph, so I copied it out and applied it to my first two paragraphs. There are three main parts to see, the two compare and contrast paragraphs and the final thesis and conclusion section. In each part of the compare and contrast paragraphs, I chose to compare my two main ideas. Writing this essay, I recognized the true nature of Gone Home and Terry’s important role in the story. He is such an essential piece of the entire game, and it is somewhat disappointing that I and many others overlooked him during our playthrough.
CHECK OUT MY ESSAY HERE: Embracing the Trauma
In the Twine game project, the four of us split the roles fairly evenly while we worked together on the scripts on a shared Google document. We set up a time to meet for several consecutive days to brainstorm ideas for the game. Very instantly we have decided that we want to create a story that would have been as intriguing as a movie or tv drama. Thus, we each have our suggestions and eventually agreed upon Wendy’s suggestion, a story from an episode of a Japanese TV show “Unnatural Deaths”. At first, the rest of us were doubtful of the plot since we have not watched the show. Therefore, we took the time to understand its plot in order to add our own twist to it. We developed a connection of the episode to a social issue that we have discussed in this class, which is peer bullying, a prevalent issue in education systems all around the world.
My main job was revising the script plot transcribed by other group members, turning to into a more game-like format, adding fun choices to the game that would increase playability, yet forcing the players to come back to the main plot eventually. This was very difficult to achieve since the only way to show the play-through logic on Google Doc is through text. As a result, we created various reference points so the players and jump back and forth through the story. I am very pleased and proud of our end result. I think we have come up with an adaptation of the story that is more closely related to our lives as American students while shaping the game into an interactive, playable story. I think this will definitely benefit me in my future writing experiences, since writing come in many different forms and one of them could be writing an intriguing story for a specific, targeted audience so they can understand an issue that I am trying to convey.
Throughout the times writing this essay, I went back to the two games, Gone Home, and Gris, in order to gain a refreshed memory of how these games felt like to me. Repeated play-throughs of these two games were definitely not as enjoyable as the first time, but it did help me gain a better understanding since I have acquired more knowledge above games after obtaining more class experience. The paper included roughly three parts: one introducing Gone Home, the other introducing Gris, and the last merging their similarities together. I actually quite enjoyed this new style of putting a thesis at the end of a comparison paper. While writing to conventional essay I would take a long time to plan out my thesis and construct the structure of the paper before I even begin, this new style felt more intuitive to me. I have always felt like the thesis would be a rephrased conclusion, while in this essay, putting the thesis in the end paragraph, I did not have to rephrase the same idea twice. One flaw of this writing style could be that the paper will flow more intuitive, which could be beneficial. However, in the case of very long pieces this writing style may lead to repetition of the same ideas or logical inconsistencies.
To view the game comparison paper, visit link below:
My most important contributions to the group project was to compose a whole story (from start to finish) about one of the three characters that we had. Our group designed a deductive game that players followed along the stories of three inter-related characters who live in the New York City during the Covid-19 pandemic. We separated the work pretty evenly between the four of us. From the beginning, we brainstormed a general framework together that we would start with a few characters, each with their individual story, and eventually let the players know if their character was infected by the Covid-19 or not. During the writing process, several of us ran into questions and we found ways to help each other and solve problems like how long we should write for each link, how we can develop three distinct characters while having them do the same thing (like go to work), etc. We presented to our class in a succinct manner, aiming to attract curiosity from our audiences to try our amazing game. I’m proud of our twine game, and I believe players would feel surprised and happy about the overall experience of playing. If I had the chance to do it over again, I would make the story of each page shorter and each option underneath that story simpler. I found that it was hard to track the logic and quality of the writing as we accumulated multiple complicated paragraphs.
I developed new skills to create a new game for myself. This is my first time doing so and definitely a dream-come-true moment. Growing as a kid, I played lots of games, and I always wanted to make a game on my own and let all my friends know “hey, I made that.” However, before this opportunity, I was also somewhat hesitant and lacked knowledge of technological tools to put together a game of myself. So I feel grateful of this course and this project. It really helps me fulfill my dream. And for certain, this twine game was not perfect; however, I think it was a big and meaningful first step for me as I found great passion in making new games that entertain people.
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