Portal Podcast Reflection

This podcast marked a lot of firsts for me. It was the first podcast I’ve ever made. It was also the first time I’ve ever had to write a script for something. Initially, I wanted to have an unscripted conversation with Kathy about Portal, thinking it would give a nice casual tone to the podcast. Very quickly in to recording I realised it is VERY difficult to make intersting and concise points about a topic on the fly. I would have saved a couple of hours had I not been so stubborn in trying to record without a script. Eventually, Kathy and I started our second recording session, with a script, and it went much smoother.

My podcast was amongst the first wave of podcasts post COVID-19, which presented a few technical challenges. My first recording attempt was so long that Audacity required me to download a plugin to be able to handle it. My second recording was less annoying to deal with, but Audacity came up with another way to make things difficult. Anytime I tried to add background music, Audactiy would instantly crash. After some google searches, Youtube tutorials and forum browsing I was still unable to resolve the issue. I eventually reached out to David who very kindly editted the background music in for me using a different audio program.

My favourite podcasts feel natural and free flowing. I thought that the way to replicate this would be to have to have the loose topics of the podcast outlined but no script written. It turns out this just leads to a rambling mess. Having a script removes the pressure of coming up with thoughts on the go and gives you the ability to improvise and deviate slightly which is what gives the podcast a natural tone. I don’t know how well my script achieved this, there is certainly a lot of skill that goes in to writting for a podcast. My episode made me realise just how difficult scripting natural language is and gave me a huge appriciation for some of my favourite podcasts such as Freakonomics or even a comedy podcast like Athletico Mince.

Centre Stage

I’ve always hated being the centre of attention; I try my best to avoid the limelight and feel most comfortable as an observer in the crowd. This class has forced me to challenge my attitude from the offset.

When I found out that the homework assignments would be posted publicly, I was mortified! I’ve never had my work looked at or judged by my peers before. “What will others think?” “What if they think my writing is shit?” “This is going to be humiliating.” After catastrophising for a bit, I snapped myself out of it and convinced myself to embrace the new experience, give it my all and see what happened.

I’ve decided to break down ENG101 by placing me in my absolute nightmare scenario, centre stage of a packed arena. The crowd is comprised of all of the emotions, thoughts and experiences this class has caused me to address and access. I’m confronting/embracing them using my set-list, made up of all the tasks and quests we have undertaken as a group. My approach to this task is very self-indulgent, so I’m not sure if my drawing will resonate with many others.

I have really enjoyed how this class has pushed me outside of my comfort zone, I feel that I have certainly grown as a writer. Reading throught the student posts section was always a fun part of my week. I’ve loved seeing all of the creative and inspiring ways my classmates have approached the quests and I’m sad that this is the final hurrah. It’s been fun, guys!

What a Fiasco

Morris Johnston (Me), mayor of Main Street, is found in a pool of his own brains in an abandoned road house. Testimonies flood in, uncovering the corrupt nature of his leadership. Johnston had been engaging in underground sports gambling, as well as selling class A drugs with the help of his close friend and collegue, Commisioner Jordon (Jessica). The mayor had also been linked to the death of a baby. A drugs customer of his, Shiela (Will), was unconsious in Johnston’s house, having tested out a sample of his new shipment of Ketamine. While under the influence, she rolled over and smothered the baby of her ex-husband, Nate (Kimberly). Shiela was not a parent of the baby but had kidnapped it in an attempt at revenge at her ex-spouse. Since his passing, the Mayor’s family have receieved countless death threats and their homes have been graffitied relentlessly. Johnston’s grave has been dug up 4 times since his death. It’s fair to say the people of Main Street are doing the best they can to get their revenge at the corrupt politician for what he did to their beloved town.

The passage above is a brief retelling of my groups Fiasco story, centered around my character, Morris Johnston. The initial phase was a lot of fun, the combination of creative freedom when formulating one’s character and the restriction of only being able to use each rolled dice once leads to a really unique and natural story set up.

The scenario telling portion had a bit of a bumpy start. Our group was tempted to create a large portion of the storyline before acting out a single scenario. Maybe this was because there was an unaddressed anxiety about having to improv scenes (at least there was for me). As David stated in class in reference to the Fiasco Tabletop episode, they are all trained actors while we, emphatically, are not. For me, this aversion to improv acting faded as the game went on but was never fully eradicated. The group’s confidence certainly grew as the game progressed; because of this, I think if we were to play another round of Fiasco it would be an even more fun experience.

Before playing Fiasco, I had played through, in my head, how I expected the game to go. One aspect I hadn’t considered is the almost competitive nature of it. There was a real temptation to get one’s own character to ‘win’. None of the characters existed 15 minutes previously, yet we all genuinely cared about them and how they were perceived by the others. We all had an idea of how the story was going to go for our own character, and we would do what we could to achieve that vision. I recognised that the story could only really go well for one or maybe two of the characters, so around midway through the story I decided to revel in the disaster that was unfolding for Morris Johnston instead of resisting it. This was a difficult decision and required swallowing some of my pride. It is a testament to the power of RPGs that I was so fully immersed in the mind of Mayor Johnston that I almost forgot that I was playing with other people and that the overall playing experience is more important than my characters ending. This game is about telling a story about a group of people and their relationships, not a way to manifest one person’s need for success. Thankfully, I think I may have been the only person in the group that felt this way because nobody acted in the selfish way which enticed me so much.

They say that you overcome fears through exposure; that seemed to be the case for Fiasco. I am terrified of acting, yet it definitely became easier as the game went on. Fiasco also helped me look introspectively. Stepping outside yourself and playing through the facade of a made up character makes it easier to spot patterns in your behaviour. As Daniel Kahneman states in his amazing book Thinking Fast and Slow, it is much easier to spot biases and patterns in others than in ourselves. This is what caused me to notice the overly competititve and selfish style of play I was tempted by, and do something about it. RPGs are an incredibly powerful tool, whether you use them for fun, mental exercise, relaxation or self realisation.

Fucktopus

I had been searching Thingiverse for what seemed an eternity, I was beginning to lose hope. ‘Maybe I’ll have to settle for something boring like a chess piece or die’, I dispaired. It was then that I was struck by this masterpiece, designed by the man, myth and legend that is MasterFX a.k.a. Timmo. It’s difficult to articulate why this 3D model appeals to me so much, I just knew it was the one the second I laid eyes on it. My fucktopus will forever be a feature on my desk.

On a slight side note, the TechLab was incredible. I feel so lucky to be at a college with such amazing facilities. I will definitely be taking advantage of it in the future.