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Sidequest 14: Perfecting the Pizza Pie

My first year writing course has allowed me to progress as a writer over the course of the semester. To represent what I have done this semester, I constructed a pizza pie which is appropriate for me given I am a New Yorker. The first step in making a pizza is the dough which signifies the ENG 101 course about games and is what all assignments completed revolved around. The next step is to add sauce on top of the dough and the sauce represents the book “Superbetter: The Power of Living Gamefully” by Jane McGonigal. This book was incorporated into most assignments and was used to learn more about how games can help people in the real world. On top of the sauce is the cheese which is the last thing added before putting it in the oven. This represents the final reflection and final portfolio which contains all of my work from this course.

How good is a pizza without toppings? The toppings represent all the different assignments we had this semester which allowed me to progress as a writer. Pepperoni, the most popular topping, represents the podcast series we created because it was my favorite assignment this semester. It is on two of the six slices because each of us was producer and assistant producer on two episodes about FIFA 20 and Minecraft. The third slice is topped with onions which represents our hometasking assignments and competition. I chose onions to represent these fun tasks because onions make people teary-eyed and I reminisced on what the semester could’ve been if we were still at school which made me a bit sad. Next, another slice is topped with buffalo chicken which is a symbol the weekly side quest assignments like this one. Side quests could get a little ~spicy~ at times as they made me think outside the box, so I chose buffalo chicken which is also hot. The fifth slice has mushrooms which is for the game Fiasco we played in groups and wrote a reflection about. Coming up with an appropriate topping for Fiasco was challenging, but when I thought of the wild west where our story was set, for some reason, the first topping I thought of was mushrooms. Last but not least, the sixth slice has pineapples which represents all the other games explored this semester like “Gone Home” and “Betrayal at House on the Hill.”

Sidequest 13: Rocky Road

The training montage from the film Rocky (1976) is the most iconic movie scene in sports movies in my opinion. My backyard is laid out perfectly to recreate this scene, so I chose it to recreate for my hometask. I wrapped my hands in paper towels in place of white boxing gloves and put my hood up like Rocky Balboa. I ran across my backyard to an awkward set of steps that we have. There’s only four steps, but there’s a lot of room between each step like there are at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I jogged up the steps and did a celebration fist pump, just like Rocky did. Hopefully people will soon be able to recreate this scene at the sight it was filmed instead of at home!

Sidequest 12: Hangin’ in the trees

In my backyard, my family has an old and rusty tree house. Attached to the tree house is a ladder swing and for this task, I tied a pair of trousers to the tree house to create a rope swing. These trousers were sturdy enough to swing on and film this hometask, but it would probably be wiser to buy an actual rope swing to get me to go outside and keep me busy during quarantine.

Sidequest 11: Ready to hit the links

My kitchen turned into a miniature golf course for the fourth hometask. Since we can’t head to a golf course to go mini-golfing as a family right now, we brought it to our kitchen! With this event taking place in our kitchen, it was only appropriate to use an apple as my golf ball. My dad loves to golf, so I used his practice indoor putting green to replicate a hole. Heading into the final hole, my dad and I were tied atop the leaderboard. I needed to score one less shot them him and make my final putt, and of course, I did. Looks like I’m already in good shape for the 2020 golf season. Watch out Tiger Woods! 

Podcast Reflection: Virtual Soccer Practice

I was the producer on my podcast titled “keeping your head in the game.” My assistant producer Greg and I took a deep dive into EA Sports’ soccer video game FIFA 20. We each played and paid attention to the different features and techniques we used. We decided it was best to focus on FIFA 20 as a whole rather than focusing on one game mode. When I was the assistant producer of Winslow’s podcast, we each made different arguments and asked each other questions throughout to make it more engaging. I thought this worked well, so I made my episode similar by having us ask questions and going in-depth about our personal experiences.

Our main goals going into the episode were to talk about how sports video games compare to playing sports in real life, the feelings they bring to people, and how they fill a void during the COVID-19 outbreak. Since people can’t be together, we discussed how sports video games like FIFA can help athletes improve their skills, knowledge, and strategies when they are able to play sports in real life again. Finally, we briefly discussed how social distancing can help e-sports grow today and in the future.

I was happy with the way the episode flowed and how our points came across. However, this episode was much more challenging to record than my first one was because we couldn’t record in person. When together, it’s much easier to build off someone else’s points and get a feel for the energy which is crucial. At home, it’s harder to connect personally and coordinate different segments. One thing I would’ve liked to go more in depth about in the episode was how FIFA has many built in-features to give players feedback on what they are doing well and what they should work on. This could be very helpful for coaches and players in trying to teach their players how to translate video game performance to actual games.

Our episode focused on creativity and communication. During challenging times, you must get creative and by playing video games you can get a similar feel to playing in person. The coronavirus is also forcing people to feel isolated, so playing with teammates and friends can be a great method of communication and way to grow your intellect. I saw an improvement in my confidence in my public speaking skills in this episode. I am a soft-spoken guy, so it was exciting to hear myself speak passionately about something I enjoy playing. I believe this reflects my progression as a learner because I can breakdown rhetorical situations and incorporate my opinions into arguments better.

For future episodes, I would recommend adding plenty of personal anecdotes as they make things easier to talk about. I believe that all strategies and preparation were effective for this podcast. I am proud of how my episode turned out given the circumstances and am excited to listen other people’s future episodes!

Sidequest 10: Hat Attack

For my third hometasking assignment, I turned into a baseball cap! In my front closet my family keeps all our outdoor clothing including winter gloves, ski caps, and hats. On both doors, a cap rack hangs down which has all the caps my dad collects from the golf tournaments he attends and the sponsorships he gets for his local radio show. I took the bottom cap off of the shelf and curled up into a ball so only the cap would be shown initially. My dad started from the top of the rack and lowered the camera until it got to me where I revealed myself. This was the first time I got help from my dad on one of these assignments and he was intrigued by the concept of these hometasks to say the least. He got really into it and given how creative he is he was able to help my plan come to fruition. The challenge of figuring out an idea to do made this the most fun hometask yet because it felt rewarding to watch the final product.

Sidequest 9: It’s a Darty!

For the second home task, I turned my bathroom into a fun restaurant / bar venue. In lots of old school restaurants you find games like pool, foosball, corn hole, and darts. I decided that it would be best to set up a dart board in my bathroom given the limited objects I had in my house. Going to restaurants like this was very common in the ’80s and ’90s so the song choice “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey was a no brainer given its popularity around that time. The bag of M&M’s and cups represent the restaurant aspect of the venue. The red light comes from my heat lamp in my bathroom and represents the dark environment of restaurants like this. Typically, spring time is when day parties (aka darties) occur, but since we are stuck at home, I figured I’d make an actual darty (dart party) in my bathroom! I would say I hit the bullseye with this idea for home task #2!

Side Quest 8: Future NFL Punter

For the first hometask, I chose to kick a crumbled up piece of paper into my garbage bin. One of the hardest things to do in American football is punt a football down the field because of the ball’s rotation and unique shape. A crumbled up piece of paper has no clear shape and is rough around the edges, so I figured I would try and test my skills at punting a piece of paper. I stood at the top of my stairs, dropped the piece of paper, and hit it against the wall and into my garbage bin. This throw / kick was spectacular because I had to drop the paper on a certain part of my foot to ensure it would go in the correct direction. I also had to put just enough power into the kick to make sure it ended up in the bin. This task turned out to be much more challenging than I imagined, but I did not mind it because I don’t have much else to do these days.

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Podcast Reflection: A trip down memory lane

I was the assistant producer on Winslow’s podcast “Minecraft: A Trip Back Through Time.” We focused on nostalgia, the memories video games brought back to us that we played growing up, and how we use things we learned in our everyday lives. We chose to revisit Minecraft since it was a game both of us were familiar with. In preparation for the podcast, we each played Minecraft and explored our worlds. We also watched YouTube videos which helped bring back memories of playing in our childhoods. This was a fun experience because I had not played Minecraft since I was in middle school. 

We decided to make the episode very personal and conversational because we liked how it worked in a prior episode. This helped achieve our goals because it allowed both of us to reflect on our personal experiences from the past and present. The goal of our episode was to show people how video games changed our lives for the better and to realize how video games can grow our character. In addition, we wanted to prove how video games bring back nostalgic memories and spark creativity. 

Decisions were made throughout the process to fit the requirements and goals of the podcast. Originally, we wanted to focus on just how video games can ignite nostalgia and how nostalgia effects people. However, we decided to focus on the experience of revisiting video games. Minecraft was the perfect game to focus on because we had not played it in awhile and our lives have changed in that period. This allowed us to show how some life skills that Minecraft promoted have helped us grow as individuals. If we had more time, we would have discussed more than one game.

The filming of the podcast went smoothly because we communicated efficiently, and we were both familiar with how to use the technology. We wrote down bullet points for each segment rather than script it which made the conversation sound more natural. One area I could improve on is that I say filler words like “um” often. Luckily, we edited them out, but I will work on speaking more confidently and without interruptions. 

Podcasting is better than writing a traditional essay because it is more informal, personal, and allows you to go off track. This allowed for a more creative conversation and to explore areas that really interested us. I hope to be more creative in future writing projects and say my thoughts aloud to organize assignments like podcasts are organized. For future episodes, I would recommend that people explore their game for as long as possible and choose something they enjoy because they will be more invested and have a higher quality of conversation. 

I am most proud of the collaboration that Winslow and I did for this episode. We both helped each other out and gave each other ideas to build off throughout. Having a partner who was willing to listen to ideas and implement his own opinions made it an enjoyable working environment. We also communicated well with each other which prevented conflicts from arising. 

Podcast link: 

Fiasco: Off the rails, but on track

My group’s game session of Fiasco was an entertaining, creative, and thought-provoking experience. My name in the story was Edward Anderson, Winslow’s was Collin Anderson, and Greg’s was Russell Cooper. The game required us to make many choices that turned out to be the framework of the story. For example, our story was set in the wild west because we chose the Boomtown set. We then formed relationships with each other by rolling dice. I was Collin’s parent and Russell and I were former lovers. We then rolled the rest of the dice and figured out that we needed to get rich through robbing a business using a railroad hand car at boot hill across the tracks. 

The story we told was based off Russell and Collin’s relationship as gambling partners who are being chased for money. The game started slow as we were trying to develop storylines and follow directions properly. My group decided that to get rich, we needed to carry out a heist. This helped guide the plot and we added details and threw in twists in every scene in preparation for the big heist. For example, I was part of the mission to get back with Collin rather than get money. This may seem like a minor detail, but it was noticeable in the second act when sacrifices and choices were made to resolve situations. More details allowed players to understand everyone’s personality, interests, and motives. However, we all put our individual interests aside and worked as a team to prevent a train from going through boot hill and retrieve the $1 million dollars that was on board the train. 

The tilt happened when we were escaping with from police with money. The tilts suggested that everyone dies in the second act except for Edward. This added a new challenge because every player needed to incorporate their tilt at some point, and we did not know when that would happen. This forced resolvers to think on their feet and continue to drive the plot. In the end, Russell was shot on the handcar because he saved Edward, his ex-lover, from getting hit. This left only the father-son duo of Edward and Collin remaining. Collin died from a gunshot wound and Edward killed himself in a shootout with the police because he thought the two people he cared about died. However, Russell was still alive.

Overall, I was expecting the game to be more structured, but I was pleasantly surprised with the flow of the game. We were able to make the game more fun and less stressful because of looser rules. Each of us had moments where we drove the plots forward and sat back and reacted to what others did because of the roles chosen at the beginning of each scene. Our roles varied throughout the game, so everybody contributed by adding details or bringing the story back to our objectives. The learning outcomes that were fulfilled while playing Fiasco were rhetorical composition and collaboration. Fiasco was a new type of game to me because it required us to create our character and story rather than having structured guidelines. In these roles, all players collaborated and communicated clearly with each other to add to the story and work towards our group goal of getting rich. 

I believe the skills and strategies I used during gameplay were effective because I was one of the last characters remaining. Playing Fiasco showed me that I could improve on thinking quickly in an uncertain situation. For example, there were times when it took time to think of a reply. I can improve on this in other games we play this semester and on future assignments by pushing my boundaries and taking extra time to get my creative juices flowing. The more creative I get, the easier it becomes for me to think of a response and improve my reaction skills.

I am proud of the Fiasco story my group created. It took a lot of teamwork and collaboration to form a story that flowed and integrated all our objectives. In my opinion, we successfully did that. This was my first experience playing a role-playing game. The most interesting part of forming the story was trying to resolve each scene after the establisher. It was much more challenging than I anticipated, but it was overall enjoyable and showed me that I am more creative than I give myself credit for.