Play Make Write Think

“Tetris” Reflection

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In this episode, Zamirah and I analyzed the popular game, Tetris. As the lead producer of this episode, I took on the role of developing the overarching argument in this episode. Having played this game when I was younger, I wanted to understand why it still remains popular today around the world despite its simplistic nature. Drawing inspiration from our discussions in class about Jane McGonigal’s, Superbetter, I also wanted to address how this game and the mechanisms and strategies of this game could apply to our real-world experiences. After playing the game through and doing some research, Zamirah and I came together to discuss and write out our thoughts. Using our notes, extra research, information from readings, discussion with each other and Dr. Morgen, we were able to develop a coherent and engaging script. I was in charge of the production and recording aspect this time, which was a little difficult through Zoom. We would often experience glitches in audio, occasional background noise, or poor sound quality and we would have to re-record. But we did our best with the resources we had! Since I’d had some experience working with audacity, I was able to input the recording and make the necessary edits considerably easily. However, finding music to fit the tone and attitude of our podcast was quite difficult. It took many, many hours and lots of trial and error. As with the last podcast I worked on, patience was essential in the developing process. I think this is where the learning objective “writing as a process” comes in. Working on something fairly new to me on unknown technology or applications was frustrating at times; I was ready to give up and settle with what I had. But taking the time to go through the process of research, drafting, editing, discussion, reflection – all of this was essential to produce the desirable end result. It’s rewarding to see the outcome of hard work and dedication. 

I think I would still want to improve on content and audio quality if I had the time and resources to do so. This game is fairly simple, so at first it was difficult coming up with ideas and analyzing this game. However, this is where our readings came in handy like Superbetter and Steven Johnson’s ideas of probing and telescoping. But I think there was still opportunity to offer more personal insight and reflection about this game in the podcast. 

In terms of skills and strategies I acquired as a learner, as I said before, the overall process of thinking critically and analyzing a game(even a simple one like Tetris), brainstorming, drafting, editing, etc, are all important skills to utilize with other various types of assignments I do in the future. In addition, I always find it beneficial and important to find ways to connect classroom topics or readings to real-life perspectives. Thinking critically and creatively has allowed us to do so in our podcast episodes and throughout this class. 

“Smite” Reflection

In this podcast episode, Austin(producer) and I(assistant producer) analyzed Smite, and the accuracy in its portrayal of mythological deities. Austin has an extensive knowledge of this game, and was pretty set on the topic of our podcast from the start. But we needed to establish the thesis statement and argument. We began our development process by playing the game through, listening to previous podcasts, and doing some background research. We discussed what we liked or needed to improve, and what we definitely wanted to include content-wise. After a lot more discussion with each other and Dr. Morgen, we were able to solidify our thesis statement for this podcast. To write the script, we continued to discuss and put down the main ideas, along with incorporating the research we had found from before. While some of the content was scripted out, we wanted to make it more anecdotal and conversational — so a lot of the script was simply bullet points to expand upon. Since Austin was taking a class that pertained to our topic, he had the idea to interview his professor for some insight on the particular deities we were talking about. I think this interview aspect was a perfect addition to the podcast! After talking out ideas and revising if necessary, we recorded the podcast and Austin was able to put the edited interview, background music, and other necessary audio aspects over the recording into audacity

Our primary goal of this podcast was to express the importance of the game’s characters(like Kali or Bastet) staying true to their original lore, and how this contributes to the overall gaming experience. I think these initial discussions we had around the content of the game allowed us to create such a cohesive and interesting argument/conversation for the podcast. Because we had rich discussion before recording, we were able to deviate from the script at certain points, and add humor or anecdotal aspects that made it more engaging for listeners. 

Since it was the first podcast I ever worked on, I think I underestimated how much time I needed to devote to developing it. For the future, it would be best to give myself more time to come up with ideas, discuss, and put it all together. Other than this, I’m proud of our result!

Developing this podcast episode reinforced the learning outcome of “writing as a process.” It takes thorough discussion, research, brainstorming, revision, editing, and above all, patience. I enjoyed being able to use a different genre/type of writing that differs from the traditional, literary writing. It was refreshing to be able to utilize collaboration and conversations, and establish a more casual tone in our work. Overall, this was an enjoyable experience that has given me new resources, skills, and strategies for the future.

Side Quest #14: “Tree of English 101.07”

To represent my experience in English 101 this year, I used a tree to break down the different influential parts. The trunk represents the foundation of this class: Play, Make, Write, Think. The branches represent the various learning outcomes: creating a digital identity, analyzing rhetorical situations, practicing critical thinking and problem-solving, making writing a reflective process, and finally, thinking creatively. The smaller twigs branching off each individual learning outcome represents how we practiced said learning outcomes and new skills — such as through games, podcasts, readings, sidequests, collaborative discussions, and our websites. I chose to use a tree, as it symbolises the interconnectedness of all these skills and experiences, meaningful growth and development, and individuality.

Hometask #5: stay protected!

This assignment tasked us to create or do the most extraordinary thing with a pair of trousers. For my idea, I chose to create something that’s not necessarily the most “extraordinary”, but extremely practical and useful for us amidst this global crisis: a face mask. I grabbed some thin, cotton pants from my closet and made a new face mask following instructions posted on the CDC website. I hope you find this helpful, especially since it feels like it’s nearly impossible to get a mask these days.

Step 1: grab some pants
Step 3: Fold each side in and loop the rubber bands onto your ears to wear(folded side towards your face).

A video of the finished product — and I promise it works!

(here is a link if the embedded video doesn’t work:

The CDC’s instructional picture that I used –

Hometask #3: Camouflage

This assignment was one of the more difficult side quests in my opinion. I kept walking up and down my house trying to come up with creative camouflage ideas, but it was pretty challenging. Until I saw this mound of sheets, pillows, and clothes all piled up on our couch…It was perfect 🙂 I don’t know if this was necessarily camouflage(or just me hiding under a bunch of junk), but here are my pictures are below:

Hometask #2: My ideal “night out”

After months and months of endless tests and assignments(and sleep-deprivation) in college, I’ve decided that my ideal night out is the most relaxing night I could possibly create for myself. This means comfy PJs, tasty snacks, blankets on blankets, and of course, Netflix pulled up on my laptop — all in the comfort of my own bed(my “venue”). Not a very exciting night out to most, but it’s all I could wish for these days. Here is the link to my video:

Hometask #1: Slingshot “paper toss”

For this Hometask assignment, I chose to slingshot a piece of paper into a bin. I was having some difficulty coming up with “spectacular throw” ideas, until I saw this basic slingshot lying around my house — my brother and I used to play with it when we were younger, so it’s a little old and worn-down; but it worked! I’m not sure if this was particularly spectacular, but it definitely took me a bit to finally get it into the trash can. I made it in on my first practice attempt, but of course I wasn’t recording.

3D Printing experience

By Rachel Vellanikaran

There’s really no meaningful reason as to why I choice a pawn to 3D print. It was honestly the first game piece that came to mind when I read the side quest assignment description. I’ve always liked the pawn even if it is technically the weakest piece in most cases. In terms of challenges, I didn’t experience any trouble once the link was provided to look up game pieces. I took it to the Tech lab last Wednesday after I downloaded my .stl file, sent my request in, and the piece was ready within hours. I’ve never done 3D printing before, so this was an interesting experience — and it’s useful to know that we have this type of resource at Emory. 

Fiasco: my thoughts

By Rachel Vellanikaran

Playing Fiasco was quite an interesting experience, to say the least. With some initial difficulty figuring out game-play and rules, we eventually rolled the dice to establish various relationships, needs, objects, and a location. This initial process of deciding these contextual aspects was a little different from the last time we played in class, as this time we actually selected dice before reading the category and descriptions — adding to that surprise factor that’s so prevalent in this game. My fellow teammates, Austin, Cherie, Sadie, Giovanni, and I chose to play with the Main Playset. Taken place in Hickory Smokes “nursing home,” our narrative included multiple adulterous sexual affairs, backstabbing, murder, and more. My relationships included a friendship with Giovanni as a “manipulator” of some sorts, and co-worker of Sadie, non-coincidentally at this particular nursing home. The narrative started out with Austin and Cherie fighting over financial issues in their marriage, and Austin eventually kicking Cherie out of the house. One of our two needs was to get laid, and with the other need already utilized by another team member, I chose to incorporate this into my narrative. My character was working towards a sexual relationship with the newly-divorced Austin, and would take some deceptive measures to do so. Conveniently, Sadie, a fellow colleague of ten years, was friends with Cherie and Austin and thus my way in. The story continued to take creative and unexpected turns throughout our game-play, from Austin and Giovanni’s conspiracy to murder Austin’s grandmother’s best friend to Cherie acquiring loads of money through her gambling habits to my character’s affair with the divorcee who was simultaneously trying to kill and steal from the elderly woman at the nursing home. It was absolute chaos, but quite fun, nonetheless. 

It was particularly interesting to see how events change so drastically before you even realize it. This game is based on your own creativity when it comes to establishing and resolving scenes. You, yourself create the narrative and can manipulate it for better or for worse. I didn’t realize how open-ended and flexible the game design is, where you(and your teammates) create the basis of a story and see how it plays out. Because it was truly up to improvisation and our imagination, as I said before, it got a little chaotic. For example, at one point the hoodlum murders the old lady in front of me, the unsuspecting, innocent nurse, and I decide to cover up for him and end up in jail — where I eventually kill myself. It was a lot…but it was actually very enjoyable to see how everything played out as we all added new twists to the story.  The game design itself does have certain guidelines and rules, but it doesn’t really limit your ability to, for the most part, change the narrative as you wish — at least until the very end where they add in “the tilt.” My tilt was a little out of place for the situation of my character. The description was basically along the lines of “you f**ked up hard; you’re probably going to kill yourself,” when I truly hadn’t had much involvement in major conflict up until then. So from then on, I had to come up with creative ways to set-up this ending for my character — even if it meant some far-fetched additions.

Admittedly, playing the game seemed a little intimidating at first, since I was playing with new people and felt pressure to conjure up captivating story-lines and premises. But, obviously these initial apprehensions subsided as we continued to play. Since much of the the game is about “winning” role-playing situations and acquiring dice, I found myself being a little more assertive or defensive in my responses to others as I took on the role of my character more seriously with the game’s progression. It was important to be strategic in the stories you created. You had to manipulate the situations created by others in favor of your own plot or chosen line of fate. It required a bit of planning, particularly in predicting how others would react and respond. Overall, playing Fiasco was a rewarding experience, as the game was captivating and enjoyable despite its natural chaos and unpredictability.