One Last Reflection

I still find the existence of this English course magical. When I read the course description on Course Atlas, I could not believe there existed an English course at Emory that allows students to play video games and board games. Were we to spend the whole semester on games, instead of on sentence structures or classic books or root words? We did, and I think that turned out well. 

            For a summary of the assignments in this class, or more precisely the “quests,” please refer to the drawing below. To explicitly address the course outcomes, I assume that listing them out would be the most effective.

A partial sum-up of the work done for the course.

            One, rhetorical situation. Before taking this course, the only audience I have written for was the instructor of the course. I had to write formally: no abbreviations or vague adjectives, use long sentences with complicated grammar, and of course, Times New Roman 12-point font double-spaced. Now I realized not everyone enjoy reading formal writing all the time, and not all ideas are delivered through letters printed on paper. I still prefer formal language in reflection essays, but for other assignments in this course, I forced myself to use apostrophes and more colloquial words. For example, the video game podcast I produced with my group requires aural text, and most ideally, it faces the audience in the general public, which might not enjoy deciphering fifty-word long sentences with multiple subordinate parts. Formal writing is not unacceptable in situations as such, but it could be of lower efficiency. Still, as I mentioned in my reflection essay of the Do I Scare You? Doki Doki Literature Club podcast:

I realized a tinge of humor might help. Whether I achieved this purpose I know not, but the experience of attempting to amuse the audience is new for me.

I intend to keep the audience interested by voicing out characters in the game and creating comic relief through editing. In all podcast episodes produced by the class, we chose less formal language to communicate our ideas compared to traditional essays.

            Two, critical thinking, reading and writing. We read plenty of analysis of games in this class, including the book SuperBetter by Jane McGonigal. The insights of these readings and other videos were discussed in class. Games are frequently related with negative descriptions, especially after WHO classified video game addiction as a disorder. However, SuperBetter brings insight to the design of games, and how games could improve a person’s mental state, instead of leading to deterioration. We closely analyzed every game we played in class. I knew that games, including video games, were not simply for fun, but I never viewed them as a form of writing. Some games might not even use words to communicate; they deliver ideas indirectly —through a story, a feeling or even an opinion—and sometimes this could be more convincing than traditional writing. In addition, I find it interesting how this course encourages us to propose opinions against any of the readings and other possible mainstream beliefs. When I drafted our Doki Doki Literature Club (DDLC) podcast, I was uncertain if it were appropriate to express disapproval of some existing dating simulators. My professor told me that it would not be a problem. We can express our opinions, so long as relevant and founded.

            Three, writing as a process. At the beginning of the semester, as I mentioned above, I worried whether informal writing was acceptable. For different quests, I used different writing styles. Later into the semester, I found it easier to analyze a game or talk about a quest I completed, for I knew what to look for and my audience. Here I would again mention the podcasts my group produced as a process of writing. We had limited experience from making podcasts, so listening to examples was the first step. There we learned about the use of music and effects of changing tones. Similar to writing traditional essays, after we decided on a specific game, we played through and researched for it. The draft of a podcast includes brainstorming. During the production of the DDLC podcast, I composed the first, raw draft with the main ideas for my group members and our professor to modify. Besides the recording, we still used plenty of typing. The bullet points were for ideas, while a complete script was for recording. In the beginning, I considered talking without a script, which turned out to be extremely inefficient, for my accent forbade me to speak fluently. Eventually we read from a script written in conversational style. Also due to the lack of a script at the beginning, the time we spent editing the raw recording took much longer than most. I had to edit for not only the stuttered words and silences, but to create comic relief as well. Our group learned from experience, which allowed the production time of two other podcasts to decrease significantly.

A screenshot from the DDLC podcast draft.

           Four, collaboration. The quests of the course are open for comments for everyone on the website, which allows receiving constructive criticism. The podcast episodes also depend on collaboration. From brainstorming to recording and to editing, every step requires group members to work together.

A diagram of collaboration I created.

           Five, digital identity and citizenship. This course is largely based on the use of technology. Video games themselves are digital, and I have gained a better understanding of the role of video games in contemporary life. Moreover, the podcasts and the WordPress website we created require use of technology and applications such as Audacity.

           And two additional points I would like to mention in this reflection letter.

           Six, how this course influenced me outside the classroom. The technological skill will certainly come of use some day, but there is one more thing. As I produced the Plague Inc. podcast as assistant producer, I realized how my two interests—one in film ad media studies and one in science—might be able to overlap. Within a field of the science community communication is simple, as everyone understands the vocabulary. However, educating or spreading the information to the general public would be more complicated. In this rhetorical situation, less traditional means of writing, such as video games, might become effective.

           Seven, HomeTasking. The final project of a Kickstarter empathy game proposal was replaced by five HomeTasking quests due to the pandemic. Those quests were derived from the popular Taskmaster online tasks. The threat from the virus turned into a series of challenges, and we posted videos of ourselves completing the gameful tasks. Instead of escaping from the stress from the change to remote learning, we embraced a new way to learn as a community. We supported each other as allies. Nobody would be judged for a video s/he made, and we recognized the effort in well-made videos by voting. At first, I was afraid to act out in my videos, but after watching my peers’ bold choices, I decided to follow them. I made it my goal to gain slightly more votes, and I did. It was interesting to see how everyone’s HomeTasking videos grew more creative along the way.

Overall, this has been the most extraordinary class I have taken in my life. Many of the things I learned I did not expect. Most importantly, it taught me to pay attention to my audience.

I Cannot Decide…

Drawing #1
And another random drawing

What I’ve learned in this class and what the class has taught are to me somehow different. The first drawing represent all the things that came to my mind as I reflected on the semester. Then, as I read the prompt again, another idea came to my mind. The thought process this class taught me is something else. One of the most important things is the possibility to write without the constraints that have almost became intuitive. What is better to represent a working process than an actual reaction in nature? Well, I did alter half the processes in the actual reaction… and my usual handwriting.

Another Reflection

The making of Plague Inc. podcast took notably less time with a written script. This is the second podcast of our group, and the experience from our first podcast proved to be helpful. Cherie chose Plague Inc. because of the virus outbreak. And due to isolation, our episode depends more on narration and explanation rather than dialogue. Again, we worked effectively as a group: Cherie as the producer, Kimberly as the line producer and me as the assistant producer. 

About plagues we had plenty to talk about. We are in one. In the meeting with Dr. Morgen, we were encouraged to explore the idea of using Plague as an educational tool. I found the idea interesting. I have never thought of using a video game to learn or teach. As China realized the severity of coronavirus, it spread information through news channels, official websites and social media platforms. Scientific articles from official government accounts and interactive graphs on certified websites are easy to find, but fake news still gains an audience. Educating the general public of basic science knowledge is crucial these months. The analysis of Plague gave us insight to the probability of using video games as an educational tool, and we hope to share the insight in our podcast. 

As we researched on the game, we did find interesting connections between Plague Inc. and epidemics in the world, and how CDC has invited the game developer to speak at the institution. Beside sharing these facts, we also compared the plague in the game and real diseases. I suggested to incorporate some complicated science vocabulary in, and immediately tell the audience that this is not the way to explain things. It sounds effective in the podcast. This emphasized one of the arguments we tried to make, about how formal writing is not practical in communicating with the general public. Scientists are taught to always use formal language, while at times this leads to knowledge being isolated. As in the podcast, I resisted the temptation of pouring formal language onto the script we created. 

If there were not a quarantine, I believe our podcast would be more lively. Zoom and FaceTime restricted our means to communicate. For podcasts out of quarantine, we could incorporate more dialogue, and deliver ideas in a more easily understood way. 

Add Title

The most iconic movie (actually a TV series) from my perspective is the Hannibal TV show by Bryan Fuller, but it is not recognizable enough to the most of the public. I tried to recreate a scene from Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019), as only indoor scenes are possible. I have no suits or formal shoes, let alone bright colored ones. There are no other living beings visible to bare eyes in my room to play Murray Franklin, either. I had to cut a simplified version of him out of Emory lunch bags. Since the video is silent, I’d assume it to look classroom appropriate.

Sound On

Here’s to Silent Hill 2. Don’t kill your wife, or you will be haunted.

As I took my pants and threw it around, the monsters from Silent Hill 2 came to my mind. I tried to make the video look scary, but the actual scary part was me filming myself. After all, I had to assemble a six-feet tall structure to place my mini pad onto, while I’m a lot shorter than that. The random noise was a result of me probing around iMovie.

Tomato Hatred

I had the choice to either beat the tomatoes or the bok choys in my fridge. I eventually decided on my two-week-old tomatoes. The Dasani arena was assembled with bottles I collected from lunch bags. As for the Muay Thai hand wraps, I simply have them for the sake of having them. Daredevil is a great show, and Charlie Cox a great actor. From the story to fighting choreography, everything is excellent. Unfortunately, I don’t even know the correct way to use the hand wraps, but I think this is enough for the tomatoes.

Organized

Yes, I was in the blanket, but I swear I just did all the chores today. A friend came over to film my camouflage. This does sound to be inconsiderate and of high risk, but this is the only person that I interact with, who lives at Clairmont as well. Let me just hope neither of us would be asymptomatic carriers and if we were, we wouldn’t be spreading the virus farther than each other.

All I want

Wednesday was a magical day, on which all the classes decided to set assignment and test deadlines. This is why my bathroom transformation is late. I don’t truly want a night out now, I’d prefer a break for a movie or some video games. Also, a break from worrying about where to find toilet paper rolls. Even the convenience store near Clairmont has closed for some reason. The chips and “energy drinks” were just intended symbols, not something I would actually consume. Filming myself was the harder part, since I’m alone in my room.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1J9GjXHZO-L401-kkxgJFAyjlnRpey543

It Struggled

I tried to throw paper balls into the bin spectacularly, but it kept steering off. So I decided to choreograph a dance, as Clairmont Tower doesn’t allow hazardous behavior. At the end of my little dance, just as I approached the bin, my piece of paper started resisting its fate. It melted into my skin, and a force out of nowhere shot into my arm. I tumbled back. Amidst shock and fear I forced the piece of paper to its destiny again. It wiggled and kicked and cursed, but I was more determined. I’d fall into the bin alongside just to rid the world of this evil piece of paper.

Not a word above tells the truth. I have just been staying indoor doing biology and chemistry and German homework for too long. It really isn’t a spectacular throw compared to my peers’, but I forsook my sanity for it.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1RZVfyDKyoMQbHf6q2HLLNYFYXPz5n_PI

Finally

I have to say printing something with a 3D printer was an exciting experience. The first time I saw one of those was in high school. Some rich and philanthropic alumnus donated ten 3D printers, so our technology class’s (I don’t know if that’s the correct translation) biggest assignment became learning how to design an object and print with a 3D printer. I tried to make an Avengers bracelet, but twice I failed to adjusted my design to sit on a flat surface. I was the one in my 300-student class that failed to print anything out. I certainly impressed my teacher.

But this time the file from Thingiverse worked perfectly, and I got my Cthulhu dice tower! It’s only one-third of its original size, so it lost the function of rolling dice. The 3D printer seemed unhappy with the change, too. Bits of threads got here and there, but so long as the Cthulhu remains identifiable, I feel more than satisfied. I should color it someday, all in green.