Gin Rummy: Reflecting on the Third Podcast Episode

As the lead producer of the third podcast about the card game Gin Rummy, I took on a new leadership role by organizing the script and overall production process of the podcast. I chose this game because it is often misconceived as a boring card game played by the elderly, and I wanted to shed light on this misconception. In writing the script, I aimed to provide a clear explanation of how to play the game while also emphasizing personal anecdotes to play on viewers’ emotions and provide greater entertainment. My group began work on the podcast by researching the game’s rules and history, which we discovered was fairly recent. We divided up the tasks accordingly: As the Producer, I developed the majority of the script, as Assistant Producer, Giovanni compiled the audio and music into a cohesive audio file, and as Line Producer, Will helped edit the script and audio. When producing this episode, we also considered what worked and what did not work from past episodes. For the first episode about Risk, we realized we discussed the technicalities of the game too much and did not focus enough on analysis, building our argument, and making the script entertaining for listeners. For the Chess podcast, we spent less time explaining the rules and focused more on a clear argument that ran throughout the script. And for our final podcast, we added more dialogue, which helped frame the argument and lighten the mood while threading a clear argument throughout the podcast.

The obvious challenge we faced when producing this episode was not being physically together to work on it. However, we optimized the capacity of the internet by using the video chat platform Zoom to discuss our plans for the episode. And instead of recording it all together using a microphone, we each recorded audio files and sent them to Giovanni, who compiled them. Overall, we managed to produce even better podcasts than we made when we were in person despite the lack of in-person interaction. If we had more resources available for our episode, the audio would likely have been clearer by using high-tech microphones, but I do not think this was a major issue. Something else we could have incorporated was interviews with family members about their experiences playing Gin Rummy, but this also would have been difficult since we could not meet in person. 

Producing this podcast helped me meet the composing texts in multiple genres learning objectives by writing for the aural genre rather than an audience who reads my work. I achieved the analysis learning outcome by writing a script that had a clear argument throughout. I wrote as a process by undergoing multiple drafts and really thinking through each word I wrote. I demonstrated visual thinking strategies by arranging my thoughts in a way that made sense to the audience and flowed in a sensical way. Lastly, I employed technology appropriately by making sure everything was appropriate for the wide internet audience and making sure to credit all the sources. 

I learned a lot by producing this podcast. I learned leadership skills by organizing a group effort and outcome we were proud of. I learned to choose music that reflected our overall argument: by using music that did not typically align with the podcast mindset, we argued that the game Gin Rummy is more upbeat than most people think. I also learned how to produce good work in a short time span. I am confident that I can produce a successful podcast or any aural work in the future, and I believe this skill will take me far. 

THRILLING TETRIS: PODCAST REFLECTION

In this podcast episode where I was the assistant producer, we focused on the game Tetris. In this episode, the producer, Rachel, and I divided the tasks in two ways. First off, we both played Tetris individually and compared our experiences to one another to get a glimpse of what we would talk about in our podcast discussion. Then we made a script that addressed the topics in our description of the podcast, and then split up the script evenly to discuss.

In this episode, we focused a lot on probing. We realized that there was a lot of people that were noting probing and how it was a useful technique in the game, so we analyzed the game to see if it related to out game as well. In fact, we noticed that Tetris was a game of probing all around and therefore we analyzed it. This was very effective for us because it not only enhanced and related strongly to the mentioning of probing the previous episodes, but it also strongly enhanced the purpose of the podcast as a whole. It allowed us to break down a simple game like Tetris into something that is perhaps overlooked while playing the game which is probing. In addition to making sure that we were enhancing and following the objective of the podcast as a whole, we also tried to discuss why the game is so addicting. I mean, Tetris revolves around placing a bunch of different pieces that have different shapes to match up and align before it gets to the top. Although it sounds so simple, its so addicting and intellectually complex. In fact, there is even worldwide competitions for the game. So, in this podcast we dove into how Tetris produced an addicting phase within the brain where it is intellectually stimulating. There wasn’t many challenges in reaching these outcomes and goals that we had for this podcast, but in the beginning it was a little challenging. It was a little difficult to think deeply about Tetris and how we can possibly analyze such a simple game, but after playing the game a few times and discussing the strategies, we were able to effectively think deeper about the game and the techniques required to be successful at it.

For this podcast episode, while there all of the learning outcomes for the course were touched on, there were two learning outcomes that were really utilized in this episode. One of the learning outcomes that was really touched upon was collaboration. This episode, there was a little road block because I caught coronavirus (unfortunately). However, I could not leave my peer (Producer Rachel) hanging so I had to tough it out. When I first got sick, Rachel produced most of the script. But then after rehearsing it, we realized that it was not enough time. So, I had to jump in and we collaborated on the topics and ideas we can add so that it can extend the time. Adding on to this, another learning outcome that was greatly touched upon during the creation of this podcast episode was writing as a process. Like previously mentioned, it was a bit of a struggle to write and discuss for Tetris. It was an easy game that we both had access to which made it ideal, but the simplicity and commonality of it made it hard to discuss. But like the title said… it’s a process. We had to play the game multiple times, edit and take out things that did not completely make sense, plan, plan some more, and make sure we relating to the description of the podcast. It did not come easy, but good writing that has substance did not come easy, and this podcast episode really taught me that and allowed me to endeavor into it. I can use these skills for future writing projects in several ways. One way is that I can not give up. We could have easily given up in the beginning when we thought that we were not going to be able to produce creative discussion around it, but we stuck out with it. And we were able to have pretty good outcomes of it. Another way is brainstorming. Usually, when I write I do not thoroughly plan things out and sometimes that can cause my writing to not be as sophisticated. However, Rachel started a planning document and it really helped us remain focused and narrowed down our writing, which was super beneficial and I feel like it will also help with the concision and depth in my future writing

The Last of Us Podcast Reflection

For this Podcast I was the assistant producer, Greg Lawrence was the lead producer and Michael Mariam was the line producer. Greg and I began the process of creating the podcast by conversing about the games we have played. When he suggested The Last of Us I was immediately intrigued, having loved the story after watching walkthroughs of the game some years ago. I decided to play the game myself for a few hours to refresh my memory and to better understand the game mechanics. Our meeting with Dr. Morgen steered us away from focusing on simply the plot of the game, and got us thinking about the relationships and analysis of the characters, which we decided would become the main goal of the podcast. Along with this, we set goals of relating the story of The Last of Us with that of the Covid-19 situation currently unfolding.

Because we weren’t able to meet in person, Greg and I recorded the podcast through a zoom call. We structured the podcast in a similar way as the first podcast I led about Minecraft: we had a scripted introduction and conclusion as a solid base to work from, but the middle was more our freehand discussions about our primary goals. We spoke extensively about Joel’s character and how he showed clear sociopathic signs. Similar to serial killer Gary Ridgway’s relationship with his wife, which I learned about in my Psych 111 class, Joel could only feel emotions for Ellie, and anyone else he could brutally murder without thinking twice. We mainly used the game’s ending to describe this effect, where Joel essentially dooms the world for his own selfish desires for holding onto Ellie. We also discussed Ellie’s good-heartedness and relative helplessness on her own, which causes her to retain her relationship with Joel throughout the game, even though Joel betrays her without her knowing. Lastly, we discussed how the current Pandemic, while clearly not as severe as the one in the world of The Last of Us, served as a cautionary tale if we don’t take future viruses seriously, that post-apocalyptic world could become our own.

Our podcast was created using multiple modes of english, including written for our scripted paragraphs, aural for our analytical discussions, and digital in which we utilized a video call to communicate across the country to create this podcast. We managed to summarize the important parts of our game efficiently and analyze the character’s actions for our audience. I also managed to collaborate with my partner to create an informative discussion on our game. The Last of Us podcast improved my rhetorical, critical thinking, and collaborative skills in a way that resulted in a strong outcome.

Portal Through Zoom

I have played Portal a couple years ago in my high school when one of my high school dorm parents was generous enough to lend us his Xbox and game CDs. I’m glad George decided to do an episode on this game, because I had fun playing it with my friend for a while. I’m not an expert on the game compare to George, and to be honest, I got a little bit, just a little bit frustrated when I was playing a trial with him to gather information for our podcast seeing him pop out ideas almost instantly after seeing the set of the “maze”, and took me a while to even figure out that this machine cause you to lose this and that, and that block or sphere can do magical things such as this and that. But we soon realized that it’s totally a valid point we could talk about in our podcast when an experienced gamer and a newbie plays cooperate toward the goal, and also a healthy competitive mind set between teammates even we are aiming for the same goal. It is different from my podcast, as we came up with ideas while we are recording for the podcast, instead of having everything planed out, which is a little harder for me, as I do not express arguments very well in English without having them planned out in my head. As a result, there were a ton of repeats and unnecessary conversations that George had to edit out that it was too much for him to edit. So, we gathered some of the valid points and arguments and decided to record again. Now that’s not how we planned to reach our goal, but even it took longer than expected, I personally like it better than mine with everything planned out but just a little improvisation. The biggest technical difficulty might be the sound quality in the recordings, which there’s nothing we could do about it. Overall I felt more confident co-producing for the second time, and thus enjoy the process more. This was definitely a brand experience to record materials through zoom and seeing it being edited into a coherent podcast episode.

Detroit: Become Podcast

Detroit: Become Human is one of my favorite games, it not only has those amazing art design, twisted plots, but also a reflect on a current social question. Not that I realized the deeper meaning behind the game when I was playing it, I was pretty much drawn in the stories and pictures that the game presents, at most I was thinking “wow this is deep!” the few minutes after I finished the game, without knowing what’s deep about it. That made me wanted to make a podcast on it: to stand from a different angle and look at the game objectively. I started off thinking I have to try so hard to come up with a topic that I have to bluff about for ten minutes. And I discussed with David about some of the ideas I have, and soon I realized the harder part was to pick from what I have and how I can confine those into a ten-minute limit. I met with the assistance producer, Jessica twice and finished up a rough draft of what we were going to talk about in this episode. I outlined the main points I wanted to hit, and she was contributing some analysis of the ideas and examples. She came up the brilliant thought that we could interviewing how would a player (George) response in certain situations as we were provided during the game. I thought it turned out great as our audiences would probably pondering the same questions we raise and potentially be more familiar with the game if not already. We did meet technical difficulties; the one button studio would not work for us. We were trying for like an hour to record and run out of the studio to see whether anything was recorded on my USB, and then borrowing another USB from the library and tested it for multiple times. Luckily the media library was still open during weekends and we ended up getting a microphone and we used that to record. The sound quality turned out surprisingly well. The editing after we have finished recording was a lot of fun for me. I am a music major and I enjoy scrolling through the potential background music so much. I actually usually sit there and play random songs and music videos for hours without realizing it. This is something that I have never done in my life, to choose my back soundtrack to fit the bumper and the point I’m talking about. Adjusting the volume and sound effect depending on whether we are going to move to another topic or at the beginning and ending of the episode was also a new experience. I spent around almost four hours cutting out unnecessary conversations, edit the music, and put everything together. I usually get distracted real quick, but I was a hundred percent focused when I was doing the editing, figuring out Audacity. For example, I found out that I cannot edit the sound effect while I’m just pausing, I have to completely stop playing the excerpt in order to edit. I did not find it tedious or tiring. Side note, I didn’t dislike my voice, although I could tell I had accent when I was listening to it again.

Podcast Reflection Again

I did the two podcasts within a comparatively short time, which means I am writing these two reflections one close behind another. I am a little short for words.

This time, the main producer, Kimberly, picked an RPG video game Undertale. I have never heard of this game before, but it really surprised me as the first time playing it, in a good way. Though my schedule did not allow me to make it for the Zoom meeting with Kimberly and Dr. Morgen, the information we posted on the google doc helped us to communicate our ideas a lot. Kimberly firstly came out with a list of bullet points she summarized from the Zoom meeting in turns and added we detail to each point in turns. We move faster and smoother than any piece we have made before.

I love how Kimberly suggests relating the contents of SuperBetter with the podcast. By combining the contents of Undertale and the strategies mentioned by Jane McGonigal, the episode, as one of the ending episodes of the Ready, Set, Play series, matches the ending of the book SuperBetter. This kind of “coincident” we planned on purpose is not only making out podcast more related to the lecture materials but also contributes to the whole series as a whole. This is a genius move.

Interestingly, I found out a common characteristic of the series of the podcast our group produced. Without planning out intentionally, we all discuss the problem of how the game is trying to break the fourth wall in the podcasts. In Doki Doki Literature Club and Undertale, the characters are aware of the player’s effect, and in Plague Inc., the players are like playing his or her real-life at this point. We dabbled into that topic a little bit. This kind of immersive gaming experience is quite a thing recently in the gaming community. As far as I can see, breaking the fourth wall blurs the boundary between the players and the game so that it actively engages the players to put their foot into the characters’ or the developers’ shoes. People can get the idea conveyed by them better: appealing people’s attentions to teenagers’ mental health problems, making the game as an educational media of public health, and provoking compassion and understanding between individuals.

Composing podcasts is a more vivid creation than simply writing. It is pretty amazing to see how the group is finishing the goal of doing an episode step by step: building up the draft on the top of a little point, decorating the statement with personal experience, and voicing and posting out a comprehensive thesis. Doing all three podcasts is a self-improving process. This improvement is not only about using Audacity or Google Doc better but also about building up the bond and trust with the group members and challenge me to explore alternative ways to think about games. Using more vocabulary than “good” to describe the game absolutely broadens my word bank and view.

A LINK TO THE PODCAST EPISODE: https://eng101s20.davidmorgen.org/category/ready-set-game/

Podcast Reflection: UnderTale

Humor, determination, and violence were some of the themes that were touched upon in discussion with the co-producer, Cherie, and line producer, Wenyi. An all-inclusive approach was involved, because it felt there would be missing elements that would not explain the length and depth of the game. Between producers, the work was placed on google docs. We split the work in half, starting with a rough script and adding more details to explain each point. As producer, I wanted to include ideas of probing and Jane McGonigal’s SuperBetter strategies in consideration to the theme of the other podcasts. This led with a lead-in with probing and ending with SuperBetter in order to best connect with the older podcasts and bring in a new theme. In short, the script was conversational, each producer replying and adding a new point to the argument. It was also focused on the mechanics and then branched to larger messages.

The primary goals were to condense the amount of topics created and used in the game and to show a relationship between the design of the game with a larger message both with texts and real-world issues. For example, we explained the mechanics of the game as progression from probing to humor and unconventional knowledge about game mechanics. From unconventionalism, it led to comments about violence, which made commentary about SuperBetter techniques including post-traumatic growth, the self, and bad guys etc. Interweaving all evidence and commentary from the creator Toby Fox, SuperBetter, and the game was the most important in order to encompass all aspects of the game. The only problem that was not touched upon were civil issues; they were vaguely hinted at with violence, but the argument focused more on conflicts between individuals and the results upon the main character. Clearly, it was unrealistic to mention all aspects of the game, but this one category was particularly lacking. There needed to be more evidence outside or an additional theme to interconnect the idea of civil issues such as overcrowded cities to the individual and compassion. However, some challenges were to create a more fluid idea rather than create several separate points and a lack of interviews from Toby Fox, the creator of UnderTale

The podcast overall allowed us to achieve the learning outcomes by having the team communicate and collaborate on ideas; adding onto each others points and conversation through text was the main idea. The team was able to translate a rough draft of points in essay form into a working script, and finally into vocal media. Interviews, texts, and the game were all synthesized to emphasize our message of the medium to teach one to improve their individual qualities. Writing was a process involving an outline of themes, a written script with edited points for both producers, and a final recording/editing. Finally digital citizenship was displayed through credited links of all works used to produce the podcast. Some patterns of creating the podcast was the full explanation of game plot and mechanics in the beginning intro, and the consistent use of music to imply transitions in topics. It is similar to traditional essays in that clear transitions and background information are important to an audience in order to convey a strong argument and flow. The most important skill was the ability to pre-plan and continuously edit a piece of work. It is very easy to fill in the blanks once main points are established and all evidence is gathered. These skills will certainly be used in future pieces, because final drafts are simply rough drafts subject to deadlines.

A LINK TO THE PODCAST EPISODE: https://eng101s20.davidmorgen.org/category/ready-set-game/

Podcast Reflection

The podcast we produced focuses on a video game Plague Inc. that is recently on fire due to the Corona-outbreak. It was the first podcast I had made as being the main producer and was also the first podcast I had made apart from the group-mates.

However, the producing process was much more efficient than I thought it would be.
Firstly, we played this game separately. The assistant producer Wenyi and I, luckily, were playing this game for the first time, which contributed to our main discussion about how this game is influencing people under the pandemic.

With the experience that we accumulated from the last podcast, I set an outline with google document with four main sections we are going to talk about: the brief introduction about the game, the gaming mechanism, our personal gaming experience, and its impact on the real-world. According to this outline, Wenyi and I put our thoughts separately, complementing each other’s points. With the brief idea in mind, we met Dr. Morgen on Zoom to enrich the content on video games’ real-life impact and to add more details like a little warning at the beginning of the episode. Wenyi and I also held several Facetime meetings to allocate the parts we were going to record. Because we are neither native speakers, we prepared ourselves a rather solid script, specifying every point we were going to mention on the google doc.

Prepared for the recording, we first finished the introduction and the mechanism part quickly and tried to record the discussion part conversationally. However, we two computer-illiterate people cannot figure out how to record our dialogue via phone call, and the sound quality via the zoom meeting is too bad that the voice was not even coherent. We finally decided to write the script sentence by sentence and joint them by Audacity to imitate a dialogue. Because Audacity is a straightforward app, and I helped with refining the last podcast, I finished editing the speaking part within two to three hours in total. Though the conversational part is not that interactive so well as when we recorded together last time, it is still smooth and qualified in the limited condition. Lastly, the line producer Kimberly proofread and added sum-up and background music.

Whereas, at this point, writing the podcast reflection, I finally find out how dumb I am that I sent the pre-edited audio file, without the background music and the conclusion, to Dr. Morgen.

I take making this podcast as an enjoyable writing experience. The purpose of composing this time, entertaining the public as well as sharing my view, is novel. It is relaxing to chat with a friend about the game that we both appreciate; at the same time, it’s also exciting, but a little anxious, to be aware of there are unacquainted audiences on the internet. Other than the great experience producing this episode, I also realize that I am a computer-illiterate careless dumb, and I should probably make revisions on that ASAP.

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. 

Podcast Reflection 2:Chess

This podcast’s development process was unorthodox due to adjusting to remote collaboration. Group podcasts are inherently a group effort with constant communication and meeting; however, due to the situation, our opportunities to meet and speak face-to-face were nonexistent. We problem solved and found that the most effective way to produce a coherent podcast despite our geological differences was to divvy up the work more. Rather than multiple people working on a script, editing, and working separately on the same task, we found it easier to allocate responsibilities. With the most experience playing and studying Chess, I managed the brainstorming and script writing. Sadie took in the rough draft and edited, brainstormed, and finalized the script for all of us to record our lines separately. Giovanni, the tech-genius himself, took in all the voice memos and produced the final project through careful editing, leveling, and clipping. Throughout the process, we communicated via FaceTime and texts to explain and let each other know about executive decisions.

Primarily, we really wanted to tell a understandable explanation of a complex game while demonstrating the intense probing players complete during a game. Through lengthy, the description of the board and how certain pieces move was necessary for the analysis portion. To reconcile the monologging, I tried to spice up the script with different pop-culture references to keep the audience engaged. Through citing musicians Bob Dylan, Taylor Swift, and Drake, then cinematic events such as Avengers Endgame and Harry Potter, we wanted to reach as broad a group as possible. Obviously we recognize the listeners are likely in our class, but we still believe the change in tempo and voices was an effective hook. Next time, we aim to cut down on the excessive explanation in order to leave more room for analysis and prose.

Despite the challenges we faced with our spacial restrictions, I am super proud of this podcast. The group collaborated and responded to timing-issues with grace; for example, despite not being able to find a unanimous time to speak as a group, we collectively FaceTimed with each other at least once each day during the three-day process. Our communication was paired with understanding for the other group members. Recognizing that we’re all in this situation together and at the same time certainly helped us collaborate more effectively. I think we developed our group skills the most during this podcast and I’m looking forward to our third and final one!