“Tetris” Reflection

Photo credit: https://scienceline.org/2020/01/tetris/

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. 

A Nostalgic Podcast

I had the opportunity to produce a podcast about a game that mattered a lot to me while I was younger.

I didn’t really know what game I wanted to do my podcast episode on at first. In order to create an intellectual podcast that I thought my professor and classmates would enjoy, I figured it would need to be about a game that has a clear deeper meaning. Then I remembered one game that nobody had mentioned, and I didn’t think anybody else would think of off the top of their head. I use to love playing the game Fireboy and Watergirl. This game doesn’t immediately strike one as “life-changing,” but I knew that one of the things I wanted to talk about in my episode coincided with one of the key learning outcomes from this course.

I’ve touched on this before, but if collaboration is a skill we are supposed to be honing in on as freshmen in college, our foundational skills from this concept must have come from somewhere. I think I learned a plethora of collaboration and communication skills while playing the game Fireboy and Watergirl growing up. As I was developing ideas for my podcast, I knew this was something I wanted to touch on. After discussing it with my professor and Assistant Producer, I decided I wanted to focus on other cognitive skills this game helped young children develop, gender roles in the game, and its intended audience and accessibility.

I carefully worked out a script that was even able to incorporate a bit of a personal story from George that I felt would help reach out to our audience. Unfortunately, we were not physically able to get together to record our episode because of the global pandemic. Since most of our peers settled on recording a zoom call, that is what we tried first. However, I was not happy with the quality of the audio at all partly due to the fact someone had spotty internet connection and words would get unknowingly gargled.

I then tried to download audacity only to find that it didn’t seem to be compatible with Catalina on the Mac OS. I was able to get the application, but the files wouldn’t import, so I needed to get creative. I have strong experience with iMovie and have even crafted projects that rely on heavily edited audio. I also knew that iMovie has an option to export only audio so even if I put in a video file, it wouldn’t matter for my final project. I rerecorded all of my parts with voice memos on my iPhone and loved the quality that came out from that. When George did the same, I was finally able to get the ball rolling on the podcast editing and adding in music was not a big issue at all.

The most important lesson I learned from creating a podcast involved improving my rhetorical composition. In writing a podcast, it should sound intellectual, engaging, and pleasing to listen to. I had to get creative and find dialogue that easily flowed together. This was by far one of my favorite projects in college.

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: 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!

Podcast Reflection

The podcast we produced focused on the game play and real life relations of the game League of Legends. The way I worked with my Assistant Producer is to first talk through the general big points we wanted to include in the podcast; later, we worked together in a shared Google Doc to throw in more details from the game under each big idea to enrich our outline.

Our intention was to make our podcast more like a casual conversation instead of just reading our ideas to the audience; however, this didn’t work out at the end because our voice in the podcast just didn’t sound like a normal, interesting conversation even though we tried to maximize expressing instead of reading during the recording. We found out possible reasons for this phenomenon: 1. we both have anxiety when facing the microphone or when aware that we are being recorded, which caused a lot of stuttering, mispronunciation, pausing; 2. We never practiced or constructed our conversation, therefore it was difficult to control the time and degree of expression of each topic; 3. We were unable to produce smooth transition between topics and draw relations to make our podcast more coherent and easy to engage as a whole. My assistant producer and I are actually pretty well-familiar with each other, and we talk and joke about each other on a daily basis, therefore it’s just a huge let down for us that our voice and conversation sounds not exciting and engaging at all in the podcast.

When thinking about the content for our podcast, we attempted to put emphasis on probing, telescoping, and real life relations. Personally, I did not enjoy how it turned out since all the pieces do not connect to one another; content wise I was not mad about it because I think the components we selected from the game work well with the messages we tried to deliver, however, I feel like we could’ve deleted a couple minor topics to leave some room to elaborate more on the more important aspects.

The only piece I was proud of in the entire podcast was the introduction because the vocal announcer, transition music, and background music just magically blended together and was exactly how I wanted it to turn out. If there’s one thing we could’ve done to improve our podcast, I would say is to practice our conversation about League of Legends more regularly to have a better control over the durations of each topic and the structure and order of our expression, as well as minimizing recording-anxiety by being more prepared for the dialogue.

Learning wise, I definitely learned some editing technique since I am completely new to editing dialogues. We also learned, or at least tried, to use precise language to deliver intended message when only limited time was given. I would say my biggest learning experience did not happen until after the podcast was done, since I figured what our process was lacking and what we could have done to make it better. Very much similar to writing, we learn from our weakness by repeatedly listening to our podcast, and positioning ourselves as the audience of our own podcast, and brainstorm about what will be the audience’s opinions toward our work.

Overall, not satisfied with it, but can definitely do better next time.

A Reflection

Producing this podcast took a considerably longer time than I expected. I roughly estimate that I spent twenty hours on it, from going through the video game again to refining the audio. My two group members (and meeting with my professor and interviewing a friend) have been a source of ideas and of great help to me. Cherie and Kimberly voluntarily agreed on recording together, which took about five hours. Even my line producer readily agreed to refine the audio with me. I am truly grateful for my group members. 

Although I have participated in making a podcast in high school, I, regretfully, did not participate much. As a result, I failed to recognize the importance of a script. Even a seemingly informal chat on a podcast could result from recited and practiced lines. A full script in advance might not be necessary, but talking with nothing in hand is quite stressful. I am prone to stress, and stumbled over words frequently while we recorded without reading. I have a long way to go to achieve fluency in the English language, as I learned this from my imperfect TOEFL scores. Hearing my recording certainly reminded me of the fact once more. The first half of recording without a script became the major reason I spent hours editing the audio. 

Using Audacity gained me a new skill, and I always enjoy acquiring new skills. Another thing I thought of while editing the audio was how I can appeal to the audience. The writing in podcasts differs from traditional school essays. It is less formal. More importantly, the audience is not paid to read pages crowded with words, but someone who seeks for entertainment. 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 value the experience of producing this podcast, and hope someone will enjoy it. After all, I chose this over enolates last week. Finally, a link to the podcast: https://eng101s20.davidmorgen.org/ready-set-game/03-do-i-scare-you-doki-doki-literature-club/ 

Podcast Bumper & Betrayal/Mansions

I spent a little time noodling with the text of the podcast bumper today, drawing on the language that you all put together in the Google doc. Here’s what I’ve got as of now — make any changes you’d like in that document, or leave comments here:

Hello and welcome to the podcast series Ready, Set, Game: The Rhetoric of Games, a podcast created by Emory University students in David Morgen’s Play, Make, Write, Think class. Over the course of the series, we will approach games as operating within the larger media ecology and attempt to diagram the competing forces at work within that landscape. In each episode, we will play and analyze a specific game with an eye toward its rhetorical situation and the role it plays within the broader medium. 

We’ll focus on the way these games encourage players to think in order to move through them and what sorts of decisions the games force us to make. As we probe the underlying rules of game systems and speculate about what’s going on underneath the hood, we’ll ponder where they are taking us and to what ends. How do these games encourage certain types of problem solving and learning? What sorts of values do they promote? What sorts of new perspectives do we gain in the playing? 

So buckle up and come along for the ride with us.

We’ll need to record the bumper on Thursday, so make any changes before class tomorrow.

Games

Also, don’t forget that between now and February 23, you’ll need to check out Betrayal at House on the Hill or Mansions of Madness and play one session of the games. The prompt for Side Quest 6 on those games is started but not all the way fleshed out yet, but check that post for some more information about game play and what I’m expecting from you.

I added the game lending library to our Materials, Texts, Games, Services page too.

Podcast Reflection

Once you have each completed your podcast episode, the Producer and Assistant Producer should each write separate reflection posts, published to your own sites. Link to the podcast episode post on the course site as part of your reflection.

Your refection should be 250 – 500 words and should be in the form of an essay with complete paragraphs, not as a list of bullet point answers.

Reflection Questions

Include a brief description of your process for developing the podcast. How did you and your co-producer divide up the tasks involved and how did you structure your collaboration? In what ways does your episode respond to the other episodes in the series — in other words, compare your episode to the ones before it, explaining how you gained inspiration from, adapted, or resisted something that your peers did in their episodes.

Please describe your primary goals with the episode that you produced and explain the strategies that you used to achieve them. You’re producing these episodes under a number of time and technological constraints, so it’s likely that there will be some goals that you just cannot accomplish within those constraints — address what challenges arose for you and the choices you made to meet them and/or describe what you would have done differently had you more time/resources available for your episode (in other words, what are some aspirational goals that were perhaps unrealistic given the constraints of the assignment but that you would have liked to have tried to accomplish if circumstances were different?).

How do you see your work on the podcast episode helping you to achieve the learning outcomes for this course? Explain how you met those outcomes with your work on this assignment.

Make sure you address the sets of questions above and then also consider some of the questions below and address them in your reflection (you definitely won’t be able to answer all of these, so go through the list and pick some that seem to be most of interest for you and write about them):

  • Were the strategies, skills and procedures you used effective for this assignment?
  • Do you see any patterns in how you approached your work on this episode? How was producing a podcast similar to or different from writing more traditional essays?
  • What have you learned about your strengths and areas in need of improvement?
  • How are you progressing as a learner?
  • What suggestions do you have for your peers as they go about working on their episodes to come?
  • How can you apply the skills you used in crafting this podcast episode to future writing projects? Where can you use these skills again?
  • What are you most proud of about the episode that you created?

Games Podcast: Further Details

Overview

This post contains lots of additional information that will be useful to you as you work on your podcast episodes, mostly focused on nuts and bolts issues like equipment, editing, and so on.

Check out the assignment prompt for conceptual guidelines and roles and for information about what I am expecting from you.

Equipment

The Writing Program has purchased 4 Yeti microphones and placed them on reserve with the Music and Media Library. If you check out one of the Yeti mics, you might want to skim over the manual here.

There are a number of other microphones available for checkout as well, so if the Yeti mics are not available check out something else.

Audacity

Audacity is a good, free, open-source audio editor (available for Windows, Mac, and Linux). It’s pretty standard software for mixing podcasts, so I recommend you give it a shot.

There is a very good tutorial wiki for Audacity online — this basic page on mixing voice narration with music probably covers 90% of what you’ll need to do for your podcast. It’s not terribly difficult, but there is a learning curve to it and you should definitely make an extra copy of your raw audio files before you start mixing and editing them. Expect for it to take longer than you think it should to do the sound editing and build time for mixing into your plans. There are some students in the class who have a fair amount of experience working with Audacity — make friends with them and ask them for help (make sure to give thanks for their help in your episode credits!).

Exporting as an MP3: Note that probably the most complicated part of using Audacity will be configuring the MP3 encoder. Because of copyright laws, Audacity does not come with a native MP3 encoder so you can’t export as MP3 straight out of the box. You’ll need to download and configure an extra plugin to do so.

Other Software

If you’re already very comfortable with using GarageBand or another sound editing software, you can use that instead.

Student Digital Life also has lots of resources that should be of use to you with this project. If you want to use more advanced software, the Media Lab has the full Adobe Creative Suite, including Adobe Audition, available and student assistants who can help you in using it. The Tech Lab is also a great space for you to go to get ideas about how to approach these projects. There are also gaming consoles available in Cox Computing, so if you want to explore games as new media you might stop by SDL and see what you can do.

Recording & mixing guidelines

As I say above, Audacity has a very good tutorial wiki. There is tons of information included there, but this single basic page on mixing voice narration with music probably covers 90% of what you’ll need to do for your podcast.

Transom is “a performance space, an open editorial session, an audition stage, a library, and a hangout” that seeks to spread good ideas and practices for public media, especially focused on audio. There’s lots of good stuff there and I encourage you to check them out.

Of special note: “Using Music: Jonathan Menjivar For This American Life.” Menjivar is a producer and music supervisor at This American Life and his essay is a fantastic breakdown of different methods for incorporating music into a podcast episode.

See also, the other pieces in the Transom “Using Music” series.

Podcast hoster Buzzsprout has a pretty good “Podcasting 101 Guide” with some useful tips, including about where to position yourself with regard to the microphone.

Music

You need to be careful when using music to not violate copyright law. Here are 2 really good sites to find Creative Commons licensed music that you are allowed to use:

Free Music Archive. Mostly more contemporary music types, searchable by genre or by other methods.

Musopen. Public domain and creative commons licensed classical music.