This isn’t a goodybe, it’s a see you later.

When one thinks about games, they likely think about something that you do for fun and as a distraction. Before coming into this class, I saw games as fun, but meaningless and not something that people could use to actually benefit their life in any way. However, after being in this class for an entire semester, my perspective on gaming has completely changed. Despite this class being an English class, it has been the most unconventional one (in the best way possible). An english class where you read articles and books about games and how they positively impact your brain, mental illnesses, and more? An english class where you get to create your own game? Where you get to play games in class and out? Count me in.

            Going through this class has taught me more than just rhetorical skills and how to become a better writer. It has taught me the importance of games and the different impacts it has on different people, and the power that games have in conveying very important messages to wider arrays of audiences. It has taught me to embrace my designing skills, which I barely knew I had before starting my year at Emory. At first, I thought that the countless reflection posts and the seemingly weird tasks that Professor Morgen gave us were pointless. I thought I would be wasting my time. But as time progressed, I realized how much I was actually learning. Through reading Superbetter by Jane McGonnagal, playing a role playing game, and creating our own game, I learned how much effort goes into creating a game, and how the messages that games proclaim in such an indirect way can really produce such a profound impact on players without them even realizing it.

            Communication and collaboration were huge assets to this class, especially considering that we had multiple group projects. I encountered it first with the creation of podcast episodes, and then again with playing Fiasco, and lastly with the creation of our own game. While people can communicate really well, it can often be in a way that does not foster a collaborative environment. This can also turn out to be the opposite case, in which people can collaborate really well when together to work towards a common goal, but the communication can be off. However, in the case of this class, I not only became closer to my classmates through the various projects we had to do, but I also learned that two or more brains can often be better and more beneficial than one.

Mockup Flyer I made for Discover Dooley.

            Lastly, I loved the amount of creative work that we were given the space and capacity to do for this class. One of the first things we had to do was create an avatar and come up with a “gamer name.” When playing a game called Fiasco, we had to create our own storyline with ourselves as the characters, which utilized a ton of thinking power and creativity to keep the story interesting, and ourselves entertained. We had to come up with cover images for our podcasts and pull audio from the internet, create graphs depicting the highs and lows of our emotions throughout the span of a week, create graphics for our game project, and I even created a promotional video which I never thought that I would have to do for an english class.

            One of my most favorite tasks that we had to do in this class was play a simulation game called Gone Home. It seemed like a harmless game at first, one that I could knock out in less than an hour and just say that I played it. Little did I know that I would end up playing this game on my computer for four hours straight, and then not even end up finishing it. As I was playing the game, I was also “liveblogging” it. I wrote “My baffled self does not know how to make progress in this game.”  The game centered around you, the player, who has just come home from a year abroad to find her house in shackles and everyone gone. The player must go through various clues to figure out what’s going on, and the craziest and most mysterious part of it all is that you don’t even know what you’re looking for until you find it. It was like a puzzle, and I couldn’t get enough. There were so many little details that could be found that made one feel so much more connected to the story and to the family. Finding all the missing pieces, I finally realized that the game was actually a very moving storyline, and unlike any other game I’d ever seen. It was about a girl named Sam who didn’t have very many friends starting her first year in highschool, and then fell in love with her best friend, Lonnie.  Out of fear of their friends and families finding out of their love for each other and being too scared to come out, they escape and run away together.

Even though this game is labeled as a video game, it is so much more than that. Not only does this show that not all video games need to appeal to the masses and be some kind of violent shooting game, but it also depicts the very real societal problem that was present during the time period this game is set in. It addressed the very real discrimination against LGBT issues that were especially present during the 1900s. I underestimated the impact this game would have on me, emphasizing the fact I mentioned earlier that games have the capacity to communicate very powerful themes to their audiences. Playing this game utilized problem-solving skills heavily, and creativity because you would have to put yourself in the characters shoes to be able to find all the clues. Playing this game taught me to pay more attention to the bigger picture of things, and to be more observant. The writing process I encountered while live-blogging this game was one that developed and became more and more dense as time went on and I learned more things, which was a very interesting and fun method that I’ve never gone through before.

Graphic I made for a podcast episode.

Another piece of work that I am quite proud of are the podcast episodes – specifically, the one I created with another classmate about the game Plague Inc. Not only did I learn how to create a podcast which I had never before done in my life, but I also realized how powerful it can be to decipher the true meaning behind why a game was actually created. In my reflection post after we finished makign the first podcast, I wrote: “I think [it] was a really important revelation for me because it taught me that there really is a purpose behind (mostly) everything, and it can be beneficial to learn about why things do what they do.I learned so much from creating just a simple podcast, I will definitely never mindlessly play games such as these again without trying to find a deeper meaning behind it, because that’s what makes it so fun – knowing there’s a purpose.” The creation of the podcast fostered communication between my partner and I, and collaboration when we met up to brainstorm, share ideas, and record the podcast together. It was like a non-essay essay, but the fact that it was in podcast form made it more fun and so different from writing a traditional essay.

To wrap things up, I would like to end by saying that through this class, I have learned so much about myself through, well, playing games. I used to hate group projects, but this class has changed my mindset. I’ve learned what I’m good at, what I’m not good at, and the importance of teamwork and collaboration with others, and I have Professor Morgen to thank for this.

This is Celia Mae, signing off.

The creation of Discover Dooley

Discover Dooley TM is about branching out, making new friends, and exploring and getting more involved in your new campus. My most important contribution to this project was creating all the graphics for the project, including all the screenshots for the app, a video explaining the details of the game, and the logo designs. I also created and designed the website, and edited people’s writings. The process that we used to brainstorm and create the game was mostly based off of the single idea that we wanted to solve the problem of freshman not feeling comfortable their first couple of weeks on campus. We all split up the work, with someone writing out the details and fine tuning them, someone talking about the motivation behind the game, and someone talking about the rewards for the game. I used Canva and Phonto to design the graphics, and iMovie to create the video. Obviously, I used wordpress to create the website (lol).

I learned a lot from creating the video and the graphics, and it improved my digital media skills, which is something that I love to do and which I’m considering pursuing in the future. I think that in the future, when I have writing projects, I could utilize my digital media and editing skills to spice it up and give readers more of a visual.

Communication and collaboration were essential parts of this project, as we met up several times to discuss the logistics of the game and make sure it would run smoothly. We sat for about 2 hours just throwing ideas out. Furthermore, I had to heavily utilize my creativity skills, as did the rest of our group, in order to pull this off. We had to think about rewards, what would make people want to play, and how to make the game actually fun. Lastly, problem-solving was very important as we hit a lot of roadblocks when figuring out how the game would actually run, how to make it captivating for students, and also to not make it super similar to Dooley’s ball. We considered adding a matching feature for students, and grappled over how this would actually work for a very long time. Eventually, we scrapped that entire idea but this is an example of the problems we encountered. Also, if we wanted to add one thing into the game everyone had to agree that it would make a good addition.

Overall, I’m very proud of our final product and I think that all of our hard work payed off. However, if I could start over and do the project from scratch, I would probably posit a completely different game idea, because I believe that our game shares a lot of similarities with programs that Emory already has in place.

two-time podcast creator

I will admit, creating the second podcast came much more easily to both me and my producer, and things ran much more smoothly. Having gone through the process already one time before, we knew exactly what we were doing and how much preparation was necessary in order to have the podcast come out seemlessly. It took a lot less time, also.

Cleo was the producer for this episode, and I was the assistant producer, so this time she came up with the game idea and what we should do for it. We both did a fair amount of research, and I edited the podcast together when we were finished recording it. In comparison to the last episode, I must say that I am a bigger fan of Plague Inc and how deeply we got into the discussion, and all that the game represented. I liked the sound effects of the last podcast much better than the ones for Pokemon Go, and while there was a fair amount to discuss in both, I felt as though Plague Inc makes for a more interesting and captivating conversation. Through this podcast, it really fostered a sense of team-work, because we would have to meet to do the podcast, as well as creativity in regards to the sound effects and audio of the podcast, and the graphics as well.

This podcast was about Pokemon Go, a very popular mobile app that came out 3 years ago. The primary goal in producing this podcast was to discuss the reasons for why this simple game, in which you collect pokemon on the streets, became so immensely popular, and to also discuss what values it promotes and fosters. The challenges that arose with creating this podcast were a lot less plentiful than the last podcast, but one challenge that arose was making sure that all of our ideas that were thrown into the conversation seemed spontaneous, but also planned. We needed to make sure that there was a clear direction and focus of our conversation, which is somewhat hard to do when you are speaking directly, instead of typing ideas down onto a paper (as in an essay). This relates to the learning outcome of problem-solving. Furthermore, like I mentioned in my last podcast reflection post, creating a podcast, especially with another person, is so different from writing an essay. As with an essay, there are an obvious brainstorming, planning, and researching components involved, but with a podcast it is a lot more free-flowing. Its much more like having a conversation with someone.

The skills used in crafting this podcast were definitely very technical, as I used garage band to create it. It involved a lot of pulling audio and images from the internet and seamlessly integrating them with our voices, which is a skill I have used on multiple occasions in the past and will definitely need to use in the future as well. I sing and create music, so these are skills that I could definitely use to produce music in the future.

Lastly, I would like to discuss what I am most proud of in creating these podcasts. I am really proud of the way that I edited the podcast with the audio and music in the background, and the way that I created the graphics for the cover image.

Celia Mae’s Highs and Lows

This past week, it was kind of tough trying to remember to document my feelings throughout the day, but the emotions that McGonnagal offers in her book seemed to really fit exactly what I was feeling, which I liked (especially dread or anxiety about something in the future — thanks Emory).

Day 1 started last Thursday, and Day 7 was today (Wednesday). I realized that I had more positive emotions when I wasn’t stressed about something, or when I was laughing or just simply spending with my friends. The weekend tended to have a lot more positive emotions, but as I had upcoming midterms, my positive emotions started to drop and my negative emotions skyrocketed. I had less sleep, a lot of stress, and minimal actual social interaction. When my midterms were finally finished, which was today, my stress levels dropped significantly, and I was back to being so much happier, and having much less negative emotions.

I would say that overall, I’m a pretty happy and optimistic person. I’m very laid back and don’t get too worried, upset, or anal about small things (except my grades and my future). The littlest things make me happy, and I honestly believe that this week was just a really bad week to measure my negative emotions. If I were to continue with recording my emotions in the future, I would definitely try to do in a more organized manner, recording my emotions more frequently throughout the day than I did for this sidequest.

At first, I wasn’t really sure exactly how to show my positive and negative emotions on an infographic. I took to my trusty Excel worksheet, which I know how to use well. I decided on a line graph, because it quite literally depicts the highs and lows of my week. Overall, I think it is very helpful to look back on your day and reflect upon your feelings. It offers a really great chance of self-reflection, which I don’t think a lot of us really get an opportunity to do a lot, what with the extremely busy lives we all lead. By the time that night falls, we’re all just ready to get into bed and pass out, so it was really nice to reflect upon what made me happy and what made me sad throughout the day. It offers the ability to improve not only your mental health, but also yourself as a whole, because you can make yourself much happier by eliminating the negativity from your life. Furthermore, you can increase the health of your vagus nerve (haha).

making a podcast is not like writing an essay

So I’ve made digital media before, but never a podcast where all you hear is someone’s voice and background music. It really reminded me of the news radio station that my dad used to play in the mornings when he’d drive me to high school, so that’s kind of the image I had in my head while recording this.

First off, I will admit that it would have been easier to coordinate the making of the podcast by myself, because trying to match up schedules with another person can make the whole process a lot more frustrating, as well as more under a time-constraint. However, I do think that doing a podcast with another person made the process more fun, and also adds more bulk into the idea because each person has different ideas.

Writing the script for the podcast was honestly the easiest part, because we both knew what we wanted to talk about. We decided that Plague Inc. made for a very interesting topic because it’s not in every game that you go around eradicating humans. I think that recording the podcast was the hardest part, because while we had somewhat of a script, we also decided to make the podcast more casual, like we were having a conversation or interview with one another. I learned that it may have been a better idea to have a more organized script before hand, because there were a lot of new ideas that were added while we were just conversing with eachother during the recording period, and they could have been articulated better if we had come up with that beforehand. Nevertheless, I like the feel of a natural flowing conversation during the podcast, rather than someone just reading off of a paper, monotone-like. Unlike how an essay is structured, with countless grammatical structures and rules you must follow, a podcast is very free flowing and a LOT less stressful.

I have had experience with digital editing, but I’ve never edited a podcast before so I think that was something new and exciting for me. We had troubles with the recording equipment at first, and ended up actually just recording into my macbook using my airpods, which surprisingly went well in regards to both the sound quality and efficiency of it.

Lastly, I want to discuss the critical analysis of this game. Before starting, we knew we wanted to talk about Plague Inc, but had no idea of the hidden meanings or purpose behind the game. After researching a little bit and talking it over with my assistant producer Cleopatra and Professor Morgen, it was so intriguing to find out the real purpose behind why this game was created. My brain was literally like: Who would have ever thought!! I think that was a really important revelation for me because it taught me that there really is a purpose behind (mostly) everything, and it can be beneficial to learn about why things do what they do. I learned so much from creating just a simple podcast, and I will definitely never mindlessly play games such as these again without trying to find a deeper meaning behind it, because that’s what makes it so fun — knowing there’s a purpose.

Celia Mae plays her first role playing game

 I have never in my life played a game that was so dependent upon what other people make up in their heads, a game based purely on imagination with a little help from the situational prompts. However, I have also never played a role playing game before. Before starting to play, I honestly viewed this game as just another homework assingment, just another obligation I had to get done. But as we started playing, I got more and more into it, and I could see everyone else in my group getting more and more into it too.

        I expected Fiasco to be a game that guided you, with tiny choices you could make here or there that would slightly affect the outcome of the game. Little did I know, players have immense freedom in this game, allowing the story line to flow wherever your group lets it. One significant aspect I noticed is that the person who establishes the first ever scene has the most say in where the story ends up. For example, I started out the story by mentioning that one of the players tried to drug my character because we had a manipulator/victim relationship, and the rest of the story line ended up playing off of this one little fact. Most of our conflicts in the game revolved around who was telling the truth in the story and what the fact of the matter actually was, which I believe happened because this reflected our predicaments in real life. None of us wanted our characters to be the “bad guy”, so when it was someone’s turn, they would twist the story to make their character seem favorable. Even I was more forceful at times when my character was portrayed as bad. None of us acted our part directly, but more often would describe what happened to other players instead. I don’t know how proud I actually am of our story, because I think it could have run a lot more smoothly if everyone didn’t have conflicting opinions. I admit that there were definitely times when one person was overruling the entire story because of this reason of not wanting their own character to be screwed over. However, this also made the game a lot more enjoyable because once someone suggested a new advancement in the plot, there was no going back from this and it was up to everyone else to figure out how to continue from there.

Our plot was very skewed and all over the place, and I think that if someone were to actually read the story, they would be left feeling very perplexed. I think it plays out somewhat like a mystery plot, with a lot of drama. For example, my character ended up being in love with Justin’s character, but then it is revealed that Justin is actually my son. A whole love triangle plot plays out, and then the story takes a wide turn with Justin running away to join Pablo Escobar’s drug ring in south america, ending up in jail, and my character ending up in a mental asylum. It was very interesting to me that we could change the course of events with a simple snap of a finger. Our aftermath scene was the most depressing, because every single player ended up in a bad place – depressed, destroyed, crushed.

However messed up our story line turned out to be, I will admit that Fiasco offers a gaming environment that fosters problem-solving, communication, and collaboration all at the same time. I believe that communication is one of the most important aspects, in this game and out of it as well, because without it none of us would have ever shown friendliness towards other, or have been open minded to all the different outcomes. Futhermore, we wouldn’t have received feedback, and this was important for the problem-solving aspect of the game, as well as teamwork/collaboration. We all had to work together to create some type of story, and solve the problems that existed within each story line to resolve each scene. I learned that I need to be more receptive to others and less controlling, especially in terms of this game when I was overcontrolling about where the plot of the story led to. I also realized that I had a pattern of wanting to resolve each problem, while certain players in the story felt the need to create more mess and chaos. Ultimately, I really enjoyed playing Fiasco with other people while utilizing the important skills of communication and collaboration, while also learning more about myself and how well I work with others in groups.

Celia Liveblogs Gone Home

Currently, I don’t know where to go or how to maneuver my way out of this room. The only thing I know at all is that the year is 1975 and the main character’s name is Kaitlin Greenbriar, who just returned from being abroad in Europe. This is all figured out from the bags that are on the floor. There are no prompts, no dialogues, nothing. There are barely any controls in this game, which make it very simplistic but also more confusing. A lot is left up to the player to figure out how to steer through the game.

I just started playing Gone Home. The name really messes with my mind: when you’re home, you’re not “gone.” I honestly am quite confused at the moment. I think the pouring rain with the lightning and thunder strikes really add a lot to the aesthetic of the game. I’m really feeling the creepy, ominous vibes. The phone call at the beginning made it even more sinister, like a call that was never received in those eerie apocalyptic horror movies. Also, I am really reminded of an escape room type of atmosphere from the beginning of this game. I feel like I’m in a horror movie.

More updates to come as I figure my way through this game…

What’s in Celia’s bag?

The contents of my bag include:

  • a 13-inch macbook air that ended up dying in the middle of this post
  • my macbook charger
  • pencil case
  • airpods to make me look cool
  • my accounting textbook that is literally the bane of my existence
  • advil because you’ve always got to have it
  • a water bottle that I haven’t washed in so long to stay hydrated
  • 5 gum (I go through a pack in 2 days, no joke)
  • my car keys because i live 30 minutes away from campus
  • my wallet with my emory ID, credit card, and a singular dollar bill
  • various assortment of notebooks and binders
  • blotting sheets because a girl can get oily
  • lip balm because I hate having dry lips more than anything
  • my planner that I use religiously

I think the contents of my bag lay out some defining factors of my identity, but it certainly does not paint a full picture of who I am as a person. If anything, it shows that I am definitely going to have back problems when I’m older because let me tell you, carrying around all these things on my back all the time is probably 20 pounds of extra weight. My back is chronically sore, no joke. And I think the airpods make me look boujee if I say so myself. Just kidding. But besides that, the gum shows that I have somewhat of an oral fixation because I literally always have to have to chew on in class. The book shows that I am definitely a business major.

Taking this photo and editing it to make the contents of my bag seem prettier was fun for me. I do think there are things that define me more, as this makes me seem like a boring person with no life outside of school. Representing myself by cataloging what’s in my bag is most definitely a form of writing, as I believe anything can be a form of writing if you make it. The only challenge I really encountered during this assignment was having to take everything out of my bag and then put it back in. Overall, though, it was fun laying everything out. There were some things in my bag that I forgot were even in there.

Welcome, Celia Mae

https://movies.disney.com/monsters-inc/characters (from the Monsters Inc movie website)

My avatar’s name is Celia Mae, who is a character from Monsters Inc and who dates Mike Wazowski. I chose this photo as the icon because it is the most well lit and highest quality picture that I believe exists of her. Furthermore, the snakes all are shown to be making different faces, depicting that they do indeed all have different personalities, and have a mind of their own separate from their “owner.” In my opinion, I think it is a representation for the multiple different personalities that she seems to possess. I also love the entire color scheme of the badge, with the pinks, blues, and purples.

The reason why I chose Celia as the character to represent me was because even though she’s just a receptionist at Monsters Inc, she strives to look her best every day, wearing her green shiny dress. She also seems to be a bit needy with Mike, which also describes me. She has a genuinely kind and caring personality, but gets really angry when she’s angry. Last but not least and the main reason why I chose Celia is because of the medusa-esque snakes she carries as her hair. I love the snake symbol, not because I consider myself a snake but because it represents someone who is misunderstood. In the mythological tale of Medusa, she was once a beautiful maiden who was seduced by Poseidon to enter Athena’s temple, and was punished by Athena for this and turned into an ugly woman with snakes for hair. So, she wears a mask at all times, and represents the face of a warrior in the middle of a frantic battle, and I love the idea of that, and the idea of how this character plays on that concept.

I didn’t have any difficulties creating this badge because it is a picture from the internet.