November 17, 2005

ESSAY 1

Madalyn Otto
New Media Writing
Essay 1

Character and Playfulness

Whether playfulness is individually perceived or the playfulness is outright, it must be present both in games and every day life. In my blog I continually try to mix in an element of playfulness through events that happen in my life or things I make up. I do this with imagination and it helps me build my character and characters in my fictional pieces. The following is a not-so organized essay compiled of random blog entries and more focused entries responding to blogs containing playful excerpts or personality, game theory, art, hypertext, and stories.

Demonstrating playfulness and character
I try to show my character and playfulness in my blog entries each week. Some of the entries are fictional and consist of characters and situations that are very far from real. The following excerpts are from my blog. They are about a number of things, but tend to show my playful character. The first few essays were posted on my blog as fake letters to the editor addressed to the Statesman from an eccentric character named Elvira Fulch. I found it easy to write these entries based on my experiences in the Statesman office and things that we often talk about. The three excerpts following the letters and responses to the letters are my reactions to the graphic novel titled “Carnet de Voyage,” a blog entry showing my creative way of steering off course from our assignment to talk about Halloween and my entry which introduced my Html project for class.


This letter was sent to The Statesman office by Elvira Fulch a dedicated reader. Miss Fulch was the first person to ever respond and wrote in to the newspaper as an Editor of another college newspaper. She won't, however, disclose the name of the paper she works for. We are starting to suspect that she may just be an angry student irrationally lashing out.

LETTER to the EDITOR
After seeing the first two issues of this year's Statesman, I have only one thing to say. It's trash. They resized the whole thing and it doesn't even look like a paper anymore. And, the color isn't even that cool. In fact, the color takes away from the journalistic value of the stories. Maybe if they had decent pictures to put in color, the front page, center and back page might not look like crap. Whoever made the wonderful decision to make these changes probably shouldn’t be in charge anymore or ever. Whatever happened to Abby Nadeau, last year's Editor-in-Chief? She put out a real paper, not full of bologna stories about the Library and its architecture. Pretty sure no one read that guys.
UrS TruLEe

Reply to Urs TruLEe
Obviously someone wasn't very happy with the changes we made in the Statesman this year. We did really make them to improve the look and feel of the paper for the student body. I do agree with the fact that we are sometimes lacking in the picture department. We seem to be stretching up to the last minute to find pictures, especially for the front page. This week our choices for the front were: a baby hawk from Hawk's ridge, a picture of the tour guide for the Rain Garden and a picture of a few volleyball players celebrating. I hope you're pleased with the picture we ended up choosing - it was the best we had to work with and I think it's darn good. The color was greatly needed and will probably be increased, along with the back page staying the front page of the sports section. As far as the Editor-in-Chief thing...I miss Abby, too. She was my roommate. we at The Statesman welcome your criticism, so keep the messages going. Also, I don't usually take the time to reply to letters, especially since I'm the Production Editor.

Carnet De Voyage
I wasn't sure about this book when I first picked it up at the Bookstore. But, I knew after reading the first ten pages or so I was hooked. I absolutely loved the whole thing. The way he illustrated everything he saw - if he really did see all of it - was really neat. You felt like you were traveling along with him. I actually think this may have been what helped remind me that I need to study abroad before graduation...whenever that may be.
I enjoyed the parts with the most detailed drawings the best. For example the scene of him standing on the terrace when he arrived back in Marrakesh was extremely remarkable. The date of this entry was April 6, 2004. Other things I especially enjoyed were the random thoughts he included, for example in his April 14 entry when he was on a hike in the woods and was brought back to a memory of floating down the Sandy river on his back. The whole graphic novel idea is really appealing to me and I would like to read more stories/books like this someday soon.

Update on Story
My original story blog Imaginary year is done. I'm not sure if there will be any more stories at all. Therefore, I'm going to take this opportunity to tell you about my excitement for the upcoming holiday...Halloween. I know it's not a "real" holiday, but it's one of my favorite days. Who could want anything more than to dress up silly, along with their friends, and go out to parties? It's fun to act like a fool every now and then. This year I'm going to be Marilyn Monroe. I have the white dress, the wig, the shoes...but I don't look exactly like her. I don't know why, but maybe it's because I have black eyebrows and the wig I purchased is white-blonde. The wig also kind of makes me look like George Washington. This however, is the least of my concerns. I'm just hoping that everyone that's coming to visit and all of my friends, family, etc., have a good time on this day. It's going to be great...I'll probably go trick or treating, but I'm not exactly sure.

Web page announcement
Dun..dun...da....da....I have created a pretty dorky, but fun, web page about my fish Chloe. I may have announced that I was doing this project earlier on my blog along with a picture of her. It was a lot of fun to do and allowed me to be creative, as much as I had time for. The web page contains links to three stories written by Chloe, a link about the author (me) and a link to a bunch of other sites I like to frequent. I hope you'll check it out and enjoy! It’s titled Fishy Business and can be found at: http://www.d.umn.edu/otto0088/fishstory/index.html.

Response to playfulness and character
Game theorists and blog authors shed an interesting light on the topic of games in our assigned readings. I responded both positively and negatively to the readings. I found truth to many of the things the theorists had to say, but found it hard for me to agree with them. To me games are both structured and unstructured and much more fun when they have an element of playfulness and there is a character, such as in Super Mario Bros. The following excerpts are my responses to the readings.


Response to Zimmerman blog
When someone uses interactivity to appeal to readers, I like to think of this as a game. A playful game no less. Many blogs we looked at over the course so far have allowed us to look at a "comic strip" or "story" and decide what would happen next. To me this type of story is a game and due to the fact that many are bored with reading traditional stories, it can be seen as taking a playful approach to something that used to be more simple. In the excerpt we read online from Eric Zimmerman's book titled, "Narrative, Interactivity, Play and Games," he describes the relationship between these four things. He used examples to relate narratives, interactivity, play and games to each other, to stories, etc. One particular example he used was Ms. Pac-Man, describing the conflict between the elements in the game. His ideas were sound arguments and melded the four things into one "idea" quite successfully. Eric Zimmerman’s site can be found at: http://www.altxlists.com/ebrstaging/thread/firstperson/ludican-do.

Art and playfulness
Art has many settings and forms. The type of artwork I am most attracted to is art that is on the not-so-serious side. Many times artists, including painters, authors, etc., seem to continuously compose/create things relating to tragedy. To me this is taking the easy way out...it's always easy for people to focus on the bad things that happen instead of the good. In this way many art forms lack the playfulness that people crave.
When browsing the web site Rhizome, a web site providing artists' with a medium for communication, I found a piece of artwork that I found to be playful...exactly the kind of art and literature that I am interested in. The artist uses human silhouettes and a projector to create a fun, playful smattering of shadows.
The address for more information about “Shadows out of time” is at: http://rhizome.org/netartnews/story.rhiz?timestamp=20051024.

Jill Walker’s blog
Jill Walker's blog always has something to offer in her entries. She touches on serious topics, but also likes to talk about lighter issues. The entries also always seem to show her personality and sense of humor. In a sense, you could say, many of her entries show a playful side to serious issues. The address to one of her entries that I found amusing titled “Winter’s Here” can be found at http://jilltxt.net/p=1553. It demonstrates her worry over time constraints and also relates her time as department head to the length of time for a pregnancy. She also seems to be serious and playful in her criticisms. An entry about another author's game theory ideas was at the same time hyper-critical in criticizing men for relating mother's/women to computers, but at the same time an amusing/playful way to criticize the author's work. This entry can be found at http://jilltxt.net.?p=1548 and is titled “The game system as mother.” I thoroughly enjoy reading about people's every day lives in their blogs. It's amazing what people say and how what they say shows their personality, whether it be serious or playful.

Feral hypertext…a response to this
I'm not sure I would have described hypertext as feral. In a sense it is wild and out of control, but is this a thing to be criticized or embraced? So much are people used to the standards that we and past people have set that we do not appreciate the "wildness" of things others create. The web is a perfect example of where people are becoming increasingly comfortable with stepping outside of boundaries that society has set. People are no longer worried about what should or should not be put out there for the public to read, they just know that they have something they're interested in that they feel the need to share with the rest of the human population. Walker describes her viewpoint in this excerpt: "What I would like to emphasize here is that the concept of intertextuality and much other late twentieth century critical theory expresses an idea of texts as unruly and fundamentally beyond discipline. Much hypertext research, on the other hand, attempts to find ways to discipline and tame our thoughts, at the same time as its admits that our mind works associatively and that there are multiple ways of viewing connections in texts." I'm not sure what I gained from reading this essay. Her perspective showed that she in some ways embraces the changes in literature on the internet - her use of flickr and other web sites - but also that she does not like the idea that hypertext, especially in literature, is getting out of control. This is just my understanding, though, and I'm not positive that I completely understood this essay. But, I do embrace the feral examples she used and enjoy the un-standardized use of hypertext today...especially in Wikipedia.

Ivanhoe
This project was created to provide an interactive, or playful, way of interpreting "assumptions about critical practice, textual interpretation, and reading (in the most fundamental sense) that remain unacknowledged, or at least irregularly explored, in a conventional approach to literary studies," according to the Ivanhoe project entry at the Applied Research in Patacriticism web site. At this point I'm not sure what the game is exactly about, but I'm anxious to watch the demo at the Ivanhoe web site. Hopefully it will provide me with some more insight on this project.

Documentation
Ivanhoe's game documentation provided more directions on how to play the game and a little bit of information about what the game really is.
Some things/words and phrases that stuck out in the reading were: digital environment - good play space for Ivanhoe, rarely taken "seriously," player = thinker, reshape cultural work, a week long, not a simple player - each move is made after much critical thinking, used for scholarly research, collaboration, players as a group of people. All of these things were used to describe Ivanhoe in one way or another. They actually made me feel intimidated and demonstrated that Ivanhoe is not a simple every-day game. I don't even know what you could compare it to, but certainly not a traditional "game."

Reflection to Reflection
Overall, it seems that Ivanhoe was created solely on the basis of educational purposes. Each person becomes a character through role identification; each must keep track of their "plays" in a journal and must keep track of other players' moves. It seems like it would also only serve the purpose of being serious, but in the reflection was called playful and said to have many creative purposes. It was also said to have the top goal of being a tool for interpretation. I can definitely see the education value in a game like this, but can see how it's called a game - you create your own moves, you compete against another player, you are allowed to be playful and creative. Overall, I found this research project extremely interesting. It's also amazing how the idea progressed into a research project. The creators begin by playing a game via e-mail... The most interesting part of this project was the documentation part I talked about in my previous entry. The direct link to this is at http://www.patacriticism.org/ivanhoe/help/.

Narratives
The world narrative carries negative connotations, especially when used in relation with the word game. In a game there is a certain level of playfulness and interactivity, along with a player who helps develop that character and their success/failure in the game. In Jenkins essay he says, "You say 'narrative' to the average gamer and what they are apt to imagine is something on the order of a choose-your-own adventure book, a form noted for its lifelessness and mechanical exposition rather than enthralling entertainment, thematic sophistication, or character complexity." Jenkins also makes some good points about how games don't always tell stories. This I find to be very true. Many games I play have nothing to do with a story, but those games are more mind-bending games and not so action packed with characters and a goal - to win or lose. All games do however, have an element of playfulness. To be the player or "become" the character involved in a game, you have to have an imagination and be playful. I do find games which have more of a narrative to be more interesting and interactive. Games in which you unscramble letters in a word are fun, but they are also not quite as complicated as I like. To me games that I grew up playing, i.e. Super Mario Brothers and Donkey Kong, (with characters) were much more fun than games that now concentrate soley on graphic design or games such as the Sims.

Structure and re-creation
Games that are enjoyable, from my personal experience, allow you to rewrite the experiences of the characters and mess with the plot of the story. The "atmosphere" is still present - as Disney describes how they create amusement park rides keeping the atmosphere of the story present, but creating your own "version" gives you opportunities to be more playful and more involved in the game. I always seem to come away from an experience when there is some structure, but not a complete structure. When there is freedom to venture outside of a boundary, most do. The Sims for example, is all about being creative. But, this also is far from what I view as a traditional example of a game. To me there must be a common goal for the character each time you attempt to play a game. With the Sims, their is never a common goal - you are just encouraged to be as creative as possible with your character design and the design of their world. Games based off of books must have some of the elements of the book or original story present. Therefore, I agree with the notion that some elements have to be present for a game to be called a real game.

Crossing the line
Is it crossing the line to make games seem real and to use "games" to teach people tools of critical thinking and to teach them about human behavior and reality. I think so...I think games are for fun and to be creative. The games that are created today are more tools for learning about human behavior then they are used for "play." I guess I think that's scary. It almost makes it seem like games may take over the more traditional forms of learning such as books and literature. I don't know, I'm not really down with all forms of technology. I think if used and applied in the right way they can all be tools for learning, but are these things needed? I think I build character through experiences, and critical thinking. But, I don't know if these new tools for learning really have this effect, or if they encourage people to think games can be reality.


The Sims
I hate the Sims. I absolutely find no value in a game that simulates human behaviors and allows players to perceive it as a reality. I think it lacks the elements of playfulness and structure to the point that it's no fun. Human behavior is something learned through experiences and critical thinking, not through a game that simulates it. I don't think that the Sims is a tool for learning, I think it is a tool for making things that you have already seen or perceived into a reality. I can't tell you exactly why but I find the fact that game theorists are singing its praises ticks me off. I'm sure the game was extremely difficult to create and involved a lot of critical thinking, but is it just another form of reality tv? Both Jenkins and Frasca talk about the Sims. Frasca it seemed had nothing negative to say about the game. I, on the other hand, totally disagree.

In closing, I find the elements of playfulness and character to be present in every day life and in games. Although it is hard for me to accept all of the theories and opinions we read about, I do find many of their points to be valid. I also very much find value in games, just not in each and every form. I also value honesty in other people’s character and find when I am being playful and having fun I am being the most honest with others.

Posted by otto0088 at 1:10 PM

November 13, 2005

the sims

I hate the sims. I absolutely find no value in a game that simulates human behaviors and allows players to perceive it as a reality. I think it lacks the elements of playfulness and structure to the point that it's no fun.
Human behavior is something learned through experiences and critical thinking, not through a game that simulates it. I don't think that the sims is a tool for learning, I think it is a tool for making things that you have already seen or perceived in to a reality.
I can't tell you exactly why but I find the fact that game theorists are singing its praises ticks me off. I'm sure the game was extremely difficult to create and involved a lot of critical thinking, but is it just another form of reality tv??? Both Jenkins and Frasca talk about the sims. Frasca it seemed, had nothing negative to say about the game. I, on the other hand, totally disagree.
Here's the link to Frasca's discussion: Frasca

Posted by otto0088 at 6:07 PM

Crossing the Line

Is it crossing the line to make games seem real and to use "games" to teach people tools of critical thinking and to teach them about human behavior and reality.
I think so...I think games are for fun and to be creative. The games that are created today are more tools for learning about human behavior then they are used for "play." I guess I think that's scary. It almost makes it seem like games may take over the more traditional forms of learning such as books and literature.

I don't know I'm not really down with all forms of technology. I think if used and applied in the right way they can all be tools for learning, but are these things needed? I think my character builds from learning things through experiences, and critical thinking. But, I don't know if these new tools for learning really have this effect, or if they encourage people to think games can be reality.

Posted by otto0088 at 5:46 PM

Structure and re-creation

Games that are enjoyable, from my personal experience, allow you to rewrite the experiences of the characters and mess with the plot of the story. The "atmosphere" is still present - as Disney describes how they create amusement park rides keeping the atmosphere of the story present, but creating your own "version" gives you opportunities to be more playful and more involved in the game. I always seem to come away from an experience when there is some structure, but not a complete structure. When there is freedom to venture outside of a boundary, most do.

The SIMS for example, is all about being creative. But, this also is far from what I view as a traditional example of a game. To me there must be a common goal for the character each time you attempt to play a game. With the SIMS, their is never a common goal - you are just encouraged to be as creative as possible with your character design and the design of their world.

Games based off of books must have some of the elements of the book or original story present. Therefore, I agree with the notion that some elements have to be present for a game to be called a real game.

Posted by otto0088 at 5:35 PM

Narratives

The world narrative carries negative connotations, especially when used in relation with the word game. In a game there is a certain level of playfulness and interactivity, along with a player who helps develop that character and their success/failure in the game.

In Jenkins essay he says, "You say 'narrative' to the average gamer and what they are apt to imagine is something on the order of a choose-your-own adventure book, a form noted for its lifelessness and mechanical exposition rather than enthralling entertainment, thematic sophistication, or character complexity."
Jenkins also makes some good points about how games don't always tell stories. This I find to be very true. Many games I play have nothing to do with a story, but those games are more mind-bending games and not so action packed with characters and a goal - to win or lose. All games do however, have an element of playfulness. To be the player or "become" the character involved in a game, you have to have an imagination and be playful.

I do find games which have more of a narrative to be more interesting and interactive. Games in which you unscramble letters in a word are fun, but they are also not quite as complicated as I like. To me games that I grew up playing, i.e. Super Mario Brothers and Donkey Kong, (with characters) were much more fun than games that now concentrate soley on graphic design or games such as the SIMS.

Posted by otto0088 at 5:20 PM

November 5, 2005

Reflection to Reflection

Overall, it seems that Ivanhoe was created solely on the basis of using it for educational purposes. Each person becomes a character through role identification, each must keep track of their "plays" in a journal and must keep track of other players' moves. It seems like it would also only serve the purpose of being serious, but in the refeltion was called playful and said to have many creative purposes. It was also said to have the top goal of being a tool for interpretation. I can definitely see the education value in a game like this, but can see how it's called a game - you create your own moves, you compete against another player, you are allowed to be playful and creative. Ovearll, I found this research project extremely interesting.

It's also amazing how the idea progressed into a research project. The creators begin by playing a game via e-mail...

The most interesting part of this project was the documentation part I talked about in my previous entry. The direct link to this is: Interesting Reading

Posted by otto0088 at 3:48 PM

Documentation

Ivanhoe's game documentation provided more directions on how to play the game and a little bit of information about what the game really is. The information on the right of the documentation page titled, "Humanities Education in a New Key," was the most helpful information thus far on the web site. It talked about what Ivanhoe is and why it was created. It did, however, make Ivahoe seem rather complicated and not very simple/easy to "play."

Some things words and phrases that stuck out in the reading were: digital environment - good playspace for Ivanhoe, rarely taken "seriously," player = thinker, reshape cultural work, a week long, not a simple player - each move is made after much critical thinking, used for scholarly research, collaboration, players as a group of people. All of these things were used to describe Ivanhoe in one way or another. They actually made me feel intimidated and demonstrated that Ivanhoe is not a simple every-day game. I don't even know what you could compare it too, but certainly not a traditional "game."

Posted by otto0088 at 3:20 PM

Ivanhoe Demo

Okay then...the demo was just voice recorded instructions on how to play the ivanhoe game and how to begin if you've never played before. It was slightly less entertaining than I had hoped. I'm about to read the documentation page on Ivanhoe. It looks quite lengthy and I'm not sure I'm ready to tackle it.

I'm definitely interested in knowing more about the game itself, like exaclty what you're goal is in the game and how hard it is, etc. Hopefully I'll get a chance to play it or at least see, not hear, a demo of it. It's definitely sparked my interest. My next two entries will be in reaction to the documentation and introduction/reflection link from Johanna Drucker and J. Rockwell.

Posted by otto0088 at 2:43 PM

Ivanhoe

This project was created to provide an interactive, or playful, way of interpreting "assumptions about critical practice, textual interpretation, and reading (in the most fundamental sense) that remain unacknowledged, or at least irregularly explored, in a conventional approach to literary studies," according to the ivanhoe project entry at the Applied Research in Patacriticism web site.

At this point I'm not sure what the game is exactly about, but I'm anxious to watch the demo at the Ivanhoe web site. Here's the direct link to the demo page:
Demo. Hopefully it will provide me with some more insight on this project.

Posted by otto0088 at 2:26 PM

October 27, 2005

Feral Hypertext...a response to this

I'm not sure I would have described hypertext as feral. In a sense it is wild and out of control, but is this a thing to be criticized or embraced. So much are people used to the standards that we and past people have set that we do not appreciate the "wildness" of things others create. The web is a perfect example of where people are becoming increasingly comfortable with stepping outside of boundaries that society has set. People are no longer worried about what should or should not be put out there for the public to read, they just know that they have something they're interested in that they feel the need to share with the rest of the human population.

Walker describes her viewpoint in this excerpt:
"What I would like to emphasise here is that the concept of
intertextuality and much other late twentieth century critical
theory expresses an idea of texts as unruly and fundamentally
beyond discipline. Much hypertext research, on the other hand,
attempts to find ways to discipline and tame our thoughts, at the
same time as its admits that our mind works associatively and that
there are multiple ways of viewing connections in texts."

I'm not sure what I gained from reading this essay. Her perspective showed that she in some ways embraces the changes in literature on the internet - her use of flickr and other web sites - but also that she does not like the idea that hypertext, especially in literature, is getting out of control.

This is just my understanding, though, and I'm not positive that I completely understood this essay. But, I do embrace the feral examples she used and enjoy the un-standardized use of hypertext today...especially in Wikipedia.

Posted by otto0088 at 10:50 AM

Jill Walker's blog

Jill Walker's blog always has something to offer in her entries. She touches on serious topics, but also likes to talk about lighter issues. The entries also always seem to show her personality and ? sense of humor. In a sense, you could say, many of her entries show a playful side to serious issues.

Here's a link to one of her entries that I found amusing: Winter's here

It demonstrates her worry over time constraints and also relates her time as department head to the length of time for a pregnancy.

She also seems to be serious and playful in her criticisms. An entry about another author's game theory ideas was at the same time hyper-critical in criticizing men for relating mother's/women to computers, but at the same time an amusing/playful way to criticize the author's work. This entry can be found at:The game system as mother

I thoroughly enjoy reading about people's every day lives in their blogs. It's amazing what people say and how what they say shows their personality, whether it be serious or playful.

Posted by otto0088 at 10:29 AM

October 23, 2005

Art and playfulness

Art has many settings and forms. The type of artwork I am most attracted to is art that is on the not-so-serious side. Many times artists, including painters, authors, etc., seem to continuously compose/create things relating to tragedy. To me this is taking the easy way out...it's always easy for people to focus on the bad things that happen instead of the good. In this way many art forms lack the playfulness that people crave.

When browsing the web site Rhizome, a web site providing artists' with a medium for communication, I found a piece of artwork that I found to be playful...exactly the kind of art and literature that I am interested in. The artist uses human silohuettes and a projector to create a fun, playful smattering of shadows.

A direct link to the story: "Shadows out of time"

Posted by otto0088 at 10:09 AM

Response to Zimmerman blog

When someone uses interactivity to appeal to readers, I like to think of this as a game. A playful game no-less.

Many blogs we looked at over the course so far have allowed us to look at a "comic strip" or "story" and decide what would happen next. To me this type of story is a game and due to the fact that many are bored with reading traditional stories, it can be seen as taking a playful approach to something that used to be more simple.

In the excerpt we read online from Eric Zimmerman's book titled, "Narrative, Interactivity, Play and Games," he describes the relationship between these four things. He used examples to relate narratives, interactivity, play and games to each other, to stories, etc. One particular example he used was Ms. Pac-Man, describing the conflict between the elements in the game.

His ideas were sound arguments and melded the four things into one "idea" quite successfully.

Here's a link to the site: Eric Zimmerman

Posted by otto0088 at 9:38 AM