Engineers Video poll/feedback

Posted: April 26, 2013 by suzannescott in Uncategorized

Below, you’ll find a selection of the crowdsourced videos from class on Wednesday, a poll to determine which tonal direction we want to go in for the Engineers introductory video, and a link to a shot list we’ll work on this week.  So, over the weekend, please:

  1. Respond to the poll below
  2. In comments, add some suggestions to the shot list for the video, let us know if you have any video equipment you can bring to class next week (this could range from a smart phone to a high end video camera), and more links to same videos we might use for content, or as tonal or stylistic inspiration.  See my comment below as a sample.

The videos below are broadly grouped into categories, think about both tone, form, and content.  Do we want talking head interviews?  Just images with voiceover?  Etc.

50s Newsreel Parody:

These videos comically juxtapose 50s futurism with contemporary realities and post-apocalyptic scenarios.  Does this strike the right tone to introduce the Engineers?  Perhaps we consider using some of the archival footage of Oxy to create shorter video parodies to populate the site/later challenges?  These types videos are certainly useful to consider how we might use archival footage of technology to comedic effect. 


Promotional Video: 

These are fairly conventional promotional videos in form: they employ some mixture of talking head interviews, stock footage, voiceover, text, and score to convey a clear message.  That said, each has some unique features/approach we should consider.  If we go a similar route, how do we make this appealing to Freshmen?  What images and audio would most make you interested in joining?


“Day in the life”:

You can find many others on the Start Up Videos site Sunil found.  I’ve put a couple below.  Basically, this idea is to showcase the club through a day in the life of an Oxy students/member of the club.  This will include casual, scholarly, and club-sponsored engagements with technology.


Misc. Videos w/specific visuals we might consider…

students using technology/producing media…

one take…


Misc. Crazy:

I’m not sure we’ll want to model anything we’re doing on this, but because I cut it short in class…


Gallery  —  Posted: April 17, 2013 by suzannescott in Uncategorized

Oxy + Technology

Posted: April 4, 2013 by suzannescott in Uncategorized

As we move on to producing content to various blogs, twitter feeds, etc, I thought it would be useful to have a series of posts directing you to resources and fodder to populate these spaces.  The first post focuses on technology initiatives at Oxy, though I’ll be posting others with links to broader debates around technology and higher education tomorrow, but in the meantime you should read this debate on technology’s place in the liberal arts from the CSP we’ll be visiting on Monday.

Below is a partial list, feel free to add others as comments:

I have further info on many of these endeavors, so just let me know if you want/need more info.

Game Design Assignment #2

Posted: March 25, 2013 by suzannescott in Uncategorized

Below, you’ll find a list of assignments/deadlines for this week:

By Wednesday (3/27):

  • Each team should create a googledoc and share it with me + the rest of the class
  • Each team should create a list of assignments to be completed by next Monday (clearly labeling who is working on what)
  • Look over the other teams’ googledocs for possible intersections/points of collaboration

By Monday (4/1):

  • Complete team-allocated weekly assignment 
  • Be prepared to give a brief show-and-tell of what you worked on this week
  • Be prepared to create assignments for the following week that involve some collaboration with other teams

In the meantime, here is a resource that you might consider looking into to help with or inspire your projects:

The DiRT wiki, once you drill into it, has great tools and links to instructions, but also contains framing articles and blog posts that might be useful.

Game Design Assignment #1

Posted: March 20, 2013 by suzannescott in Uncategorized

By Sunday, 3/24  at 8pm, comment on this post with your research on one of the following:

  • A key date in Oxy history (ideally within our Sept-Nov window)
  • A noted Oxy alum
  • A building on Oxy’s campus
  • A club or organization at Oxy
  • A protest or notable moment of activism in Oxy’s history

NOTE: Everyone needs to be making an original contribution (no doubling up), so check the comments before you post your own.  This comment can be about a paragraph long, include links when relevant.

A Delirious Post on Narrative in Bioshock

Posted: February 20, 2013 by thepetergraham in Uncategorized

After finally getting it working again on my PC, I dug back in to my original save file of Bioshock (late at night as I had been in bed all day). I’m not sure if it was the illness related delirium or if it was just fantastic game design, but both the embedded and emergent narratives were ever present in my play session.


The embedded narrative at this point in my game was that my character was being instructed to go to the medical wing of Rapture in order to get a master key of some sort that would get him into other locked areas of the city. The holder of this key was a plastic surgeon who had apparently gone mad, and in order to get to him I was going to need new powers. This was a pretty basic linkage of gameplay and narrative, where I needed a fire power to get through frozen doors, and psychic powers to throw bombs at a blockage.  Once I defeated him, I was formally introduced to the primary moral dilemma of the game, which was the decision to either save or kill “little sisters” who hold the currency with which my character powers up.


The embedded narrative was quite horrifying. Upon reaching the deranged doctor, I witnessed him slashing at a dead patient on a gurney, and then the revealing of his failed surgery subjects who were crucified on the ceiling with burlap sacks over their heads. The dialogue and imagery here is directly embedded into the game since every player who reaches this point will see the exact same sequence.


The following scene that featured a Little Sister involved short speeches from two characters, one who told me I should kill the sister, and one who asked me to save them at a reduced benefit. This is a small breaking point in the embedded narrative where I was presented with a pre-set story, but then allowed to pick my own diverging path within it.


My journey to reach the doctor was where the emergent narrative came out. The most blatant examples of emergent narrative in the game are the recorded tapes of Rapture citizens providing background story for the area of the city I was in. In this case, there were a variety of recordings from both patients and the evil doctor himself that detailed his descent into madness. These recordings are scattered around the medical ward, and are entirely optional to encounter and listen to. Different players my find them or not, and then choose to listen to them or not. This aspect of the narrative is emergent due to that optional nature, but it serves to build a far more complete picture around the antagonist I was about to face.


The other part of the emergent narrative was represented in the visual design of the medical ward. Upon walking into new rooms, the player is presented with frightening images of human faces that are cut up and collaged with other body parts as well as bloody writings and marks. These writings often involved messages about appearance and beauty, all related to the deranged antagonist. These visual details aid in building an even deeper narrative related to the world that the player is in, and when combined with the embedded narrative, they work to create one of the better video game stories of the last decade. 

Embedded and Emergent Narrative in Super Mario Galaxy

Posted: February 20, 2013 by lusarzewicz in Uncategorized

As far as embedded narrative goes, Super Mario Galaxy is extremely weak. There is no spoken dialogue throughout the entire game, there is no development of the main protagonist Mario, and there are zero side-characters. Even Luigi has yet to make an appearance as far as I have played. All interactions between Mario and other characters is illustrated through dialogue boxes accompanied by funny sounds. Ultimately, Super Mario Galaxy does not have a deep or intriguing story, but neither does any Mario game to date. The setup always remains the same: Princess Peach is captured by Bowser and Mario must find ‘power stars’ that help in some fashion get closer to Princess Peach. The means by which Bowser captures Peach and the means by which Mario has to rescue her slightly change. For example, in Super Mario Galaxy Mario has to collect ‘power stars’ to give energy to an observatory that can take him to Bowser. In Super Mario 64 Mario has to collect ‘power stars’ that controlled Princess Peach’s castle, after getting a certain number of ‘power stars’ Mario earns access to a new part of the castle. In the end, however, every Mario game always ends with Mario saving Peach.


Emergent narrative in Super Mario Galaxy has slightly more wiggle room if only for the fact that unlike embedded narrative, emergent narrative is actually present in the game. Since the game is largely linear, emergent narrative involves the player choosing how to maneuver Mario through an environment. While the player really only has one option for how to traverse a level, no attempt through a level will result in an exact replication of the previous attempt. Every level has a multitude of moving parts such as enemies, moving platforms, and changing gravity that cause the player to think on their feet each playthrough.


In a sense, Super Mario Galaxy takes the exact opposite approach of L.A. Noire. Whereas L.A. Noire focuses almost completely on narrative and suffers from a lack of engaging game play mechanics to engage the player with the games narrative, Super Mario Galaxy focuses almost completely on game play and suffers from a lack of meaningful story to engage the player with the games game play. During my play of Super Mario Galaxy this week I found myself becoming disengaged with the mechanics that had hooked me during my previous two play sessions. Eventually I realized that I was becoming bored of the game because the goal, obtaining a star at the end of each level, was becoming repetitive. Unlocking a new galaxy was no longer enough of an incentive to keep me intrigued. Additionally, while the game play had more variance than many other games that I have enjoyed playing more than Super Mario Galaxy, without any sort of narrative reward for my accomplishments the game play started to feel more like a grind than a fresh experience with each new level I unlocked. For these reasons, more time with Super Mario Galaxy is not something I would refuse but neither is it something I am particularly looking forward to as I am with other games.