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.

  1. sdamle says:

    While Oxy is best known in political circles for graduating prominent Republican Jack Kemp and being the home of President Barack Obama for his first two years of college, one of the more accomplished yet unknown alumni who went on to succeed in political life is Robert Finch ’47. After working as a lawyer in Pasadena and mounting several unsuccessful campaigns for Congress, Finch served as Richard Nixon’s campaign manager during the 1960 presidential campaign. In 1966, Finch was elected Lieutenant Governor of California. He left this post in 1968 to serve as a senior adviser to Richard Nixon’s successful presidential campaign and, interestingly enough, turned down an opportunity to be Nixon’s Vice Presidential running mate. Instead, he ended up accepting a position as Secretary of Health and Human Services. Considered to be more liberal than his colleagues in the Nixon White House, Finch was shut out of the inner circle by Nixon’s Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman – a blessing in retrospect as Finch avoided being implicated in the Watergate scandal. While Occidental has long been known as one of the more liberal colleges in the U.S., Finch is one more example of a long line of prominent republican thought leaders who graduated from Occidental. The presence of prominent Republicans, like Kemp and Finch, provides an interesting contrast to the current liberal climate of the campus and perhaps another example of the tension between new and old at Oxy. For more background on Finch see:

  2. zackbruno says:

    Jack Kemp

    One of Occidental College’s most famous alumni is Jack French Kemp. During his time in college, Kemp helped found the NCAA Division III Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC). He set records for javelin hurling, and was the starting quarterback for the varsity football team. After graduating, he made a name for himself in both professional football and in politics. He played professional football for thirteen years and became the captain for his NFL team Buffalo Bills. After this, he transitioned into a career in American politics. First he served for nine terms as a congressman for Western New York’s 31st congressional district, then later served as Housing Secretary in the George Bush administration. He later became the Republican party’s nominee for Vice President, running with Presidential nominee Bob Dole, but lost the presidential race to Bill Clinton.

  3. The Boyle Heights Fire

    On January 13, 1896, a fire destroyed the only building at Occidental College, located at Boyle Heights. The college moved to Highland Park in 1898, and later to the current site of Eagle Rock in 1914. The previous Boyle Heights location later became an elementary school in 1912. According to the 2012 Founder’s Day letter from the President’s Office (, enrollment in the school dropped from 52 to 7.

    This event doesn’t take place during the fall (I doubt it would be feasible stage a fire or something anyways) but I’m drawn to the idea of the fire maybe destroying some of the “past” of Oxy. Maybe something that’s part of the narrative was lost in the fire, and now it’s been recovered?

    With this narrative, we could have a legitimate opener to the ARG, with fake posters or signs that welcome people to a seemingly mundane presentation on some lost books or something from before the fire. Just a thought.

    Alternatively, one potential idea could be to invent one of the 7 students, making one of them leave behind clues to later generations of students at the newer locations (today’s campus) about what actually happened in the fire (cover-up mystery conspiracy stuff). We could have an actor pretend to be their descendant or something.

    I like the idea of the fire because it’s something that people are vaguely aware of (or at least the fact that Oxy has changed campuses), and presents an interesting transition from the original, “traditional” building to a newer series of buildings on Eagle Rock. It seems to me like it sort of parallels the current destruction and rebirth of Johnson, and it fits into the “crossroads” theme of our ARG because after the fire, Oxy was at a crossroads and many people didn’t think the campus would make it.

    These are relatively spontaneous ideas, but I think that the idea of using the destruction/rebirth element of the fire has potential.

  4. smaloney2013 says:

    I researched the fraternity Alpha Tau Omega (ATO). Jack Kemp, among others, is a notable alum. The fraternity has a very rocky past on campus. In 1967, the Oxy chapter initiated students of color, resulting in its withdrawal from the national fraternity. Then, in 1992 the fraternity was scolded by campus feminists after the circulation of a poem referencing rape was released by a member.

    There was also a student death caused by hazing. I can’t find the exact date or details, but I believe it resulted in the school renouncing the fraternity, no longer recognizing it as part of Greek life.

    I think it would be easy to paint this frat as a villain, but it is important to note that this fraternity is legitimate on a national scale. Maybe changing the name would ease any possible tension, should the organization find out about our game.


  5. annieewbank says:

    Hi everyone! I did some research on the Owl and Key (not the Owl Society like I had thought!)

    The Owl and Key Society was pretty much a fraternity. It was established in 1900, when Occidental still was in Highland Park (as opposed to Eagle Rock as it is now). A little background:

    “In the home of Robert G. Cleland, whieh came to be known as ” The House, ” lived a number of young men attending the college. High in the hole of a sycamore tree in the front yard nested a family of owls. From this co-incidence came the Owls who were later to become the Owl and Key fraternity, and eventually Phi Gamma Delta.”

    They did a lot of weird stuff, these guys. The “Nightshirt Parade” was when they ran around the neighborhood in their pajamas, committing vandalism, hazing the new entrants, etc.

    “With a band organized ” to play popular funeral dirges, ” the night-shirt parade started tramping the streets of Highland Park to raise college spirits and the ire of the residents of the locality. Though faculty action finally banned the band, musical and night-shirt-clad, the wild souls of later yesterdays and today find solace still in spasmodic streamlined pajama revivals.”

    The Owl and Key Society was where a lot of (male) students let off steam. It became a chapter of Phi Gamma Delta in 1926. Here’s a picture of the society in 1913: Note the Owl picture at the top!

    (See Jessica’s posts for more about Lawrence Clark Powell, one of the members of the society).

  6. I think that Obama’s first public speech in protest of apartheid is a key protest with regards to the history of the college. The protest took place on February 18, 1981 in front of the Arthur Coons building. In addition to protesting investments that Oxy had in apartheid supportive companies, students were protesting what they thought was a cultural imbalance on campus.

    Obama was quoted as saying “We call this rally today to bring attention to Occidental’s investment in South Africa and Occidental’s lack of investment in multicultural education.” This sort of thing remains particularly relevant as our school is still having protests in those same exact places, and we have a history of changing our school as a result of student action.

    With regards to the game, this protest could relate to the Owl Society in that this protest took place before social media existed and is remembered simply through books and photographs. This could be juxtaposed with recent protests on campus that were instantly spread around on Facebook.

    There was also a staged aspect of the speech which ties right into ARG’s as Obama had students posing as Afrikaners come and take him off of the podium as part of the demonstration.

  7. lusarzewicz says:

    Swan Hall was built in 1914 during a period of construction in which four building were initially planned, two academic buildings and two dorms. Only one dorm was built, this dorm was Swan Hall; it cost around $50,000 to build. Swan Hall was constructed by Myron Hunt. Hunt lived from 1868 to 1952, he studied at Northwestern University and MIT where he got a degree in architecture. After graduation he traveled throughout Europe to study Renaissance architecture. After, he studied American architecture throughout the U.S. in places such as Boston and Chicago. Finally, he traveled to Pasadena where he constructed the Rose Bowl and Swan Hall at Occidental College. Hunt designed Swan Hall to “follow Spanish and Italian lines, with a leaning to the classical.” ( Hunt split Swan Hall into three sections – north, middle and south with the middle section being slightly higher. Swan Hall was converted into offices in the 1960’s. The building currently holds around one-third of Oxy’s staff. Last year Swan Hall had a $19 million dollar remodel. The remodel tried to keep the Labyrinth-like layout that Swan Hall was originally known for. The remodel was prepared for Oxy’s 125th anniversary.

  8. kiryuzaki says:

    Notable alumni: William Goddard; he was one of the main people responsible for inventing what we now think of as a hard drive. Back in 1931, he graduated from Occidental College, and went to work on the wind tunnel in development at North American Aviation, then went to work for IBM on a different wind tunnel, and went on with a team of about 8 people to invent a magnetic way to store files (this was superior to the old punch-card method). He described what he was doing as ‘something you’d do in your garage. His key contribution was the ‘air head,’ or the small needle that read the magnetic drive of the disk without touching it, thus ‘air head.’

    Also he was the inspiration for Jimmy Neutron’s dog (Goddard).

    I feel like Goddard would be a great choice for our ARG as he really catapulted computing power forward, the invention of magnetic story allowed for shared files, servers, the internet in general. The earlier punch-card system meant you could only get information from a single machine with a single card, and even though one could move cards between machines, it was a time-consuming process. In addition, Occidental has produced NO great engineers or since this man, and I feel he would be a great character as either a ghost or the now dead ‘founding member’ of whatever techie group we have.

  9. mbchesler says:

    Originally, in 1887, Occidental was a founded as a Presbyterian institution. For example around 1910, Occidental college was “deep immersed in religious life”—with required church services led by the President of the college and a minister. Up until the later 1980’s and early 1990’s, even though religious life of Occidental dwindled, the cultural signifiers still remain: a position of “College Chaplain”, several highly-visible Christian crosses, and, the building named “Herrick Memorial Chapel and Interfaith Center”, was named “Herrick Memorial Chapel”. Even though not mentioned within the article I provide as support at the bottom, I heard from a Professor and alumni, during the late 1980’s, Herrick was a space of contention. According to the Oxy Weekly article, Dr. Keith Naylor, Department Chair of Religious Studies, mentioned that, “the crosses were removed mainly in response to faculty concerns, as the College was moving toward a growing multicultural agenda. The crosses sent the wrong message-especially since they were the first thing people saw upon arriving on campus through the main entrance”. This is an important and relevant event in Occidental history because, as Director of Religious and Spiritual Life Diana Akiyama states, “We need to talk about religion-not just from an academic perspective-but also from a variety of faith perspectives… The different religious beliefs that people hold are as much of their identity as other kinds of diversity. Occidental supports diversity and exploring religious diversity is part of that commitment.”

    There are two reasons I believe that this event is relevant, and an event worth incorporating into our game. First, this issue and the discourse that surrounds it, about how religion fits into the future of Oxy and the campus’ culture, is somewhat parallel to the narrative issue we are attempting to embed into our ARG, about how digital technology fits into the future of Oxy and the campus’ culture. Even though our discussion is not as pointy or ‘social justice’y as religion, the use of digital technology is prolific as religious practice, even though not as controversial. May be this class in the future can examine how the conversation was discussed back then, and how it consequently progressed, in order find ways that the Occidental community faced change that could also be used by the class as ways to discuss how digital technology will be used today. Secondly, this example of Oxy political and cultural contention could be one of the roots of conflict in our narrative about Oxy’s history. We shouldn’t cast one team as secular, and the other religious, but our narrative can use this time and space of contention as a spring box for the conflict we want in our narrative. Additionally, on top of the connections that this event could make with our narrative in our ARG, this issue of religion and religious practices in Oxy should not be forgotten.


  10. I took the Book Arts/Letterpress class twice at Oxy and thinking about that experience again, I think there’s some stuff there that could work well with our game as far as a space of analog/digital tensions on campus, a noted alum, and probably a resource for producing analog and digital content. First of all, the letterpress print room is on the ground floor of Weingart. It’s got a very old Vandercook printing press there (so old that you can only get parts for Vandercooks anymore from this one guy named Bill). It’s a really cool machine with a bunch of rollers and cranks and stuff. The letterpress classes are all about developing an appreciation for the physicality/materiality of objects, the beauty of paper aesthetics, and the work that goes into traditionally letterpressing cards, posters, etc. You also learn some techniques for hand-binding books and making really interestingly shaped little folded books that could be cool to use for Owl and Key stuff in the game. I think producing stuff like the fancy letters for the Owl and Key society using the print room would be awesome. Letterpress is a technique that really embodies tradition and it’s neat because you can literally feel the words printed using letterpress because of the impression they make in the paper, which you don’t get out of a digital experience.

    The whole Book Arts department as well as our fine artist books special collection is funded entirely by the Lawrence and Fay Clark Powell fund. Lawrence Clark Powell is legit probably my favorite Oxy alum. As Annie mentioned, he was a member and at one point president of the Owl and Key Society which is perfect for us. He was a native Californian and grew up in south Pasadena with his bff/other noted Oxy alum, Ward Ritchie. The Oxy president at the time noted Powell, Ritchie, and their other friend as the three students he least expected to make something out of themselves. Quite to the contrary, Ward Ritchie founded a fine press in California after studying printing in Europe (he and Powell loved Robinson Jeffers as well so he did special prints of Jeffers’ work) while Lawrence Clark Powell became an extremely important librarian. UCLA’s main library is actually named after him because of all the work he did in establishing that library. In addition to founding/doing a lot of work for various libraries, Powell was also friends with a ton of famous and important writers, artists, etc at the time. He personally acquired a lot of pieces for our special collections. Henry Miller wrote that Powell was, “representative of all that is best in the American tradition.”

    So to wrap up, I just think it’s really awesome and interesting that Oxy actually has a really rich history involving the book arts and libraries. Book arts definitely epitomizes the idea of analog learning while libraries really straddle he divide. I also find it neat that the ground floor of Weingart where the print rooms are is also home to the digital media production lab which is definitely an embodiment of digital/technological learning. So ground floor of Weingart is kind of a ground zero for both analog and digital production.

  11. Campus Buildings: Thorne Hall vs. The Bird Hillside Theater (Greek Bowl).
    Considering the role of technology in the Arts, particularly the performance arts, there is an interesting conversation to be had about our campus centers for performance. On one hand, the Greek Bowl, build in 1925, is literally made in the style of the ancient Greek amphitheater, representing the oldest form of performance in Western culture. This style of theater has a rich history in its own right, but is also associated with a particular type of performance that some may find antiquated. It is also notable that this venue is used to host graduation. Thorne Hall,conversely, is a much more modern theater that offers a wider range of performance options that include classical theater styles, but it is also capable of more digitally oriented performances. Built in 1938, Thorne is also a site of activism at Oxy: it’s where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ronald Reagan, and Robert Frost all spoke. Most ‘big name’ speakers who come to Oxy will speak in Thorne. Thorne Hall was renovated in 1989 to incorporate a wide range of technologies since its original construction in 1938, which in itself consists as an site of negotiation between ludite and tech.

    If this project/ARG decides to fabricate a conflict between the Classics department and the Computer Science department, these two venues could certainly play a large role in the greater contest. They bring up questions about the relationship between art, performance, and technology and further consider their role in the debate of activism vs. slactivism.


  12. tacohead30 says:

    Everyone that goes to Oxy knows that Obama and Ben Affleck also went to Oxy, at least for a time. Both alumni were residents of Haines Hall, so throughout our ARG I thought it would be interesting to try and potentially add a unique element to each dorm based on alumni that lived in that dorm or unique facts about that dorm, key dates, etc. I know Obama and his friends lived in the annex and there are a lot of (some very comical) stories about his time in Haines (read #12 and 13 here:
    A lot of these stories might not be flattering to Obama and likely wouldn’t be feasible additions to the ARG, but the story about the “Annex Olympics” in Haines really sparked this idea of possibly going to unique mini-games in each dorm. This would encourage meeting new people and would allow for the encouragement of meeting new people in different dorms based on this incentive to complete mini-games and earn your team more points (or whatever reward system we come up with).

  13. simsa2013 says:

    I think that a really interesting Alum to look at could be Pierce Brooks. He is one of the first alums to come on the oxy125 page and is listed as the best homicide dective ever. I think that we could utilize the idea of being a detective in this game by setting.There is a book that follows the story of his investigations that could be used as some sort of side first year reading assignment, maybe not required but “*strongly encouraged*”. We could then follow that with a screen on the green is a really good resource and we could have students get some sort of screening on The Onion Field, about his most famous investigations.

    Maybe we could find some way of connecting Brooks to the ATO like mystery that could be solved in some way.

  14. jeffleblow says:

    Marcel Ophüls graduated from Oxy in 1950, and is famously known as a documentary filmmaker whose films have largely focused on WWII Europe. Ophüls served during WWII as part of the US occupying forces in Japan. He directed documentaries on the Munich crisis of 1938, and a documentary called “The Sorrow And The Pity”, which examines the Nazi occupation of France during the war. His documentary “The Memory of Justice”, in 1973, compared the policies of the United States during the Vietnam War to the policies of the Nazis during World War II. Ophüls has also done documentaries for CBS and ABC, detailing the role of media in covering wars.

    Ophüls’ experience and exposure to wars and documentary-style filming could be useful to our ARG. Although he is still living, he could be portrayed as an NPC, who guides players via films about war which could contain secret clues or hints.

  15. rsoriano2013 says:

    Dr. Sammy Lee of the class of 1943 is a noted Alumni because he won a Gold Medal i Olympic diving. We could potentially use Dr. Lee as a ghost of Occidental’s past, even though he is still alive. We could maybe collaborate with other departments and say that the Gold Medals he won were stolen. This could launch an investigation in which we could also bring in other past Oxy Alums (Such as Pierce Brooks as previously mentioned).There we could try and catch those who stole the medals or find out where they have been hidden.

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