Play Journal

ArtM 348: Topics in Digital Culture (Spring 2013)

Games, Play and ARGs

Play Journal Assignment

Your first assignment in the course will be to select a game from the list below, and write three play journal entries, to be posted to our course blog during the first three weeks of the course. There are two primary objectives associated with this assignment: First, jour play journal should reflect that you’ve understood and can effectively deploy terminology and concepts from our course readings.  Second, this is an exercise in learning to write critically about games as a media form, and efficiently describe the process of play.

The topics, deadlines, and expectations for these play journals are enumerated below, but if you have any questions feel free to email me.

Each entry of your play journal must…

  • Be based on at least 1 hour of play per week
  • Be approximately 500 words
  • Include visual documentation of your play to annotate your commentary
    • Images/screengrabs and video of your gameplay (with or without voiceover commentary) are both acceptable, though at least 1 of your journal entries should include video of you playing.
    • You can upload your video to our course youtube account (, password sent via email in week 1)
    • You can supplement your posts with additional gameplay videos, when relevant
  • Present a critical, thoughtful discussion the game and your experience playing it relates to the course reading for that week

Journal topics and blog post deadlines:

  • Games, due Sunday 2/3 at 6pm
  • Rules, due Sunday 2/10 at 6pm
  • Play, due Sunday 2/17 at 6pm

These topics are intentionally broad to allow you to tailor your journal to the most relevant or interesting sections of our readings for the week.  So, while I expect your post to grapple with each week’s broad themes and questions (e.g. What is a game?  How do rules function?  What constitutes meaningful play?), you should also be grounding your analysis in a few concrete concepts and terms that will allow you to focus your analysis on specific aspects of the game.

I’ve attempted to pick a range of games, both in terms of genre, appeal, and platform.  If you have concerns about gaining access to one of these games, or would like to arrange to use the Xbox or Wii in the CDLR, please contact me via email.

Pick one game from the following list as the basis for your play journal:

  • Angry Birds (2009) [iPhone or iPad, Android, PSP]
  • Bioshock (2007) [Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows, Mac]
  • Braid (2008) [Xbox 360/Live Arcade, PlayStation 3/PSN, Windows, Mac]
  • Journey (2012) [PlayStation 3/PSN]
  • L.A. Noire (2011) [Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows)
  • Mark of the Ninja [Xbox 360/Live Arcade, Windows]
  • Plants vs. Zombies (2009) [PC or Mac, Xbox Live Arcade, iPhone or iPad]
  • Portal (2007) [Xbox 360/Live Arcade, PlayStation 3Windows, Mac]
  • Super Mario Galaxy (2007) [Nintendo Wii]

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