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Welcome to Jiachen Zhang’s ENG-101 Website

This site is a portfolio of the work I’ve done as part of ENG101 at Emory university during Fall semester 2020.

Final Reflection Letter

Learning is a process. Like the guy who drew the Cocktail Construction Chart located in the National Archives, real learning takes place when one can break down the process of learning with explanations. As a learner, I would break this course into four parts to justify my learning process. 

Drawn by me

We begin our learning with the question “What is a game?”. Like many other students in the class, First-Year Writing was assigned by the college. I began to question the title of the game, Play Make Write Think, when I was enrolled. Obviously, almost everyone has played some form of game in their life. Whether it is playing childhood games with his or her parents, sports, video games, or board games, we never think about the meaning behind games, nor what it tells us. After learning this course, playing games really makes me think more than thinking about how to win it. Before getting to the outcome, the beginning should be focused on the part, What is Game?. We read the article, “What exactly is a game?” By Jane McGonigal, and wrote Literacy Narratives to combine our past understanding in literature—the nature of this class, and gaming—the theme of this class. In the article, we learned that there are four critical elements in games: a goal, rules, a feedback system, and voluntary participation. Just like character, plot, and settings in literature works, games have a trait to be defined with. In this part of class, we constructed out understanding of games by analyzing and synthesize the ideas of others, from Jane McGonigal and everyone in the class, as I undertook scholarly inquiry in order produce my own arguments that gaming is a form of expression and understanding its meaning is important for every player.  

As we constructed an understanding of games, the topic of the course then shifts to “Analyzing games”. To analyze any game, we have to play it first. Depression Quest, Tangaroa Deep, and Gone Home expanded my stereotypical thought that games are never meaningful and are simply designed to prevent players from winning. Gathering information from different media and genres, reading articles provided analysis tools like telescoping, probing, and decision making in different games. After reading works from prestigious game analysts’ articles like Ian Bogost’s Empathy, the idea that games are putting players into someone else’s shoes is really interesting. Isn’t that what most shooting games are doing? Having to comprise different feelings after playing each game, I have mastered some basic information for me to analyze a game. 

Then, “Application of game analysis” came into play in this course. First, the previous knowledge about analyzing or playing games is being asked to integrate into the player narrative where I discuss the life lesson I learned from playing sports. Then, we begin producing our podcast episodes. In my podcast group, we produced our podcast on three separate games: Temple Run, Oxenfree, and Democratic Socialism Simulator. As we worked more and more times, the routine was set, everyone began to express their ideas with respect to others, and we can constructively criticize each other in a really supportive and helpful way, and receive constructive criticism in the same manner. For instance, we had different opinions amongst our group when we were making the last episode on the Democratic Socialism Simulator. The definition of moderate was discussed within our group. One argued that a moderate president would mean that this president didn’t do exciting things, while the other argued that it means the president’s political views are in between right and left. Although each had a point, no one argued with anger. Through the collaboration skills, we finally decided to approach the “moderate” idea from two different perspectives. Podcasts are really good ways to apply our understanding of games into a text that is novel and suitable in current situations. Moreover, the reflection was done each time after a podcast, further propelled students to reflect each time after a podcast and to improve upon the next one. This process fits into the learning outcomes as writing as a process since podcast is a form of text for students to reflect each time and revise next time. For me, the game choosing strategies had been improving from Temple Run, a simple and popular game, to Oxenfree, a more complex game, to Democratic Socialism Simulator, the perfect game that fits into the global and domestic current affair.

The final stage in this learning spectrum is to create our own games. Therefore, combining our experiences in Podcasts, previous games, and founding ideas about games, we are able to create Twine games. In my group, different storylines under the pandemic were presented to the audience. Making a game isn’t easy. It is a process for each of us to summarize our understanding of telescoping and probing, the idea that games should reflect current affairs, the four fundamental factors of games, and etc. During the process, it is really interesting for a game creator to comprise the story for the life of a person. It is really interesting for students to utilize voice recording, drawings, games, and essays to submit their work. The rhetorical composition made our twine group more familiar to comprise work with a completely new media.

Overall, the learning experience starts with “What is a Game?” To “Analyzing games” to “Apply analysis of games” and finally into making a game. This process is more like an essay that Professor Morgen presents to the class on how to approach games and how players make writers think. In this process, Rhetorical Composition, Critical Thinking and Reading Resulting in Writing, Writing as Process, and Collaboration was practiced continuously through utilizing different media and constructing work in various forms. It is a process for me to shape my views about games in a completely different way. Games are not different from any media that is respected as teaching materials, like literature and movies. It can also construct a completely new world with the mechanics and message it conveys. 

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