Prior of coming to Emory my idea of writing was all about thesis and point A, B, and C. Most of these writing were “essays that were meant for grading because the teachers can check if you have the points they want and give you a grade” (Morgen). However, this class has changed my concept of writing through a series of projects and reflections.
Throughout the semester I’ve encountered different genres of writing. Making our own podcasts, for example, has taught me to take on writing in verbal form rather than simply typing on a document that I have been practicing for years. On the other side, playing games like Gone Home and Fiasco not only combined writing with real-world interaction, but also encouraged me to compose texts in the aural genre that engage players and listeners. What’s more, the final project of creating our own games, blogging “what’s in my backpack”, and recording my emotions encouraged me to write in the digital format, combining artworks and text to display my work and life to the audience. Years before I would consider these writings as fun activities, but as the semester progressed my traditional thoughts about writing as assignments for grades was replaced during the processes of composing written, oral, nonverbal, and digital forms of texts which lead me to the realization that writing is like a language that can be spoken in different dialects and have different meaning for various groups of people.
When I looked back at my writings, I found that an important skill that I developed as a writer was analyzing and summarizing the ideas of others and implanting those into my own. At the beginning of the class, the reading Critical play by Mary Flanagan inspired me to think games as another genre of writing. In the game Fiasco, Flanagan’s idea that “game is a system in which players engage in an artificial conflict, defined by rules, that results in a quantifiable outcome” (Critical Play, P7) established an opposite definition for games like Fiasco. Nevertheless, I argued that “‘we play by the rule’, but more importantly, Fiasco teaches me that players don’t have to follow rules to play the game” (Fiasco Reflection). Indeed, the freedom of Fiasco allowed my group to fabricate a story in which there was no limit to the moral standards that would be considered rules in real life. However, at the same time it redefined games and writing based on Flanagan’s definition, exposing the inadequacy of his argument in the presence of various creative board games nowadays. As I progressed through the semester, I was able to express this idea in my reflection, concluding that: “the key difference between Fiasco and video games is that Fiasco offers its players to fully create a story, or redefining the system, whereas video games typically have a set system in which players cannot escape” (Fiasco Reflection).
On the other side of serving as a different type of game, Fiasco also exposed me to a new perspective of writing. Its special game mechanism of assigning roles and allowing players to make their outcomes gave us an opportunity to write a story collaboratively in order to satisfy the readers who were also merged as the players. This was a novel idea to me because I have been an audience throughout my life when reading texts, yet this merge of writer and reader made me realize the potential of words and the effect it has on different people with the help of creativity. By participating in this story and contributing our own thoughts to the plot, we were transformed into different personalities to fit in the characters that we’ve chosen. For example, in Fiasco, I chose a character with playboy personality whose objective was “getting laid”, so I had to change my behavior pattern to better serve the story such as making out with random girls and being nude in a coffee bar which were behaviors that I’m not associated with in real life (Fiasco Reflection). Although many role-playing video games now feature close-to-reality graphics and details such as interactions with NPC (non-playable character), games like Fiasco still offers its readers a story with enough control over the empty storylines. This ability to change its own writing genres by the players is also why so many players are inspired by the story they created collaboratively and turned the stories into real-life artworks such as movies.
Another important writing skill that I’ve learned as the semester progresses was analyzing, interpreting, and assembling visual and written documents. At the beginning of the semester, we played Gone Home, a role-playing mystery video game, and discovered that video game can be another type of writing as well. Since video games provide vivid graphics and sound effects to the players, people can be fully immersed in the gaming environment and become part of the character similar to Fiasco. In Gone Home, that effect is amplified with the suspending tone using music and coloring of the environment. Unlike traditional writings in which readers visualize the environment from reading the description, video games present players the setting through graphics containing extensive information to help the player understand the story. For example, in Gone Home, clues were scattered around the map and we had to align each information together to understand the big picture. ”By exploring the writing room of Terrence, Kate’s father, through reading letters and notes about his current I discovered Terrence’s hardship in his writing career” (Gone Home Gameplay). This ability of teaching players to assemble visual information makes video games unique and stand out as a different writing genre from the traditional text-based readings.
Later at the end of the semester, I applied this idea of presenting written documents with the aid of visual graphics by creating our own game: Checking in. To serve the audience, who are potential investors of this game, we produced pixel-style artworks and presentations to explain the game mechanism and the purpose of helping incoming international students getting involved in the Emory community. This type of writing not only helped me prepare for my future professional writing but also taught me to engage responsibly in online spaces and practice good digital citizenship.
Moreover, as each of us produced our own podcast episode, this idea of being digitally responsible became more evident as we encounter using other’s online post for our own writing. Intellectual property, therefore, became important as each word that we spoke during the podcast had to be valid and credible. Hence, during the researching and drafting of scripts, we paid attention to details and wrote references to ensure that credits are given to other people’s work. This is also an important skill for my other class such as QTM. As the class demands extensive online research and composing letters based on resources, it’s essential to learn to draw information from other people’s work and being a respectful digital citizen.
Over the semester I have seen myself improved as a better writer both from composing work of different medium for different audience and the mindset of approaching a topic as a writer using different strategies and stage of writing as a process. In the future, I would like to improve these skills by practicing more professional writings and learn how to engage readers to best present my work.