Participation (Every Class Meeting)
You must participate thoughtfully during class discussions. Merely showing up will not get you participation credit—you must speak. If you’re not in class, you can’t receive credit, so your participation grade will be affected. I will note your participation (or lack thereof) daily. Thoughtful participation means that you engage critically in our discussions or ask engaging questions about the subject. Simply making jokes or telling the class an irrelevant story about your favorite show does not warrant thoughtful participation. Doing work for another class or distracting other students will lower your participation grade.
Please see me ASAP if you’re concerned about your participation grade because you’re shy or if you don’t understand these requirements. Telling me at the end of November that you didn’t participate because you’re the quiet type or because you didn’t understand what “thoughtful” meant will be too late. I am willing to provide a quasi-alternative to supplement a student’s participation grade, but please note that discussion, which allows speakers to exchange ideas, is an extremely important component of critical thinking. Please discuss an alternative with me early in the semester…like today!
I will have prompts related to our readings and class discussions. In order to foster your understanding of the course material and theories, I want you to interact with other classmates through writing (we’ll do plenty of speaking in class, but feel free to talk about these ideas with your classmates outside of class). Each week, I’ll ask you to respond to a prompt I provide by the Monday after our class meeting. I’ll have these Discussion prompts on Canvas.
Then, on the following week, in addition to a new prompt, I’ll ask you to respond to a fellow classmate’s post from the previous week. Your initial posts should be at least 250 words; your replies should be at least 100 words. I’m not going to assign to whom you respond, but I hope you don’t respond to the same person each time. Doing so WILL affect your grade. Also, posting or responding in uncritical ways–ways that don’t rise to the level of an Honors/Graduate course–will affect your grade.
Theoretical Lens Essay
This essay is an attempt to get you to work towards establishing a theoretical lens from which to analyze texts. Instead of writing about a text, you’ll be doing a meta-essay in a way. You’ll be writing about how you would go about analyzing a text. Our Introducing Critical Theory and Introducing Cultural Studies books are going to discuss many theorists, but they’re brief and don’t go into nearly the detail other volumes would. Consider those textbooks to be introductions to theory.
From the readings, class discussions, and your own research (which isn’t exhaustive), develop an analytical approach to video games or digital media in general. Don’t worry so much about sticking to one theorist; instead, it might be best to consider how the theory (or one school of thought on the theory) answers questions about a topic. You will need to demonstrate how the theoretical lens answers questions about the text, so you will need an example or two. Unlike an essay on a text—where you would focus on the meaning of that text—this essay is more of an outline, a plan on how you interpret a text.
These will be workshopped on 9/15 and are due 9/22. Format this the way an essay should be formatted and aim for 5-6 pages. You will need to cite our readings, so make sure you do that. If you don’t cite—use in-text citations—any of our readings, I’ll hand this back. Therefore, your essay will be late, and your grade will start at 50%.
Video Game Essay
Using your theoretical lens or another lens or a blend of lenses, you must analyze a video game. You may do a rhetorical analysis where you explain how meaning is conveyed in the game or compare meaning across games. The most straightforward approach is to pick a video game (or related video games) and set out to explain what makes the video game a product of the culture from which it comes. Remember, you don’t have to have played the game to focus on a segment of the narrative (or game play). YouTube has so much game play recorded, so, if you’re not agile enough to get through a game, you may watch game play and analyze that. Remember, the YouTube video and the video game itself are both cultural products…
Alternatively, you could analyze games from one of the analysis types we discussed in Understanding Video Games (pp. 11-12). As you know, we focus more on rhetorical and cultural analyses, but there are other analyses you may do. In order not to bite off more than you can chew, I suggest not analyzing gamers playing games. To do such an analysis properly, you would need to interview gamers, record their game play, and transcribe hours of data. You could analyze gaming discussions that you find online or focus on a vlogger’s “walkthrough” of a game (YouTube has 1000s of these). There is plenty of background research—mostly case studies—on video gamers, so, if this is the approach you’d like to do, do your research early.
Regardless of your approach, you are not summarizing. You are doing a critical analysis and making sound arguments about the meaning(s) of a game.
These will be workshopped on 10/27 and are due 11/03. Format this the way an essay should be formatted and make sure it is at least 6 pages. It requires research outside of the class reading, and you will also need to cite our readings (yes, citing readings not assigned), so make sure you do that. If you don’t cite—use in-text citations—any of our readings or outside research, I’ll hand this back. Therefore, your essay will be late, and your grade will start at 50%.
Multimodal Project (Due 12/01)
You have many options for this assignment. Basically, you will make an argument using new media. You have lots of freedom to work with visuals, video, or audio in any way you’d like. Consider creating a project that reflects or is inspired by something from this course. Instead of rigid guidelines, I want you to have plenty of room for experimentation. I’m just looking to see how the course reading inspired you to communicate in a form other than a traditional academic essay. This may (and probably should) be related to your Video Game Essay assignment.
You don’t need to be an editing guru to do this. You can easily create a project using a program like Movie Maker, which is a standard program for Microsoft Windows (if you have Windows, you have Movie Maker…if you have a Mac, you most likely have iMovie). Using text, images, videos, and F/X, make an argument. I will show you a few examples (I hope), but I’m not concerned with how well-edited this is. I’m concerned with your argument.
You have plenty of possible ways you can do this assignments. A video would be a good choice (example). Just make sure I can play the project, and please have citations (URLs and such) for the material you get online. Yes, you MUST cite our readings, so your last frames (or final frames) will have citations from our readings and the material you use from outside of class.
You will do an 8 to 10-minute presentation on your Multimodal Project. This presentation will be during our Final Exam Time, December 15, 2016. Don’t go under 8 minutes, and I won’t let you go over 10 minutes. We’ll discuss the possible delivery choices later in the semester.