“ For many game players, games exist for entertainment, for passing the time, for fun. They are a diversionary activity, meant for relaxation or distraction—a “not- work” space where players are free to engage in fantasy narratives, amazing feats, and rewarding tasks. But what if certain games have become something more? ” Said Mary Flanagan in her book Critical Play. For many years, the stereotype that games are destined to only enrich individuals’ leisure time had been stuck in my mind. It was not until the time when I came into the world of “play make write think”, which makes me change my idea totally and realize that learning the mindset of a player and applying the attitude from a virtual world into reality is what a true game brings to us.
When I first step into college, knowing my freshman writing course is all about games, I was so confused that had no idea what should I do: as a girl that was not into games in nature, I was afraid that I could not handle the material we talked about in class or even understand how to play the games required in each assignment. At that time, the definition of games in my mind was only about entertainment, entertainment, and entertainment, and maybe lots of arguments between teenagers and their parents. Because of those big and vague pictures, I used to have little patience and zest with games. Games certainly not my advantage. However, as the semester nervously began, with the professor’s lecture, I gradually acknowledged that games should never be limited to the ostensible meaning I had identified. Rather, from a literature view, it could be analyzed with rhetorical devices, critical components, and social issues, etc. Throughout the learning, Professor Morgen not only taught us to consider a game from multiple perspectives, such as probing, feedback, telescoping, with four traits: goal, feedback system, rules, voluntary participation. With the newly equipped knowledge, games have become more dimensional from my view, and I never regard it as a simple daily relaxation tool anymore. Like Bernard Suits, says “playing a game is the voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles,” the world of games opens an exploration for me to challenge my attitude of being gamefulness.
With the new perception of games in mind and more experiences in different varieties of topics, my classmates and I were gradually challenged to play back and forth with games: not only play games, liveblog the process when browsing different stories but also produce games in the forms of the podcast and from professional software. From the very first, playing a variety of games, which all related to depression and trauma, set a foundation for us to talk about the knowledge and rhetorical situation in each game analysis, enabling us to never perceive a game just from a superficial layman level. The different types of games our professor selected intentionally helped us to focus on the different emphasis of every designer, leading us to appreciate the visual, sounding, emotional effect, and so on. With those in mind, we started to do produce our first episode of the podcast, Unity in Among Us and Quarantine, analyzing a game of our own choice, with much collaboration from teammates and professors. It is still remarkable in my memory how hard to make the first step to try a new thing like a podcast in one’s life. My teammates and I totally lost our minds and had no idea where should we start. Driven by the deadline, we had to communicate and collaborate; combining the elements of games our professor mentioned in the lecture, we found even in a game we have not talked in class before, those ideas are still applicable, and without the brainstorming of each other, the whole production could not be completed. After trying the game by ourselves and discussing our ideas, we found Among Us is actually a game tightly connected with unity, communication, and social issue, which perfectly fits into the global pandemic we are situated in right now. We then address the audience with those core ideas step by step and finally reached the bigger picture, which draws a conclusion about the quarantine and our topic name, The Longest Rainy Sunday.
One of the quotes that still impressed me from the class from Professor Morgen is that “Yes, though there are certain required courses that freshmen have to take in their first semester that they are not interested in, what if you put in a gameful attitude just like a player puts in a game, and enjoys all the challenges just like they are in a virtual world? It would probably make a big difference to your experience.” Yes, for me, all of the courses I chose this semester were science classes that I later found I was not fully engaged in, though at the beginning of the semester I assumed I should pursue a pre-med track. Therefore, this semester has been a painful and boring experience for me, not only because the material I learned is not to my advantage, but the field I lately knew isn’t what I want to be in my future. “Experiencing the complexity of the world, an increasing number of people are stressed out and anxious about the future.” But with the aha moment from my writing course, I was reminded to truly give myself an exploration just like a game at the first semester of my college career, giving myself more courage and freedom: “If people could act as free and courageous as players in a virtual world, they may obtain more confidence in the matter they are dealing with.” Going forward like a fearless player, however, I found I was equipped with more creativity, cooperativeness, and critical thinking skills, thanks to Play Make Write Think.
As I move further in the college career and even my lifetime, the concept of “game” would still make a huge difference in my mind and give me power when life comes stressed out. Though the world is actually not virtual, with the imagination of humans and the colors of hundreds of rhetorical compositions, everything we see could be deemed with a gameful identity that we are not afraid of anymore. The creativity, communication, critical thinking, collaboration skills game accompanied and gave to me are the other values that could be used and practiced in careers and lives. Playing and writing are truly two parts that are indispensable and indivisible to each other that are so valuable for every learner in their lifetime.
picture created by me: