The Bogost article that we were required to read for class is at least a dense read. Being a psychology major, I think in much more concrete terms. I like explanations that are to the point and there is little room for inference. I have a hard time taking a poem and breaking it down to its core, and pulling theories and discussions from the tiny scraps left of the breakdown. This being said, the Bogost article was extremely difficult for me to grasp. This is why I was fairly quiet in class when we were discussing it. It was not because I did not read the article, but because I simply did not comprehend it to the extent that others did in the class. However, as blind as I was to the deep meaning of the excerpts, I did quite enjoy the discussion on the Sims. The game in general is supposed to model what one’s life is actually like. However, there is little room to go against cultural norms. Given a situation for example, going on a “hot date” maybe in real life I wanted to jump on the table and punch my date. This is not an option in the game because it goes against norms. Although I would not actually do this in real life because I tend to follow the norms, this may be something I wanted my character in the game to do. Back to the idea of the “Hot Date”; Bogost notes that the game assumes that your character has a need for social interaction with the opposite sex. This is an opportunity for one of the chance encounters that was discussed earlier in the text. However, in the “Hot Date” setting, the interactions are much more formalized and with a purpose than the more casual interactions like at an arcade or at the mall. In the less formal settings, there is much more room for the change encounters than the more formal set up of the “Hot Date”. The characters are there to establish a relationship, not leaving it up to chance.
Overall, I’m very glad that Bogost decided to use the example of Sims for the chance encounter concept. Its current, relatable, and much easier to grasp than the poem excerpts that were discussed earlier in his article.
to be graded medium
The video game demonstrations that everyone did in class intrigued me. By no means, as I have stated before, do I consider myself a gamer. In fact, I did not choose to do the game demonstration for my project because I do not even own a game that I could use. That being said, I have never totally understood how and why someone could spend hours on end trying to complete a virtual task that will in no way effect real life. I always considered it simply a waste of time. Now, I do not say this blindly. I have tried my fare share of video games including Call Of Duty: Black Ops, Madden 12, FIFA and even Super Smash Bros. Although I know there are games out the wazoo out there, I can’t seem to find the pleasure in it that others seem to have captured. Also, I guarantee that no one would want to watch me struggle to control a character since my control skills are a little less than optimal.
As people in class started their game demonstrations, I couldn’t help but think how silly all the plots were. However, this did take quite a turn for me. As more and more people presented their games, I noticed how diverse they all were. I realized that not all games have the “kill everything and win” goal. You form alliances, do good deeds, and there are actual back-stories to some of the games. They are like a little story, and I never thought of that before. However, one of the presentations did touch on the fact that the story can be distracting or even annoying. She noted that if she wanted to watch a movie she would, but she just wants to play a video game. I might actually enjoy the cut scenes honestly. I feel it ads to the fact that your playing for a reason other that to stare at a screen. The actual narrative involved creates a sense of reality. Now, I know we’ve talked about this in class and I have even participated, but it took actually seeing the games in front of me and having someone explain the elements in terms of “Reality is Broken” or “Understanding Comics” for me to fully grasp that concept.
Another aspect of the games demonstrated that I found interesting was how large of an impact the music paired with the game had. The fact that the game companies will make soundtracks of simply the background music available to download blows my mind. It really opened my eyes to all the individual elements that go into making a game successful. If the music is mediocre, then the game seems to be missing something, or even boring. However, with the right music a game cam come alive. Is it possible that a successful soundtrack be what separates a flop of a game from a best seller? Probably not, but if your game has a soundtrack, then you’re doing pretty well.
Overall, I would like to say that watching the game demonstrations really shined a light on the world of gaming for me. I still probably won’t ever be a gamer per se, but no longer will I wonder what all the buzz is about.
to be graded hard
When I found out that we needed to play a video game as a class assignment, I had no idea how I felt about this. I do not consider myself as a gamer by any means, I can’t even play angry birds. So I definitely consider this as a challenge. When the game first came on, I had no idea it had even started, so I sat and waited for the little boy to get up. The fact that the game had given no directions at all gave the whole thing an even more of an eerie feeling than the coloring and animation alone. After I figured out how to control the game, it got a little easier, but it definitely gave me an uneasy feeling the whole time. In my opinion, playing a game that has such a vague story line and creepy animations almost enriches the experience as a whole. It gives the game a certain type of mystery, like a puzzle you want to find out. However, this puzzle does not have a definite solution, in fact the ending of the game is almost entirely made by your imagination. In the end of the movie, the boy finds his sister and she is in a field with her back turned to him. In class, we talked about the different ways one could interpret the way Limbo ended. I personally believe that the girl is not dead, but in fact mourning the boy’s death. This is why she never turns to him and why he never embraces her or goes towards her when he finally finds her. Also, in the part of the game when it looks like a feminine type figure is running from him, I am inclined to think that that was just a figment of his imagination. I think that it symbolizes that he is searching for something that will never actually be achieved. He will never actually “reach” his sister since she is not dead, just like he will never actually reach that shadow figure that he was chasing. I also was thinking that since the game is obviously set in limbo, he is not aware of heaven or hell OR Earth where we live either. This is another reason that he is not able to actually have contact with her because he is not aware of the world that she lives in. Someone in class mentioned that as the game went on, it seemed that time was progressing. I do not exactly have an explanation to this, but it makes me wonder why there were flies at the end of the game if he had been dead for decades. All together, I feel that whatever your take on the game is, it says a lot about your personality as a whole. That’s the great thing about a game or story being as open ended as Limbo is. You use your imagination to unravel a story to your liking.
to be graded medium
I finally watched the V for Vendetta movie, and I have to say that I do not think people in class gave enough emphasis on the differences between the movie and the book. The movie seemed to be very out of order. However, the biggest difference to me was how much Evey changed. Like everyone had said, she was much more independent in the movie (not to mention so much older.) To me, she seemed much more theatrical then the Evey in the book, but because of popular demand and a need for drama in the public I guess that makes sense. When you are reading a book, its acceptable for a character to be average because you do not have to be entertained for an hour straight. When you are watching a movie, if a character seems to be a little average, or as I like to call “boring”, you start to yawn or even get annoyed. “Why is this person in a movie if they are so average?” All in all, the theatrical version of Evey definitely did contribute immensely to movie version of V for Vendetta.
The article by Chatman that we read did in fact lose me at times. However the part that most stood out to me was the part with the chart explaining narratives. The chart broke narratives down essentially into two parts: form and substance. As described in class, form is the actions of a narrative and substance is basically how it is described. Well, at least that is how I took it. For the sake of clarity, these will be the definitions of the terms for the duration of my blog. This got me thinking on the difference between the form and substance of V for Vendetta movie and book. The form of the book I fell is a lot more symbolic, and leaves a lot more up to your imagination. For example, on page 216 is Finch’s transformation. The book clearly shows this symbolizes a rebirth not only for Finch, but the future of Fate. The book also relates this to the transformations of V and Evey. However, I do not feel like the movie showed near as much action in the form of symbolism. The book also put quite an emphasis on words that start with the letter V. Finch is clearly using the alliteration when he says “vaulting, veering, vomiting up the values that victimized me, feeling vast, feeling virginal..” (page 216). Again I did not feel this was a part in the movie. To me, its little pieces of the story like that that make a story worth while. However, in a movie if you included every little detail, the people would get bored. Like our reading in Understanding Comics said, sometimes it is what you read between the frames, in that little blank that makes a story into a classic.
To be graded medium
While I was finishing reading V for Vendetta, I still had a number of questions in mind. None of them really had to do with the story, but mostly because if the drawing style or the way the word bubbles were placed. Most of the men in the book looked the same to me, and I had trouble differentiating between them. I feel that if I had a better understanding of who was who, I would have gotten the full effect of the book. Details aside, class on Tuesday really helped me appreciate the style of the book, and why the pictures seemed to be extremely vague or not go with the words at all. After class, I finished reading a little less than half the book in about 45 minutes. The whole book seemed to open up and finally speak to me. By far, what stood out to be out of the entire book was when Delia brought up the Milgram experiment. I had never thought about it, but that is basically what the entire book was. The main point (or one of them) of the Milgram experiment was that given an authority figure, anyone can essentially become evil. Not only will one commit heinous acts, but there is a chance that they will ENJOY it. A quick rundown of the experiment for those of you who weren’t in class is that a group of participants were used in an experiment to ask another group of participants a series of questions. They questioners could not see the “questionees”, and were told by the experimenter to shock the questionees every time they got a question wrong. What they did not know is that the questionees were actually actors and were not being shocked at all. However, under influence of the experimenter, the authority figure who told them all was okay, the questioners continued to increase voltage even when the questionee seemed to be deceased. These questioners were completely normal people, like you, me, Evey, Delia or V. When given an “okay”, people will do something that is completely against all principles. I bring this back to our discussion on heroes. Is a hero someone who flies in in the nick of time to save a victim? Or is a hero someone who can resist the pressure of authority when something goes against what they stand for? Better yet, what I think a hero is, is someone who has the authority to challenge people’s principles, but instead chooses this to teach them about themselves. First, lets take Delia for example. Delia obviously was playing the role of a questioner. She had the chance to resist the pressure of authority and set the prisoners free, but she did not. What if she had? Yes, the prisoners would have ceased to be experimented on, but where would they go? Back to a life of chaos and destruction? Now consider V. Without question, V had authority. He had the key to fate, and had an undeniable talent of manipulation and secretiveness. He killed. He destroyed. He had a vision. None of his destruction went without purpose for the greater good. He passed on his vision for a better future to Evey, who in turn passed it on again. V brought out people’s inner freedom, which is something that would have not been done otherwise. To me, V, the authority figure is what a true hero is. Sometimes, the manipulation from an authority figure is not negative.
Just for fun I have included a Dateline version of the Milgram experiment, although I’m not sure how it is exactly ethical. I highly recommend watching it.
to be graded hard
I’ll start off by mentioning that V for Vendetta is absolutely nothing like what I was expecting it to be. For some reason, and I have no idea where I got this, I was thinking it was going to be similar to Phantom of the Opera. Well obviously I was extremely wrong. I’ve never actually read a comic book before, so getting used to this one took a little bit of time. I never knew which bubble to read first, and I found myself getting confused very often. After a while however, I realized how interesting the book really is. I am extremely thankful that a group in class went over the structure of the government with the fingers, the nose, and the head. Otherwise I would have been so lost. But after their presentation, reading the book became much more interesting and easy to understand. I have yet to take notes on which character is what position, but I’m sure I will need to do that soon due to the large amount of characters. Now to the actual content of the book. The first couple of chapters in the book are extremely gloomy. I feel almost saddened for the characters, especially the 16 year old girl. On page 27, she says “The sky was all yellow and black. I’ve never seen a sky like it. Dad said London was finished. He wanted to take Mum and me to the country.” That particular part of the book when she is describing how much her life is in shambles really put the condition of London into perspective for me. These poor people have literally had every shred of hope and happiness ripped away from them. Just when they thought the government was stepping in to save them, it got worse. I have not read far enough into the book to know the answer to this question, but I noticed that the 16 year old girl, Evey, seemed to be the only one who was weary of “Norsefire”. She says that “I remember when they marched into London. They had a flag with their symbol on. Everyone was cheering. I thought they were scary.” To me, this shows that her character is not only wise beyond her years, but she also can see a side of people that others would not notice. I believe this is why Evey and V get along so well. V obviously can see people for who they are (which is why he is attacking Norsefire) and they can see the good in each other. On another note, it amazes me how much power Norsefire has, and how little regard for the people the leader has. On page 37 when he says “I will not hear talk of freedom. I will not hear talk of individual liberty. They are luxuries. I do not believe in luxuries. “ I am interested to see how a mindset like that will help a town in ruins, but I guess V was thinking the same thing. I still have much more reading to do in the book, but overall I have to say so far so good, the book really makes you feel the emotions of the characters.
to be graded meduim
There is a section of “Image-Based Culture” that states “the conditions that people are searching for–what they perceive will make then happy–are things such as having personal autonomy and control of one’s life, self-esteem, a happy life, loving relations, a relaxed, tension-free leisure time, and good friendships.” Sut Jhally continues to say that society mainly identifies with social things and less with material things. This made me think about our class discussion on glamor. When I look at an advertisement, I am not envious of the prestigious person in the advertisement or product that they’re advertising, but instead of the social power that comes with the product that is being advertising. I ultimately believe that that is the goal of the advertising company. I am a psychology major, and in my psychology class we talked about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The hierarchy is in the shape of a pyramid. The bottom of the pyramid is your physiological needs like food, sleep, air and shelter. One level up is safety and security, followed by friendship and family, then self-esteem, confidence, and achievement, and finally the top of the pyramid is self actualization. Self actualization is characterized by creativity, problem solving, and authenticity. You must complete one stage of needs before going on to the next one. Not only that, your level of needs may fluctuate depending on which situation you are in. The article talks about what you perceive will make you happy. When one sees an advertisement, the goal is to achieve self-actualization, the pinnacle of happiness. However, this goal is not always reality.
To be graded easy