The pages below describe the assignments for this course.

Summary-Analysis Papers

Due Dates

Short Papers: 9/19, 9/26, 10/3
Extended Paper: 10/14

S-A papers due prior to the beginning of class, submitted to your Dropbox folders.

As we read Hayles' Electronic Literature, we will be learning new theoretical concepts that help us make sense of works of electronic literature. In an attempt to apply those concepts, we will write three short Summary Analysis (S-A) papers. In addition, we will revise and expand one of those shorter papers. You will choose which paper you'd like to revise.

Paper Assignments

Paper 1 (9/19)
Define Hayles concept of "intermediation," and use it to conduct an analysis of Stuart Moulthrop's Reagan Library.

Paper 2 (9/26)
Define Hayles' discussion of "hyper attention" and "deep attention," and use these twin concepts to conduct an analysis of Kate Pullinger and babel's Inanimate Alice, Episode 1: China.

Paper 3 (10/3)
Define Hayles' discussion of "recursive interactions," and use it to conduct an a analysis of Wardrip-Fruin, Durand, Moss, and Froehlich's Regime Change.

Keep the following things in mind as you write your S-A papers:

The summary section can be no longer than 250 words in the three short papers. Fairly and adequately summarizing a theoretical concept is a difficult task, especially when space is limited. The summary section of S-A papers should very concisely and carefully provide a summary of Hayles' theoretical concept. Please note that you are providing a summary of a particular concept and not the entire chapter. Because your summaries are limited to 250 words, you won't be able to mention every single point the author makes. Your job is to decide what's important and to provide a reader with a clear, readable, fair summary of the concept. While you may decide to provide direct quotations of the author, you will need to focus on summarizing the author's argument in your own words.

The analysis section can be no longer than 500 words in the three short papers. In the analysis sections of these papers, you will focus on applying the theoretical concept described in the summary section. You will use the concept you've summarized to explain how a piece of electronic literature works, and you will explain how one of Hayles' concepts allows us to make sense of this piece of literature. Just as Hayles does throughout the book, you will provide a close reading of a piece of literature (we will study examples in class).

In the extended paper, your summary should be about 500 words and your analysis should be about 1000 words.

Grade Criteria

While I will not be grading your papers, I will be providing feedback. Here is what I will be looking for:

* Is your paper formatted correctly (double-spaced, observes the word limit, name in upper-left-hand corner)?

* Does your summary fairly and concisely summarize Hayles' theoretical concept?

* Have you used your own words to summarize the concept?

* Does your analysis use Hayles' theoretical concept to explain and interpret the assigned work of electronic literature?

* Have you devoted the appropriate amount of space to the two sections of the paper? Remember that the word counts I provide are just guides (not strict word limits), but also remember that both summary and analysis have to be adequately addressed in the paper.

* Is your paper written effectively and coherently with very few grammatical errors?

* Was the paper turned in on time? (Reminder: I do not accept late work.)

For the extended S-A paper, you will be revising one of the three short papers. In that assignment, I will be looking for all of the above. In addition, I will be asking:

* Have you significantly revised the first version of this paper? Have you expanded, cut, added, reworked, or reordered your ideas? Remember that revision is about more than punctuation and grammar. I am looking for evidence that you've spent time reworking the paper.

Interactive Fiction Project

Due Dates:

October 31
Inform7 Project 1.0 (completed in class)

November 7
Inform7 Project 2.0; Paper, first draft (both saved to Dropbox prior to class)

November 14
Inform7 Project 3.0; Paper, second draft (both saved to Dropbox prior to class)

November 18 (noon)
Final Inform7 and Paper Due (both saved to Dropbox prior to class)

We've read about the history of Interactive Fiction (IF), its historical precursors, and about the basic components of IF. Using the Inform7 system, you will work with one other person to design a piece of IF. Your project can be inspired by a previous work of IF or even by one of the other works of electronic literature that we've discussed in class. It can also be inspired by something we have not read in class. Regardless of its inspiration, your IF should incorporate some of the ideas from Nick Montfort's text Twisty Little Passages and should create a meaningful and relatively complex experience for the interactor.

In addition to designing this piece of interactive fiction, each pair of students will write a paper describing and explaining what you've created. Your paper will be roughly 1000 words (four pages double-spaced) and will:

1) Explain the inspiration for your project.

2) Explain your project in the terms laid out by Montfort in Twisty Little Passages. You may choose to describe your game in terms of the basic components of IF (laid out in Chapter 1), or in terms of Montfort's discussion of riddles, or you might compare your game to one of the examples of IF he discusses in the text.

3) Explain how you incorporated feedback that you received during the testing phase. Your classmates will play the various versions of your game, and you will incorporate the feedback you receive during these "user tests." Your paper should explain what changes you made and how you addressed this feedback.

Grade Criteria
When responding to these projects, Eric and I will be asking:

  • Does your project show evidence that you have understood and made use Montfort's discussion of IF in Twisty Little Passages?
  • Does your project take advantage of the Inform7 system? Does it provide a meaningful and relatively complex experience for the interactor?
  • Does your paper explain the inspiration for your project, how it works, and how you've incorporated feedback?
  • Was your project submitted on time? (I do not accept late work.)
  • Does your paper observe the word limit?
  • Does your paper have minimal grammatical and/or structural problems?

Media Microecology


November 21: Prezi Workshop, Pecha Kucha Workshop
November 28: InDesign Tutorial and Workshop
December 5: Open Workshop
December 12: Open Workshop, Group Presentations

In How to Do Things With Videogames, Ian Bogost makes an argument for media microecology. He argues that pundits and scholars tend to make broad claims about how technology either “saves or seduces us” (5). Bogost proposes a smaller, less glamorous, and more difficult task:

Media microecology seeks to reveal the impact of a medium’s properties on society. But it does so through a more specialized, focused attention to a single medium, digging deep into one dark, unexplored corner of a media ecosystem, like an ecologist digs deep into the natural one. (7)

In this final project, we’ll get even more "micro" than Bogost by focusing on one of the games that he discusses in HTDTWV. In addition, we'll think about how a change to a game (a proposed change to one of the game's functions) would allow us to recategorize the game. Each group will be assigned a chapter in the text, and each group will compose a presentation about one of the games Bogost mentions in that chapter. You should choose a game that you can play, so this will mean that you choose a game that is available for free or that one of your group members has access to. (If you’re having problems locating and playing a game you’d like to study, please see me.)

Group presentations will have two components:

1. Pecha Kucha presentation using Prezi

A Pecha Kucha is a presentation format that has very strict rules. The presentation includes 20 slides, each shown for 20 seconds (that means presentations must be exactly six minutes and forty seconds long). Every member of your group must speak during the presentation, and your presentation must observe the time constraints. You will be using Prezi for this presentation, which includes a timed slide show function. So, it will be easy to abide by the Pecha Kucha format. We will learn how to use Prezi in class, and you will have practice creating and presenting Pecha Kuchas during class as well.

2. A one-page handout created using InDesign

Each group will design a one-page handout that effectively integrates word and image using Adobe InDesign software. That handout should act as a guide to your presentation, and it will be handed out prior to the presentation. But in addition to acting as a guide, this handout should include information that complements your presentation. It should present information that you may not have a chance to address during a 400 second presentation. You will learn how to use InDesign during a workshop on November 28.

Your presentation and handout must address the following questions:

1. How does your game work and why does Bogost categorize it the way he does? For instance, if your game was Passage, you’d have to explain how the game works, what the basic game mechanics are, and why Bogost categorizes it as Art.

2. How could you redesign one piece of the game in order to shift it from Bogost’s current category to another category in the book. For instance, if your game was Disaffected! (mentioned in the “Empathy” chapter), you could consider redesigning the game's point structure or allowing the player to embody a Kinko’s customer rather than a Kinko’s employee. How would these changes to the game change what this game does? What new category could we put it in if we made these changes? Could one of these changes to Disaffected! allow us to put it in the category of “Work” (Chapter 17) or “Disinterest” (Chapter 19)?

As always, I will not be grading these presentations, but I will be providing feedback. When providing feedback, I’ll be asking these questions:

  • Did all group members speak during the Pecha Kucha?
  • Does your presentation demonstrate that you’ve rehearsed and coordinated each participant’s role?
  • Did the presentation observe the constraints (20 slides, 20 seconds per slide)?
  • Does the presentation address the two main goals of the project described above, an explanation of the game and an explanation of your proposed redesign of the game?
  • Does your handout supplement and complement your presentation? Does it do more than present the information that you discuss during your Pecha Kucha?
  • Is your handout effectively designed? Does it incorporate image and text effectively? Is it free of grammatical errors?