Media Microecology


April 16: Workshop: Prezi and Pecha Kucha
April 23: Workshop: Prezi, Pecha Kucha, and how to lead a discussion
April 30: Open Workshop
May 7: 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 parts

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. Question and Answer Period
In addition to presenting material, you will lead a discussion after your presentation. This will require that you prepare questions to ask your classmates, but it will also require that you listen to your classmates' responses and/or comments and ask effective follow-up questions. The Q&A period should last about 15 minutes.

Your presentation 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?
  • Did you effectively lead the Q&A portion of your presentation? Did you ask questions that allowed your fellow classmates to extend the discussion? Did you listen to remarks and questions and ask effective follow-up questions?