Structure, Games, and Handwriting – More Fun Than It Sounds

 

In my formative years I felt writing was my passion. I was fascinated by learning new forms of writing, new words, and new ways to articulate my ideas. I fell in love with poetry and short stories and writing my own poetry to express myself and convey my thoughts on a subject or event. As I reflect on this semester, I believe my best writing would be the textual analysis of video games, which was our second essay assignment of the semester. I enjoyed writing this essay; moreover, I learned the important skill of how to structure an essay to include textual analysis. The strength of my textual analysis is driven by my sentence and paragraph flow as they were smoother than previous writing. There were several significant skills I learned this semester, which improved my writing.  First, proper structure and building of an essay is vital for developing a competent essay. Second, games in the classroom can help a writer engage the mind in unexpected ways and lead to creative ideas.  Third, handwriting verses typing on a computer has powerful benefits for the writing process.

An important lesson this semester was how to structure an essay. Planning, drafting, and revising essays separately helps writers take the time to develop fully a piece of writing outshining an essay one would throw together without exogenous opinions or deeper introspective analysis. A central theme of this semester was learning how to write essays I did not know existed. Combining what we learned about different types of essays with reading different types of stories has benefited me greatly as an author. The perfect example of this is the textual analysis on “Just One More Game…: Angry Birds, Farmville, and Other Hyperaddictive Stupid Games” by Sam Anderson. I chose this essay because as I was reading there was a quote from Jordan Peterson that kept interrupting my thoughts. (Peterson, 2018)

I think part of the reason games are engrossing is one you have to learn things from playing games because, in some sense you’re always playing a game right because you’re always inside a reality that’s bounded by a certain set of assumptions, and it’s not the total reality. It’s like a game-like representation of the total reality, and you know hopefully it’s good enough.(SIC Transcription)

This quote established a connection with Sam Anderson. Though our opinions of games differ, furthering the need for me to remove my opinion as to better analyze the work. In contrast, Sam Anderson stated, “This, I fear, is the dystopian future of stupid games: Amoral Corporation hiring teams of behavioral psychologists to laser-target our addiction cycles for profit.” (Anderson, 2016)

Games in the classroom were a surprisingly effective teaching strategy. Coming into class to play educational games such a scrabble was a delightful way to start my morning. Being able to challenge your mind to figure out words with a few letters at hand is an effective way to get your brain warmed up for further intellectually strenuous activities. An example of this, is that every day that I played Scrabble, I seemed to have more success coming up with interesting ideas. Through my experience, I believe there ought to be more intellectually stimulating games within English classes.

My last take away from this semester is that of writing longhand instead of typing. Longhand has given me great pleasure as it helps me connect back with the earth and reality. Technology can benefit us in many ways; however, there is research, as well as my personal anecdote, showing you retain information more efficiently when something is handwritten. An example would the journal that we kept throughout the semester. The movement away from a computer screen in a classroom setting has been a refreshing change of pace in our modern world in which screens are ubiquitous and invasive.

During this semester I reflect on three particularly influential subjects: proper structure and building of an essay, integration of games in the classroom, and longhand writing as opposed to technology. Granted, there were tough times, but through the tough times, we grow stronger and better prepared to face the world. Ultimately, this semester has been a pleasure as I have transitioned from the working world into academia.  I would even go so far as to say, this semester, despite its challenges has been a time of joy; indeed, there are many features of this semester that have caused me to become a better, more thoughtful person.

 

 

References

Anderson, S. (2016). Just One More Game…. Angry Birds, Farmville, and Other Hyperaddictive Stupid Games. In M. D. Richard Bullock, The Norton Field Guide to Writing with Reading and Handbook (pp. 105-110). New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

Peterson, J. (2018, Feburary 18). Jordan Peterson World of Warcraft other video games. Retrieved from Youtube.com: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrHRZmOGovs

 

 

 

Stupid Games: An Analysis

Games have amounted to nearly 75 billion U.S. dollars in 2015 and are expected to grow to 90 billion by 2020” (Statista).

In his essay, “Just One More Game,” Sam Anderson invites us into his view on what games are doing to society, and what he predicts may happen in our future. You can relate with Anderson and understand his beliefs regarding games. Gaming is depleting people of time and ravaging minds that would otherwise be focused on something productive. Throughout Anderson’s essay he refers to all games as stupid games. Almost instantly you can gain his perspective as a love-hate relationship for games in general. Video games are reshaping our society, becoming a “new drug” of sorts. This in contrast to the book Reality is Broken where Jane McGonigal shows the possible positive benefits20181104_194353 (1) from video games on our society from the psychological perspective. This contrast is made abundantly clear when the author creates the dichotomy of the dystopia versus the utopia with respect to games. It is this author’s opinion that both McGonigal and Anderson are correct in their assumptions that games are good and bad. I promote the idea of Yin and Yang, that there should be an equilibrium with respect to games.

Anderson believes games are similar to brainwashing, according to paragraph 11 where he states, “They’re less an activity in our day then a blank space in our day, less a pursuit than a distraction from other pursuits.” Games exist to distract ourselves and waste time not dealing with reality. Obviously, companies care about making money, not about the brain cells they’re destroying or precious time they’re wasting. Anderson also states how non-gaming companies advertise popular games to attract customers. For example, he stated how the game Angry Birds (in paragraph eight) has been downloaded more than seven-hundred million times. How it “Inspired a disturbingly robust merchandising empire: films, t-shirts, novelty slippers, even plans for Angry Birds “Activity parks featuring play equipment for kids.”

The purpose of video games is to be an active participant in a story, much like sitting around the fire telling myths like our ancestors. With companies creating thousands of games that can be played on cellular phones, they’re giving everyone the crutch of owning a hand-held gaming console. These will ultimately rot our brains and waste our time. Andersons’ dislike for games – primarily cellular gaming rather than sophisticated gaming consoles such as: X-Box 360, X-Box One, Nintendo, Sega, Game-Cube, or PlayStation. These games as Anderson observes, are “built accordingly, around long narratives (quests, wars, the rise and fall of civilizations) that could be explored comfortably while sitting cross-legged on a living-room carpet.In other words, those games are more relevant and worthwhile. At the same time predominantly cellular games like: Angry Birds, Tetris, Candy Crush, Fruit Ninja and Pokémon Go are fruitless endeavors.

Jane McGonigal, American game designer and author believes that games are good for society. She is convinced that if the mechanics of games were used with everyday li humanity would be much healthier and overall more superior. As McGonigal notes, “We might even use these approaches to help solve real world problems like obesity, education and government abuse.” Although this is a great idea, I do not believe this would fully solve any real-world problems such as obesity. The main criticism is that there is no mechanism explained by the author Anderson in his contrast of the viewpoints. Giving the benefit of the doubt to the assumptions of McGonigal, one can see the positive benefit on society. The mechanism of gaming as a benefit to society can be very helpful, but if people do not want to change, then people will not change.

Companies finding ways to sell and get people addicted to games is called gamification. A technology firm named Gartner predicts, “A gamified service for consumer-goods marketing and customer retention will become as important as Facebook, eBay or Amazon” (Anderson). Anderson believes the future holds a much darker outcome for gaming where companies will be able to “inject” their messages into people through video games, having behavioral psychologists helping to fine tune the advertisement projections to make profit from peoples’ video game addictions. Game designer Frank Lantz doesn’t fear the companies’ possible power over humanity. As he states “The type of game you play is also a part of how you think about yourself as a person. There’s no formula that’s going to solve that equation. It’s impossible, because it’s infinitely deep and wonderful.” Apparently, no matter what companies try to trick us into, they hold no control since they couldn’t possibly target everyone with the same type of advertising through games. They would have to target all games in existence, where the price of advertising would outweigh any benefit towards profit. (Anderson)

I have often pondered what life really means; however, many times I find myself associating and comparing my life to video games. The more sophisticated of the bunch, of course! Except, you cannot completely pause or restart in life. Sid Meier, legendary game designer once defined games as “a series of interesting choices.” Life is but an iterated set of choices that drive us either forwards or backwards depending on outcome. From what I surmise, video games are not all bad and can help define us as individuals. Video games help us cope with life stresses and give us something to relate to with others. However, given what we learned from Anderson about stupid games, and gamification, this author hopes that video games meet some type of equilibrium so that the harm produced is balanced against the benefits. Games are a part of today’s society and will advance as our technology keeps progressing into the future.

Works Cited

Anderson, Sam. “Just One More Game…: Angry Birds, Farmville, and Other Hyperaddictive Stupid Games.” Richard Bullock, Maureen Daly Goggin, and Francine Weinberg. The Norton Field Guide to Writing with Readings and Handbook. London: W. W. Norton & Company, 2016. 105-110.

Statista. Statista.com. May 2018. https://www.statista.com/statistics/232383/gender-split-of-us-computer-and-video-gamers/. 4 November 2018.

 

A Headdress Heals the Headache

The rush flows through my body with a tingling sensation. My limbs begin to numb as my heart races. I do not panic, for this feeling is all too common. I am having an anxiety attack. I inhale and exhale slowly. Breathing through the nose, I hold for eight seconds and breath out through the mouth. I slow my pace through the neighborhood in preparation of my arrival to the new friends’ house. Katie, was a friend, that I had made only a week prior.

When I arrived at Katies’ house, I hear odd, yet, intriguing music. I have never heard such noise before. Standing there, I tried to decipher the different sounds orchestrating this bizarre music. Primarily, a flute is playing, with occasional drumming and chanting were the most pronounced in the blare. I find myself lost in this piece, forgetting that I need to knock on the door. In this moment of knocking, I realize that the anxiety is melting from my body. I feel as if I am standing in absolute tranquility. Nothing seems to break through the mental wall of calm that I have effortlessly put up around me due to this serene music.

That was the first time I had heard First Nations’ tribal music. I was unaware to the extent as to which this type of music, and Katie, changed my life. The song I heard standing on her porch that day was titled: Ancient Winds published by Jose Cabezas (Cabezas). Katie was a naturalist as well as a homeopath meaning, spiritual healing and homemade remedies were part of her daily life. Along with this enriching First Nation tribal music she had introduced me to. Using yoga mats, incents, candles, blackout curtains, and a stereo system she taught me how to meditate. How to clear my mind and focus on nothing except relaxing. I remember her quoting Buddha, “It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell.” (Buddha) This quote is tattooed to my soul in hopes of conquering my demons, and my anxiety.

Meditation became a ritual. Though my taste in First Nation tribal music has morphed into Gregorian chant, Celtic, Folk, and Classical. The chanting fits my persona of my individual meditation. The Kalarupa (Monks) is one of the oldest and most profound monk chanting songs that I have ever meditated to. It is deep and drastic! Near devoid of the smoothness of the Om chanting. Om chanting, is what I assume most people think of when they hear the words monk chanting. Chanting is very meditative since it has no accompanying instruments and holds the listener with its mystery. The rhythm helps regulate breathing without the need to focus on it. This breathing technique was a great contributor to why I took on chanting with my meditation ritual at that time. Tartini Violin Sonata “Devils Trill Sonata” is another piece that one would hear in my home regularly. These classical beauties help to calm the storm of anxiety inside of me. The classicalists tell stories without using words; this causing you to get lost into your own tale as you follow the notes in its melodious flow.

This discovery of music and meditation from Katie has opened the endless realm of knowledge in the ever-eternal conflict with anxiety. As the monster of anxiety breeches the surface and attacks my very soul, the hymnal chant Da Pacem Domine, roughly translated to Give peace O Lord is my very armor against such an ethereal being. This shield I use was given to me by a very special person, Katie. Though, we do not speak with each other anymore due to the constraints of life, the impact of her reach will be felt through the days. I wish to share my struggle and triumph, as this most precious gift was bestowed to me, I wish to give to others.

Works Cited

Buddha, Siddhartha. “Dharma.” c. 600 BCE–c. 300 BCE.

Cabezas, Jose. “Ancient Winds.” By Jose Cabezas. San Pablo, 2004.

Monks, The Gyume. “Sacred Tibet – Chants of the Gyume Monks.” By The Gyume Monks. n.d.

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The fondness of nature

Thanks for joining me as I give you a peak into one of my favorite hobbies.

Let us draw a lesson from nature, which always works by short ways. When the fruit is ripe, it falls.   – Ralph Waldo Emerson

We live in a world where nature is being put aside and electronics are becoming more prominent in our everyday lives. There is a way to have a bit of both worlds; through terrariums, vivariums and paludariums. With these you can create your own chunk of nature to view. If you are wanting a desert scenery it would be best to go with a terrarium. Terrariums require little to no maintenance, especially if you are creating a dry savanna theme which would require sand, succulents and cacti. On the other hand, if you love the effects water has on the landscapes of nature you would be more prone to go for my personal favorite, the paludarium. Paludariums are usually in a large tank and have water as part or half of the theme. Paludariums done properly, would look as if you took a chunk out of the side of a creek or created a mini rain forest in a tank. Creating your own little ecosystem which could contain more than just plant life if you choose. Paludariums require minimal upkeep unless you have it inhabited with frogs, fish, lizards or snakes. As long as you keep the PH balance and temperature controlled in the exhibit, even with animals living in it there should still have minimal upkeep. Quite a few people already own vivariums and probably do not realize it. If you own a pet lizard, snake, rodent or any animal living in a cage or tank that doesn’t require more than a bowl of water to drink, you have a vivarium. Vivariums are made for the keeping of animals, mimicking their environments to house them in for observational purposes or as pets. The assembly of all of these are quite pricey, so I’ve only been able to complete a few. In my future I am hoping to have a house full of terrariums and paludariums. They’re mesmerizing and truly captivating.

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