More Game Quests You’ve Been Waiting For (2017)


Well, they’re finally here. Here are some more to choose from.

Attendance Poll Analysis

Quest: To clean up, analyze, and visualize the dataset of attendance poll data across 2 semesters.
Procedure: Procure a copy of the Excel file containing the Poll Responses from both semesters and read them with an eye on how the data might best be analyzed and represented. Then schedule an appointment with our Digital Humanities specialist James Lee ( who will show you how this data can be cleaned up and made ready for analysis, and then visually presented. Analyze the data and see if you can find 1-2 major points of interest. Present these 1-2 points using compelling graphics.
Points: Cleaned Up Datafile in Excel format (10), Research Question (10), Articulation of Findings (10), Data Visualization Quality = 40 points.

Board Game Adaptations

Quest: To play a board-game adaptation of a certain property and concept, and then think about what it means.
Procedure: Pick a board game –– any board game. I have quite a few in the UC Game Lab that might be of interest. Play it as close to the rules written as possible with a group of friends and/or fellow students. Make sure you take notes about your experience, especially given what play options you have at any given moment in time. Then research the topic the game is presumably about (Example: Monopoly is about real estate, Ticket to Ride is about the expansion and development of train travel across the USA), picking at least 1 or 2 high-quality scholarly sources in doing so (and consult a librarian if you have questions about that). Afterwards, write a 3-5 page response essay to your play experience with respect to the actual material on which it is based.
Points: Writing Style (10), Grammar and Citations (10), Quality of Secondary Literature Sources (10), Persuasiveness of Argument (10) = 40 points

The Cocktail Machine and Its Depths

Quest: To find several unsung “gems” among the various games available on the UC Game Lab cocktail cabinet.
Procedure: Arrange at least 2 meeting times with Dr. Torner to set up the cocktail machine and play several of the titles available. You will learn how to use the machine, as well as experiment with numerous games. Write notes about which games you choose to play and what your play experience on each is like. Then write a 3-5 page essay closely analyzing your experience, paying particular attention to how long you tended to play each game, and why a more obscure title you found is nevertheless worthy of our attention. You will likely have to do some background research to make your argument.
Points: Writing Style (10), Evidence of Reflective Play Sessions (10), Persuasiveness of Argument about Obscure Title (10), Precision of Description (10) = 40 points

Deck Building FTW

Quest: To teach me about deckbuilding games
Procedure: I’ll be honest –– I hate deckbuilding games, but I’ve got a whole collection of them in the UC Game Lab, and I’d like to be able to articulate their value to others. Describe at least 2 deckbuilding games in detail, using terminology from the course, and defend their aesthetic value. Bonus points if you actually convince me.
Points: Writing Style (10), Persuasiveness of Argument (10), Precision of Description (10), Uses Course Terminology (10) = 40 points

Everyone’s a Gamer

Quest: To give us a sense of everyday individuals’ interactions with games
Procedure: Interview on camera at least 3 different individuals about the games they play, how they play them, and those games that seem to be most “artistic” to them. Edit the footage into a 5-8 minute videoclip that also features video-captured recordings of the games discussed. Make sure that what you are producing is somehow in dialog with Adrienne Shaw’s work; that you do not assume certain individuals from certain demographics will appreciate certain games. Try to get at stories that run against the grain of established narratives. Upload the resultant video file on UC Box.
Points: Interviews of at least 3 people (10), Editing (10), Overall Polish (10), Subtle Underlying Argument (10) = 40 points

FATE and Afrofuture!

Quest: To play an RPG with respect to its socio-political content.
Procedure: Get a copy of Afrofuture! the RPG from Dr. Torner, and run it for several friends or fellow students. Write up some notes about your experience afterward. Then do some research on afrofuturism as an aesthetic and socio-political movement, finding at least 1-2 high-quality scholarly sources. Write a 3-5 page essay relating your actual experience of playing Afrofuture! to the socio-political movement, paying particular attention to how the game mechanics themselves emphasize and/or undermine specific dynamics in that movement.
Points: Writing Style (10), Precision of Description (10), Persuasiveness of Argument, Drawing on a High-Quality Source (10), Grammar and Citations (10)

Game Lab Research

Quest: To look at the wide world of university game labs and talk about the future of our own.
Procedure: Do some serious Internet searching, after consultation with Dr. Torner, on various game labs at universities around the world. Start with MIT, Tampere, UC Santa Cruz, Concordia University, but then branch out to find places and archives that maybe are under-represented. Call them or e-mail them and talk about their mission, how they fit into their university, and their main activities. Write up an annotated, comparative tour of at least 3 of these labs, assessing (in your language, not theirs) what they ostensibly do and how it fits into the larger picture of both their own institution and game studies in general.
Points: Writing Style & Organization (10), Evidence of Thorough Research (10), Informed Opinion about The Labs in Question (10), Presentation (10) = 40 points


Kill Screen

Quest: To evaluate quality games journalism.
Procedure: Purchase an issue of Kill Screen and read it from cover to cover. Then pick out 2 articles and evaluate everything about them: how they’re written, how they describe the games in question, and who their target audience appears to be. Consider the strengths and weaknesses of their presentation, and how you might cover this game yourself. Consider also how these essays might apply to course concepts. Write 4-5 pages with your evaluation and findings
Points: Writing Style (10), Precision of Description (10), Evaluation of Journalism (10), Incorporation of Course Concepts (10) = 40 points

Larping The Dream


Quest: To play the larp The Dream by Jason Morningstar & produce a final product on it
Procedure: Procure a copy of The Dream from me. Read it through and then gather 5-9 players to play it, as well as the materials. Run through the game, and write down your thoughts about it after the debrief. The game will have produced a recording, which you will edit and then compare to the game’s source material. Send me a 1-2 page essay reacting to your run of the game, paying particular attention to how your labor role in the game affected your play, and upload your video you produced to UC Box (or YouTube).
Points: Evidence of Actual Play (10), Writing Style for Reflection (10), Insights into the Game (10), Final Video Product – Whatever It May Look Like (10) = 40 points

Open Sorcery

Quest: To play Sorcery and have informed opinions about it
Procedure: Play the Inkle game Sorcery! and take notes while you do so. Examine in particular the impact of the player-character choices you make in the game. Then write a 3-5 page essay comparing the choice impact in this game with any other game you have played, especially BioWare, Bethesda, or other Inkle Games. In your comparison, advance an argument about what the game’s accomplishments are with respect to player impact. But don’t forget our course materials as well!
Points: Writing Style (10), Persuasiveness of Argument (10), Precision of Description (10), Relationship to Course Concepts (10)

Pokémon Go Panel Wrap-up

Quest: To edit and enhance some Pokémon Go panel footage
Procedure: Procure the raw video of last fall’s Pokémon Go panel held by the UC Game Lab from Dr. Torner. Cut out the bits that, in your discerning opinion, are not as interesting as others. In fact, see if you can cut it into a 5-minute “highlights” reel of the most important points for you. Introduce actual gameplay footage captured wherever you think it fits. Upload the resultant video file on UC Box.
Points: Editing (10), Curation of Highlights (10), Overall Polish (10), Subtle Underlying Argument (10)


Text Analysis of RPGs

Quest: To take a digital-humanist look at RPG texts
Procedure: I have a large collection of role-playing game texts, and I’d like to see if there are any patterns across them you can discern. Procure the PDF collection from me, and see which parts you would like to analyze: the Character Creation sections, the Combat Sections, the Index of words, etc. Then make an appointment with our Digital Humanities specialist James Lee ( about using programs such as R to sort the text into data chunks that can be interpreted: most common words, most common words found next to each other, and so forth. Analyze the data and see if you can find 1-2 major points of interest. Present these 1-2 points using compelling graphics.
Points: Cleaned Up Database of PDF data (10), Research Question (10), Articulation of Findings (10), Data Visualization Quality = 40 points


X-citing Art Projects
To contribute artwork to a forthcoming game project being developed on campus, and write a reflection on the process.
Procedure: Find a game designer (or talk to Dr. Torner about finding one) who needs art desperately. There are many! Speak with him/her/them about their needs and come up with a few design sketches that address them. Write 1-2 pages about the game, the art that you designed for the game, and why you made the choices you did. Make extra sure you tell us how the player is intended to interact with the art, and if that influenced your creation at all.
Points: Precision of Description in Written Essay (10), Writing Style (10), Discussion of Player Interaction (10), Scans of Completed Artwork Sketches (10) = 40 points

You’re On TV

Quest: To depict gaming in a positive-yet-analytical light on film
Procedure: Attend a gaming event, be it a convention, bridge night, game day, or evening at the arcade, and shoot video there. Edit it into a coherent report of no more than 10 minutes in length. Note in your introductory sequence of the final product the circumstances of you attending this event, etc. Talk to people at the event, but also observe at least 1-2 instances of play closely, and then analyze those instances in retrospect in the final segment of the final product. The final product is, of course, an edited video. Upload it to Box.
Points: Editing (10), Curation of Highlights (10), Overall Polish (10), Subtle Underlying Argument (10)






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