Akash Joshi

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We have some questions to guide you as you reflect on your experiences in this unit. Please think about them as you write in your journals. Please write as much as you like! The more reflective that you are about your experiences using the Values at Play methodology, the more able we are to get an idea of what this experience has been like for you. We'd like to hear about what it's like to use this methodology and what it's like to think about the concept of social values becoming embedded in video games.


Class 1:

1. What was the experience of using the Grow-a-game! cards like? Was it difficult to brainstorm values in the game that you selected with the cards? How so?

I had seen the cards once before when my classmate Aaron took the course last year. When I used them at that time I felt that the cards limited the designer a lot. I thought that instead of drawing out multiple cards it would be better to to take one value and focus the design on that one thing. Multiple cards were like an over complication. But then later on as I worked on more projects, designed some games for game jams and other stuff, I found that taking one attribute and designing a game can lead to a problem of too many possibilities. These difficulties could be solved by limiting these possibilities. These limitations could be provided by constraints. That is when I realized the requirement/importance for multiple cards. The other cards provided as a means for giving constraints.

After drawing the cards in the class the first thing that came to my mind was to relate if the cards were directly dependent or not. I thought by this I could have a clear cut design approach. But two of the cards that I drew were "Nurturing" and "Racism" which are totally unrelated. I found it difficult to design with unrelated or opposite cards and easier to design with similar or related ones. Even though this was difficult at first, later on it induced a habit of having a deeper thought process while designing.

2. Using the cards, how was it to try to use the mechanic to represent the value?

Drawing a mechanic card felt like forcing large amount of constraint on the designing possibilities. Especially if you have conflicting cards like "Democracy" and "God of War". But then again I liked the difficulty posed by such situations that happened when we drew cards. This made me think in ways that I was not used to and that lead to some interesting results. One such result was when I roughly designed a "GTA" like game which was set in Hell and the objective was to "Nurture" "Racism" to maintain the level of evil. It was fun and exciting.

3. What was it like to explore values in games with group members? Did any emotions come up (for you or anyone else) as you spoke about games and values?

No specific emotions came up during the discussion, but there was a different set of people in class. Some were of the opinion that the value selected for the class should be something that the game should teach or showcase, where as others thought of the value as something that would enable or enhance gameplay such that it is more fun. Both the sides had their distinct pros and cons and it was interesting to see how the discussion went about. From this discussion I learned that the value should add fun gameplay and at the same time make a statement that would teaach the players something about that value.

4. For the out-of-class video activity:

For this activity the Value card that I drew was "Style". I was excited as I could easily relate to so many games that involved style. But then the same thing also made the decision making difficult as style can be different with respect to the context at hand.

• How difficult was it for you to discover an example of this value in a game?"

Style is a broad term and has many different meanings. Every game implements style in different ways. Thus at first it was difficult to make a choice as I did not have a specific definition. First I would need to define the value from my perspective and then apply that definition to games and choose the most applicable game.

I asked myself what is style?

Style has multiple definitions, with respect to "Conversation" it is a manner of speaking, with respect to "Design" it is the process of creating something with personal flavor, with respect to "Fashion" is a prevailing mode of expression (e.g clothing), with respect to "Format" it is a set of terms that can set an identity to a document/picture/film.

So from above we can say style can be shown by: 1. an action. 2. an expression. 3. manner of speaking (Conversing).

Most of the games make the players perform certain actions to achieve objectives.

Thus I can define style with respect to games as:

"The way something is said, done, performed or expressed by the player in the game."

Once this definition was clear I was immediately able to pinpoint one game that satisfied the definition. The game is Devil May Cry 3 : Dante's Awakening for the PS2. This is a part of the Devil may Cry Series developed by Capcom.

I made a rough edit of the games first mission specifying how the game shows the value "Style" through various means. Watch the Video

• Have you ever done anything like this before (analyze game elements for value content)?

I did something similar to this in my Educational Game Design Class. We had to look at some games and decide if the game had any educational value. In class we looked at various games like Brainage, Typing of the Dead, Number Munchers, Oregon Trail, Donkey Kong Jr. Math etc. The only specific value that we considered while doing this was "Learning". Based on this I presented in front of the class how the turn based word Rpg "Bookworm Adventures" is an educational game with "Learning" as a value.

• Do you think that others might see this value represented in the game?

Yes, others would see the value of style represented in this game because the game makes it too obvious. Each part of the game has some sort of style associated with it. The observers will notice at least one apsect of style in th gameplay. Either in the story, characters, gameplay or the art.

• Do you think that the game’s designer(s) thought consciously about the value being reflected in the game?

The entire Devil May Cry Series is based on the Stylish shoot, hack and slash combat mechanic. That is why feel that the designers consciously chose Style as an important aspect of the game. Also the games difficulty is set such that even on easy mode you cannot progress without performing stylish combos to defeat your enemies.

• How did you make the connection between game elements (narrative, rules, or mechanics) and the value?

As I have mentioned in the video and above questions, all the game elements showcase the value of style. It is present in such huge quantities that it is blatantly obvious for anyone to notice it by just looking at a snapshot of the game. Thus finding a relation was pretty easy for me. But still if I were to chose what part exemplifies the value of style I would say the gameplay mechanics in devil may cry 3.

Class 2:

1. How challenging was it to discover the value that you are using for your prototype? How did you settle upon the value? What makes this value important to you? To society?

2. Values in games can arise from many sources: narrative, character representation and backgrounds, the game environment, mechanics (constraints and affordances), and underlying rules, to name a few. Which elements of your game design will represent the value that you have chosen? Why have you chosen these elements?

3. How have stakeholder values been appraised and integrated into your design?

Class 3:

1. How has your value been operationalized?

2. Were there any disputes among group members while trying to determine how to represent your value in the game? How did the disputes arise? How were they resolved?

Class 4:

1. How did your group handle conflicts around values representation in the game?

2. How did your group respond to critiques from other groups? Did you need to reconsider and design elements for values representation?

3. Write about your overall experience in this unit. What was it like to focus on embedding values as you designed a video game? What were the most challenging aspects of considering how to represent values? What were the most enjoyable aspects?

4. Have your thoughts or attitudes about the concept of values becoming embedded in video games changed at all since the beginning of the unit? If so, how? If not, why not?