Amith Tudur

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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.

Contents

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 really liked the concept of Grow-a-game cards and the way they support each-other. Not having constraints is like travelling in an open field, without a goal. But Grow-a-game cards adds a pathway and gives us a goal to strive for, so that the mind is channelized to drive efficiently on the road laid out. The cards help me to focus about a particular value that needs to be imparted to the game. Yes, it was a bit difficult to brainstorm values with a game already selected. Because every game comes with its set of values and to be successful that game would have ingrained that value to its core. To drive in a value to this game, by changing the core value could be challenging.

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

Again, this could be tricky. Using the mechanic may not be an obvious choice for the value at hand. On seeing some values, certain mechanics may spring to the mind. But having constraints can be interesting as they help me come up with non-obvious solutions.This could very well be the factor that makes my game unique.

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?

Each of the group members selected their set of value cards. As we went round in a circle, i realized that there could be multiple interpretations for the same value. The way a verb is interpreted can be ambiguous and many of us interpreted them in different ways. There is always the challenge of seeing how to get the best idea out of what is being said by everyone.

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

• How difficult was it for you to discover an example of this value in a game? Have you ever done anything like this before (analyze game elements for value content)?

The Value I got was 'Privacy'. Privacy can be interpreted in a number of ways, but none of them seem to be obvious. It does feel different to be going through all the games and looking for the underlying values. Iam sure that every game would have some value embodied in it and it has to be searched thoroughly. The game I chose was Plants Vs Zombies by Pop Cap games. It is a tower defense game. The mission is to protect your house from the invading zombies. the music video I chose, aptly plays "there is a zombie on your lawn, we don't want zombies on the lawn" [1]. This gives a feeling of something that we do not want to be in our house. Something that is best left out.

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

The game itself is meant to be a fun game.But it is quite obvious that at every moment in the game, the player is thinking of 'how to keep the zombies from coming into his house'. there is a sense of belonging when he lays down the plants. There is also a clear distinction of what is ours and what is not. So I think every player feels a sense of privacy in the game but may not necessarily think so explicitly.

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

The designers of the game based this game on the strong foundation of a 'tower defense game'. They believed that having such a stance would make the game more engaging for the player. Their intuition turned out to be right and the game became a big success. guarding one's home ground is a basic survival instinct which creates a clear distinction between what is ours and what is not. what can come into the house and what is not welcome. The zombies are clearly hostile creatures that are best left outside the house. Plants are endearing and we would want to have them and nurture them. The designers have been successful in bringing this element out and balancing it nicely.

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

the narrative is straight-forward. we have Zombies coming from the right and our house is on the left. so we already know that we will have to protect our house from the creatures. we should not let the zombies enter into our private space. the plants shoot at the zombies and the mechanics would involve placing the plants appropriately so that they can shoot all the zombies along the way. my nature of thought was more towards the concept itself and not much about the actual game. the game itself is well-balanced between plants being too strong and the zombies being too weak.

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?

My value is Justice. Constraints being Crime as a social element, Temptation as a verb. The values were drawn from a lot in the class.Nevertheless, I find this value very interesting. Justice is a very broad term that embodies life itself. Epics have been written about the destruction and resurrection of Justice. These are stories of heroism, valor, war, death and sacrifice. I have always been a firm believer in what is called the 'greater ideal', which is the greater good of common man. It is all about optimizing the happiness of one and all in the world and living in harmony. The saying "Peace on earth and goodwill to man" is another form of stating the greater ideal. I would like to abstract Justice by creating a game around a system that is initially balanced. As time progresses, the players make their choices based on short-term personal goals ignoring the repercussions of their acts on other players' lives. The decisions made by the players, will change the state variables of the system itself. These decisions are affected by the players' temptation to keep themselves happy. Result will be a crime, conscious or an unconscious one. Further, the state variables of the system will determine the outcome of the player's action, thus creating a loop. Ideally, the game that balances itself back into a 'Just' state, will be a good game.

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?