Thursday, June 24, 2010

Class 2 Log

Second class: Spent going over past theses at the library. Previously I was intimidated by the expectations of a graduate thesis, but after looking at these with the class it's pretty clear that I've got some solid ideas to work with and that the project expectations aren't in any way out of my league.

The specific theses I viewed covered the topics of symbolism in level design and creating emotion in digital games. The first was a very interesting read with very strong, very tangible research and comprehensive analysis of the games it covered, which included the likes of Psychonauts and American McGee's Alice, and it made a very strong case for using environments as a representation of the protagonist or the antagonist's psyche.

The second thesis... not so much. It just seemed to re-state over and over "games can create strong emotions! Look! Planscape: Torment! Isn't this just such a beautiful story?" Maybe it's just me, or maybe I just didn't look it over thoroughly enough, but its arguments just seemed intangible and uninteresting and it didn't seem to have any really conclusive, clear illustration of what it was trying to prove or why. According to Professor Cookson it was more of an artist's statement than a thesis, which is perfectly valid, but in order to really appreciate it you'd have to both have read it thoroughly and played the game that the writer created.

Overall the theses we reviewed seemed strongest when they had a tangible mission and when they brought in concepts from outside gaming to further develop on existing fields' foundations. Being that I've got a strong background in humanities, history, and literature I should have no problems finding material to work with, and being that I've got lots of theories, ideas, and general industry improvements I'd like to see bouncing around in my head it shouldn't be much of a problem to marry my background in writing with something in gaming. In fact, that's what I got into college for in the first place!

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