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ENG 101, Spring 2020

Play Make Write Think

Morisaki, Keita

Reflection Letter

Centering on the games, podcasting, and blogs, I have analyzed genre, audience, purpose, context, and stance of professional pieces of writing, considering design and medium as new and important rhetorical factors. I have also carefully examined each of these piece’s appropriateness, creativity, and originality. Finally, throughout the semester, I have produced pieces with an emphasis on the factors presented above.

I was not good at exposing myself before I came to this course. Thus, this class was especially difficult for me because I was afraid of communicating with other people due to my accent. Among the various assignments of the class, podcasting, in which students discuss a game’s  rhetorical situation and the role it plays within the border medium, and hometasking, in which students completed odd creative tasks in a set amount of time, were the positive stressors. In other words, I had resistance to oral writing. I frequently asked myself how I was supposed to do these types of assignments and how I could be entertaining if I could not even communicate well. With these three steps I find during this course, I was able to solve my obstacle: Firstly, finding a real message to communicate to the audience. Secondly, write drafts and act as if I were the audience of my piece. Thirdly, swallow my pride. To explain these steps, I will go through my experience of podcasting two different games: League of Legends and Settlers of Catan.

The first step I found for myself is to find a genuine message to communicate to my audience, which in these cases were my classmates and my professor. Throughout this semester, I have played games that were different from what I was expecting. However, it eventually helped me to analyze the games I podcasted. For example, Depression Quest is a game where the main character is a college student going through life. As the game proceeds, however, the main character begins to suffer from depression. For the main character’s “move,” the player reads the summary of an event and selects an option, if any. The most important part, however, is that some of the options are crossed out and unavailable to be chosen, although the player can still read the unavailable options. The creator’s purpose, then, is to make people aware that depressed people cannot do the same things that mentally healthy people can do. In the first episode of my group’s podcast on League of Legends, as the assistant producer, we discussed the telescoping and probing of the game. However, we could not point out the real reason why we wanted to share this game. In the reflection of this podcast, I commented as follows: “When we share our opinions, we can add some important aspects that can relate to the broader medium and eliminate topics that take too much time, which can make listeners bored, or hard for listeners to understand.” However, this opportunity taught me how to find out what we can improve on. On my team’s next episode on Settlers of Catan, in which I was the main producer, as I commented, “this time we discussed in more detail the real-life applications rather than the strategies, such as telescoping and probes of the game itself,” I found out that the purpose of this game is the importance of making choices in life, and decided to share it on our episode.

The second step is to write drafts and act as if I were the audience of my piece. As I stated on the reflection on the League of Legends podcast—“what I can do for the future is to imagine many kinds of scenarios and organize my thoughts for each scenario—writing drafts is somewhat similar to the “future boosts” shared in the book SuperBetter; our team edited the draft to achieve small goals to have the best possible final product. However, the problem we encountered was that we had to make the small goals by ourselves. Then, just be the audience and ask myself what I need to deliver the message while entertaining at the same time. The answer in this episode was to pull out the topics that relate to the audience. On the reflection, I claimed that “One of the applications was about the college, and this topic was discussed during one of the earlier English classes. I was satisfied with how we connected our previous discussion to my podcast.” In addition to the topic of attending college, we also brought up the coronavirus as the example. Alan, the assistant producer, says “Of course, take the COVID-19 pandemic for an example. No one was expecting this kind of shock, and as a low probability event, it is highly unlikely to have anyone prepared for this in advance…” and I believe that this may be the place where the audience shows the interest to our episode. This was one of the small goals we focused on when we wrote a draft. However, there were more problems, including my accent, so we tackled every single problem, like entertaining our audience, and here was the solution to the problem with my accent: we paraphrased and shortened the sentences so that the audience can understand easily.

The third step is to swallow my pride, which, obviously, is more of a personal step. My own pride is what is often preventing me from communicating with other people: I do not feel embarrassed by not being able to speak fluently like a native speaker. Before enrolling in this class, I knew I could avoid speaking or at least speak less by taking other sections. However, I selected to play this game called “English 101 Section 7,” although the description of the class notes kindly tells me that this class involves oral communication. Even though I did not have to take this class specifically, I chose the class in the end to train myself to collaborate, discuss, and have fun with others by talking. As a person who likes to play games, I did not want to give up so easily. Although it was not an explicit learning outcome from the class, learning to better communicate with others was an important step for me. I believe that my podcast episodes are evidence that I have succeeded in this.

Lastly, I would like to touch on the hometasking. This series of tasks was assignments developed due to the remote learning, and for each task, students were asked to record a short clip. Unlike podcasting about games, where the students can expand their discussion from the game, for this assignment, we were the ones who had to make pieces by ourselves from scratch. Also, we voted for the favorite videos and showed the number of votes each video received on the leaderboard. Therefore, in a sense, appropriateness, creativity, and originality became important to make great clips. From the hometasking, I learned that each student had different factors that win his or her heart. This is probably due to the diversity of students, and I faced to this problem in the first task, which was to throw a paper in a garbage can in a spectacular way. While thinking about the three important factors in my head, I realized that a magic trick would be something that entertain people because a magic trick is one of the performances that amazes people in Japan. As expected, when I shared my video with my Japanese acquittances, they were curious how I threw my paper away in a garbage can. However, according to the leaderboard, not many students did not show any interest to my video. On the other hand, I was able to receive many votes for my video clip on the second task, which was to turn my bathroom into the sort of venue I might visit for a great night out, although I expected no vote from any student; my clip almost did not make any sense and did not meet the requirement, but it seemed like some students liked it. Then, I realize that unexpecting videos tend to receive more votes. For example, I received many votes for my last video, in which I became the statue that appears in the intro of movies produced by the Columbia Pictures Industries. Overall, from this assignment, I learned how to observe the expectation of the audience.

In conclusion, this English class was an unprecedented class for me and changed how I make, write and think. Now, I would like to answer a question professor Morgen asked at the end of one of the earlier classes. He asked us whether a college is a game or not. I believe that a college is a type of game. Because of the outbreak of COVID-19, many students decide to defer their college enrollment. I am guessing that the new students did not choose to participate to overcome this challenging unnecessary obstacle.

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