Reflecting on the Spring 2019 Semester

Hello, and welcome to my website! I’m Princess Peach, and I’m a first-year student at Emory University. This past semester, I’ve been a student in Professor David Morgen’s English 101 class entitled “Play Make Write Think.” Prior to this class, I considered myself a casual game player and mostly stayed close to familiar games like “The Game of Life,” “Wii Bowling,” and “Dance Dance Revolution.” However, this course challenged me to consider what the necessary components of a game are and think about how I relate to games.

Both of my podcast episodes were closely associated with the first learning outcome of this course. These projects required a multimedia approach when planning out the episode, recording it, and crafting a reflection post. Me and my partner had to find a balance between outlining what to cover in the episode while simultaneously maintaining an informal tone that allowed us to be candid in our conversation. I was also previously unfamiliar with how to operate a recording software like Audacity, so this assignment required me to become comfortable navigating a new tool.

Collaborating on the podcast episodes allowed me to explore perspectives beyond my own. My first episode centered around the similarities and differences of “Scrabble” and “Words with Friends,” and it wasn’t until I brainstormed with my partner that I realized the two games weren’t necessarily interchangeable. My previous understanding of the game was challenged, and I concluded that “’Words with Friends’ involves taking fewer risks than ‘Scrabble.’ This is because the player can make moves on his or her own time and test out various combinations on the board to figure out what the highest-scoring play would be.” “Scrabble” can even be considered more sophisticated and intellectually stimulating since a player must immediately make his or her move instead of taking the time to consider many potential combinations or using cheating websites.

I found myself frequently engaging the fifth learning objective to use technology appropriately through building my WordPress website. It was necessary to use the internet to conduct research for my podcast episode and play games like Gone Home and Depression Quest, and I also created my “Princess Peach” avatar and constructed Canva images by searching for inspiration on Google.

I’ve especially grown more comfortable using visualizations to supplement my writing with free online tools like Canva. The below image is a screenshot from one of my first blog posts this semester. When I was tasked with displaying the belongings within my backpack, I wanted to create a collaged image that would illustrate my personality. I soon realized that “my backpack is very representative of me as a student,” rather than depicting my non-academic involvement.

My visualization for the “What’s in Your Bag?” side quest created using Canva.

Both side quests of “What’s in Your Bag?” and “What’s Your Number” closely connect with the fourth learning objective of this course. The visualizations I created are complementary to the writing assignments but also have the ability to provide an overview of the side quest. Considering my progression as a writer over the course of this semester, I’ve further embraced the creative freedom we were allowed in completing assignments. Maintaining a WordPress website challenged me to discover the most compelling and creative way to fulfill the assignment expectations.

For example, the “What’s Your Number?” side quest (pictured below) required the tracking of personal emotions for a week. I wanted to find a way to summarize whether I was feeling more positive or negative on a given day, believing “that emotions are responses to our environment, and if a person can look at a situation differently, we can likely help ourselves become happier.” I sought out an online software called Lucidpress that allowed me to create an infographic depicting the daily changes in my emotions.

This quest was based off Jane McGonigal’s self-help book entitled SuperBetter: The Power of Living Gamefully. This assignment relates to the second learning objective of the course because we had to incorporate the ideas from McGonigal’s book into our own lives to recognize the positive and negative emotions that we experienced on a daily basis.

My visualization from the “What’s Your Number?” side quest created using Lucidpress.

The last project of the semester involved creating a Kickstarter proposal and successfully engaged the third learning objective off the course. My group created a game called “Lucky DUC” that incentivized first-year students for utilizing their (required) unlimited swipes meal plan. My team came up with this idea to reward students based on how frequently they visited the DUC-ling within a week. However, as we refined our goals, we expanded the purpose to also increase camaraderie between students and staff members while improving Emory’s sustainability efforts. We created, reflected, and refined several drafts to determine how we could make the game the most impactful as possible, and I was pleasantly surprised with how realistic it turned out.

This project also challenged me to adapt my tone for the imagined audience. When proposing the Kickstarter game, I adopted the perspective of the Emory administration to argue the value in facilitating a challenge that would engage more first-year students to use their meal swipes. The audience and purpose stayed consistent while my team modified our rules for the game to be as relevant as possible to first-year Emory students.

A slide from our proposal presentation with how the “Lucky DUC” game would reduce food waste.

To propose the game, my group considered the best approach for appealing to first-year students. There has recently been greater awareness on-campus related to food insecurity within the student body. Since “Lucky DUC” encourages students to use their meal plan, we expanded our purpose to also help combat food insecurity. In the mock email text that would be sent to all incoming first-year students, we added how “all first-year students who do not swipe into the DUC-ling at least thirteen times a week … will automatically be deducted two guest swipe passes. If you’re truly not using your plan, your guest passes deserve to go to someone who needs them.” Although this would not solve food insecurity on Emory’s campus, it would provide additional meals for students who do not have access to food.

Looking to the future, I am excited to apply the skills I’ve learned over this semester in both academic and non-academic writing projects. As an English and Creative Writing major, I have been hoping to design my own website as a writing portfolio to link to my online publications, however, I previously had no experience related to website building. I now have the confidence to navigate WordPress and would like to create a personal website. I will also consider potentially creating a website in the future rather than a PowerPoint presentation for class projects. The group work in this class especially inspired me to become more open-minded for considering perspectives beyond my own and has helped me become a more reflective and thoughtful writer.