After a long leave of absence this blog is back from hiatus this summer with Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative by Jay Clayton, offered on the #Coursera platform alongside Vanderbilt University.
This #Mooc is exceptional for those seeking to further their knowledge on remediation, video games and game narrative in particular as well as those who seek to have fun while studying. The “Welcome” Page states the following details:
This course is a university-level English literature class—a multi-genre, multimedia tour of how literature, film, and games engage in the basic human activity of storytelling. We have three different kinds of videos planned for the coming weeks: short lectures, student seminars, and in-game films. You will read some great literature by Tolkien, Spenser, Keats, Browning, and others, and watch Peter Jackson’s movie of The Fellowship of the Ring.
Apart from the usual readings, videos, quizzes and initial (optional) survey, you will also have to actively participate as a gamer within the LOTRO universe; should you not, you can still finish the course, minus the so-called “distinction track“.
Week 1 of the course was truly rich in suggested bibliography. Notes on the lectures can be found in Louise’s blog; she’s doing an excellent job keeping MOOC records, by the way!
As part of the first week’s quiz and course requirements, I needed to create a fictional character in the MMORPG Lord of the Rings Online. After downloading and installing the game via Steam, I selected the Meneldor server. There are numerous servers to host your gameplay, yet four are suggested by the TAs due to their already well established course communities therein.
The quiz asks the students to justify their choice of character creation:
Briefly describe the choices you made in creating your character. Why did you pick certain features (name, race, appearance, etc.)? Do you feel any investment in the character you created? Please explain why or why not. (Answer must be at least 25 words.)
To begin with, I chose to create an Elven character, since their image and external appearance is what one would characterize as “ethereal”. My avatar is a female and her name is “Uiril” which according to an online name generator I found, is composed of the words “Eternity” and “female“, in Sindarin, Tolkien’s Elven dialect. Staying true to the lore, was one of my prerogatives.
Uiril is a female hunter, who hails from the lands of Rivendell or Imladris in Sindarin. King Elrond’s safe haven for Elves sounded familiar from the motion picture, hence I chose this starting area. The Hunter is a DPS ( = damage per second) class and relatively easy to master in MMOPRGs. As for my character’s appearance, the options provided resemble the elvish archetypes we all have in mind and / or enjoyed in the Tolkien books, movies and fan art. Here’s what she looks like:
I do feel eager to participate in the game and the course on the whole, but growing attached to a character can only come after hours of gameplay and strong immersive experience. Thus, the fate of Uiril remains to be seen.