#LOTRO #MOOC Week 5

Week 5 coursework

This week’s both gameplay and reading were a challenge. Spenser’s The Faerie Queene is a tricky passage written in Renaissance English and contains multiple pronunciation and spelling obstacles, especially for the non-native speakers of English such as myself. However, it is regarded as a fundamental narrative poem, one that greatly influenced the romance and subsequent fantasy literature genre. Out of six books we were asked to read the first Canto of Book III.

Follow the "light". Then kill it.

Follow the “light”. Then kill it.

Another instance which troubled the players/students in this MOOC was going against the boss Thadur in the Great Barrow which was not as easy as “Retaking Weathertop”. I should mention here that the turnout on Sunday’s event was quite large in scale. Three groups were formed and to balance the odds high leveled players were matched to equal numbers of low leveled ones. During our group’s encounter  two kinnies died – myself included –  something which rarely occurs in dungeon type instances, especially when you have level 90 players tag along. Tacts (aka tactics) involved killing some wights and then killing “lights”  in a sync mode.  First there was one of them, then two – both of which you had to kill at the same time – then three – again simultaneous kill – then four. In the end, we faced a level 28 elite boss (I was level 23 at the time).

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Facing Thadur with members of “Eagles of Thorondor”

 

 The free-to-play model: a personal rant

My avatar, Uiril, reached a ridiculously low gold cap this week, meaning I couldn’t have access to more than 2 gold despite having earned more. After finally getting enough Turbine points – in-game of course – to unlock the Auction house I thought to myself: “finally, I ‘ll make some money to buy an “x” vanity item, etc“. That sum of money ended up in a repository to which  I could get access ONLY IF I upgraded my account (which meant paying good money). You see, that’s the way MMORPGs work, they are based on a virtual economy that enables the player to earn and spend virtual money. Free-to-play modelled games such as LOTRO and WOW(free trial) only give you the impression of actually being free. Do you want to acquire the riding skill? Turbine Points. Do you want to have more slots in your  – pathetic – bank vault? More Turbine points. Do you wish you could have that wonderful rectangular table for your home in the Shire? You guessed well, buy some more Turbine points. Now farming for those points is nerve-wracking and pointless since the award system in-game is painstakingly slow. That’s when Turbine offers you the chance to get those points you covet for a mere “x” $$$$. It then hits you that becoming a VIP member (paying a subscription) is well worth it.

My kinship members striking a pose

My kinship members striking a pose

MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft have long been accused for their pay-to-play strategy, involving a monthly fee for logging into the game, regardless whether you show up or not in said month. Much as I hate making Blizzard more affluent, I get their logic. You see, I don’t have to pay for anything else. Storage, unlimited money cap, auction house, patches and new content are all there. Just pay the subscription and that’s it.(Of course, regarding WoW, you do need to buy the game and its subsequent expansions but that all adds up to the price of a new Assassin’s Creed title). What strikes me as bizarre, though, is that I thought free-to-play LOTRO was doable. Not paying for LOTRO  is pretty much ok up until you reach a certain point. If you do want to enjoy gameplay  – not to mention raiding content or new quest zones – you have to pay.  The whole free-to-play tag is just smoke and mirrors. What about World of Warcraft free-to-play? That’s just an urban legend, folks.

#LOTRO #Mooc Week 4

I have to admit, not being a gamer or having no experience whatsoever with MMORPGs, would make it quite difficult to accomplish this week’s task. We were asked to compare three mediums – book, movie and game – regarding the scene that takes place atop the Weathertop mountain.

 

 

To make it to Weathertop in-game one must first complete Book 2, Chapters 1-4  from the epic quest chain, which involve level 22-25 nasty orcs and birds in the area.Then you get to form a fellowship and enter the instance “Retake Weathertop”. As proof of having done the game part of the assessment, we were also asked to post a screenshot of our adventures. Uiril – my char(acter)- made it thanks to the help of my wonderful kinship, Eagles of Thorondor at the Meneldor server. This is a guild which boasts plenty of Coursera members and has people from the previous course session participating as well.

Weathertop. In-game.

Weathertop. In-game.

 

Weathertop. Film

Weathertop. Film

Truth is that without having help from a decent guild / kinship in most MMORPGs, one is missing the whole point. Raids, instances, dungeons, everything revolves around parties making a decent effort together. There are those who like to “solo” – even when things are not meant to be soloable – and those who turn to “pugs”, i.e. random grouping with strangers via the game’s AI. However, the latter is often disappointing and/or frustrating. Hence, the social aspect of MMORPGs (discussed in weeks 2 & 3) is indeed all about finding other people to play with; people with whom you can actually communicate and get the job done.

As for this week’s assignment, I submitted the following:

Option One: Write an essay that compares the scene in the novel, the film, and the game with respect to one of the following aspects: the actions or events in the scene; how characterization occurs; dialogue; setting / mise en scène / game space; point-of-view; and your experience of reading, viewing, and interacting with the scene. Include a screenshot of your character’s experience at Weathertop in LOTRO.

 LOTRO Threefold: Tolkien’s Weathertop scene across film and game

J.R.R. Tolkien has Strider describe Weathertop to Sam as a hill that “commands a wide view all around.” [Tolkien 2012: p. 471-472, 499]  Thus, the fellowship heads for that vantage point in hope of finding Gandalf there and assess how they will continue their perilous journey. Upon the hill, however, traces of “cloaked and booted Riders” [p. 513] caused much despair to the Hobbits, for it seemed that the enemy has been here. Strider informs the group of their abilities and heightened senses [p. 514-515]  as well as reminds them that fire can prove to be an exceptional weapon,since “these Riders do not love it and fear those who wield it” [p.515]. Interestingly, Peter Jackson opts for presenting fire as a fatal mistake that Sam, Pippin and Merry commit in order to satisfy their hunger; Frodo wakes up from his slumber only to yell at the starving Hobbits “What are you doing? Put it out, you fools, put it out! “. The panoramic shot of Weathertop with a tiny lit spot from the camp fire validates Frodo’s fears. The Nazgul know that someone is there; their shrieking sound fills the air, approaching from the misty foot of the hill.

Kinship Members, Eagles of Thorondor @Meneldor Server

Kinship Members, Eagles of Thorondor @Meneldor Server

In the book, Strider has not left them. In contrast, they all sit around that same camp fire telling stories like the tale of Tinuviel [p. 519] and trying to stay warm. Suddenly they feel them coming – just as Strider said it happens with humans – and under Strider’s command they gather close to the fire with their faces outward. [p. 527] Jackson does portray the chilling shrieks and the ominous look of the five dark figures true to the original, even when Frodo puts on the ring and sees them for what they truly are. Terror overcoming the Hobbits is also evident, though Sam is first to fall in the movie, not shrinking to Frodo’s side, as stated in the book. [p. 528] The director also retains Frodo’s desperate eagerness to put on the ring and Elijah Wood captures Frodo’s agony when “a pain like a dart of poisoned ice” [p. 530]pierced his left shoulder. The Elven words Frodo uses in the book to scare them away are not used in the movie. Finally, Strider appears out of nowhere in the film to save the day with lit torches, setting the enemy ablaze. The book’s final scene presents Frodo clenching the ring in his right fist, again as in the movie. Peter Jackson however gives Viggo  Mortensen plenty of screen time battling the forces of evil. Aragorn concludes that Frodo needs Elven medicine for his wound because it’s beyond his skills ; Nevertheless, in the book there is a whole chapter where he exhibits some knowledge of medicinal plants and offers the young Hobbit a mixture of Athelas himself [p. 534] Notably, Jackson’ s touch of having the blade vanish into thin air like  smoke is inspired by the book [p.534].

Fighting the troll.

Fighting the troll.

Regarding the game, the narrative involved fails to become a loyal reenactment of the scene. After having received Book 2, Chapter 5 quest from Candaith the Ranger in his camp, the player and his fellowship are being transported to the foot of the mountain. Battling mostly orcs and goblins along the way, the party makes it to the top where an elite mob, a gigantic troll, appears. Despite observing many scenery details that closely resembled both the book’s and film’s venue, the instance itself felt more like a boring fight (probably due to the fact that my kinmates were high-leveled and it was relatively too easy). Still, there was some agony felt when battling the last boss but the pressure was on me personally so as not to make a mistake in combat. Given these facts, my reaction to the finale of the instance, sharing the “job well done” moment with the kinship members almost reminded me of the first time I watched Aragorn saving the day: rejoice.

References:

The Lord of the Rings Online. Westwood, MA: Turbine, 2014. Computer game.

The Lord of the Rings the Fellowship of the Ring. New Line Home Entertainment, 2001. DVD.

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Fellowship of the Ring: Being the First Part of The Lord of the Rings. Boston: Mariner /Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012. E-Pub. 10 Aug. 2014.

 

***Screenshot from the game – Kinship:Eagles of Thorondor – Server: Meneldor – Character: Uiril, Elf Hunter

ScreenShot00018

 

#LOTRO #MOOC Weeks 2 & 3

Moving on with this summer’s gaming Mooc at Coursera involved leveling the character I created in LOTRO. Due to lack of time I managed to take it up to level 17. That meant being able to buy a house of my own – yeah!! –  as well as spending the amount of Turbine points I gained through gameplay to purchase the riding skill. Still, no riding horse at the moment, I am afraid. I am also trying to figure out the auction house dealings; things in World of Warcraft were so much easier, in my opinion… Please note that for week 4, you need to be a level 20ish player to accomplish the peer assessment tasks, so it’s best to level up well in advance. Anyway, here’s a screenshot of my lovely house:

ScreenShot00006

 

During questing, especially when it came to instances joined by other NPCs, some glitches were present but nothing too problematic. The narrative in the game draws ample reference from the books and Tolkien lore, something which renders the gameplay enjoyable. Still the tedious “kill 20 boars” and “fetch 20 bat feathers” tend to spoil the fun. Moreover, I found storage options rather frustrating. Apart from your bags, you will soon see your bank slots and house vault filling up quickly.  Now, here’s a screenshot from a rather tricky quest:

ScreenShot00002

 

The summer festival was on during the second week, so we were given the chance to opt for a screenshot in those surroundings. The other option was to participate in our kinship’s fixed gatherings which took place twice so as to accommodate the needs of almost all kinship members. I chose option 1, because I couldn’t make it to the kinship games:

 

ScreenShot00010

 

Furthermore, we were tasked with writing a short essay on the topic of the social aspect of MMORPGs. During week 3, peer assessment ensued and that meant having to review 3 such essays along with their screenshots and proof of gameplay. Here is my take on the subject:

 

Write an essay (200 to 400 words) on your impression of the social dimension of MMOs.  If you’ve played other types of online games (shooters, RPGs, etc.), feel free to compare the nature of the social interactions you’ve had in these formats. Do social interactions enhance or diminish your experience of the narrative? Do you feel a bond with other players, and if so, how would you compare that relationship to others in real life?

 

 

The social aspect of MMMORPGs – a short testimonial

Being a gamer in pop culture is at times depicted as having “no-life”.  Unfortunately, a gamer is commonly regarded as rather being anti-social, kept in a confined room all day and having minimum contact with peers by many. Questionably, MMORPGs, such as World of Warcraft or LOTRO immerse the player in a virtual environment so much, that interactions seem “fake” or simulated to the outsider.

Speaking from personal experience, not only is this not the case, but recent scientific studies have also shown that online gaming is increasing, not limiting, the social lives of players (Taylor et al. 2014). The nature of social interactions in-game is mostly chatting or what one would call “small talk”. Interacting in a virtual massive world with complete strangers means wasting no time, however. Therefore, most of these discussions are usually practical or helpful ways of understanding gameplay, e.g. asking for advice regarding a particular quest. Nevertheless, once part of a kinship or a guild, the framework rapidly changes to sharing more personal insights on one’s life and daily routine. In essence, you make “friends” within the game and much to one’s surprise these friendships can be long-lasting and profound. It so happens that often social relationships of the kind extend to real life circumstances; people from game communities meet up in person, even when they hail from different countries.

Room with a view... The landscape around my house in LOTRO

Room with a view… The landscape around my house in LOTRO

The experience of the narrative in-game is often enhanced by virtual social gatherings like large-scale raids. Taking down a “boss”, takes a lot of energy, effort and explaining, thus  all members of a party must be up to speed, whom they are fighting and why. In addition, people extend their knowledge of lore and storytelling to people outside the game, describing their gaming experience much like they would do with a movie or a TV series. In retrospect, talking within the game becomes talking “about” it, as well, influencing relationships to others in real life, regardless whether they are themselves gamers or not.

References

Taylor, N., Jenson, J., de Castell, S. and Dilouya, B. (2014), Public Displays of Play: Studying Online Games in Physical Settings. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 19: 763–779. doi: 10.1111/jcc4.12054

#LOTRO #Mooc Week 1

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.

quiz 1 LOTRO Mooc

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.

elf name

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:

ScreenShot00000

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.

@coursera_myth Assignment 2: Female sexuality boundaries in Imperial #Rome

 Ancient Greek & Roman Mythology Assignment 2  {Coursera / Penn University}

In this course, we have introduced Functionalism, Structuralism, Freudianism, and Myth and Ritual theory as tools to examine our myths. Choose one of these tools and use it to analyze one episode in the Greek tragedies or the portions of Vergil’s Aeneid or Ovid’s Metamorphoses that we have read for this class. It is up to you to decide how long or short an episode is. The best answers to this question will demonstrate a thorough understanding of the theoretical tool, and will use it to reveal something new in the episode under consideration. You may NOT repeat a specific result, using one of these theoretical tools, set out in lecture. Move from the evidence to your conclusion with careful attention to detail. Avoid generalities.

Female sexuality boundaries in Imperial Rome

Virgil writes the Aeneid in times of great political change; the former Roman Republic has given way to an autocracy by Augustus, as sole ruler of the “Imperium Romanum” [1]. Literature and myth written during that time convey multiple social conformities of the era or at least the ones that the Roman Emperor would like to establish. Reading Aeneid’s Book IV, the tragic tale of a woman abandoned by her lover, withholds multiple meanings when viewed from a functionalist perspective.

Dido is infatuated by the Trojan hero, Aeneas; she seems “…fetter’d in the chains of love” [2]. However,  to exhibit her love fervor “by no sense of shame“[2] is unheard of. Virgil stresses through myth that Imperial Roman society would have any attempt “to perfect this affair” [2] remain in hiding, for nothing but shame would be the result; thus Juno cloaks the infamous cave scene in “a pitchy cloud” [2] surrounded by the sounds of a tempest.  This sexual interaction hardly meets the expectations of matrimony for the Romans, thus it is portrayed as a mere “lustful” union of bodies. For an “univira” [1], a one-man woman, to appear less than modest was considered a social hubris. Dryden’s translation is indicative of Virgil’s disproval:

The_Feast_of_Dido_and_Aeneas_by_François_de_Troy,_1704

Painting in oils, ‘The Feast of Dido and Aeneas by François de Troy, 1704. Source licensed under CC: http://www.artnet.com/Artists/LotDetailPage.aspx?lot_id=12F5C9013F565317D88FCF849473A0A8 (Retrieved 24 June 2013 from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Feast_of_Dido_and_Aeneas_by_Fran%C3%A7ois_de_Troy,_1704.jpg)

Lost in their loves, insensible of shame,

And both forgetful of their better fame. [2]

Dido believes otherwise; yet for a woman to uphold “pudicitia” [1], i.e. remain virtuous certain procedures ought to have taken place. It wouldn’t seem inappropriate for a widow to remarry in ancient Roman times, yet the carnal, non-sanctified affair is deemed as untimely and controversial for a woman of nobility.

The myth goes on to invoke  the Gods, in order for Aeneas to flee in seek of his destiny and as stated in-text “to redeem his honor lost” [2]. These strong words for the epic’s protagonist denote that sexual desire and liberal affairs with a woman of a certain class seldom abide by male duty and honor, too.

Virgil appeals to the reader’s empathy for Dido as he concludes Book IV; still her tragic end is imperative. Could it be that her sister speaks the poet’s mind, as she tries to reawaken the Tyrian queen in vain?

At once thou hast destroy’d thyself and me,
Thy town, thy senate, and thy colony! [2]

Dido has ruined her own life, her family and Carthage itself (!) not only by committing suicide but also by allowing herself to fall from grace. Why is it that Virgil requires a fatal blow for Dido? Again, functionalism justifies the myth’s means to a social end. Augustus had instituted a legislation to enforce piety among Roman women [1], so Dido’s symbolic erotic behaviour might have been illegal as well as immoral during that time.

To conclude, Virgil ‘s Aeneid highlights plenty of social norms during the Imperial Roman Era through a functionalist aspect of  his myth; Book  IV indicates, a woman’s place ought to be next to a lawful husband and not a lover; otherwise one must face severe consequences.

Works cited:

1. Burton, Neel. “Sexuality in Ancient Rome.”  Web Blog post. Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers LLC, 24 June 2012. Web. 24 June 2013. <http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/hide-and-seek/201206/sexuality-in-ancient-rome&gt;.

2. Virgil. “Book IV.” The Aeneid. Trans. John Dryden. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Web. 24 June 2013. <http://classics.mit.edu/Virgil/aeneid.4.iv.html&gt;

First – Year Composition 2.0 {Coursera / Georgia Tech} – Personal philosophy essay final (completely revised)

Embracing the utopian era of digitalized communication

Not a day goes by without me checking my online life. I have just finished my first cup of coffee and hastily eaten my sandwich. Not much of a breakfast but it will do. Second cup of coffee is brewing, while I boot up the laptop – thank God for Window 7, that Vista system took forever, I contemplate as I yawn. My throne my revolving IKEA chair awaits. First I open my e-mails tab, second tab belongs to Facebook  – should I open Twitter? – nah… leave it for later. Let’s open Google calendar  – oh crap, MOOC deadline today? – I don’t have time for a philosophical essay!!!   I do this regime almost every day, perhaps each time opening a different website or maybe accessing data from my cell instead of my laptop. For Christmas, I usually ask Santa for a new gaming PC or an iPad and I am a girl! Shouldn’t I be asking for new shoes or something? I beg to differ.

I am a digital native; I belong to the generation Y. Having said that, I have reinterpreted the term “generation gap” between us and the non digital literates as a complete and utter communication barrier. Thus, I would advise people to reconsider their hostile inclination towards technological tools. We live in a society of informatics. Information is digitally displayed everywhere, virtually enhanced, accessed and shared by millions of people every day. Our modern-day amenities include at least two or three digital devices. Companies now take a look at their future employee’s Facebook. Television has finally found a decent opponent. I could receive a piece of information in the news interpreted one way or I could surf the Internet – which I do – to find out multiple versions of the “truth” and personally decide which one is convincing or not. And yet there are people  – in the Western World – who are against social online connectivity and the use of technology, refusing to learn so much as to e-mail. Don’t get me wrong, in case an environment lacks the technological infrastructure, it is perfectly understandable to grin, while reading this text. The digital divide has yet to be bridged around the globe. However,  isn’t it anachronistic to remain a sworn enemy of progress at the dawn of the 21st century in parts of the world where progress actually flourishes?

I cannot fathom why a person would shun today’s technology, especially when it comes to considerably simplifying communications. I also don’t see the point on regarding  social media as spying tools. Number one, CIA and Interpol can spy you anywhere,anytime, they hardly need Google+ / Google maps / Google period. Secondly, what is it that you have to hide?

 

 

 

 

 

Manon Lescaut ( by Abbé Prévost) analytical paper

The Fiction of Relationship {Coursera / Brown} – WEEK 2 HOMEWORK

 

 

Symbiotic relationships: the shortcomings of youth

Symbiosis might qualify for a true definition of the ideal love; each partner mutually depending on the other, forming a beneficial co-existence. Age and maturity substantially contribute to such a state between a couple. I would assume the alternative term, fusion, the union of two separate individuals into one entity, even on spiritual premises, was perhaps unheard of in the 18th century and highly doubtful whether it can truly be achieved even by today’s standards. Siding with a somewhat cynical approach of the novel, I am inclined to suggest that the couple’s ill-fated story was one of co-existence, taken to an extreme, but symbiotic? Hardly.

Enter Manon, a young lady, forever infatuated by new temptations to expense. (p. 72: §119) Her poorest of backgrounds didn’t allow for many choices to earn her living. Satisfied with finding affluent, funding suitors, she trespasses on de Grieux’s intense amour, callously suggesting that whom one beds is not necessarily whom one loves. Precarious words in the case of our protagonist, who foolishly believes that her figure transcends into a divine dimension, equal to that of Magdalene or – blasphemously – God himself. Manon puts her own individual self and lust for luxury above all costs, even that of her dignity.

Web. Retrieved 17 June 2013 from http://www.livre-ancien.eu

His uncontrollable passion for the woman is so intense that he soon spirals into a chain of unlawful actions in order to subsidize their bond;  his newly found thousand sentiments of pleasure (p. 22: §39) drives  him in defiance of family, church, law and social order. His idea of love, sanctified in his state of mind, justifies the means to an end. Yet, how can one expect mere children of our age (p. 28: §49)  discovering sexual ecstasy for the first time – in case of the man in our story – take love seriously?

Pleasure and plenty she loved too well to sacrifice them for my sake (p.77: §128), he exclaims frantically when he faces the danger of losing her affections over his own material deficits. In a sense symbiosis here is substituted by  emotional leeching. Manon sucked on de Grieux’s feelings, he on the other hand was pumping more blood in his affective veins, nonetheless. Modern psychologists would likely call it sociopathic or a serious case of mental obsession on his behalf. It is no wonder that his only true friend, Tiberge, perhaps acting as the voice of a fictitious, wiser, older brother this time, puts aside his empathy and curses the wretched union: “…and may you yourself remain alone and deserted, to learn the vanity of these things, which now divert you from better pursuits!” (p.97:  §156)

All in all, the novel symbolizes fiction of a non symbiotic relationship, hence not reflecting a true love story but rather a doomed, youthful, carnal infatuation, which led both individuals to their demise.

Works cited:

Prévost, Abbé. Manon Lescaut. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Project Gutenberg. Web. 17 June 2013. <http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/468&gt;.

Ninja Zombies: Why #gamers like to #game

Crafting an effective Writer: Tools of the trade {MSJC / Coursera} Week 5 Journal Writing 1 and Final writing Assessment

Module 1 Writing Activity

Pick one of the four topics listed in the Week 5 writing assignment and choose the topic that most appeals to you for your final, peer-reviewed paragraph. Once you’ve made your choice, start with the first step of the writing process, inventing, and try a few of the methods to develop your ideas.  If you find that the topic does not seem to be working, try developing another topic. Once you’ve developed some good ideas for your paragraph, move to the second step, organizing, and construct an outline that you can use for drafting your paragraph.

Topic #2 
Identify and describe a favorite activity or interest and provide at least four reasons why this activity or interest holds your attention and/or is enjoyable to you

cluster (mind mapping) brainstoming week 5

For the purposes of this assignment I chose the  “cluster” brainstorming technique, mentioned in the course and as always I employed an appropriate digital tool for the job, called Mindmeister. Here’s the final paragraph for Week 5′ s final assignment.

Assignment

For the Unit 5 final writing assignment, you will compose a direct paragraph, one that has

  • a title;
  • a clear topic sentence;
  • a fully developed body, which includes necessary and sufficient details and examples;
  • necessary and appropriate transitions;
  • a logical conclusion; and
  • a minimum of fifteen (15) sentences.

Before you submit your paper for peer review, plan to proofread for

  • subject-verb agreement errors,
  • pronoun-antecedent agreement errors,
  • shifts in verb tense,
  • faulty parallel structure, and
  • comma, capitalization, number, word choice, and spelling errors.

You should imagine your peers in this course as your readers/audience. Because of the diverse population of students enrolled in this course, you need to be keenly aware of the need to provide details and examples that are clear and precise. Keeping in mind a living audience, rather than one you imagine, will help you convey more reliably the value of your perspective in the topic upon which you choose to write.

Ninja Zombies: Why gamers like to game

Among recent pop culture trends, gaming is considered one of people’s most favorite pastimes, myself included;  however, video games seem to signify more than a mere pastime. Choosing to spend one’s free time in front a computer or a console constitutes a highly immersive experience, though quite addictive at times, too. First of all, video games are plain fun; while an obvious argument in support of this hobby, it is also a convincing one. For instance, when a player unlocks an achievement, occasional laughter is accompanied by a feeling of self-satisfaction, marking the gaming experience as a personal accomplishment of a difficult task. Furthermore, gamers develop social skills. With the advent of social media and cloud based services they may share game content or feedback on their progress globally, as well as collaborate with people in-game around the world at the same time. On a smaller scale, people playing on a console, like Playstation or XBox, can enjoy themselves with family members at home by simply attaching a separate controller, thus creating a family shared experience. Moreover, game studies have shown that problem solving skills are being boosted throughout interactive media. Gamers, engrossed in the shooter genre, are often more capable of receiving critical decisions quickly. Similarly, strategy video game enthusiasts possess tactics and planning insights. Were you aware that frequent Angry birds players bear a large amount of mathematical and geometrical abilities? Finally, video games personally interest me since they promote vast research interests. As of late, the marketing sector seeks to incorporate game elements in customer services (gamification);  online education providers are also experimenting with gamified content to promote motivation during the learning process. For example, unlocking a badge – a sort of virtual “sticker” on-line as a reward for a task well done – was actually inspired by video games. To sum up, while the majority still frowns upon video games as “a waste of time”, as a member of the digital native generation Y, I tend to regard  them as tools for creativity, inspiration, fun and potentially employment opportunities. Food for thought: are you prepared for a Zombie Apocalypse scenario? Gamers are…

Personal #writer’s transition: From pen and paper to #digital drafting

Crafting an effective writer: Tools of the Trade {Coursera / MSJC} – Forum question

Think about the process you follow when you compose a piece of writing. Do you follow a series of steps that work for you? If so, share the steps you follow. After reading about the five step writing process detailed in this unit, do you think that your process of writing could be enhanced?

 

 

Whenever I have to jot something down quickly, I just scribble some words on paper. But when there’s an assignment, essay, article or something like that I skip the whole traditional process and fully utilize the media. It wasn’t always like that  for me, of course. I ve had serious trouble accepting e-books and the fact that clicks would take the place of flipping through pages. Still as time goes by, I am getting used to technology enhanced writing / reading.

The stages of writing: 

Inventing:

I ‘ve always started with listing as a brainstorming technique. I like keeping things linear, I am also obsessed with structure – well at least I try to keep it that way. To do so, I usually benefit from a note taking app on my desktop – this is really useful if you re using mobile phones as well – if you see something of interest, note it down on your cell, maybe take a picture. Visuals are great when it comes to supporting your writing. You may even consider writing based on something you saw and captured your attention.

Freewriting usually works too.

Audience and purpose: 

Contemplate what it is you are actually writing about and maybe imagine your average reader (he could take the imaginary form of a tiny avatar for fun’s sake). Post your drafts on a blog and ask for feedback. At first you might get one or two hits, but don’t be discouraged. Once the Internet embraces your presence, you will gradually enrich this process and at the end of the day get your own audience. Most of all, drafting will become a dynamic process.

Organizing:

The crucial think about writing for academia is evidence and that takes a lot of time. Most of the time I prefer to digitally highlight some important ideas from an article / text (bibliography). Bookmarking webpages also works when surfing Internet’s  vast ocean of information.

If it’s creative inspiration I ‘m after, I place a small footnote on short stories or novel pages, concerning what I liked or didn’t like, again using digital note taking tools.

Drafting and Revising:

For me it’s both happening at the same time. I write something, I decide I don’t like it, I write something else instead. I think the most basic point here is: RETURN to your work. I ‘ve personally spent hours on end on a single article. Writer’s block? Maybe. I would probably go with fatigue. Take a rest, press SAVE and then come back to drafting / revising after a day or two. It will still be there but you will start fresh. And that always works wonders for you, trust me.

Editing /  Punctuation  / Spelling: 

Check. This takes seconds. Just open spell checker and maybe a polishing tool on the web. Typos be gone! If you had received any feedback from readers or peers – or your Mom – incorporate it wisely.

Retrieved 12th June 2013 from: http://jsandhouse.files.wordpress.com

 

You can’t really tell if your personal writing process will stay intact forever. I have to admit that as technology advances maybe the current tools I am using will be rendered obsolete in a couple of years. Still, since it is a matter of personal taste, I wouldn’t worry about “formalities” such as writing stages though. Can you really cage creativity?

 

 

 

The fiction of relationship – Week 1 assignment (Brown / Coursera)

 

Instructions: Respond to the following in your own words. Your response should be a single paragraph of 75-150 words. 

Paying close attention to the common dictionary definitions when talking about both ‘fiction’ and ‘relationship’ write a paragraph asking yourself this question: what is the ‘fiction of relationship’? How can one define the dimensions of this phrase? Is it a paradox? As you see it, what bearing does this phrase have on the experience of our encounter with others, the others we find not only in life but in the literature we read?

 

Wikipedia quotes fiction as an imaginary work of art, invented by an author [1]. Relationships on the other hand may seem real, though hardly tangible as a notion. Relationships can be interpersonal [2] or intrapersonal, leading to self reflection and awareness.

One wonders, to what extend should we allow for fictitious literature to portray the reality of relationships? Fiction might be giving the reader a mere interpretation, yet we do seem to covet the author’s  personal view on human interactions; perhaps it is through his/her imagination we attempt to explain our own insecurities or fears for the “others” – even for ourselves – endlessly trying to delve into the hero’s or heroine’s role. Every self-proclaimed literature enthusiast feels at least once the urge to identify oneself with a fictional character.

We quote fiction as artistic – a fabric of creative imagination –  but isn’t life itself a form of dynamic art? To me, attempting to understand human relationships requires a bit of fiction or at least some source of poetic / dramatic inspiration. Fiction is the truth inside the lie [3] concerning relationships.

 

References:

  1. “Fiction.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 06 July 2013. Web. 09 June 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiction&gt;
  2. “Relationship.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 29 May 2013. Web. 09 June 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relationship&gt;.
  3. King, Stephen. ““Fiction Is the Truth inside the Lie.”.” Goodreads. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 June 2013. <http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/8830-fiction-is-the-truth-inside-the-lie&gt;. Quotable Quote.