Portfolio Cover Letter – English Composition I: Achieving Expertise {Duke / Coursera}

Feedback — Final Self-Reflection

The following are our course learning objectives:

  • Summarize, analyze, question, and evaluate written and visual texts
  • Argue and support a position
  • Recognize audience and disciplinary expectations
  • Identify and use the stages of the writing process
  • Identify characteristics of effective sentence and paragraph-level prose
  • Apply proper citation practices
  • Discuss how to transfer and apply your writing knowledge to other writing occasions

Imagine that you have compiled a portfolio of all your work from this course (Drafts and Final Versions of Projects 1-4, Feedback to and from Colleagues, Forum Comments, and Reflective Quizzes) and you are preparing to share it with others. These potential readers might be administrators at a school you are applying to, current or potential employers, friends, or other acquaintances. Your task is to write a cover letter that introduces your work and makes an argument about your understanding and achievement of the course learning objectives. 

In the space provided here, discuss what you have learned in this course and choose 2-4 of our course learning objectives, describing each objective and referring specifically to particular passages from your coursework that demonstrate your progress towards and/or struggles with that objective. Indicate why you have chosen those objectives as the most important for you. Cut and paste specific portions of your coursework, and use them as evidence for your argument. In this way, by having an introduction, argument, evidence, and conclusion, your “portfolio cover letter” will both discuss and demonstrate how effectively you have achieved the goals of the course. When referring to your work, indicate clearly the piece of writing (i.e., Project 3) and page number(s) for your readers’ ease of reference. 

Length: ~500-750 words 

 

 

 

Dear Sir / Madam

reflecting on the course work and the objectives of the course “English Composition I: Achieving Expertise” I was truly surprised to discover my strengths as well as my weaknesses concerning various aspects of writing within 12 weeks time alone. I also immersed myself in the field of video games as an expertise referencing point, making this a pleasurable writing and researching journey.

Concerning the academic writing aspect  – coming from Europe – I was accustomed to the APA citation format; However, I came to find that MLA referencing is much more suitable for the humanities field and to be honest it is now my personal favourite when it comes to submitting a paper in academia. I was also intrigued by some new kinds of formatting, for instance, when writing a critical review (the book reviewed goes at the beginning of the essay, something I wasn’t aware of.) Example [Final Project 1, page 1]:

 

Review:  Coyle, Daniel (2009).  The Sweet Spot. The Talent Code. Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How. New York: Bantam (Extract from Chapter I)

Greatness and its shortcomings…

 …Along with the brief descriptions of his endeavor that took him on what his daughter compares to an alternative “treasure hunt” [12], readers of his work actually come to realize that perhaps the term “talent”[11] is highly overrated; perhaps it does exist in terms of a being prone to a grandeur in certain fields – mainly athletic – but it should be more properly substituted by the term “deep practice” [16]…

Regarding the stages of the writing process I have learned to value the ongoing collaborative annotated bibliography listings in the forums, pertaining to various fields of expertise. Answering the initial post of a fellow Courserian who created the thread “games”, I personally contributed four titles on the video game genre. Sample contribution:

  • Bainbridge, William Sims. The Warcraft Civilization: Social Science in a Virtual World. London: MIT Press. 2010. Print.

 

…Bainbridge’s review of the game derives – as the title so hints – from a social perspective, but what he means by that is highly contestable. Sociology is one thing, attempting an explanation of the WoW social universe is a complete other.  The book is divided into small chapters, each focusing on separate elements of the game such as religion or cooperation. The introductory roleplaying story lines are intuitive and strongly supported by lore details. After each one, an explicatory section ensues, where things are theoretically approached. The author often gives the impression of an outsider rather than an actual WoW gamer, since his lack of understanding how the game community actually works in non – lorewise manner is baffling….

 

Finally it should be noted that after 4 drafts, 4 final projects, peer assessment, and ongoing forum discussions at the platform as well as the Facebook group I was able to further understand how to properly summarize, analyze, question, and evaluate written and visual texts. Especially the latter received great praise from my peers [project 2, pages 1- 2]

 

 …An illuminated sword stands out in front of him, filled with ominous skull details; seven runes etched across the blade form a death curse, still not deciphered to this day. As all epic swords usually do, this one has even got a name: Frostmourne. [4] Shades of gray intervene with silvery notes as one is immersed in a daunting feeling almost like the dark values within the image; how many lives has that sword taken? For an outsider the horror continues as he notices plenty other skull ornaments in the main character’s armor. A dragon encapsulated in ice soon gains our attention in the bottom right, only to serve as another threat. In the background a barely perceptible black tower amidst the fog beckons (spatial illusion); alas, we are in Icecrown [5] – the land of the cursed undead…

Project 3, the case study, required transferring and applying  one’s writing knowledge to other writing occasions and it involved quite a bit of research. Project 4, the Op Ed, called for a somewhat journalistic style, reminding course participants how important it is to recognize audience and disciplinary expectations as well as establishing your own voice.

…So, fellow gamers, what’s left for us upon this wretched planet of corporate conglomerate decisions and Kardashian saga overdose?  Well, if you like first / third person shooters and MMO RPGs you most likely skimmed through this text with a sardonic smile. You see there has been a gamer crowd out there who is not the least bit interested in consoles: the PC gamers… [ Project 4, page 1]

To sum up, these were 12 weeks of personal growth as a writer and as a reader, I might add. Still there is plenty more to be done, as the writing process is ongoing.

Yours faithfully
Zeibeki Rozalia

 

Advertisements

#Consoles and the future of video #games: Op-Ed final project 4:English Composition I – Achieving Expertise {Duke / Coursera}

For the purposes of the final assignment for English Composition I: Achieving Expertise MOOc on Coursera, offered by Duke University we were given the chance to write our own op-ed, regarding a trending headline in the news. My chosen field of expertise was gaming and video games in particular so I am actually dishing on Microsoft’s latest product. I have always felt that PC gaming is superior so here’s my op ed on the matter. As always feedback would be most welcome – The paper is due on Monday!!!!!

Back to the loving arms of a gaming PC

Expert gaming revolves around two things: passion and appropriate equipment. You spend a lot of time battling the forces of Evil but if the pixels are all wrong, this passionate gaming experience ceases to exist. Revealing her newest product, XBOX one, Microsoft recently conveyed the future trend in gaming devices, leaving hints that pure gaming was no longer a part of their plans.

XBOX ONE footage retrieved 30 May 2013 from http://www.enternity.gr

The over hyped, over advertised next generation gaming console took a turn for NFL streams and live television. The device itself looks like a damn VCR from the 80s. Of course, there is nothing wrong with Microsoft’s corporate decision; smart television market shares have sky rocketed so it’s only reasonable they want their fair share of the pie.  The basic problem however is that Xbox was originally meant for gaming, not reality shows and Netflix. It used to be a simple plug-in, plug –and – play process with occasional friendly co-ops.

Even worse, if you happen to live outside the United States, the whole hourly presentation was absolutely pointless. Xbox 360 owners and potential Xbox one buyers were waiting for a torrent of the latest graphic breakthroughs and posh exclusive titles. Instead, they got Call of duty’s German Shepherds (Seriously, CoD will feature dogs now; they went full Sims or something. Never go full Sims.) There was in fact a second game title preview, a car racing title (Forza Motorsport 5), which I will not bother to comment any further.

Indie games and used games lived in a state of symbiosis with the platforms up until recent blurry claims about additional fees concerning them. Again this is seen as a perfectly logical market share move on behalf of the console manufacturers, but not to the best interest of the gamer community (or Gamestop for that matter). I saved the best for last: always –on DRM. Consumer policies and rights went down the drain with this one, I am afraid. To be exact this lovely piece of machinery will supposedly need a 24-hour check in (Big Brother much?) and through state –of-the art biometrics Kinect will be able to sense how many people are in the room watching Oprah.  To refute the ongoing surge of complaints, Microsoft stated that you don’t really have to be online all the time. Nevertheless, of you are not online, game and TV content will not be “strong” enough, as the system won’t exploit the full power of social media and “other” add-ons. Baffling words and a severe case of double standard semantics are paving the way for the much awaited E3 2013 Expo in Los Angeles, where gamers will learn the gory details first hand.

Sony on the other hand is lurking in the shadows having recently exhibited a teaser trailer for the upcoming Playstation 4. Rumors of seizure incidents afterwards have yet to be confirmed. Their next gen gaming console now reaps the benefits of Microsoft’s customer body target turn – and the average gamer’s ongoing rage – but they too need to prove themselves. Nintendo’s Wii U was the first new gen console to take the heat of the increasingly demanding gamers. It did with the Super Mario franchise and the return of Sonic and Donkey Kong. Alas, the average gamer is now an adult. (Zelda still rules though, that much I have to admit).

So, fellow gamers, what’s left for us upon this wretched planet of corporate conglomerate decisions and Kardashian saga overdose?  Well, if you like first / third person shooters and MMO RPGs you most likely skimmed through this text with a sardonic smile. You see there has been a gamer crowd out there who is not the least bit interested in consoles: the PC gamers. Building a gaming PC requires more financial resources than owning a console, yet the processing power and overall value for money will compensate your initial investment. As far as visual quality goes, the  Crytek’s Crysis titles offered a benchmarking challenge for gaming PCs but nothing that couldn’t be rectified with a mere upgrade in the system’s graphic card.

Expert gaming needs by definition state of the art equipment. I do not doubt for a second that XBOX One will be able to accommodate their loyal gamer fanboys. I just don’t find the reason to opt for a console when my gaming PC practically does the same job – even better I might add.

English Composition I: Achieving Expertise {Duke / Coursera} – Case study (final Project 3)

Rozalia Zeibeki

English Composition I: Achieving Expertise

Prof. Denise Comer

Area of Expertise: Video games and gamification

Case study:  World of Warcraft EU-Guild “Method” @Twisting Nether

 

A glimpse at the world of expert gamers:

World of Warcraft’s “Method” @Twisting Nether

 

The gaming industry has had a prolific past decade. The revenues from gaming titles, memorabilia and marketed products have surpassed expectations. Blizzard / Activision Inc. is one of those gaming conglomerates and the producer of the world’s most popular MMO RPG[1], called “World of Warcraft” [2], the ongoing saga between Alliance and Horde forces. Despite the fact that recent spring quarter statistics have shown a decrease in subscribers, the game still boasts a staggering 9 million subscription base. Multiply that by approximately 14 euros per month plus other sources of income (e.g. in-game purchase options) and you have yourself a multi-million dollar business.

 wow_subs graph

Figure 1 World of Warcraft Subscription numbers over the course of its expansions.

Source: Activision / Blizzard – Illustration: Ross Patton/ Wired [3]

Players tend to put their money to good use; an average hardcore Wow player sacrifices eight or more hours in a row to achieve grandeur. A social player, who is somewhat less engaging, will also roam the digital world of Azeroth for a good two hours on average, each time he logs in the game.  Method guild members belong to the extreme hardcore player body and are sponsored by major companies, thus being rendered “professional” gamers.

The goals of the game are substantially diverse but it all accumulates to “raiding” and facing a “world boss” of ultimate level difficulty. In order to do that, you basically need to cooperate with other people in the game, usually within a guild [4]. Bainbridge portrays the process of players entering one:

“… First, they may form a guild from scratch, and often a successful guild is formed by a group of people who are already friends, sometimes even members of the same real-world family. Second, guilds that are trying to grow may advertise on the guild-recruiting channel of the chat system; depending on how selective they are, even a halfhearted expression of interest may result in a formal invitation to join. Third, a member of a guild may share quests or other experiences with a nonmember, come to see that person as competent and trustworthy, and extend an invitation on the basis of extensive familiarity based entirely on in-game interactions.” [5]

Method@ Twisting Nether                                                                                

Method is a European based guild playing on a server called Twisting Nether ( EN- PVP)[2] . Former Alliance, now belonging to the Horde faction, they are basically a 25-man raid guild; that is they focus on combatting raid bosses with a solid group comprising of 25 people as opposed to opting for the alternative 10-man raid model. Coordinating 25 people in a long boss fight where game mechanics demand high levels of dexterity and leadership is difficult in itself; being the first in the WoW universe to achieve downing a boss qualifies for gaming “expertise”.

There has been much debate whether a 25-man kill is actually harder than a 10-man raiding regime. Method’s main antagonists are a Finnish guild called DREAM-Paragon; they have currently switched from 25-man to the 10-man model and are respectively topping the progression charts in the world. Method’s reply, during a 5.1 patch[3] interview:

 “What’s your take on 10-man vs 25-man World Firsts?
Artzie: Personally I don’t think you can compare 10man to 25man. Out of all these bosses I’ve ever met in WoW, the only one that was harder in 10man was Sartharion 3D. It’s just wrong to compare 10man with 25man. […] [6]

 

Methods for “Method”

Finding 25 players to follow an excruciating raiding schedule up until the wee hours of the morning is hardly a walk in the park. This is why their roster is not the same from the guild’s initial formation. To fill out the missing group slots, they recruit the best Wow players out there. In order to be “drafted” in such a raiding guild, you have to boast substantial experience, evidence of knowing to play your class[4] well up to par and finally fill out the correspondent application form on their webpage. [8]

After having the appropriate guild members selected before each patch comes out, the guild enters the PTR Phase. PTR stands for Public Test Realm, so it’s the game publisher’s way of testing new content and making sure everything is running smoothly. End-game guilds like Method access the experimental realms, utilize the latest changes and basically run against the clock in their attempt to be the first to down Blizzard’s animated evil caricatures in the entire 9-million community.

Raiding comprises of defeating many bosses in a row, thus they take it one boss at a time.  In case something goes wrong during the encounter, the guild leader usually decides to “wipe” it. That means they all let their avatars die on purpose and restart the combat. The reason is that if game mechanics are not meticulously followed from the start, then no matter how well prepared the raid team is the final outcome will eventually be negative. Achieving a raid kill might come after numerous “wipes” – double digit ones at times– something which has a tremendous nerve-wracking effect on most casual players. Moreover, the whole process of learning through trial and error is awfully time-consuming. Raiding usually commences late in the evening and could carry on until dawn. Top notch guilds engage in raiding for days on end, so it’s basically play, sleep, eat, then play again; tons of energy drinks are also involved in the process. In his article, Geoffrey Colvin insists that this is actually the road to take if you want to become the best in any sector. He suggests:

“The best people in any field are those who devote the most hours to what the researchers call “deliberate practice.” It’s activity that’s explicitly intended to improve performance, that reaches for objectives just beyond one’s level of competence, provides feedback on results and involves high levels of repetition.” [9]

Coyle similarly recounts of a “deep practice” as a paced path to shaping excellence and talent and constant self-improvement through errors and repetitiveness. [10] The term qualifies for Method’s method to be honest – they recently concluded the Throne of Thunder raid instance by killing the boss, “Ra Den” [8], after two attempts alone. During patch 5.1 raid instance, it took them 108 (!) efforts to down the “Will of the Emperor”. [6] I guess practice makes perfect, indeed.

 method Ra den

Figure 2 Ra Den 25m World’s 1st by Method [8]

 

 

Works cited:

  1. Massively multiplayer online role-playing game.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 25 May 2013. Web. Retrieved 26 May 2013 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massively_multiplayer_online_role-playing_game
  2. World of Warcraft”. Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 20 May 2013. Web. Retrieved 26 May 2013 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_of_Warcraft
  3. Kohler, C. “World of Warcraft Has Lost Its Cool”. Wired. 27 September 2012. Web. Retrieved 26 May, 2013 from http://www.wired.com/gamelife/2012/09/mists-of-pandaria/
  4. Guild”. WowWiki. Wikia.Inc. 26 August 2012. Web. Retrieved 27 May 2013 from http://www.wowwiki.com/Guild
  5. Bainbridge, W. S. “The Warcraft Civilization: Social Science in a Virtual World”. London: MIT Press. 2010. Print
  6. Grace, O. “Top guild Method discusses their World First”. Wow Insider. AOL Inc. 1 November 2012. Web. Retrieved 27 May 2013 from http://wow.joystiq.com/2012/11/01/top-guild-method-discuss-their-world-first/#continued
  7. Class”. WowWiki. Wikia Inc. 21 May 2013. Web. Retrieved 27 May 2013 from http://www.wowwiki.com/Class
  8. Method”. Method Network. Web. Retrieved 27 May 2013 from http://www.methodwow.com/board/content.php
  9. Colvin, G. “What It Takes to be Great.” Fortune. 19 October 2006. Web. Retrieved 27 May 2013 from http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2006/10/30/8391794/index.htm
  10. Coyle, D. “The Talent Code. Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How”. New York: Bantam. 2010. Print.

[1] Massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) is a genre of role-playing video games or web browser based games in which a very large number of players interact with one another within a virtual game world.”  [1]

[2] “Twisting Nether” is a World of Warcraft European (EU) public realm. Main language featured in general chat and trade channel is English (EN). This is a PvP server, meaning that anytime you encounter a player from the hostile faction in open space, he/she is able to attack you or vice versa regardless each one’s level of ability or combat readiness mood.

[3] “Patches” are small updates in the game, usually releasing extra content and bug fixes. Blizzard has currently released patch 5.3. for WoW as of 21st May 2013.

[4]class is the primary adventuring style of a player character which determines the type of weapons and armor it can use, as well as what abilitiespowersskills, and spells it will gain throughout its adventures.” [7] There are currently 11 classes in Wow: Death Knights, Druids, Hunters, Mages, Monks, Paladins, Priests, Rogues, Shamans, Warlocks and Warriors.

English Composition I: Achieving Expertise {Coursera / Duke} – Annotated Bibliography contribution

English Composition I: Achieving Expertise

Prof. Denise Comer

Annotated Bibliography contribution

Area of Expertise: Video games (World of Warcraft)

  •  Donovan, Tristan. Replay: The History of Video Games. Lewes, East Sussex: Yellow Ant Publications. 2010. Print

A staggering 500 page tome (350 of which is the actual material), which elaborately portrays the advent and progression of video game industry from Atari consoles to computer animated latest products (2010). It features international case studies of the gaming communities and habits around the world (Asia among others) as well as a detailed description of how various game genres came to life.

The narrative is deemed quite personal and often takes the form of interview memoirs. While the historical documentation is extremely detailed – dating back to 1945 – the game trends of the 21st century are somewhat “rushed” along the book’s final chapters among with emerging popular game franchises.

Overall it’s an interesting addition to a gamer’s library, especially if one is interested in the gaming industry’s past and how it all began.

A word from the author:

I chose video game in preference to other terms for several reasons: it remains in everyday use, unlike TV game or electronic game; it is broad enough to encompass the entire medium unlike ‘computer game’, which would exclude games, such as Atari’s Pong, that did not use microprocessors; and terms such as ‘interactive entertainment’, while more accurate, have failed to catch on despite repeated attempts over the years.”

 

  • Gutiérrez, Mario, Thalmann, Daniel, Vexo, Frédéric. Stepping into Virtual Reality. Lausanne: Springer-Verlag London Limited. 2008. Print

Mostly described as a technical guidebook for students, this entry rather resembles an introduction to virtual environment design. Ample examples in conjunction with color illustrations exhibit the fundamentals of creating an immersive virtual world. Chapters include architecture of augmented virtual reality systems, avatar creation, touch, smell and taste simulation as well as a reference to visuals (e.g. LCD / Plasma displays) and audio.

To sum up, this qualifies for a decent 101 on virtual reality basics and technical infrastructure.

A word from the authors:

“This work was conceived as a guided tour that will give a practical explanation

of each step in the process of creating a Virtual Reality application. It can

be used both as a textbook for a Virtual Reality course and as a reference for

courses covering computer graphics, computer animation, or human-computer

interaction topics.

 

  • Hunter, Dan, Werbach, Kevin. For the Win: How GAME THINKING Can Revolutionize Your Business. Philadelphia: Wharton Digital Press. 2012. Print

I came across “For the Win” during a MOOC course called “Gamification” on the Coursera platform. Kevin Werbach is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania; together with Dan Hunter they showcase an academic background in law as well as research of virtual worlds. “Gamification” was the very first course of its kind to be offered in academia (The Wharton School) and this book summarizes the main ideas behind the term. Interestingly, thinking as a game designer was not only meant for people within the gaming industry. Game elements, when applied to non-game context can make your business – or any other sector – a better place (for employees and clients alike). The book features gamified websites and examples of gamified services as well as a thorough approach of what kind of game elements one should seek to implement in order to make this endeavor work.

I should mention that both writers were players of World of Warcraft (Horde side) and draw comparisons from many popular games of our time.

From the writers’ note on the title:

““For the win,” or FTW for short, is a gamer term believed to be derived from old-school TV game shows like Hollywood Squares, in which a player could win the game with a correct answer. It’s used as an endorsement of a tool or practice that will lead to success in any context. As in: “Daily exercise FTW!” We find it an appropriate moniker. Gamification is a technique that businesses can use to be more successful. We hope you will use this book to help your business win in whatever ways you choose.”

 

  • Bainbridge, William Sims. The Warcraft Civilization: Social Science in a Virtual World. London: MIT Press. 2010. Print.

Bainbridge takes on the most popular MMO RPG (massive open online role playing game) in its peak, namely the Lich King Expansion years. His account is suitable for Argent Dawn EU server players: the role playing lot. Now when one finds oneself in Azeroth chances are you will explore, quest, raid, kill many many – seriously many – mobs; not many choose to role play, because it takes a lot of creativity, effort, practice and imagination – you ‘ve run out of those while killing the many, many oh so many mobs, if you recall.

Bainbridge’s review of the game derives – as the title so hints – from a social perspective, but what he means by that is highly contestable. Sociology is one thing, attempting an explanation of the WoW social universe is a complete other.  The book is divided into small chapters, each focusing on separate elements of the game such as religion or cooperation. The introductory roleplaying story lines are intuitive and strongly supported by lore details. After each one, an explicatory section ensues, where things are theoretically approached. The author often gives the impression of an outsider rather than an actual WoW gamer, since his lack of understanding how the game community actually works in non – lorewise manner is baffling.

It should be noted that in-game problems such as character meetup in different servers and dungeon / raid grouping have been dealt with by Blizzard ever since the Cataclysm expansion. Thus, it’s an interesting reading option for the game’s old- timers; at times a beautiful journal even.

From the author’s take on “ganking” [Chapter 5: p. 134]:

“Wanton killing of another player’s character is ganking. Maxrohn experienced ganking firsthand when he was around level 40 at a crossroads in the Swamp of Sorrows. A level-37 Horde scout was standing there, barring the way, so rather than go around, Maxrohn attacked him. This had the effect of turning Maxrohn’s battle flag on, rendering him vulnerable to attack by Horde players. Unfortunately, the crossroads was between the Horde flight path at Stonard and the entry to the high level Blasted Lands zone. Just as Maxrohn was bending down to loot the scout’s corpse, a high-level Horde player killed him instantly. His last memory of the episode is the Horde player’s laughter.”

English Composition I: Achieving Expertise – Visual image analysis final {Duke/Coursera}

 

Rozalia Zeibeki

English Composition I: Achieving Expertise

Prof. Denise Comer

“Arthas, The Lich King” (1962) by Maryxyan (www.deviantart.com artist)

Approx.1280 x 811 in.

Digital image (created with Photoshop)

Viewed at http://maryxyan.deviantart.com/art/Arthas-The-Lich-King-96293514 (Retrieved: 22 April 2013)

 

 

 

 Gamers’ exploits in World of Warcraft:

Crafting expertise in online phantasy realms

 

Representational images retrieved from the world of video games are meant to grab the viewer’s attention. They consume you to another parallel dimension, where legend and heroism become intrinsic goals of the player that lead to a decisive victory against a “world boss”. What the average viewer perceives as mere graphic art, the gamer connects to his overall progression and success within the immersive digital environment.

Arthas_The_Lich_King_by_Maryxyan

 

 “Your heart…its incessant drumming disgusts me. I will silence it as I did my own.”

 

The dominant subject at hand is that of a man sitting upon what seems to be a frigid throne. Enter Arthas,[1] our protagonist, the prince of Lordaeron,[2] the promised son. He looks skeptical yet one cannot help but notice a small grin; is he contemplating a recent victory or a future one as you glimpse those scarry azure eyes? Despite its static appearance the gaze of Arthas is haunting; the use of cobalt blue heightens the sense of an icy landscape that expands beyond the image: we are now situated at the frozen continent of Northrend. [3] An illuminated sword stands out in front of him, filled with ominous skull details; seven runes etched across the blade form a death curse, still not deciphered to this day. As all epic swords usually do, this one has even got a name: Frostmourne. [4] Shades of gray intervene with silvery notes as one is immersed in a daunting feeling almost like the dark values within the image; how many lives has that sword taken? For an outsider the horror continues as he notices plenty other skull ornaments in the main character’s armor. A dragon encapsulated in ice soon gains our attention in the bottom right, only to serve as another threat. In the background a barely perceptible black tower amidst the fog beckons (spatial illusion); alas, we are in Icecrown [5] – the land of the cursed undead.

As a gamer, surviving against the full power unleashed by Arthas {transformed into the vile Lich King} was a moment of elation in an online PC game called World of Warcraft. The WoW [6] universe is considered by many the epitome of Massively Multiplayer Online Role playing Games. Wikipedia quotes:

“As in all RPGs, players assume the role of a character (often in a fantasy world) and take control over many of that character’s actions. MMORPGs are distinguished from single-player or small multi-player online RPGs by the number of players, and by the game’s persistent world (usually hosted by the game’s publisher), which continues to exist and evolve while the player is offline and away from the game.” [7]

Blizzard Inc., the game’s production company, boasts about its product’s ten million player subscription base. Multiply that number by hours spent individually to build a character and make it to the prized end game content and you will understand that this game is quite serious and extremely profitable.

It takes a lot of time to reach the top ladder of the aforementioned base. Players tend to be rather social, occasionally logging in and dealing with parts of the game that are plain fun. To quote Colvin: For most people, work is hard enough without pushing even harder. Those extra steps are so difficult and painful they almost never get done”. [8] There are those however that fall in the “hardcore” category. These people literally devour hours on end in order to achieve the highest performance. Many go so far as to stay awake at night, just to get that last piece of equipment that is missing from their “epic” gear or repeat the brutal discipline of their practice routines” [8]. In the end, all efforts lead to a last big successful rundown aka the “boss fight”.

Arthas used to be such an opponent of immense power during the “Wrath of the Lich King” [6] expansion. In order to defeat him, players had to learn his tactical maneuvers by heart and deploy countermeasures accordingly. It was a matter of wits, focus, gear level and mechanics. Colvin claims: “You will achieve greatness only through an enormous amount of hard work over many years. And not just any hard work, but work of a particular type that’s demanding and painful.” [8] For Wow players it takes weeks or months, not years yet the other portion of the statement stands true: grandeur in gaming takes copious practice.

To sum up, the image is indicative of reaching expertise in the Warcraft universe since it resembled the game’s final stage fight chief opponent during the expansion. Should the player succeed killing Arthas, he or she is granted with an achievement and a matching title: “the Kingslayer”. [9] The digitalized image of the Lich King might be gruesome to the average Joe; to a gamer it serves as a reminder of paced excellence and ultimate triumph.

References:

  1. Arthas Menethil.” WowWiki. Wikia.Inc. 17 April 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://www.wowwiki.com/Arthas_Menethil
  2. Lordaeron.” WowWiki. Wikia.Inc. 21 January 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://www.wowwiki.com/Lordaeron
  3. Northrend.” WowWiki. Wikia.Inc. 8 October 2011. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://www.wowwiki.com/Northrend
  4. Frostmourne” WowWiki. Wikia.Inc. 29 December 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://www.wowwiki.com/Frostmourne
  5. Icecrown.” WowWiki. Wikia.Inc. 3 July 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://www.wowwiki.com/Icecrown
  6. World of Warcraft”. Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 16 April 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_of_Warcraft
  7.  “Massively multiplayer online role-playing game.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 15 April 20 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massively_multiplayer_online_role-playing_game
  8. Colvin, Geoffrey. “What It Takes to be Great.” Fortune 19 October 2006. Retrieved online 22 April 2013 from http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2006/10/30/8391794/index.htm
  9. The Kingslayer”. WowWiki. Wikia Inc. 28 April 2010. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://www.wowwiki.com/The_Kingslayer

 

 

 

English Composition I: Achieving Expertise {Coursera /Duke} – Visual image review (draft)

Rozalia Zeibeki

English Composition I: Achieving Expertise

Prof. Denise Comer

“Arthas, The Lich King” (1962) by Maryxyan (www.deviantart.com artist)

Approx.1280 x 811 in.

Digital image (created with Photoshop)

Viewed at http://maryxyan.deviantart.com/art/Arthas-The-Lich-King-96293514 (Retrieved: 22 April 2013)

Depiction of expertise in gaming experience: The World of Warcraft universe

Representational images retrieved from the world of video games are meant to grab the viewer’s attention. They consume you to another parallel dimension, where legend and heroism become intrinsic goals of the player that lead to a decisive victory against a “world boss”.

Arthas_The_Lich_King_by_Maryxyan

 “Your heart…its incessant drumming disgusts me. I will silence it as I did my own.”  

 The dominant subject is that of a man sitting upon what seems to be a frigid throne. Enter Arthas,[1] our protagonist, the prince of Lordaeron,[2] the promised son. He looks skeptical yet one cannot help but notice a small grin; is he contemplating a recent victory or a future one as you glimpse those scarry azure eyes? Despite its static appearance the gaze of Arthas is haunting; the use of cobalt blue heightens the sense of an icy landscape that expands beyond the image: we are now situated at the frozen continent of Northrend. [3] An illuminated sword stands out in front of him, filled with runes and ominous skull details. As all epic swords usually do, this one has even got a name: Frostmourne. [4] Shades of gray intervene with silvery notes as one is immersed in a daunting feeling almost like the dark values within the image; how many lives has that sword taken? For an outsider the horror continues as he notices plenty other skull ornaments in the main character’s armor. A dragon encapsulated in ice soon gains our attention in the bottom right, only to serve as another threat. In the background a barely perceptible black tower amidst the fog beckons (spatial illusion); alas, we are in Icecrown [5] – the land of the cursed undead.

The World of Warcraft [6] universe is considered by many the epitome of Massively Multiplayer Online Role playing Games. Wikipedia quotes:

“As in all RPGs, players assume the role of a character (often in a fantasy world) and take control over many of that character’s actions. MMORPGs are distinguished from single-player or small multi-player online RPGs by the number of players, and by the game’s persistent world (usually hosted by the game’s publisher), which continues to exist and evolve while the player is offline and away from the game.” [7]

Blizzard Inc. boasts about its product’s ten million player subscription base. Multiply that number by hours spent individually to build a character and make it to the prized end game content and you will understand that this game is quite serious and extremely profitable.

It takes a lot of time to reach the top ladder of the aforementioned base. Players tend to be rather social, occasionally logging in and dealing with parts of the game that are plain fun. To quote Colvin: For most people, work is hard enough without pushing even harder. Those extra steps are so difficult and painful they almost never get done”. [8] There are those however that fall in the “hardcore” category. These people literally devour hours on end in order to achieve the highest performance. Many go so far as to stay awake at night, just to get that last piece of equipment that is missing from their “epic” gear or repeat the brutal discipline of their practice routines” [8]. In the end, all efforts lead to a last big successful rundown aka the “boss fight”. Arthas used to be such an opponent of immense power during the “Wrath of the Lich King” [6] expansion. In order to defeat him, players had to learn his tactical maneuvers by heart and deploy countermeasures accordingly. It was a matter of wits, focus, gear level and mechanics. Colvin claims: “You will achieve greatness only through an enormous amount of hard work over many years. And not just any hard work, but work of a particular type that’s demanding and painful.” [8] For Wow players it takes weeks or months, not years yet the other portion of the statement stands true: grandeur in gaming takes copious practice. In a way the image is indicative of reaching expertise in the Warcraft universe. The player is granted with an achievement and with a matching title: “the Kingslayer”. [9] The digitalized image of the Lich King might be gruesome to the average Joe; to a gamer it serves as a reminder of paced excellence and ultimate triumph.

References:

  1. Arthas Menethil.” WowWiki. Wikia.Inc. 17 April 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://www.wowwiki.com/Arthas_Menethil
  2. Lordaeron.” WowWiki. Wikia.Inc. 21 January 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://www.wowwiki.com/Lordaeron
  3. Northrend.” WowWiki. Wikia.Inc. 8 October 2011. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://www.wowwiki.com/Northrend
  4. Frostmourne” WowWiki. Wikia.Inc. 29 December 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://www.wowwiki.com/Frostmourne
  5. Icecrown.” WowWiki. Wikia.Inc. 3 July 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://www.wowwiki.com/Icecrown
  6. World of Warcraft”. Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 16 April 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_of_Warcraft
  7.  “Massively multiplayer online role-playing game.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 15 April 20 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massively_multiplayer_online_role-playing_game
  8. Colvin, Geoffrey. “What It Takes to be Great.” Fortune 19 October 2006. Retrieved online 22 April 2013 from http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2006/10/30/8391794/index.htm
  9. The Kingslayer”. WowWiki. Wikia Inc. 28 April 2010. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://www.wowwiki.com/The_Kingslayer

English Composition I: Achieving expertise {Coursera/ Duke} assignment – Critical review (final)

Rozalia Zeibeki

Professor Denise Comer

English Composition I: Achieving Expertise

15 April 2013

 

Review:  Coyle, Daniel (2009).  The Sweet Spot. The Talent Code. Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How. New York: Bantam (Extract from Chapter I)

Greatness and its shortcomings

        The human boundaries of excellence in various areas of expertise continue to stretch beyond our expectations. People nowadays are getting faster, stronger – perhaps even more intelligent – and overall better at what they are tasked to do. Given this context of continuous antagonism and effort, certain people always seem to stand out in the crowd: those who are actually better than average, the gifted ones. What makes them arise from mediocre state? One would assume innate, inexplicable “talent” is the first answer that comes to mind; judging by its title, Coyle begs to differ in his book The Sweet Spot. The Talent Code. Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How.

      In the first chapter of his book, based on his copious research along nine so called “talent hotbeds” [12] or as a friend more colloquially suggested “chicken-wire Harvards” [11], Coyle delves in the matter of talent and its components. Carefully trying to assign a definition to the term, Coyle introduces us to the world of sports, psychology and flight simulation; the results in all cases seem to deter the notion that talented people are miraculously so. Along with the brief descriptions of his endeavor coylethat took him on what his daughter compares to an alternative “treasure hunt” [12], readers of his work actually come to realize that perhaps the term “talent”[11] is highly overrated; perhaps it does exist in terms of a being prone to a grandeur in certain fields – mainly athletic – but it should be more properly substituted by the term “deep practice” [16]. For Coyle it’s nothing more really than “practice makes perfect” motto reinvented. In page 18 Coyle defines this as a paradox since”… experiences where you’re forced to slow down, make errors, and correct them—as you would if you were walking up an ice-covered hill, slipping and stumbling as you go—end up making you swift and graceful without your realizing it.” Indeed after skimming the first pages of the chapter it seems quite reasonable to the author and the audience as well, that through constant effort we redeem ourselves through our mistakes; we actually become better at what we are trying to do by doing it wrong at first – it is in the human nature to strive for perfection amidst fallacy.

In order to back his assumptions Coyle makes use of the scientific world as well as that of empirical data. Professor Bjork, chair of psychology in the prestigious UCLA, provides the very definition of the chapter’s title: “”It’s all about finding the sweet spot,” Bjork said. «There’s an optimal gap between what you know and what you’re trying to do.  When you find that sweet spot, learning takes off.” [19] In other words it takes really more than just one’s time and strength; one needs to be able to do that efficiently.

However, Coyle uses more practical sightings of his ideas and to do so he implements a worldwide beloved sport: Brazilian football and the “supernatural skills” [24] of Brazilian football players. Coyle’s readers actually discover that unlike Maradona and his infamous hand[1], skills of the sort do not necessarily come as God’s gift. Moreover they are the result of another game, which happens to be quicker and more demanding, yet lesser in scale. “Futsal” [26] left Mr. Clifford – a coach from the other bank of the Atlantic – in awe of its potential implementation. He concurs: “It was clear to me that this was where Brazilian skills were born […] It was like finding the missing link.” [26] Baring witness to the Brazilian wonder, Clifford successfully paved the way to young Englishmen, following the example of their Brazilian comrades. They began practicing futsal “developing a soccer program for elementary and high-school-age kids that he called the Brazilian Soccer School. He constructed an elaborate series of drills based on futsal moves.”[28]. Laughable at first yet it actually worked providing Coyle with ample evidence, that he is on to something. These junior stars later defeated their Scottish peers and even took noted posts on their national team. “More stars, Clifford says, are on the way.”[29]

Coyle’s ideas seem refreshing as they are vividly depicted through numerous case studies. Indeed he captures the sentimental insecurity of his readers concerning potential drawbacks in performance and implies that through rigorous training, miracles are possible. Coyle argues that even Air force pilots benefit from the “opportunity to practice more deeply” [24] and as a result not only do they become more skilled but they also implementing – in this case – a life-saving technique.

As in all cases however there is a problematic aspect of Coyle’s assumptions. The empirical evidence used to support his ideas is distracting; we are being told of cases where hard work and training took a toll on talent but the recount of such stories is deliberately in favor of “deep practice”. Coyle mostly observes groups of people (namely pilots, football players) and not one-of-a-kind figures individually. Didn’t Maradona engage in equally hard training with his fellow comrades? We only seem to remember his name, though. Contrary to Coyle’s scientific theoretical approach, the emerging theory of gamification – as the Gamification wiki (2013) defines it – upholds the idea of “…game design thinking to non-game applications to make them more fun and engaging.”  As such the user becomes effectively a “player”; players are all equal when onboarding a gaming experience or during the process of scaffolding. Yet the “epic win” outcome – and the bonuses attached – is for those selected few, who might have spent equal amounts of “deep practice” but achieved goals more efficiently.

To sum up, Coyle makes a hard case against talent even from the early stages of his book; it is after all an effort of coming up with a self-improvement title, that might sell well. His ideas are carefully pitched and the examples come from various aspects of life so as to cover enough ground. Nevertheless, I cannot seem to stop questioning his intent: are we to dismiss talent? There are certainly things we are good at and then there are things we are great at; we can unquestionably narrow the margin towards greatness by “deep practice”. But being the best at something takes a lot more, I ‘m afraid.

 

References:

Diego Maradona.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 25 Sept.       2001. Web. 14 April. 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diego_Maradona

Gamification wiki 2013, ‘What is gamification’, wiki article viewed 15 April 2013  http://utas.libguides.com/content.php?pid=27520&sid=289517

 

 

 


[1] Reference to the 1986 World cup football match. Wikipedia recounts “This match was played with the background of the Falklands War between Argentina and the United Kingdom and emotions were still lingering in the air throughout the entire match. Replays showed that the first goal was scored by striking the ball with his hand. Maradona was coyly evasive, describing it as “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God.” It became known as the “Hand of God“.

1st assignment English Composition I {Coursera / Duke University}: Achieving expertice (draft of a critical analysis)

Critical review of the “The Sweet Spot” by Daniel Coyle.

As part of his “The talent Code” Coyle delves in the matter of talent and its components in his initial chapter of the book. The findings are a result of the writer’s copious research along nine so called “talent hotbeds” or as a friend more colloquially suggested “chicken-wire Harvards” [11].

Along with the brief descriptions of his endeavor that took him on what his daughter compares to an alternative “treasure hunt” [12], readers of his work actually come to realize that perhaps the term “talent” is highly overrated; perhaps it does exist in terms of a being prone to a grandeur in certain fields – mainly athletic – but it should be more properly substituted by the term “deep practice”. For Coyle it’s nothing more really than “practice makes perfect” motto reinvented. In page 18 Coyle defines this as a paradox since”… experiences where you’re forced to slow down, make errors, and correct them—as you would if you were walking up an ice-covered hill, slipping and stumbling as you go—end up making you swift and graceful without your realizing it.” Indeed it seems quite reasonable to the author and the audience as well, that through constant effort we redeem ourselves through our mistakes; we actually become better at what we are trying to do by doing it wrong at first – it is in the human nature to strive for perfection amidst fallacy.
Image

In order to back his assumptions Coyle makes use of the scientific world as well as that of empirical data. Professor Bjork, chair of psychology in the prestigious UCLA, provides the very definition of the chapter’s title: “”It’s all about finding the sweet spot,” Bjork said. “There’s an optimal gap between what you know and what you’re trying to do.  When you find that sweet spot, learning takes off.” [19] In other words it takes really more than just  use one’s time and strength; one needs to be able to do that efficiently. However, Coyle uses more practical sightings of his ideas and to do so he implements a worldwide beloved sport: Brazilian football and the “supernatural skills” [24] of Brazilian football players. Coyle’s readers actually discover that unlike Maradona and his infamous hand, skills of the sort do not necessarily come as God’s gift. Moreover they are the result of another game, which happens to be quicker and more demanding, yet lesser in scale. “Futsal” left  Mr. Clifford  – a coach from the other bank of the Atlantic – in awe of its potential implementation. He concurs : “It was clear to me that this was where Brazilian skills were born […]It was like finding the missing link.” [26]

Baring witness to the Brazilian wonder, Clifford successfully paved the way to young Englishmen, following the example of their Brazilian comrades. They began practicing futsal “developing a soccer program for elementary and high-school-age kids that he called the Brazilian Soccer School. He constructed an elaborate series of drills based on futsal moves.”[28]. Laughable at first yet it actually worked providing Coyle with ample evidence, that he is on to something. These junior stars later defeated their Scottish peers and even took noted posts on their national team. “More stars, Clifford says, are on the way.”[29]

To sum up, Coyle’s ideas seem refreshing, yet are we to dismiss gifted people all too easy?

Works cited:

Coyle, Daniel: “The talent code”. New York. 2009.

We are all readers. We are all writers. {I am a writer essay prompt for Coursera / Duke University English Composition I}

I AM A WRITER

 

Image

You told me to talk about days past and writing memories of old…Bitter rejections came to mind. Strange what a timeline of memoires can surface in people’s minds. Why is it that we always covet to remind ourselves of happiness and satisfaction? The harder we try the more we seem to drift to painful reminisces of past failures and mistakes in all matters of the heart and mind.

I looked upon my timeline and amongst scarce information I could only detect one or two blissful writing moments. Well, maybe three. Is it writing itself the villain? Am I to blame pen and pencil or that crude electronic device? Or perhaps is it the readers of my writings who pointed fingers arrogantly, my dismissive first grade teacher, my ever unsatisfied mother, my harsh supervising professor, all those criticizing faces…I should stop my “enemies” runt right there. Writing, ladies and gentlemen, is innocent! It’s the reading, the real culprit.

If one reads, one writes. If one knows how to read, one knows how to write. If one appreciates himself as a reader, then he will – I assure you – appreciate another as a writer. Beware of what you write and most of all beware of what you read.