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Game proposal

Assignment 2 (2,000 words): EITHER (a) Essay OR (b) Proposal.

Please submit assignment 2 to the assignment dropbox. EITHER (a) Write an essay on one of the 6 topics listed (see menu item #2 on left of this page).
OR
(b)Propose an idea for a new game.
You will devise an original proposal for a new game based on your understanding and interpretation of the possibilities of interactive technologies. Be creative and inventive, but do not underestimate the difficulty of devising a game concept and writing about it informatively: there are traps here for young players who propose “the most amazing game” — but who cannot describe or explain clearly what is involved in the game play, and instead collapse into long narrative descriptions of the backstory and what futuristic platforms will need to be invented, etc. etc…. So be warned!
The game proposal will address and involve existing technologies associated with any or all of the following: interactivity, social networking, mobility (actual and/or virtual), communication, cloud computing, entertainment, security, surveillance, and even data management. Your proposal can relate to mobile phones, and/or web-based social networking sites, but you might also want to explore ways to integrate the rail network system, Master Chef and computer hacking. This assigment is very open to all kinds of ideas, as long as you can describe and explain them clearly and in a well structured manner!
There are three components to this proposal assignment: 1) overview and description, 2) critical theory and context, and 3) reflection and critical evaluation. While each component has a specific focus, you should strive to integrate them in your assignment. However, the reflection and self-critique would ideally be part of your conclusion.
Overview and description
You will need to describe the gameplay clearly so that the reader has a sense of what the experience would be like. Explain what the came consists of, and what it would be like to play. How and where will it be played? What are the rules? Who would play it? Does it have features similar to a game that already exists? If so, explain and where possible describe how your proposal expands on/improves the game-play of an existing game. What will your game consist of (specify the technologies and any other equipment and needs)?
Theory and context
Your proposal must include references to game-play theories. This section would include references to the ideas of (for example) Johan Huizinga, Roger Caillois, Richard Rouse III, Marie Laure Ryan, Chris Bateman, Jesper Juul, Markku Eskelinen, Espen Aarseth and others you discover in your background research. You do not need to reference all of these theorists: rather, you should demonstrate that you have understood the theoretical content of the unit/this assignment, and that you have the ability to draw from this content selectively, using theories and ideas about game-play and game-culture that are relevant and informative with respect to your own proposal.
You should therefore relate your proposal to what you have come to understand about game culture and notions of interactivity and play as a result of your research. You should indicate clearly how the theoretical aspects have been used in your writing to help shape and define your proposed game – for example, what kind of rules system have you used and why? What modes of play are involved and how do they manifest (show up) in the gameplay itself? The purpose of this component of the assignment is to encourage you to base your research, thinking, and writing on a broader context, so that your proposal reflects an understanding and appreciation of the existing and emerging scholarly research around games and game culture that is freely available on the www and in libraries, and is very much of interest in the broader community, game design industry and academics in the field.
Reflection and critical evaluation (conclusion)
What inspired you to propose this game? What have you learned about game theory and game culture that has inspired and shaped your proposal? Researching the past and responding to various entertainment genres and games during the unit has put you in a good position to be able to write about your own game proposal from a reflective and critical point of view. How does the technology or artifact (or proposed interface) enhance the game play experience? How does your proposed game explore ideas and techniques of interactivity? If your game is devised for the mobile phone, or web based, an iPod or PSP or similar handheld type game, how would the potential for interaction and communication be reflected in the game play itself? Does your proposal respond to a long felt desire for such a game even though you know nobody else would be interested in it? Or have you done your market research and found a niche?
Please note:
• Your proposal may be based on technology that is still new and emerging: But beware! Please avoid the trap of assuming that (say) Virtual Reality automatically makes a game proposal ‘new’ or ‘original’. This is not necessarily the case.
• You are NOT expected to design and produce this game. This assignment is a ‘proposal’, so it is ideas and concept-based, with images (borrowed and adapted, or your original artwork) to help the reader appreciate the originality of your proposal.
A note about REFERENCING
Please take the trouble to become familiar with the rules on how to reference correctly so that you don’t lose marks for incorrect or incomplete referencing in your game proposal.
From my marking of assignment 1, it is clear that many people either don’t understand how to incorporate references in the body of their essay, don’t understand that a separate References list is required at the end of the essay, or do not take referencing seriously (shock, horror!).
Some common mistakes:
• Too few references listed: for Assignment 2b we would expect a minimum of 7 different sources (articles, books, etc.).
• References/footnotes not matching contents of the References list: there is no point listing references that you have not actually used in your proposal. Similarly, if you have referenced from a particular source, you should list it in your References list.
• Incomplete (Harvard style) reference information in the body of the text.
For example, this is the CORRECT way to reference in text:
This proposal draws on recent research suggesting that “MMORPG game players who prefer ‘first person perspective’ have often been involved in filmmaking or animation studies” (Morgan, 2011: 54).
The reference is correct because it gives the Author (Morgan), the year of publication (2011) and the page number (:54).
In the References list, the complete publication information would appear something like this:
Morgan, S, 2011 ‘I played it my way: the impact of film studies on point-of-view preferences in MMORPGs’, Burwood: Melbourne, DSO Publishers Inc.
This is INCORRECT because it is incomplete and vague:
This proposal agrees with Morgan who says that “MMORPG game players who prefer ‘first person perspective’ have often been involved in filmmaking or animation” (p. 54).
So please do take that extra bit of care: your research and writing should be presented in a format that is acceptable for undergraduate university study.
• Note: for Assignment 2b ‘game proposal’ you are still required to conduct research using external sources (especially for the Theory & Context section), and a minimum of 7 different sources (articles, books, etc.) is still expected.
In developing your ideas for the game proposal, we would therefore expect that you would be also reading about game design as well as more general theory about game play: there is plenty of literature on the Internet and in the Deakin Library on game design.
• Please indicate in the file name of your .doc or .pdf whether you are are submitting 2a OR 2b, and submit via the DSO assignment 2 dropbox for assessment.


Assignment 2a — essay topics
Topic 1: Amusing ourselves to death?
In the 1960s, TV programming (especially for kids) was described as a ‘wasteland’ in response to the tendency for many people, adults and children, to waste hours of their lives sitting in front of The Box. Some people regard computer gaming as much the same. In Australia alone, the gaming industry is a multi‐billion dollar market. It has seen a 50% increase since 2008.
Should we be concerned about the proliferation of computer/online games and ‘gamification’ as a ‘new’ way of wasting time? Or should we see these games as opening up new forms of relating to contemporary culture, identity and technology? What are the gains and losses, personally and culturally, of being constantly amused?
Topic 2: Homo Ludens. Games and game‐playing are a constant aspect of just about all human cultures.
In your reading and broader research on this topic, you will have discovered something about why humans play games. Equally, you may have come up with more questions than answers.
Are we ‘hard‐wired’ to play? Is game‐play an important model of societal rules and terms of engagement? Or, is it that humans simply like to play, for no evolutionary reasons at all? Culturally, do we relate differently to games compared to our ancestors? Is this difference fundamental or superficial?
Topic 3: Being ourselves and not ourselves: being online as narrative experience.
When you adopt a persona in Second Life or WoW or other MMORPG, you create a fiction around yourself. You become a fulcrum around which an alternative ‘you’ can take off in a world of make believe. Story telling (narrative) is central to being human ‐ stories celebrate the power of language to construct other worlds, fictional characters, and fabulous adventures. But what happens when narrative and identity begin to blur?
Is one’s identity open to the possibilities of new modes of being, new vistas of social connectivity and discourse? Are there dangers among the possibilities?
Topic 4: Free play (paidia) or playing by the rules (ludus): what defines a ‘game’?
As we explore games and the nature of game‐play, we encounter ‘ludus’. We realize that without rules, there’s no game. Yet play can happen without noticeable rules ‐ playing with dolls and Lego. If game‐play needs rules to give the game structure and meaning, what about interactivity itself?
Is interactivity more about ‘free‐play’ in which rules are not so important to the quality of the interaction? How should we discriminate between rules and freeplay and thus define ‘interactivity’?
Topic 5: The future of games.
Technologies change over time, and electronic games have developed, reinvented themselves and generally improved over time. But what drives these advances and changes? Whether predominantly market driven or consumer driven, there is a rush to catch up and cash in on the latest gadget, concept or delivery method. Consumer culture seems never satisfied with what is currently on offer. Moreover, there has in recent years been an evident merging between games, films and music – often it is the Internet that provides the technical ‘glue’.
Given the various driving forces, including the convergence of technological, consumer and audio‐visual‐ludic shifts and innovations, what is the future of games in the long term?
Topic 6: The Australian Games Industry. How do we fare?
The games industry is big business, global, and highly competitive. In the context of the GFC — despite Australia’s relatively healthy recovery — we might expect people to ease off spending on entertainment and focus perhaps on building up their savings. However, spending on games in this country has continued to increase. Australia does have a burgeoning games industry, and competes relatively well by developing its own titles or working with bigger companies.
But what defines an ‘Australian’ game? What (if anything) is different about an Australian games company compared to (say) the Japanese or US games industries?

Remember: while there are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers to any of these topics, an essay is not just a ‘report’ about the topic.

Your role as a university student is to research and collate your material, think about the possible ideas and debates within the topic, and discuss and present your own ‘argument(s)’. This often means disagreeing with the ideas of certain theorists and their views. So look for ways in which you can argue against another researcher.
Ultimately, no-one can be completely right or completely wrong, despite their status or notoriety.

*Good writing and clear thinking is the path to success in any academic endeavour!

A note about REFERENCING
Please take the trouble to become familiar with the rules on how to reference correctly so that you don’t lose marks for incorrect or incomplete referencing in your essay.
From my marking of assignment 1, it is clear that many people either don’t understand how to incorporate references in the body of their essay, don’t understand that a separate References list is required at the end of the essay, or do not take referencing seriously (shock, horror!).
Some common mistakes:
• Too few references listed: for Assignment 2 we would expect a minimum of 7 different sources (articles, books, etc.).
• References/footnotes not matching contents of the References list: there is no point listing references that you have not actually used in your essay. Similarly, if you have referenced from a particular source, you should list it in your References list.
• Incomplete (Harvard style) reference information in the body of the text.
For example, this is the CORRECT way to reference in text:
This essay draws on recent Australian research showing that “most Australians use online technologies in their personal or professional lives. On any given day, most people between the ages of twelve and forty-five will have used the internet at some point” (Smith, 2010: 72).
The reference is correct because it gives the Author (Smith), the year of publication (2010) and the page number (:72). In the References list, the complete publication information would appear something like this:
Smith, D, 2010 ‘Australia Online: how the nation interacts’, Burwood: Melbourne, DSO Publishers Inc.
This is INCORRECT because it is incomplete and vague:
This essay is about Australians using the internet. Smith says that “most Australians use online technologies in their personal or professional lives. On any given day, most people between the ages of twelve and forty-five will have used the internet at some point” (p. 72).
So please do take that extra bit of care: your research and writing should be presented in a format that is acceptable for undergraduate university study.
• Note: for Assignment 2b ‘game proposal’ you are still required to conduct research using external sources (especially for the Theory & Context), and a minimum of 7 different sources (articles, books, etc.) is expected.
In developing your ideas for the game proposal, we would therefore expect that you would be also reading about game design as well as more general theory about game play: there is plenty of literature on the Internet and in the Deakin Library on game design.

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