Agency in Games

  1. Do you think that a story becomes more interactive if it offers more choices for the reader? Does this change upon reading the article? More choices are almost always better.  In games with few choices, the player can often find himself with a selection of choices that don’t adequately reflect his desires.  In this case the player is forced to choose the least undesirable option which can lead to a feeling of immersion loss.  The article didn’t influence my view on this at all.
  2. Do you agree with Murray’s definition of agency? Why or why not? Do you believe that any of the other provided definitions fit better in the given context? Agency is about control.  Or at least the illusion of control.  However, this illusion is very easy to shatter.  If the user becomes aware that all choices result in similar outcomes, regardless of how seemingly influential those outcomes are on the story, she will no longer feel in control and the sense of agency is lost.  Murray’s definition is therefore sufficient but far from complete.
  3. Did you find any of the results of the study unexpected or odd? Why or why not?  The results of the experiment weren’t too surprising.  In a controlled environment like this, the illusion of choice will elicit a similar response to actual choice.  What was surprising was the authors’ conclusion that these results would hold up in a real world scenario.  The information presented here isn’t wrong, but it only applies well under specific conditions.
  4. Which do you believe is more important for a branching narrative: the number of choices or the impacts of the choices?
    Both are very important.  As discussed earlier, limited choices make a story feel too choreographed and unnatural, removing control from the reader.  However, choices that have little to no influence on what actually happens next are similarly immersion breaking.  Not every choice needs to be world-defining, but cumulatively they should produce stories that are meaningfully different from one another.

Composing with Scratch Homework

  1. Read Scratch: Programming for All.
  2. Explore the projects that have been submitted to the Scratch site: Try to spend at least 15 minutes looking at different projects (obviously you can spend a lot more time if you wish).  It may be useful to change how the projects are sorted.
  3. Pick a project that you found particularly unique when compared to the other projects you viewed or a project that surprised you in some way.  Make a blog post with a link to this project and a few notes about why you picked it.  Be prepared to discuss your choice in class.

GIS as Media

Data has no meaning without interpretation. It’s important to remember this when examining any GIS.  Does GIS give us access to a wealth of new data? Absolutely.  Does it allow us to visualize this data in new ways and find connections that couldn’t be seen before? Most definitely.  However, it is up to us to determine what the actual meaning of these results is.  When reading the article, I couldn’t help but think about think about this website which displays highly correlated data sets that likely have no actual relation (and thus no meaning):  I’m sure the same can be done with a GIS.  GIS can be many things (science, tool, media); it all depends on how you choose to use it.

Viral Post

Is Pluto a planet? Niel DeGrasse Tyson says no…what do you think?

Pluto has been in the news recently because of the New Horizons probe.  This has reawakened the question of whether or not it’s a planet.  Tyson recently sat down with Stephen Colbert to  weigh in on the issue:

According to Tyson, Pluto is a member of the Kuiper Belt so if we left it as a planet we would have to add thousands more.  But, in the public eye, Pluto is still a beloved planet that they learned about in school; tell us where you stand!

-Zander and Gordon