Thursday, June 6, 2013

Those Things What Happen To Me

Random Things:

(Imagine this part is narrated by Albert Brooks using that voice he uses on the Simpsons) I got to campus today about 2 pm. I hadn't eaten yet that day (busy morning), and so I was hoping at least to snag a muffin. But I got to the library coffee shop and they were OUT OF MUFFINS! How can you be out of muffins? Who eats that many muffins? Where do the muffins go? Well, fine. I went with my second choice, and decided to get a chocolate bar from the vending machine. Only I hit the wrong number, and I got a Turkish Delight. That is the WORST possible chocolate bar you can get. What a day!

I gave a guest lecture this week on, among other things, personal video games and Anna Anthropy's Dys4ia. And honestly, it wasn't the best lecture I've given. The students just weren't responding like I was hoping they would. I think it's the subject matter more than anything. Not Anthropy's games, but trying to teach games at all in the lecture format. Given that I only had them for an hour, it was basically the only way to do things, but if I had more resources and time, I'd rather have taught it the way Samantha Allen describes here, taking students to a lab, having them play through it, and discussing it with them as they play, one-on-one or in small groups. There's something about actually playing the game that encourages an engagement that's a lot different from the lecture format. Now, some day, when I teach a videogame course, things'll be different. Some day...

On top of the afternoon muffin incident, I had to get groceries today, and I was half way to the store before I realize that I had forgotten my bookbag. Now, I don't have a problem with buying bags once, but the trick was that I was on my bike. Biking with grocery bags is tricky--the simplest thing to do is to let them ride on the handle bars, but whether that works at all depends on the shape of the bike. And on top of that, you've got to be careful in terms of balance. The best case is to get two bags and distribute them evenly. It'll still make the turns somewhat different, but it's fairly easy to do. Actually, it reminded me of the videogame Scribblenauts. In the game, you type in words, and whatever you type appears as something the avatar can interact with, provided it's in the dictionary. You type "cat," you'll get a cat. Type "cap" and you'll get a cap. And type "Zombie Abe Lincoln," you'll get... well, you get the idea. As the zombie example indicates, it does adjectives. And that's handy for levels where you have to reach something high. Winged boots works, as does winged shirt, and winged hat. But where the game's controls really shine is that the control is slightly different for each, because your center is moved from the usual center of the avatar to the center of whatever winged object you're wearing. It's still your avatar you're controlling, but your focus shifts a little. And that's what biking with grocery bags on your handle bars is like--the same, but with a shifted focus.

That was a lot of words describing something complicated to explain something simple. I think I need to lay down.

Later Days.

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