This week instead of a weekly reflection we are doing studio tours of the other projects of our classmates. Without further ado, we begin.
The popular perception of Minecraft: like playing Legos with friends. I was one of the kids who didn’t enjoy the tiny blocks so when I first played Minecraft I was not impressed. As the friends I was playing with would tell you, I didn’t try very hard, so therefore I didn’t “get” the game. I think I was playing a much-older version with them, because the only “point” to the game seemed to be building a house and hiding at night. I’ll be honest right now; I went home and asked my 11-year old brother Mackensie to help me with this. He is playing the game all the time, so he showed me what certain elements of Matt Lavrenz’ blog were about. Since I haven’t played the game in over a year, maybe more maybe less, but a very long time, I only remember certain aspects of the game. Various pop culture images and talks among fans of the game where I work, I’ve deduces that what I was doing was not at all the potential of what the game does offer. As Matt puts it on his project proposal, “Minecraft is a game with no goals or tasks so players can get bored quickly if they don’t have any ideas.” I am one of those players with no ideas. I did say before that I didn’t enjoy Legos as a kid. The game is known as a sandbox game, or open world game. The games I enjoy are pretty clear cut when it comes to missions and goals, so sandbox games usually bore me. Matt’s posts have shown the aspects of the game that are not just picking up different color squares. He details how to get to Hell, or as the ratings system would call it, the Nether. I do remember seeing this a few times when I was watching my brothers play. It’s a fairly creepy-looking place. Matt details the various enemies you will run into in the Nether, how to kill some of them, and why they’re useful to game play. My favorite post of his is title Moving Day. He chronicles his discovery that he lived on an island that could be lacking in resources and his subsequent move to the mainland. After he makes a new settlement, he decides to start a farm with cows, sheep, and wheat. And these animals can breed with each other. His journey was told with various pictures of different times in the game. It was more than I thought possible when I had first played the game.
Overall, Matt’s blog fits his Project Proposal’s description in my opinion. His posts offer tutorials, ideas, and entertainment. I have often spoken negatively of the game in the past, but that’s just me bashing pop culture phenomena. Picks and Blocks has shown me things about the games I’ve never really seen before, and showed me a side of the game I might actually enjoy.
I’ve spent so much time rereading the Abarat books and working on that wiki that I didn’t even realize another classmate was doing a similar thing as me, for much of the same reasons. Ryan Heilman’s project, The Age of Fire Wiki Reconstruction Project, is, in his words, an under-appreciated series of books. This is the same thing I think of the Abarat series for my own project. I’ve never heard of the Age of Fire series, but really anything that involves dragons could probably catch my interest. Upon my first look at the Age of Fire wiki I notice it’s being hosted on Wikia.com, so I am already logged in. I look at the history of the Age of Fire activity and I see the name Oh Heil Yeah many times, either making edits or adding whole articles. Some articles are very short, seemingly minor characters. Others are more detailed, such as an article about a Queen named Tighlia, who I’m assuming has a large role to play. When I realized the majority of the books are about dragons as opposed to humans it sparked my interest. Usually dragons are tools for humans. McCaffrey’s dragons are ridden by humans. Martin’s dragons are wild, but mostly tools and children for Daenerys Targaryen. I haven’t read much fiction with dragons as the actual protagonists. I wasn’t sure if I should read the summary since it seemed like an interesting series, but of course the people above me on the list will have to read my summary, so I read what Age of Fire is all about. From there it was easier to look at Ryan’s contributions. They seem to have lived up to what he says on his Project Proposal. In addition to creating articles, he has edited many of them. I laughed when I read his weekly reflection and he had done the same thing I had done with the Abarat wiki, which was forgetting to log in and have his contributions be labeled as a random wikia user. One thing I would’ve liked to see on the wiki is art and illustrations of the characters, but Ryan did say that he wouldn’t focus so much on that. In the future I can definitely see myself reading this book series, and I probably never would have heard of it had it not been for Ryan’s project.
Finally, we move onto Matt Adam’s project, Research Paper Representation Via Wikki. His wikki is about a personal wiki rather than a wiki for a large community. He is using the wiki as a place for notes while he is working on his Masters thesis. The setup is interesting. I’ve never seen a wiki like this before. It is made with the company PBworks which used to be known as PBwiki. Matt takes many notes from many sources and adds them onto his wiki. I’m not very familiar with the writers and works he is referencing, but I like the fact that his wiki is, as his Project Proposal says, an attempt to “decentralize and hyper-text the generally linear entity that is a research paper.” I think it does a good job at doing so by separating different themes that will make up the content of the paper, such as Civil Disobedience, Nature, and Correspondence.
These were three very different types of projects to research, and it shows how much variety wikis and blogs can offer, from Minecraft to Thesis papers.