Last Night

OK, I think I need to get this off my chest. As my classmates know I’ve been in kind of a funk lately when it comes to all of this. Which, if there was a time to be in a funk, I guess this isn’t the absolute worst time. Then again, it’s not the best time either. The due date is just lingering above my head.

So aside from the fact that I’ve been down and stressed, it seems like whenever I take one step forward I’m taking five backwards. It’s almost annoying. Like, I’ll give myself time to relax and/or vent if need be. Then when I feel I can be good on my feet again, I get knocked right off. But, I mean, that’s life, eh?


I literally went to bed thinking what the hell am I doing? and why the hell am I doing this? 

Today, I thought about it a little more, and I’m caught somewhere in the middle: part of me is still angered by it, while the other part of me wants to use it as fuel to the fire for writing. I obviously know what side I want to be on, and I’m working on getting there. I just feel like this whole thing came out of left field. I went to bed so aggravated. Maybe I just need some time to cool off and figure it out. Time is not on my side…

Feb 24

With Chapters 5 and 6, I feel like I finally got vindication for all my yelling about this book, as well as a glimpse into why it might actually be worthwhile after all. Below, a quote from Chapter 5.

None of the is rocket science. Indeed, Wales told me that most people learned on the playground most of what they need to know to be good Wikipedians.

This is what I’ve been frustratedly growling into the pages of this book for weeks, that I believe that so much of what we’ve been reading about should have been skills learned through life experience, and being a person and interacting with other people both for fun and profit. I also think that something crystalized for me while I was reading these chapters that has been bothering me this whole time. This book, and especially chapter five, is full of tips for how to use the internet, how to game twitter, how to develop your brand and expand your network- presumably for personal benefit but conceivably for profit- but it never suggests why. Why is the author advocating for people to learn these skills? To what end? The obvious answer is that it’s 2016 (it wasn’t when the book was written, mind) and that everything is online so it is to everyone’s individual good that they be competent and literate in using the internet. But that isn’t necessarily a good reason for everyone to learn about the politics of forums, the etiquette of sharing research on twitter, and the value of linking different groups of people together. Yes, it’s a benefit to everyone to be aware of what Facebook does with our information, and to be able to vet a website, but what about the other stuff? It looks like learning to network for networking’s sake. Why are we telling people to do this stuff? I’m not talking about practically, or what good it will do them. It might well help almost anyone in some way. But ethically, what is the point of this? What philosophy is backing up this enterprise? I think that’s why I’ve felt like a lot of what we’ve been talking about has been so empty. Because I haven’t detected anything behind it, underneath it, that makes it worthwhile. I’ve read a lot of this stuff as a pretty straight correlation to “how to be popular,” “how to get people to like you,” “how to ingratiate yourself to people in advance of the zombie apocalypse.”

It was only in Chapter 6 that I felt like the author came through with what I thought was a much-needed dose of humanity. The need for people to mind their Facebook privacy settings. The acknowledgment that his positions are (apparently widely) viewed as rosy and optimistic, that paywalls are dividing the free and open web, and the nefarious forces at work on the internet- from trolls to corporate entities to shady government initiatives- are formidable and many. These are things I needed to hear, because these are things I believe are integral to the fabric of the kind of digital networked life that Rheingold is advocating for. I do feel that the book stopped short of really digging into the issues of the internet’s corporate gatekeepers, like the the cable companies that have been working for a while to privilege internet access by speeding up or slowing down various connections. But I did see the author take a stand, and let the reader know that although all of these negatives are realities, that doesn’t seal our fate. That to keep a thing free people have to organize, to cooperate, to believe that it can stay free, and then we have a chance, and with that we have a point, a reason why anything in this books matters- because the internet is kind of a goddamn miracle, and if any of us have the slightest hope of preserving what’s good about it, we have to know how to use it. It’s a good message. I wish he’d lead with it.


Tobey's Thesis Thoughts 2016-02-21 19:02:00

Trying to Narrow Down
I spent about an hour exploring Rainbow School's website Friday. I figured it was a good place to start as I wanted to see if this "ignore the Core" curriculum that I have looming in my head already exists. If it does then, the idea is moot. I watched videos from their winter concert, saw clips of the kids gardening, got excited when the director talked about the fifteen minutes of centering they do in the morning through yoga or meditation to settle everyone in for the day of learning, and watched parents discuss the connection they felt they and their children had with the the teachers. Then, I clicked on the curriculum link, and further clicked on the writing link!!! And all my thoughts about this wonderfully hippie crunchy school became an"Oh no!" They teach isolated grammar instruction, the parts of speech, there is no evidence that their lessons tie into any out of the classroom experiences, in 6th grade  language arts instruction was 45 mins long while recess was 50 mins, October was designated to the paragraph, and they still taught book reports, the curriculum mapping from year to year was inconsistent at best. There was no real continuum. I was, let down. There was no pot of gold at the end of my rainbow :( 

The curriculum at my school is really good. I actually enjoy most of it. It is just that I do feel strangled by CC.  I wish there was more freedom. That is why when I see a school like Rainbow that has the freedom to do anything, and see that they revert back to old school methods, it drives me crazy. 

I envision multimedia usage and field trips that inspire the creation happening in my "Ignore the Core" curriculum. For example a poetry unit might include not only immersing the students through reading a variety of poems, but hearing poems being read( as I feel they are meant to be) through audio sites and videos, as well as a trip to a poetry slam, maybe in Harlem so they can see Langston Hughes' stomping grounds. We could also visit Rutger's Botanical Gardens in the springtime to appreciate nature as the English Romantics might have. They would bring their journals everywhere and write ideas, poems, free write.  The students' experiences and their ideas would come back to the classroom for formal poetry lessons and creation. To end the unit, we would hold a poetry slam or a night of readings for our community. 

It sounds great right?  


I love NPR's StoryCorps. It's been a long time since I listened. The first two I selected had me in tears. I like how simple, yet not so simple the stories are. Weighing in around three minutes, one must figure, "How much can I learn about a person in three minutes?" Well, the answer is A Lot! Subjects are interviewed by someone in their life. This allows for a personal and emotional feel. There is unabashed honesty that takes place. These podcasts are uplifting and addictive. With over 60,000 archived since 2003, a person could chose to sit and listen to the fascinating stories of average people all day long.

On their website there was a list of purposes to Story Corps. To paraphrase:

  • To show that everyone's story matters
  • Build connections between people and build a more just and compassionate world
  • Preserve and share humanity's stories
  • Teach the value of listening
  • Showcase the diversity of the participants
Do these podcast fall into the genre of memoir? 

The definition of memoir is: a collection of memories that an individual writes about both public or private that took place in the subject's life

A memoir must be told in the first person point of view

It is a subclass of autobiography, but where a memoir is an autobiographical writing an autobiography can never be a memoir

An autobiography captures a person's full life, a memoir captures a phase/ period/moment of a person's life

There seems to be many ways authors are creating memoir these days. Rosalie Lightning by Tom Hart is about the loss of his young daughter. Hart creates his memoir in graphic form.  Michael Ian Black creates his memoir Navel Gazing through the use of vignettes. An example of another memoir with a twist in structure is David Seders' Me Talk Pretty One Day, which is filled with hilarious stories that don't necessarily "go together" to create a book of one long cohesive story. It is refreshing to see so many new takes on how author's are telling their stories. The lines of structure are open. However, there are still very strict rules in that the story must be the storyteller's own voice.

**Sidenote-I was thinking back to my creative non fiction class and dug up the names of those we studied during that class and are in the field. These individuals would probably be a guide towards the start of lit review work: Phillip Lopate, Lee Gutkind, and Brett Lott. 

The genre of memoir, has been one of my favorites to read for a very long time.  My bookcases are filled with them. Knowing that a story is true always makes it better for me. It's like when a movie starts and I see the words, Based on True Events, I'm pulled instantly in. 

I feel so excited to think about working with my dad and telling his stories. I love the idea of using podcasts to capture his voice. I have so many ideas/questions that are spinning around this type of project. Which stories do I pull from him? How will it be organized? How can I bring in not only voice but possibly visual? What will my writing look like/feel like? What will my interpretation of his stories look like through my own writing? What is my creative take on his stories? What is my creative voice going to sound like through my dad's? Am I capturing his stories through my writing or something else? Our relationship? My own memories of growing up with him?

How do he and I come together to create a new type of memoir?

Is it still memoir if an outside voice is being woven into the first person narration?

There is a lot to think about. Plus, I still haven't asked him if he is willing to do it. Lol! Although, I'm quite sure he will.

Writing a Sex Scene

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 2.32.54 PM

First off I don’t want my book to be like fifty shades of grey in any way possible. Second i didn’t plan on my book having this type of scene. But in every book I have ever read where there is a romance narrative there has been a sex scene. I guess this follows the saying that “sex sells” because women seem to read harlequin novels faster than any other genre. I am not one of those women but as I am writing a scene which highlights Amanda and Nate’s relationship I realize that I do enjoy the sex scenes. Only in the sense this it is an easy way to show a couple’s bond and the strength of their relationship. Hence how I started to write a sex scene.

Right away I realized how under qualified I am to write a good sex scene. As I read it over I realized that it felt weird and staged. Then I started to think about movies I’ve seen and yes, I even dabbled in some memories I have from my own romantic life. Soon I was able to come up with a believable scenario. Once I was done rewriting it I reread it and realized how awkward it was. I couldn’t believe it. I thought I had incorporated everything I figured would make it feel realistic but it didn’t work. I wasn’t sure how to make it more believable and still appeal to women readers. I considered scrapping the whole page but then I thought that it had became an important part to the chapter. I didn’t want it to be cheesy or childish but I also didn’t want it to boarder on porn.

So I emailed the scene to my boyfriend. He might have to get an editorial note in my book for the amount of help he has given me. He read the scene and right away said it was sappy and boring. He also said he felt very awkward reading it. That I knew would happen, considering that it is a normal reaction. He wanted to help so he sent me some feedback on how I can jazz up the scene to seem more appealing. I took his pointers in to account and changed the scene so it made more sense. It now flows and doesn’t feel as awkward.

I wouldn’t say I am an expert writer. I also wouldn’t say I am extremely qualified to write a novel but I wanted this project to be a learning process. I realize now that it is. I am constantly learning during this process. Taking creative non fiction was like running a 5K. Writing a novel is like running a marathon. I now have to get used to pacing myself and pushing my writing to make it last for 200+ pages. But writing this sex scene taught me that I am always going to run in to obstacles during my writing journey. It is how I handle these obstacles that matters most.

Here is my completed sex scene that I am very proud of:

After dinner they lie down on the couch to watch a movie. Amanda quickly falls asleep on Nate’s chest. Normally when this happens Nate waits until the end and wakes her up. He tells her it is time for bed and they walk to the bedroom together to go to sleep. As the movie starts to wind down he feels his mind begin to wander.


He falls into a series of thoughts all which remind him of how attracted he is to his future wife. He flinches and returns from the daze. Now he is extremely turned on but Amanda is still sleeping. Feeling a bit romantic, he pauses the movie and stands up from the couch. He picks Amanda up in his arms. As he carries her to the bedroom, she wakes up and is instantly confused but yet surprised by the sudden knight in shining armor gesture. She smiles and kisses him on the cheek.


As Nate lays her down on the bed he leans in and kisses her. Amanda immediately senses that this is not just an ordinary good night kiss. She can tell that Nate is really in to her and in to this moment. Realizing this, she places her hands on the back of his neck and pulls him in, instantly becoming turned on. Nate then climbs on to the bed propping himself on top of her. He gazes in to Amanda’s beautiful eyes and whispers, “I love you” and without hesitation Amanda returns in a whisper the same three powerful words. Amanda can not believe how in love she truly is.


As Nate leans in to kiss her Amanda runs her fingers through his hair. She begins to unbutton his shirt and as she begins to take it off Nate kisses her harder. She wraps her legs around him and he holds her tighter. All of a sudden Nate pulls back and pauses. He wants to see Amanda’s face. He wants to see if she is as turned on as he is. Again they lock eyes and she immediately smiles.


Nate can tell that she wants him as bad as he wants her. Knowing this he continues by gently kissing her neck and shoulders. She begins to breathe harder and runs her nails down his back. She usually waits for Nate to take off her shirt but she cannot wait any longer and sits up. Nate watches as she is about to pull her blouse off over her head. Nate gently nudges her shoulder and signals for her to lie back down on her back. He nods his head no and Amanda looks puzzled. He begins to kiss her neck then moves to her chest. Amanda is trying to control how turned on she is but it doesn’t matter, Nate can tell.


He then whispers in her ear, “I want you so bad”. Amanda reaches down to remove Nate’s belt then unbuttons his pants. After she slides off his pants he takes her blouse and lifts it over her head dropping it to the floor.


Now they are ripping the remaining of each others clothes off and kissing harder. Amanda begins to kiss and gently bite his neck and Nate finally slides himself inside her. She breathes in deep and then relaxes as he moves back and forth on top of her. She wraps her legs around his lower back while he entangles his hands in her hair, pulling it just enough. He leans in to her and rests his head on her shoulder. She breathes in the scent of his hair while their breath quickens.


Amanda moans softly as Nate quickens his pace. He picks up his head and looks in to her eyes. He grabs her hips tightly and pulls her towards him. He rocks himself back and forth and Amanda can’t help but scream as her whole body begins to shake. Nate can’t help but think that this is the best sex they have ever had.


Nate immediately slows down sensing that Amanda needs a second to catch her breath. After a few seconds go by she tells Nate to lie on his back. She climbs on top of him and again Nate slides inside her. Nate loves it when Amanda takes control, but what he loves more is watching her beautiful body on top of his.


As she begins moving back and forth slowly she can sense Nate is close to letting go but is fighting it. She then speeds up her pace. Nate grabs her chest with one hand and her side with the other and stays, “don’t stop, don’t stop.”


Amanda can’t help but smile as she watches Nate’s whole body tense. Just then he lets go. Amanda can still feel him inside her as their breath slows down. Nate then makes eye contact and takes a big deep breath. He rolls on to his side and pulls her close to him. He wraps his arms around her and kisses her on her cheek and says, “I can’t believe I’m marrying the girl of my dreams.”

9. Wherein the writer’s world is rent in two

I recently played through a game called Far Cry 4 on the PS3 with my brother. He and I would take turns completing missions and generally visiting carnage on the fictional kind of India-like nation of Kyrat. From early on, we’d run through enemy camps firing exploding arrows from the back of an elephant, lobbing grenades at armed convoys, and releasing caged tigers to exact vengeance on their captors. Our avatar became synonymous with Old Testament-style destruction. Flames and chaos followed his every mountain climb, ATV ride, and wing suit glide. He instantaneously learned how to operate a flame thrower, aim a throwing knife, and fly a hang glider. We would add our own elements of challenge to the game (which would we worried was becoming too easy) by eliminating conventional machine guns and shotguns from our inventory and instead relying on a simple bow, a cowboy six shooter, a sniper rifle and explosives.  Our reign of terror was largely unmitigated. It was a lot of fun. At a few points our rampage would overlap with the game’s scripted story, and we would experience these cut scenes in which one of the other characters (two leaders of a violent revolution to free their homeland from an insane despot) would tell us about the cause, and send us out to accomplish something.Their army was usually standing around, or getting into skirmishes in the woods. When something important was happening, they called us up and said we needed to do it. Our avatar, who until the game’s first scene was an unassuming civilian, had become the blunt instrument of the revolution. As there was no other option, and because fighting bad guys for the cause was just as good as fighting bad guys for the hell of it, we went along and completed the missions, saving the day for the rebels or striking down some dangerous enemy or taking a vital strategic point. As the game went on, our interactions with our comrades became more divisive, and soon each of the two characters were advocating against the agenda of the other. They told us we must choose between them. We didn’t always love the choices, but to go with the flow we decided to select the course of action we felt was closest to what we thought we would do. Then they told us we had to choose between blowing up an ancient temple and destroying a culture, or defending the temple and giving a teenage girl over to a life of forced religious service as the symbol of a goddess (whatever that means, and it sounds kind of sexual and creepy). We looked at each other and said, “Excuse me, rebels, but fuck you. I am become death, the destroyer of worlds. I’ve just blown up half this country. What if I don’t like either of those options? Why would I ever take orders from the likes of you, a bossy peasant?” I paraphrased a bit, but the point remains. These narrative directions beg the question- why would anyone with this talent for sheer destruction, who is so nigh-unkillable, ever go along with some half baked plan if he doesn’t want to? Why doesn’t the unhinged killing machine that is my avatar EVER seem to be calling the shots? This doesn’t make sense, especially in the context of how I’ve been playing this game. It’s disorienting, and it pushes against the player’s immersion in the otherwise beautiful and arresting reality of the game world. It wrecks the illusion, and calls the validity of the whole experience into question. It make you feel like, maybe this game is junk, because it hasn’t accounted for this vast chasm of what it’s asking me to do and what seems reasonable for me to expect in this moment.



Far Cry 4 is by no stretch of the imagination the first and only game to suffer from this misalignment. When we were younger, we didn’t notice it. There are some things we can do, and some things we can’t. Mario gets shorter when he gets hurt. OK. Samus can turn into a tiny ball and fit into unnaturally small places. Sure. But as we grew up, and the more we learned both from games and real life how to think critically, the more certain things started to stand out. In every iteration of the Legend of Zelda series that I’m familiar with, Link (the franchise’s hero) collects a menagerie of weapons and tools to help him through the menacing landscape and rescue the titular princess. Way back in the late 80’s, if you found the right bush, you could torch it to reveal a secret. Or if you bombed the right section of wall, or pushed the right boulder, the same. It was so exciting when I was a tiny child to find these secrets and explore them that I never thought twice about it, and if anybody else did they weren’t saying anything. By the third or so game though, with my age now in double digits, some things seemed a little… wrong. Why can I explode this section of wall but not the one right next to it? Could it be made of something different? Why would that happen? I’m not saying there has to be a secret passage behind every section of wall, but if I can blow up one part I should be able to blow up the rest, even if it’s just destruction that I’m causing. I would be lying if I truly attributed this stream of conscious to myself as a child. I still really didn’t question why one thing happened or didn’t, but there was a sense that something was just, off somehow. The pattern continued as video games and I aged alongside one another. Games got more complex, and more focused on delivering Hollywood-style narrative. In fact, since at least the advent of the Nintendo Entertainment System many games have done their best to faithfully reproduce actual Hollywood narratives reimagined as games. A great example of this type of game, in that it was an amazing game, is the N64 title Goldeneye, which always finds a place on everybody’s all-time favorites list. A terrible example is, as far as I know, any and every Harry Potter and the Fill-in-the-Magic-Blank game. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a ravenous Harry Potter fan. In fact that’s probably why I hate the games so much- in addition to objectively being garbage, they also violently misuse a property and a world that has so much to offer.


The box art of N64’s Goldeneye features Pierce Brosnan as James Bond. The player then is asked to play through the game-version of the movie as Pierce Brosnan as Bond. The temptation to play through game scenes to recreate shot-for-shot film sequences is tempting, if not encouraged. To not do so is to step out of the narrative shoes, and to some extent make a mockery of the entire premise.

Actually, while the HP games are awful games, they make a really great example of what I’m trying to talk about here, which is the attempt and failure by developers to marry narrative with gameplay. The term I’v recently seen coined for this phenomenon is ludonarrative dissonance. Somebody cooked up the name to signify the discord between the experience of playing and the story being told by the game. To ground the term in real life, let’s turn, with a hilarious sense of irony, to the wizarding world of Harry Potter. These games were based on J.K. Rowling’s children’s books, and released (to my memory) to coincide with the release of the films based on the same. So, before the games are made, we’re already working with two layers of narrative. The initial text, and the filmmakers’ interpretation of that text. Then the game makers come along, and they are trying to make a game that more or less follows the events of these earlier narratives with the player in some degree of control of whether or not Harry and his friends and the world survive. In this case, narrative is inescapable. The player is funneled down the narrative path long ago carve out by the author of the novels. New ground is not going to be broken. However, the game makers must somehow suggest to the player that her participation here matters, otherwise why would she bother playing and not just watch the movie instead? So obstacles happen, and things have to be learned and overcome. The issue with this occurs when one of those obstacles runs counter to what the fan knows to be true about the rich narrative tapestry of which this game is a direct derivative product. It’s been a long time since I’ve played one, so this isn’t going to be a perfect example, but if a game late in the series tells the player that Harry must complete some task by using some silly spell he just learned, but the player (who has already been a reader AND a watcher) remembers the Harry knows a much stronger and better spell to solve the problem in front of him, then we’re running into ludonarrative dissonance. Why would he ever do X, which is ridiculous, why I’ve seen him do Y, which not only makes more sense but is what I would do, what I want to do? This is the question at the heart of this discussion. It boils down to, why would I ever do what you’re saying I must, when I’d rather do something else that I know is in my power? This isn’t your boss asking you to come in on Saturday. This is a game, and its supposed to be fun. There aren’t supposed to be obligations. Which I guess brings me back to Far Cry. When this game has shown me the many ways in which my character is not to be trifled with, why would I ever accept that he can be brow-beaten by either of a couple of morally bankrupt revolutionaries? I’ve seen him, directed him to take decisive action in the past, so where is his judgement and critical decision-making now? It’s possible, possible, that in this case, the character’s lack of critical thought is the point. It’s possible that Far Cry 4 is the pinnacle of subtlety and satire and self-awareness in gaming. It is possible that the character’s total lack of hesitation to join a revolution he has no knowledge of, to wield myriad weapons and take countless lives, are meant to be mirrored in the rigidity of the game’s later binary choices. Perhaps Far Cry 4 is an indictment, that calls out the player for accepting the earlier premise that a civilian can become a killing machine overnight while objecting to the later conceit that he would allow himself to be instructed so gruffly by his handlers. Maybe Far Cry is telling us thats somebody who could pick up and do that kind of things we’ve done throughout the course of the game would be incapable or uninterested in thinking out ethical issues on his own, and would be content to choose one side or another. That it doesn’t matter that we wouldn’t make either of these choices, because we shouldn’t be able to identify with this character at all, and if we do we have a larger problem. Perhaps Far Cry 4 is telling us that we in the larger world are too willing to consume without skepticism, without analysis, without a second thought for too many things, and maybe we need to take a long, hard look at what we’re willing to accept just because it’s offered to us as the right way, or the only way, or the truth. (We chose to blow up the temple to protect the girl, by the way. In case there was doubt. Gotta choose individual human life over collective culture, I say.)

But I doubt it. Although Far Cry 4 is made by Ubisoft, one of the big name game studios right now, it is asking a lot for a game marketed to sell millions of copies to pack in a philosophical treatise that most of its customers probably won’t even notice. Because of the all explosions. More likely, Far Cry 4 finds itself in the same mire that most games today experience; it’s trying to tell a complex and detailed story and give the player freedom at the same time. It’s just like the early 90s X-Men game that was so much fun, except the X-Men could only use their powers for a couple second before they ran out. The X-Men are mutants! Their powers are (in most cases) literally woven into the fabrics of their genes. They don’t run out, their powers are who they are. But for the sake of making a challenging game, or something, the developers put a little bar on the corner of the screen and when it ran out, you were out of powers until it filled up again. Anybody passingly familiar with the narrative backdrop knows that Cyclops would be pumped if he could drain his power gauge for a while and take off those silly sunglasses and look at Jean Grey with his own eyes, but that it could never happen because the dude can’t turn his powers off. So when in the game that gauge runs down to zero, the player who knows thinks, now what the hell is this? But at seven years old, you’re so psyched to be able to be Nightcrawler and teleport through stuff that you don’t even care you can only do it like 3 times- that was so cool!

So we’ve been experiencing ludonarrative dissonance in gaming for a long time, maybe since the beginning. And the thing is, as games get more and more complex, so does the issue, and the chasm grows wider. I could go on for a really long time about all the ways this appears in games. (When you’re playing Uncharted and you’ve JUST opened the long-sealed secret passage to an ancient secret place, and somehow the bad guys are already inside. Or when the place you’re in is collapsing or sinking or on fire, and the henchmen in addition to NEVER BEING AFRAID OF ANYTHING are still trying to kill you with their last breaths instead of running for their lives. What are they paying these henchmen? Can they really feel so strongly about their boss getting ahold of that jewel or scepter or whatever that they’re going to lay down their lives for it? Are their families compensated? Who would sign up for this job, and be so dedicated to it? Is it a religious thing? Are they on drugs?) Sorry for the long parenthetical. In these examples, unflappable, fervent henchmen are something of a gameplay requirement, to prevent the hero from just making a bee-line out of an exploding temple. The developers don’t want it to be too easy. But I’ve got to say, it can’t be that easy to run a straight line out of a crumbling city. If it is, couldn’t we just make it harder? Add more jumps and turns, instead of suicidally dedicated foot soldiers? But this perceived necessity clashes with the narrative course of the game, and the accepted reality and suspended disbelief of this world. Faced the choice between certain death while impeding me and running to safety, why on earth would an entry-level henchman take the first choice? Doesn’t it make more sense to get out of the sinking ship now, and try and drown me or shoot me or something later, when we’re both safely somewhere else?

Obviously, to explore examples further would be super digressive and I have plenty of material, so I hope what I’ve laid out so far has been sufficiently illuminating. I guess what we have to think about is why games are being made this way, and how to overcome this discord between two cornerstone elements of gaming. The first answer I think is easy. Games came after film, which came after literature, which came after epic poetry recitation, which came after primitive sculpture, which came after cave paintings. Games are made narrative-heavy because that’s how we as humans know how to communicate with each other. We tell stories; we’ve always told stories. We tell stories about heroes and trials and battles and good and evil. They excite us, and they inspire us. They make us strive to be better, and make us wish for opportunity, for adventure. Games have taken hold of those feelings, tapped into them, and offered a way to directly transpose the reader/viewer/listen of the epic tale onto the role of the hero in the story. It seems like a simple switch, but when a person with agency and consciousness is dropped into a scripted narrative, there must be an inherent clash. We are too prone to curiosity, to independence, to not at least try to do something other than what we’re told. The answer to the second question is not as easy. How do we tell someone they’re free in a world that must have boundaries as a consequence of the fact it was made by human hands? And how can we tell them a story without at least encouraging them to participate in a series of events? The answer might lie in fiction. For as long as video games have captured the popular imagination there has been fiction that has imagined what it would be like to be fully immersed in a game world. As far back as 1989, Captain N imagined a (cartoon) kid pulled into a world made of all of the popular games of the time. He joined the heroes of a handful of Nintendo games and defeated their villains, all while existing fully in this digital world. To my recollection, Nickelodeon had a game show with a similar premise, although I can’t remember what it was called at the moment. In 2016 we have shows (this time anime) like Sword Art Online that take the idea of MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games, like World of Warcraft), which are immersive environments on their own with economies and social circles, and imagines a near-future wherein technology has allowed for a device that connects the player’s whole consciousness to the game world. That is, the player would close his or her eyes, and open them standing in a field in a fictional world, feeling the wind and smelling the grass and tasting the food. Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One is a 2011 novel along the same lines, where the world has gone digital and a device has been invented to immerse the user in a digital landscape that is free and to use and can be edited by anyone. In these worlds, especially in Sword Art Online, the possibility of “what the hell? I don’t want to do that, that’s not what I would do” is eliminated, because the totally sensory immersion, the freedom of choice and movement make it so that the player can do whatever he or she happens to feel like doing at the moment. This admittedly sci-fi conceit, interrupting brain signals to input digital sensory information and that sort of thing, may be a bit far off. Nonetheless, the principle of total player freedom is one that gaming has been making steps toward for some time. Ironically, we may never reach the full player freedom that we had in tabletop games before video games were invented. Back before I was born, nerds gathered as they still do to play Dungeons and Dragons. Although the mission might be under the dungeon master’s control, the players (I think, I’ve never actually played) are free to make any choice they like. They might not be all powerful, and their abilities depend on their characters skills and attributes, but they can attempt anything. Even if they fail, there can be no “that’s not what I would do,” because you choose what you would do. Just like in life, after you make your choice, there is nothing left but to see if it works or not. That to me seems pretty fundamentally fair. In sum, I think removing the technical limitations to players’ in game actions is going to be key to bridging the ludonarrative dissonance gap, although for as much as I’d love to be a game designer I’m admittedly no coder . When games were younger and simpler, we didn’t have to worry as much about the story and the world clashing with the player’s experience, because we hardly knew anything about either of those things. Super Mario Bros. has zero backstory, and it kicked off the most monetarily successful and international popular game franchise, period. The Legend of Zelda opens on one scrolling screen (like Star Wars) and after that the player seldom sees another typed word. And those games made people happy. Presumably, they inspired some of today’s designers to go into the field and to make games played  by millions today. So perhaps what needs to be done in the field is to look to move into the future by remembering the past. We had games that were good, fun and engaging, that didn’t have complex back stories or Hollywood plot lines. Maybe designers need to strive to make games— new, beautifully-rendered 21st century games— that can be fun and satisfying without leaning on the narrative as a necessity. Maybe for games to grow and change, some games need to stop pushing the player down a path, and just open the door on a world for her to explore and discover and delight in on her own. Maybe this way we can rediscover something that kindled a light and love in us such a long time ago, fired our spirits for an adventure, and started us on a lifetime of keeping our eyes open for secrets and treasure.

Feb 17

I regret that my last blog was so negative. I was going to talk about it. I’m not. This week’s Mozilla stuff was cool. I may have been defeating the purpose of the exercise, but I skimmed over all the stuff that involved instructions for educators and got right to messing with whatever the exercise was supposed to be. I don’t feel like I have any use for the other stuff at the moment, so I left it behind to interact with and assess the materials that Mozilla set up or linked to. Or I tried to. Actually, I was kind of frustrated that it wasn’t easier to skip the “for teachers” instructions, which was meta material in my view, and interact with whatever the product was, in some cases. But I guess that speaks to the target audience for this program. They’re trying to teach teachers how to teach the Internet, so the focus will be on teaching and not simply, “look at this,” which is what I was looking for. One thing that stood out was a game that “taught” kids to code by having them use HTML to help their cat avatar jump around the screen. That was a neat idea, although as I played through the demo I didn’t notice a lot of very specific instruction or like any context or anything for the children to be using one or two HTML tags. Maybe because it’s the demo. Maybe the full version is more complete.

I was also drawn to some of the activities addressing cyber security and personal privacy online. A lot of the stuff I saw regarded how to talk to students about these things, and the meanings of terms, and the importance of keeping things private sometimes and how being online doesn’t change that. I think that’s all really valuable stuff and I see why it exists and I think it’s important. Whether it should be a teacher’s job to teach these lessons I think is a separate issue, but I don’t believe it is in the heart of any real educator to leave a student or anyone adrift if they can help it, just because it’s not their job to help them. So good on you teachers, for trying to do what you can in a world that is doing it’s best to not help you out. That said, I skipped all the teacherly stuff to try and find the real information and experience. At one point I realized that while all of the activities we were using we optimized for use in Firefox, at least one required its use specifically. This was an activity that required using an extension. An extension that I would have gladly downloaded and used, but I was then and am now as I almost only am on Safari, and I’m not going to switch for one extension. The extension in question shows the user what websites are using cookies to track them and where they (the cookies) come from. And that’s probably really good to know, especially if you’re trying to keep track of that type of thing, which you probably should be. Whenever we talk (like we as humans in the 21st century) about information security and personal identifiers, revealing true information about ourselves, I think of this fantasy novel I read when I was like 14. It had to do with people and dragons, and this one lady for whatever reason could speak dragon, I think, and as such she was able to learn their names. Not like FireWing or whatever people were calling them, but their true names. And that gave her an incredible amount of power over them. I think when we get too loose about our information (and it’s hard not to be when [as I just found out when I changed my Cookies setting after reading about them] so many websites REQUIRE you to enable cookies) we leave the door open to all kinds of trouble that could give one sneaky, shitty person a tremendous amount of power over us. The more that is known about you, the easier you are to pin down. The easier you are to predict, anticipate, outsmart, and deceive. This is as true in the world as it is on the internet, and we would all do well to remain mindful of it.




Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 3.01.44 PM.png

I’m not sure what caused it but I recently had a breakthrough. I was struggling with the connection that my book has to my personal life. I was struggling to answer all of these questions I had about my book. How far do I take the flashbacks in to my past? How do i shape Amanda’s family, do I include my brother? How will the father’s characteristics match my own father’s personality? How do I handle the relationship between Amanda and her mother when I don’t have a relationship with my own mother? I expressed a lot of these concerns to my colleagues and they were very helpful in telling me that I am the writer. No one is expecting me to write this a certain way. They told me to write it the way that I want to and be true to myself. So i have decided to follow their advice. I also found that with long periods of writing I get sucked in to Amanda’s world and I start thinking like her. I’m no longer Melissa and thinking in my cynical ways. Amanda has a different outlook on life. She tries to make the best of everything and although she settles for what life hands her she also knows that she still has a choice with what happens in her life.

I have been writing for a collective 4 hours in the past 2 days and I plan on writing all the way up until class time. I was just trying to take a break from a tough scene to get this blog post done. I find that when I continue to write for an hour straight that Amanda’s world writes itself. I finally introduced her dad and I have written him with some of my dad’s characteristics but his personality is very different from my dad and I am ok with that because I would like to distance my family from this as much as I can. This is a work of fiction not a memoir. I want to keep my options open for how I write the scenes with her mom but I will get to that when the time comes. The good news is that in the past two days I have written 9 pages. I am working towards a goal of 15 pages by Sunday. I have 9 more to go. Hopefully I can work on this more this weekend but we will see how tired I am from work. I am just happy to find that I am having less trouble than I thought I would with some of the stories details.

Tobey's Thesis Thoughts 2016-02-10 21:49:00

The Best Free Write Ever Assigned!!

So Dr. Zamora says when I write this week think about my goals for when I finish my thesis. Then she suggests to get dreamy. What would I do If I really could?  No holds barred. What a fun assignment! So I was thinking in terms of personally and professionally. 

Personally, I would love to continue to work on myself as a writer. I have really enjoyed experimenting with creative nonfiction writing. Exploring my past and my childhood years through writing is not only nostalgic but has been fruitful. My brother in all his wisdom, told me that no one is really going to want to read about someone they didn't know, so I should put my writing to good use and find interesting and somewhat popular people in NJ to interview and tell tales of their childhoods. He sounds pretty insensitive,  but he's just my brother. Many people get started as unknowns. Now I don't know if I'd write for publishing or just for me, but since I'm dreaming here...

My family has also time and again discussed how someone must capture the cornucopia that is my father's life. My dad has been a story teller since I was a little girl. I heard stories of his days growing up "down neck." Stories that felt as though my dad and his brother ran a gang of kids like in the Little Rascals or like the kids in the movies A Bronx Tale or Sleepers. As I got older, we sat around the kitchen table mesmerized by tales of his time in the Air Force during the Korean War or his strange but true encounters with famous people including Elvis Presley. Stories highlighting hysterical rendezvous with the many female companions he boasts about are some of my favorites. Therefore, dream number two or maybe it's number one: I'd love to write my dad's biography, or several memoirs. We even have a title picked out: Down Neck: Tales from my Father. I think my fear is that I couldn't do it justice. He is truly, truly an amazing storyteller. I fear my words would fall flat.

And to get super dreamy here, my utopia: an empty beach all mine, my dogs, the sun, good food and drink, quiet, writing poetry. Poetry from my past, present, and future.

Professionally, I'd like to create units that are not based solely on the Common Core State Standards. My kids no longer write poetry because it is not supported by CCSS. We had a fun poetry unit in 7th grade that has been dismantled. The kids loved this unit.  Ignoring CC and creating  a unit that inspires my students on a different level would be great. Many of them are never exposed to poetry and if they are it's not until they are in high school and take a creative writing course. Hey...maybe what we need is an elective creative writing course for middle school. Put all of the ripped up and disassembled units destroyed by CC back together agin, but in a much cooler way. Integrating collaborative work and multi-modal takes on assignments.

Teaching adults??? I go back and forth with it. I like that I will have the degree to fall back on if I ever needed it. I know that when I started my first year of grad school, that was my ultimate goal, but I'm not sure that it is any more. There are days when I think about how nice it would be to have a room full of adults instead of whiny kids who didn't do their homework. I think as long as I feel happy in my position and my hubby is not ready to pack up and move to Asheville, I'll probably stay put. Linwood Middle School is in sense a home to me. I know I'm not staying there until our new retirement age of 60! Adults could seem nice by then. How about a nice adjunct position teaching creative writing to a classroom full of eager adults. It does have a nice ring.

Finally I think of The Rainbow Academy in Asheville. My sister and I stumbled upon this school's site when we were playing around and looking for teaching jobs for me. We didn't really scope it out seriously, but it opened my eyes to the fact that the area of Asheville is abundant with these "alternative" type schools. I told my sis that if hired by Rainbow Academy, I was going to take my sixth grade class out kayaking on The French Broad River. We would stop about half way and journal for awhile, sparking ideas for a creative writing piece that we would develop later in the classroom. Ahhh. That sounds wonderful!

It's so nice to dream...

Feb 10

I’m having a hard time writing, I think because I don’t know that I have that much to say, and I don’t want to be negative. I feel like a lot of the material in these chapters has been a mix of “I knew that already” and “so what.” The irony of reading a print book about how to be current with digital media is starting to grate on me. Beyond that, I think it’s just like I said last week: What we’re reading and talking about are just suggestions for how to be an adult, slightly adapted to the world of digital media and communication. It has me feeling like, if you can’t figure out how to behave with other people, online or in real life, then go sit in the corner and let the grownups handle things. I get that some people have varying degrees of familiarity and comfort with digital tools, and that it’s a book meant to help people “thrive online.” I guess I was just expecting something different. I read some other students’ blogs that had nice things to say. I don’t know, I just don’t feel that. I feel like all of this writing about how great Twitter is for getting people together, and I know it can be and has been, largely ignores any possible negative of the whole internet. I know in earlier chapters Rheingold talks about the dangers of being taken advantage of by a corporation online. I just feel like maybe its a little unbalanced. It’s very inspiring that the inventor of the internet didn’t want to own it, and that we evolved from apes through our ability to help each other and form relationships, and that there are online communities out there that support each other and do good in the world, though all but the third are perhaps irrelevant. But at the same time, Kim Kardashian has 40 MILLION followers on twitter. That’s over 40,200,000 individual accounts that are exposed to whatever she or her PR people decide to share at any given time. Even if a full million of them or more are bots and other junk or spam accounts, that’s still 39 million accounts. Which is 38,999,925 more than I have. 33 million more than Neil deGrasse Tyson. 31 million more than the pope. The reason that I’m yelling about that is, that I guess I’m frustrated. But also important is that the internet is not a rosy place. The internet is just the world transposed into digital space, and in the world people with money and fame influence others to their ends, whatever they are. Some are beneficial to the world, others are nefarious, others still and probably most are dumb. I don’t want to just complain. I guess I feel like coverage here is a little one-sided. I know it is mentioned at some point that there are trolls on the internet, and that some of the stuff on twitter is inane and mind-numbing. But that sidelong acknowledgement I don’t really feel is a sufficient representation, especially in the context of a guide for supposed neophytes to the internet and social media. I’m going to stop, because I don’t feel I’m doing a good job, and it’s possible that my attitude is contaminating this whole project and I don’t want to write a 2000 word screed sounding like a jerk.



8. Wherein the Writer Gets Fictionalized

As per Andre’s recommendation I dug into Walter Ong a bit recently, specifically “The Writer’s Audience is Always a Fiction,” and I found a lot of the ideas he expresses there really apply to games. Most immediately- what other form of expression fictionalizes its audience, or forces them into a role, more than video games? None. Not opera, not poetry, not graffiti. Maybe performance art, but that varies and I’m pretty sure it doesn’t usually follow you home. A game (to some degree, usually) forces its audience into a role that the player then stays with for hours, days, sometimes months or longer. The player returns again and again to a table set for someone other than themselves— sometimes someone similar to themselves to some degree but always other— and the only way they can eat is to assume another (sometimes obscured) identity. And that’s supposed to be part of the fun. A big part in fact. Some games do this in different ways and a lot of styles of games do this to different degrees. It’s often but not always games designed to be more digestible to children and families that do the most to cast the player (please read: audience, reader) in a prescribed role. When the intro cinematic opens up on almost any Mario game lately, the player is greeted with a brief tale of what darkness has most recently rolled across the idyllic Mushroom Kingdom, and what nefarious deed the villain (usually but not ALWAYS Bowser) has committed that drives the heroes to struggle against him (I think it’s always a him) across dozens of levels and finally banish him from the land or whatever. Another recent Nintendo game called Hyrule Warriors collects a bunch of characters from the Legend of Zelda franchise and sticks them into a story along the same lines as the outline I just… outlined. This game adds the really pleasant voice of a lady narrator who updates the player on what’s happening in the story between playable missions, and I think that’s key as we (read: I) talk about fictionalizing the audience. This lady, whose voice I have to say is really well suited to telling stories, not only tells the player what events have come to pass since the last battle, but also how the characters feel. One of them must put her mission on hold, even though it is desperately important, because she has come upon a village beset by monsters. Another, we are told, is worried about her charge, the princess who has gone missing, and is crossing time and space to find her. And then, when the narration ends and the next mission begins, the player picks up control of those very characters. In this way, the game, or its way of communicating its story to the player, has cast the player in the role of the self sacrificing hero who cannot ignore a plea for help, or the devoted companion who will stop at nothing to rescue her friend. These stances are not negotiable. There is no option to not free the village or rescue the princess. These are gameplay mechanics that are a slightly different topic but also serve to irrevocably cast the player into a role through which she will digest whatever narrative or experience the game has to offer. Hyrule Warriors, from which these examples are taken, was released for the WiiU, successor to the Wii, both of which have long been held to be the family-friendly option in the gaming console market. It is worth repeating that these types of games are generally considered to be more child-friendly, which could be a function of their direct audience-role-casting narrative. These games offer sweeping tableaus and detailed maps and intricate mythologies and backstories that are made available to the player from the outset. These elements serve to further flesh out the game world and serve the function of immersing the player more deeply in that world, thereby deepening her commitment to the role she’s asked to play.


The above art for Hyrule Warriors reinforces the storybook paradigm of brave heroes and enchanted weapons that can only be wielded by the pure of heart.

Many other games offer almost none of this, but cast the player in a role nonetheless. Many games begin in the middle of an action sequence or an empty room, with little or no explanation of who the player is supposed to be or why they’re there. Over the course of the game, the player may  or may not learn more about the world or the avatar he is inhabiting, but that doesn’t eliminate the need to take on a role other than oneself. The situation of the game, whatever is happening to the player’s avatar or in the game world, is what creates the fictional role of audience, not necessarily directive narrative control. Even in an empty room with no clues the player takes on a role, if for no other reason than because the player is lounging comfortably somewhere in her home surrounded by her things, and not in fact in some desolate chamber. More than that, a game almost never (really never, but I say almost just in case) allows a player to explore the full range of option in game as he or she might in a real life scenario. For example, if I suddenly found myself locked in a blank room devoid of context and with no memory of how I arrived there, I probably wouldn’t calmly walk into each corner of the room at an even pace and search for items. And the kind of thing I would do isn’t necessarily going to be provided for by the designers coding the game. There might not be an option to “hit X to quietly freak out” or “rotate L3 to use a stern voice to trick somebody nearby into coming in here.” This is what really does the role-casting: when a player is forced, through choice, to behave like someone other than themselves in the interest of experiencing the game. And it’s something I’ve never heard anyone talk about before, and it happens in literally every game all the time, no matter what. You think sports games are exempt because they don’t tell stories? Who are you that you are controlling who is and isn’t on this team, and who plays when, and what they do? You’re either some kind of manager or coach, or the god of soccer, or SOMETHING, but the point is you’re not you. Same goes for strategy games, simulators of any kind, tower defense, even mobile phone puzzle games.

The premise that Ong is talking about in different ways throughout applies wholesale to games, as far as I know without exception. So is this something that game designers are aware of? Certainly great amounts of time and resources are (probably) dedicated to character development, and a large part of that work is usually in the player’s avatar. Some games let the player choose most of the characteristics of their avatar, and in those cases the role of the player is still strongly suggested if not dictated, but it is done environmentally or through interactions with other characters rather than learning about the player’s character. Even games like Skyrim, one of the features of which is a big world full of relative freedom of choice (including the choice to create and develop your own character) the player must assume the role of somebody cast into this wild world and forced to choose to take sides in a revolution or ignore that it’s even happening and collect flowers and animal hides instead (which is not a joke, you could actually play Skyrim like that if you wanted). It’s the same principle as the empty room with no clues. You’re now a person thrust intellectually into a situation in which you are not physically taking part and which is at least somewhat at odds with the details of your actually reality. You are not really fighting a dragon. You are not really commanding a Roman legion. You are not really piloting a 787. You’re hanging out at home, or at a friend’s place, or on the subway with a handheld console or your phone, or it would be cool if you were at one of those bars with arcade games in them. So whatever the circumstances, the game you’re playing is asking you to pretend that they’re something else, even if that game lets YOU tell IT who that someone else is going to be. But such a game still tells you a number of things, and thereby kind of subtly funnels its player into a sort of role.


A character traverses the vast and arresting wilderness of Skyrim on an unknown errand or for no reason at all.

To continue using Skyrim as an example, when the game informs you of the civil war between  occupying (but legally reigning) Imperials and the (racist and also maybe murderous) rebel Stormcloaks, it sets the player up to make one of a few choices, not just about what to do in the game, but who he is going to be in the game world. In the game’s very first scene the player has been captured and faces execution by the Imperials, who are executing known Stormcloaks and other undesirables. Your avatar’s impending execution is fortuitously interrupted, to the disbelief of everyone, by a dragon attacking the town, bringing chaos and fire and devastation. This scene sets up the two major narrative conflicts in the game. In the province of Skyrim there is a civil war on, and an ancient prophesy is coming to pass about the return of in indomitable race of dragons and the advent of the (you guessed it) one hero who was born to defeat them. SO, what we have here, immediately,  is a set of choices. In the first place, the Imperials tried to kill you, so you must decide whether to take revenge on them or not. If you do, it’s an easy choice to join the Stormcloaks faction and tear down the whole wretched establishment in retribution for their wrongdoing. On the other hand, once you escape, you could decide that the Stormcloaks aren’t such a legitimate organization after all, and you forgive the Imperials well enough that you’ll join them and crush this silly uprising and restore law and order to the region, which sorely needs it. HOWEVER, the dragon attack from the beginning of the game occurred right in the middle of this partisan squabbling, which strongly suggests that at least from the developers’ point of view, the threat posed by the dragons should supersede any squalid politic dealings between humans. The player is free to agree, and (spoilers) pursue her destiny to be the one to rid the land of dragons forever. The player could even do this while working with one of the factions. OR, the player could decide he’s not interested in the civil war, nor is he interested in singlehandedly taking on the ancient scourge of the dragons, and that he’d rather just, F off, and make potions or something. Why is the relevant? Because. Yes, the game asks you to choose how strong your character’s sword arm is, and how good he or she or it is at public speaking. But from the very outset it also asks you to choose what kind of person you want to be in this world. Are you a vengeful killing machine, a solemn keeper of laws, a legendary hero? Or are you uninterested in grandeur of any kind, and prefer quieter pursuits like magic, or murder, or getting married? Because of the nature of the game i.e. slaying dragons and casting spells in a world with almost no irreversible consequences, these questions aren’t really about who the player is as a person as much as they are who they player would like to play as in the game world. THUS with a subtle hand does this game and others like it necessitate the acceptance of a fictionalized self on the part of the player as a prerequisite to participating in the game.

The earlier question was, “to what extent are game designers aware of this?” I think they must be acutely aware of it, although they might or might not be familiar with Walter Ong. An essay in Tom Bissel’s Extra Lives talks about one iteration of the incredibly popular Call of Duty franchise wherein the player is asked, as part of a mission during which her avatar is under cover, to essentially participate in a terrorist attack (I’m gonna put a link in here but I have to find the one I want). The game offers an out, warning of disturbing material and allowing the player to skip the level if she chooses, which only underscores how deliberately the designers chose to put the player in a position that they knew would be uncomfortable if not fully reprehensible. This decision to force the player to bear witness, as a participant rather than a rescuing hero, to a scene bereft of glory or honor has had and will likely continue to have its merits and shortcomings debated for some time, and that’s not what I’m talking about here so I’m going to skip it. For now. What I mean to point out is the level of attention paid to the exact topic I’ve been scrawling about all this time: the role that the game imposes on the player. The move by this team to manipulate the player this way, so overtly, was controversial of course, but that was at least in part, in my estimation, due to the fact that this was an experiment. And a bold one at that, though perhaps misguided and maybe inhuman. Like psychopathic? Or bereft of empathy, I don’t know. But it was an experiment. Messing with the player’s role, drawing attention to it like that and switching it up, that isn’t something that happens often. Sure players can be made to use different avatars, but the player’s role remains the same. This was different, and I think part of the reason for the high energy of the backlash was that this was such a new attempt, and I believe it indicates kind of an unsophisticated understanding of this phenomenon. Not really on the part of the audience and the bloggers and the parents and congress and all that, but more on the part of the design team who waded into these waters. Though they may have bungled it a bit, they came across something pretty new, and shed light on an element of gaming that is pretty ubiquitous but I think inelegantly understood. So I think maybe that’s my point, the one I’ve been looking for for a couple thousand words now, that the fictionalization of the audience(reader/player) is something that is accepted in gaming completely, but it is only barely understood on a surface level. It’s understanding, and certainly its execution and employment, lack nuance, and perhaps this is one great untapped component of gaming that could revolutionize gameplay if it could be better understood and incorporated into the experience.