Short Response on Grand Theft Auto 4

            On April 11, 2013, Professor Quijano’s undergraduate students presented on their selected interactive media title for literary analysis.  One short presentation was given on the video game Grand Theft Auto 4 (GTA IV).  The presenter led a discussion over the theme of the “American Dream.”  He described how the game’s main character Niko was an immigrant seeking a better life in America, but ended up in a life of crime and corruption.  Another theme that presents itself is the relation of the digital text’s open world and storyline to real life, in which this idea will be the subject of focus.

            In the opening sequence, Niko is aboard a shipping vessel that about is to dock in Liberty City.  On the voyage there, he is told about the grand lifestyle and the better living that he could find in America.  After arrival, Niko gets acquainted with the new land through the help of his cousin Roman.  He soon realizes that what he was led to believe was not as genuine as he thought.  As a result, Niko must now make do with his current situation.

The open world environment of GTA IV can be considered a paradigm of the actual world we inhabit.  Similar to real life, the Liberty City infrastructure allows a multitude of instances to occur.  These actions include basic movements such as running around, getting food, or engaging in the “acquisition” of motor vehicles (just like the actual world).  Moreover, these maneuvers can be repeated at the user’s inclination.  Although these efforts can be exerted without end, it is the successful performance of missions that allow storyline progression.  In relation to real life, accomplishments offer a sense of satisfaction.  However, as most people become aware, the contentment is only temporary.  Therefore, the achievements of successive, meaningful “missions” will provide the ongoing notion of gratification.  Consequently, these specific life engagements will develop a fascinating storyline yet to be inscribed in time.


A preview of Grand Theft Auto 4 can be found at:

Short Response: How Should Women Be Presented in Games?

In the April 2nd lecture, Dr. Quijano and his teaching assistant presented the topic of “Feminism and Video Game Analysis.”  The discussion delved into feminist theory leading into the perceived societal role of women throughout recorded civilization.  The discourse continued into the modern era with their appearances within interactive media.  Appropriately, an inquiry was made: How should women be presented in games?

The presentation of women in games is a disputable matter, as various positions can arise.  The lecture demonstrated that the female’s role within interactive digital media have appeal more towards the sexual aspect.  Although a female lead, such as Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider franchise or Joanna Dark in the Perfect Dark series, may be endowed with the characteristics of being strong-willed and self-assertive, the character is usually formed to highlight her femininity, i.e., carnal allure. (Personally, that kind of femininity grabs my attention.)  This may be a consequence of the fact that the majority of game players are males combined with the highly used marketing scheme of “sex sells.”  However, even with the aforementioned details, the original query requires a definitive response.  Accordingly, as a tactful reply, females should be presented in a manner that is well suitable for the role portrayed.  This notion reveals that all aspects of the feminine nature are necessary if used appropriately.

Short Response: Can Narrative Be a Mechanic?

Dr. Quijano’s March 26th lecture on the mechanics of games revealed numerous gameplay devices used in interactive media.  The discussion prompted the question: Can narrative be a mechanic.

In providing a response to the query, the notion of gameplay mechanics must be defined.  As noted from the presentation, a number of sources have provided commentary on the clarification of game mechanics.  Even with the ample amount of interpretations, there exists a central idea share by the evaluations.  In essence, gameplay mechanics pertain to the notion of interactivity with the media.  For example, combos are the result of the successive performance of skilled actions.  The mechanic of achievements provides another illustration as they are obtained through qualification of significant actions.  The prior examples should bring awareness to the keyword “actions.”  Actions could be considered a triggered effect.  With focus on this notion, it is possible for narrative to be a mechanic.  The reasoning is based on the fact that narratives assist in directing the flow of sequential events within the interactive media.  Moreover, an event completion is a consequence of the required triggered effects.  Therefore, the narrative can be considered a gaming mechanic since it relates to gameplay interaction.

Short Response on the Game Mechanics of “Flight”

Dr. Quijano’s March 26th lecture was a discussion on the mechanics of games.  He presented the various attributes that could contribute to the composition of the interactive medium.  Although, it was mentioned that not all elements presented may exist in one game.  As an interactive demonstration, each student was requested to select a game for play-through and analysis.  The following is a brief account on the game mechanics of Flight.

Flight is an online, interactive media distributed by game publisher Armor Games.  The game takes the concept of throwing a paper airplane to a new frontier.  With the storyline focusing on the paper plane’s journey, several gaming mechanics make its appearance to provide a distinct twist to the side-scrolling experience.  Upon throwing the plane using the click-hold-release method on the computer mouse, the inanimate character beings its excursion.

The game mechanic of collection is soon discovered as the plane comes in contact with stationary stars that are converted into monetary amounts for use upon completion of a single flight; the accumulated amounts could be considered a pseudo-point system.  In addition, shooting stars and grounded windmills are provided to temporarily boost the plane’s velocity.  The paper cranes that float in the path taken by the aircraft yield the “bonus” element.  In addition, combos can be generated by the collection of cranes in a timely succession.  At the end of a single flight, a travel breakdown is displayed, and then proceeds to the “upgrades” screen to monitor status.  At this point, the player has the option to purchase modifications that will upgrade the design and dynamics of the paper plane and flight environment.  In addition, achievements such as the collection of “20 Stars” and “Bird Hunter” are shown.  Flight progression is tracked on a linear scale, from which upon completion, allows the player to level up onto the next scenario to begin the next day.


Flight can be accessed from:

Reader Response #7: Every day the same dream

Every day the same dream is an original digital creation by independent game developer La Molleindustria.  Released in 2009 for both online play and PC/Mac download, the interactive media was designed and produced within six days.  This allowed the production to meet a submission requirement for the Experimental Gameplay Project; a common theme and single person development were the remaining fulfilled requisites.  Every day the same dream utilizes the side-scroll gameplay format that follows an apparent linear storyline progression.   In addition, an in-game musical accompaniment composed by Jesse Stiles is provided.  Through use of simplistic keyboard functions such as the left and right arrow commands along with spacebar inputs, the audience is given control of a male character who is located at home bedside at the start of his day.

Submitted to the Project as an “art game,” Every day the same dream is described by its producer as “a game about alienation and refusal of labor.”  From the onset of an apparent ordinary workday, the male protagonist must navigate within the noir-like atmosphere of the typical metropolitan lifestyle.  The monochromatic environment emphasizes the insipidness of the settings.  This aspect combined with the effect of the exhibited uninspiring routine life induces within the audience a sensation of deviation.  Moreover, an endeavoring nature is aroused.  This prompts the player to attempt a release from the “Groundhog Day” by choosing alternate routes at the restart of each episode.  The performance of the varying actions enables the plot to progress.

Overall, Every day the same dream reveals itself to be satire of the modern, everyday work life.  Dealing with the routine is a concept encountered by most people.  Although a variety of interpretations can be posited, these notions are usually the extractions of the main idea that the interactive media encourages, that is, do something new.  By doing so, the audience may just be able to escape Every day the same dream.


Every day the same dream is provided online at:

Short Response on The Road Not Taken Presentation

In Dr. Quijano’s March 7th lecture, several students presented an analysis over their chosen Critical Paper I text.  In particular, Stephen M. Gray, a fellow classmate, delivered a short analytical presentation over the The Road Not Taken.  American poet Robert Frost composed the selected text.  The poem depicts the scenario of a traveler who encounters the divergence of a single road into two routes, from which a decision is forced on what path should be taken.

Gray’s interpretation revealed a more profound meaning from Frost’s poem.  He explained that the idea of “the fork in the road” is similar to the confrontations experienced in life.  Conflicts arise and choices have to be made.  His astute observation also provided an analogy regarding human relationships.  This notion led into the discussion of how the possible course of actions can be genuinely analyzed only in retrospect.  In doing so, Gray’s analysis self-provoked a concept that can be extracted from the following quotation.  The Sydney J. Harris quote reads “Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time, it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.”  The statement serves as a reminder to live your life, and as Stephen Gray and I would suggest, be aware of the consequences of the road you take.

Reader Response #6: World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft (WoW) is an overwhelmingly popular interactive media production that was developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment.  Released in 2004 as a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), WoW has spawned numerous subsequent expansion sets.  These include The Burning Crusade, The Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, and the recently available Mists of Pandaria.  The MMORPG is a gaming spinoff of the Warcraft series, primarily a real-time strategy (RTS) format, from which the premise of the WoW storyline finds basis.

Set in the realm of Azeroth, World of Warcraft allows its players to enter the digital domain via a customized avatar.  The options available for character creation include race, skill classification, gender, aesthetics, and character name.  Through this online manifestation as either an Alliance or Horde member, the player commences their excursion into the World of Warcraft, in which most people soon realize it to become an enthralling experience.

Using my specific involvement as an example, I chose to join the Horde as the Tauren Shaman “K.N.A.W.”  Opting for the Player Versus Player (PvP) combat style of gameplay, my journey began at Camp Narache of the Tauren homeland Mulgore.  Initially, my level one avatar K.N.A.W. awkwardly wondered around the campsite in an attempt to establish some sense of the overall environment, and trying to determine the next course of action.  After developing enough orientation with the onscreen display and game controls, K.N.A.W. accepted the inaugural quest “The First Step” from the non-player character (NPC) Chief Hawkwind.  Soon afterwards, K.N.A.W. began his “lightning bolt” rampage on several Bristleback Quilboars with the assistance of helpful Horde players.  After a few more introductory quests were completed, K.N.A.W.’s appearances within WoW became more frequent.  This is a result of the interesting storyline developed from the endeavored quests and instances, and also as a consequence of the interactions with other online personas.  My avatar continued gaining experience points and leveling up with the addition of new skills and acquired equipment (especially the totems).

As observed from the presented example, the World of Warcraft has ability to captivate its audience.  This is primarily accomplished through the player’s immersion within WoW’s digital domain.  To reiterate, this immersion is usually the outcome of an ongoing storyline and the myriad of character interactions that occur.  In essence, a sense of belonging within the game’s community is the driving force for the fascination.  Despite frustrations with technicalities that stem from gameplay orientation and the time-consuming patch upgrades, the World of Warcraft offers a highly interactive and interesting online experience.

A trial version of World of Warcraft can be found at: