Over the course of ten weeks, I believe that I have matured as a writer. Reading essays, I wrote just as the class started, and now as the class is coming to an end, is almost as if it were written by two different people. The reason was because instead of writing normal essays, the kind of work and the unconventional projects we did in class helped me understand my potential as a writer. The kind of essays we wrote in class were not conventional essays, sometimes the assignments weren’t writing at all. I learnt that writing is in fact more than writing on a piece of paper or typing on a word document, it involved the creative process and out of box thinking of working on projects like producing and making a podcast series and work together as a team to make a twine game about a social issue, and not make them sound like typical essays. The greatest improvement I have made as a writer was when I along with two other people in the class started to work on a podcast series, where we had to analyze games according to the various texts we had read in class and their real-life applications. The ability to not make a writing project(podcast) sound like a scripted essay, was what made me go out of my comfort zone and try to break the traditional way of doing things.
In addition to this, what made me improve my skills was the fact that we had to do reflection essays after almost every assignment. Normally, when I was in school, I had to write only two essays for the entire school year and just after writing the essay I could simply have forgotten about the essay. However, with reflections, I thought about the various things I had to do and the skills I used for a project that resulted in a certain outcome. If the outcome was good, I looked at things that made it good and actually tried to apply and improve those skills for not only future assignments but also for future classes. Also, doing the same for an assignment that certainly did not meet what this class expected of me. The class also has a website that helped me grow and made me break the traditional method of doing things.
Normally I would never be able to read what others did for their assignments that would mean that I could never know what the bar of the class was. Each week we had a different side quest for which we had to do different things. We had to get really creative to do those. Sometimes we had to draw something and sometimes we just had to liveblog for a game we played for the class. However, we always had to break “the rules” in order to complete it. My favorite Side Quest was probably the Sunday Sketch where you had to keep an actual physical object and draw around it to make it appear like a certain thing. I was never artistically gifted and was afraid to even attempt to do this as I had no idea what I should make. I really couldn’t get it, so I just started probing (another thing this class has taught me, whenever you are stuck, take a step back and just look around) the website, when I saw one of the pictures which was a guitar and bridge combined into one of another Side Quest. This really struck me, and I started looking around my room to find an object that would go with this and finally drew it with a ruler. This is when I learnt about the importance of the website. We have the opportunity to look at our fellow classmates work and get to see how creative they got in order to complete the assignments. This also pushed me to be a little more competitive, which although was certainly not the objective of the website, but it made me make something better than I had before and try to exceed my limits. The website itself is a collaboration of all the students and the professor outside class. This was particularly interesting as this year was not normal, but the fact that we had group projects and collaboration in the form of a website sometimes made me feel as if I were on campus and we were in an in-person class.
There were many readings in the class but my favorite one was the book Superbetter by Jane McGonigal. The book not only talks about how playing games is good for you but also how it helps you overcome the extreme low points in life point in your life and the way this helped us was that when I played the games where the characters had undergone some form of trauma, I could not only empathize with them, but also try to express their trauma and how they overcame that in my writing. Moreover, sometimes reading about trauma can get pretty boring, so instead playing it in games where we follow a character who has undergone trauma helped me understand what they felt without getting bored.
One of the things that helped me understand my weaknesses and improve on it, as a writer was the fact that after each assignment we could meet with the professor and he would give us feedback on it. This was very unique as I could actually get proper guidance from a source that could help me improve on certain areas where I lacked as a writer, and it also changed the way I was thinking and doing projects. Moreover, outside sources like the writing center was also really helpful. Sometimes, when I just needed help starting an essay or working on a draft, I would go to the writing center with the areas that I needed to improve in my essay and work on it. I could always compare the initial draft and the draft after going to the writing center and see the huge difference in writing.
The things that I learnt from my class like the ways to write unconventional essays and getting in a creative zone to do work helped me with my FILM 101 class. I had to do an analysis paper at the end of the class, and even though I knew what I wanted to write I wasn’t sure what the thesis of my essay would be. For almost all the essays I have ever done, the thesis was pretty much the first thing you need before starting an essay, however, the unique structure of one my essay assignments (Game Comparison) where we had to put the thesis at the end helped me do this paper. I wrote the entire analysis paper in the reverse order, where I started with writing about the different techniques and then finally figured out what my thesis was going to be. After completing the draft like this, I finally re-arranged paragraphs and put the thesis paragraph on the top. If I had not done an essay like the Game Comparison, I would probably have not done well on my analysis paper.