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Discussion Forum #1

Discuss the excerpt of Steven Johnson's Everything Bad is Good for You in a comment of approximately 500 words. Remember that what is called for here is critique, not summary. Do not simply collect your reactions; organize your response into a complete statement with a beginning, middle, and end. The following prompts may help you focus your thoughts, but feel free to take your discussion in any applicable direction you wish. Make certain to cite specific portions of the text to support your ideas.

  • Johnson reiterates that video game content is insignificant compared to the activity of play. He tersely summarizes this position as: "It's not what you're thinking about when you're playing a game, it's the way you're thinking that matters" (40). Is it possible to negate content completely? What effect, if any, might the content of a repeated experience have?

  • Johnson points out that video games invoke a biological reward system somewhat akin to that of drug addiction. Johnson distinguishes video games from drugs through the claim that games, unlike drugs, enable people to participate in the productive intellectual labors of probing and telescoping, which he depicts as rudiments of decision making (41). However, his argument seems to be predicated on games that require the player to explore and make self-directed judgments, such as The Legend of Zelda, Half-Life, and Grand Theft Auto. Do the "cheat sheets, maps, help books, and phone support" that Johnson discusses on page 28 undermine the benefits he identifies? Are games that provide a more simplistic, immediate reward an empty, dirty high? If there are more productive and less productive games, how might we differentiate them?

  • On pages 19 and 20, Johnson provides an intentionally selective characterization of reading as an understimulating, isolating, exclusionary, passive activity. By doing this, Johnson seeks to demonstrate that frames of reference potently shape perception. In what ways are video games similar to other forms of media, and in what ways are games different in degree or kind? What are the productive and detrimental effects of these similarities and differences?

I look forward to reading your work and discussing it in class.

Course Information

Writing and Video Games
ENG 496-022
MO 204
TR 11:00-12:15

Instructor Information

Dr. Jeremy Tirrell
Office: MO 150
Office Hours: TR 9:00-11:00 (and by appointment)

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