The midterm for this class will take place on February 28. It will be an in-class essay exam where you will select 3 essay prompts from a list of 5 or more options. Answering these questions well will require you to recall, synthesize, and reflect on the content we will have covered by then. Some of the available essay prompts will be generated collaboratively by each working group during their Extension rotation.

To do well, make sure each essay addresses the question thoroughly, providing as much detail as possible, including specific examples. Express those ideas in an articulate, well-structured response that is at least 200 words of thoughtful, grammatically perfect, academic prose.

Proposed Questions

From Group 3:

  1. In what ways do video games allow players to feel empathy? Can video games provoke empathic feelings other than sadness, weakness, or helplessness?
  2. What does the phrase “easy to learn, hard to master” mean in regard to the paradox of casual games?
  3. Can simulation games like “Wii Fit,” “Guitar Hero,” and “Dance Dance Revolution” lead to developing other skills? In what ways?

From Group 1:

  1. How is masculinity represented/subverted/played with in Unmanned versus other non-satirical non-art games (standard titles)?
  2. In what ways do games such as Limbo or Unmanned use aesthetics and mechanics to deliver a message to the player?
  3. Do games like Limbo and Portal, with their intensive interactivity, limit the adaptability of video games to film due to the observatory nature of cinema? If so how, is there a solution or compromise?


The midterm is worth 200 points, or 20% of your grade for this semester. Since there are 3 questions, each is worth 66 or 67 points.Each will receive its own grade, according to the table below.



60 – 66.6
The “excellent” responses answers the question specifically, competently, and may even articulate a novel approach to to the question or problem. The author draws on several specific examples and applies them to support the argument, including examples from games we’ve played and from the secondary readings. The writing is well-organized, clear, and reasonably polished.


53 – 59
The “good” response answers the question specifically and competently, using appropriate, specific examples. The writing is well-organized and clear, but may be less polished than the excellent response. Throughout


47 – 52
The “fair” response answers the question competently, demonstrating some familiarity with the topic, but it may lacking appropriate examples, or the examples may be incorrect. The writing may also be weak in terms of organization, grammar or spelling, or the response may be insufficiently developed.


40 – 46
The “acceptable” responses addresses the question, but does so with few or no examples. The writing is noticeably weaker to the extent that the author’s ideas are difficult to follow.


0 –  39
The “unacceptable” response is incomplete, inappropriate, or substantially incorrect in its answers.


To summarize, each of your responses should try and

  • Understand the question and the relevant material
  • Use examples to support your argument
  • Write clearly and effectively