How to create a successful Final Project

As you know, the final project for this class includes several options, and several of you are exploring the full range of variety implied by that flexibility. This is great! This document is intended as a guide to how to do well on the various types of things you’re doing, so scroll down and find the content that best fits what you’re working on. If you don’t find your project type here, then we should talk.

And please note: if you’re working with a group, the basic expectations of scope for the project will be proportionally greater, and in cases where a project type requires you to submit a memorandum as you turn it in, each group member should create and submit a memorandum.

Writing

For any of the writing options, the basic parameters are the same: complete about 4 – 6 pages of solid, genre-appropriate prose that in some way contributes a unique and interesting perspective on games and/or game culture. Sources should be properly cited and logically incorporated.

Research Essay

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Specific requirements

  •  4 – 6 pages
  • At least 5 scholarly sources (secondary sources, that is)

Keys to Success

  • A strong, specific and proveable thesis
  • A good incorporation of sources for evidence
  • A clear, logical structure
  • A solid, foundational understanding of the games relevant to your paper

Potential Traps

  • An overly broad or vague thesis — it’s too hard to research
  • An undue reliance on sources — don’t just assemble other people’s data, make your own argument using data
  • A reliance on generalities and unstated assumptions — use your own, detailed examples
  • Inappropriate or inappropriately used sources

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Creative Non-Fiction Essay or Short Fiction

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Requirements

  • About 4 – 6 pages of text
  • Should focus on at least one game in some detail

Keys to Success

  • A strong, specific and demonstrable idea or perspective
  • A clear and consistent voice
  • A relevant and unique point of view

Potential Traps

  • Using this assignment option to simply create scholarly analysis without doing research.
  • Inconsistent voice
  • Poor writing
  • Lack of relevance

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Video

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Requirements

  • 5 – 10 minutes. (Please — no more than 10 minutes)
  • Examples and evidence from games
  • If using video and screenshots, at least 50% of those must be your own
  • A short, written memorandum (a paragraph is fine) explaining your project, to accompany its submission to Canvas

Keys to Success

  • A strong, specific argument
  • A good use of evidence in support of your argument
  • Competent editing and production
  • A logical organization to your presentation

Potential Traps

  • Poor audio mixing
  • Lack of provable point
  • Lack of organization
  • Improper or incomplete evidence to support argument

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Design

If you’re interested in designing or building a game, the overall goal is similar, whether or not you write any code: use a game design to convey some insight into games or game culture.

Programming your own Game or Game Level

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Requirements

  • 5-10 minutes worth of game play
  • Source code, if available
  • A short, written memorandum explaining your project, it’s goals, and how I can access it, to accompany its submission to Canvas

Keys to Success

  • A complete, self-contained experience
  • A strong argument conveyed with a competent use of the medium and platform
  • Platform-specific coherence (i.e., an RPG should work like a good RPG, an IF should work like a good IF.)

Potential Traps

  • Bugs
  • Ambiguity
  • Getting trapped by minutiae
  • The seduction of scope

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Prototyping or Pitching

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Requirements

  • A series of design documents including
    • A cover memo containing an executive summary of the project
    • A plot summary or description including (if applicable) profiles of key characters
    • A summary or description of the game’s genre or other mechanics
    • A description of your intended platform and how your game will use it
    • A graphical mockup of your games user interface
    • A graphical mockup of at least one level, space, or playing field
    • A demographic analysis of your game’s intended audience

Keys to Success

  • A clear, interesting argument to make
  • A good use of the game medium to make that argument
  • Detail, detail, detail!

Potential Traps

  • Lack of detail about user experience, interface, or mechanics
  • Lack of clarity with regard to argument or insight
  • The seduction of scope

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Making

If you’re interested in making something physical, either with your own two hands or with our 3D Printer, your fundamental goal is the same as any other project: contribute some insight or make some argument that illuminates an aspect of games or game culture.

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Requirements

  • The thing itself (I’ll give it back, but I do want to spend some time with it while I’m grading)
  • A written memorandum (about 1 page) explaining your project, what you hope it communicates, why you chose the physical medium and what discoveries you made in the process of building it

Keys to Success

  • Crafting competence and attention to detail
  • A clear, specific argument that is provable through the evidence your artifact comprises

Potential Traps

  • Making a thing just to make a thing

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Scholarly Archive

A scholarly archive or database is a great way to collect and convey ideas and information, but you’re not making a miniature wikipedia here. Like other projects, your archive should have a theme, purpose, and focus that all add up to some insight or argument about games or game culture.

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Requirements

  • Data — enough for a user to spend a good 5 – 10 minutes browsing and learning from your work
  • Availability on the web
  • An introduction or explanation page that conveys the intent and scope of your archive, as well as explaining how users can use it

Keys to Success

  • Interesting information presented in a way that allows users to make their own discoveries
  • Your own insights conveyed (for example) in annotations
  •  Rich metadata

Potential Traps

  • Duplicating archives that already exist
  • Improper consideration for source attribution
  • Thin metadata

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