Intro to Game Logs


Our game log assignment is inspired by a study about the value of blogging about games, published in the International Journal of Learning and Media (Zagal and Bruckman 2011). The researchers Jose Zagal and Amy Bruckman argue that writing repeatedly about the same game in an online community can help players understand games more deeply on multiple levels, including:

  • understanding videogames as cultural artifacts that circulate widely in the world
  • understanding individual videogames within a network of other games and genres
  • understanding the dynamic between videogames and the technological platforms on which they’re played
  • understanding how videogames are structured, patterned, and designed—and how to make sense and interpret those structures and patterns

Furthermore, Zagal and Bruckman find that blogging about games:

1. improves enjoyment of video games;
2. provides a vehicle for expression, communication, and collaboration;
3. faciliates deeper understanding of video games (14)
What to Write about

Each entry on your game log should be about 300-400 words. Record tentative ideas, interpretations, and surprising observations. Try to make connections among and between the multiple levels described above. Try to apply theories that come from our own readings or that you’ve encountered in other classes at Davidson. Don’t write a game review. Don’t focus on the game’s difficulty. Avoid the language of marketing. Don’t write about the game as if your goal is to persuade or dissuade someone from playing it.

Your first game log entry is on Portal, due Wednesday, September 7.

Game Log Procedure

After your first post on Portal, your other posts will focus on games you play outside of class. Remember the general procedure: you’ll play three games (console, casual, your choice) independently this semester, with at least three 30-minute sessions for each game. After each 30-minute session, you’ll write in your game log, as described above. The first post for each game is open-ended; the second post aims to connect the game to other ideas you’ve encountered in this class or others; the third post involves actively digging around for some new research or insights about the game or any phenomena connected to the game.

This handy chart/crazy whiteboard photo breaks it down for you:

This photo preserves forever Dr. Sample's whiteboard formulation of the game logs
This photo preserves forever Dr. Sample’s whiteboard formulation of the game logs

With every entry be sure to do the following:

  • Give your post a short, snappy descriptive title.
  • Use the tags in WordPress to tag your post with the game that you’re playing and any other useful keywords (such as the game’s genre, platform, other games you mention, etc.)
  • Also use tags to specify whether your entry is for Game 1, Game 2, or Game 3. 

This process ensures that your game logs will be picked up and integrated into our main course site.

Please fill out this survey to help Dr. Sample figure out who’s playing what. You’ll have to be logged into Google with your Davidson ID in order to submit your survey.

Update on your 11th (final) blog post: Spend some time reading through your classmates’ posts on this blog. Explore by author, tag, or category. Try to get a handle on what themes other people write about, what they notice, what connections they make to our course material, what outside resources they pull in. Then in an approximately 300-400 word post on your own blog, write a reflection on what you find. Link back to at least 5 specific blog posts by other FMS 321 students. Emphasis (friendly) questions you have for other people, how these posts shift your own thinking about games, and how the ideas in these posts are worth revisiting. This last post (and all your posts) are due by 5:15pm on December 15.

Connolly Media Lab

The Connolly Media Lab is located in the south basement in Chambers, across from Studio M. Within the media lab is a videogame station, which holds a PS2, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. There are also a number of games “on reserve.” These games are college property and should be treated the same as a library book. The games on reserve include:

PS3: Bioshock, Bioshock 2, Ico, Portal 2, Red Dead Redemption, Shadow of the Colossus, Skyrim
PS4: Fallout 4, Grand Theft Auto 5, The Last of Us, Life is Strange, Metal Gear Solid V, Tomb Raider


I’ll evaluate individual entries on your game log according to this rubric:

3 – Exceptional. The entry is readable, with clearly expressed ideas. It’s thought-provoking, going beyond what we talked about in class or what you’ve discussed in previous entries. It’s connective, making connections to material from this class, other classes, other games or texts, or historical or contemporary events and culture. Finally, it’s progressive, in the sense that it moves your thinking about this game—or other games—forward.

2 – Good. The entry is readable but lacks full development of new ideas. Instead of thought-provoking, it’s predictable. Fewer connections are made between the game and other material or phenomena.

1 – Insufficient. The entry retreads previous posts or discussions without adding anything new. It’s mostly description or summary, without consideration of alternative perspectives.

0 – No Credit. The entry is missing or late.