Final Reflection

Personally, I was not too fond of writing assignments. My dislike for them started in 9th grade, when I had my first of three consecutive sub-par writing instructors. After barely learning anything throughout most of high school, I faced an instructor in my senior year that had high expectations from her students’ work. Most of my class (Including myself) struggled to maintain good grades. I was able to improve my writing a little with her suggestions, but learned nowhere near enough to make up for those three “lost” years of sub-par instructors. One of the University of Michigan’s requirements for freshmen is that they have to complete a first year writing course. As my skills stood after finishing high school, I felt like I was not ready to take graded writing course off the bat. Fortunately, the UofM offered introductory writing courses for those that felt like they needed more practice before engaging in more serious writing. I took advantage of this opportunity, and joined the Writing 100 class.

Now that the semester is over, I can say that taking the class was worth it. Among the numerous assignments the professor gave us, my favorite one is probably the research-informed cultural analysis essay. I liked that one in particular for two reasons: first, because I was able to choose what topic I wanted to write about; second, because I also had the ability to choose which type of writing I wanted to do (whether it would be an academic paper, a magazine article, etc.) This flexibility allowed me to truly immerse myself in what I was writing, since I chose a topic I was genuinely interested in. After taking this course, I believe I am best at research or data supported writing assignments, like the one I just mentioned. I am not sure why, but it is just easier for me to write papers that analyze data to arrive at a conclusion. This is probably why I’ve always favored writing assignments in science and history courses.

Something new that I did this semester that I believe helped me substantially was to show my drafts to others for suggestions. As part of my writing course, I had to meet with my professor and talk about my works. Aside from my required meetings, I also met with GSIs in other courses to get help with my writing. Each and every time I met up with one of my instructors they provided me with invaluable advice that made my works better. I will definitely take advantage of these resources in my future classes, especially my first year writing course next semester.

Overall, I enjoyed my time in the Writing 100 course. I believe taking the course has made a positive impact on my writing, and that it has prepared me for what my future writing assignments will require of me.

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Response to Matt Cutts’ “Try Something New for 30 Days” Ted Talk

http://www.ted.com/talks/matt_cutts_try_something_new_for_30_days.html

Cutts’ talk presents a very simple argument(Title): Try Something New for 30 Days. He argues that 30 days is enough time to try something new, so that you know whether to stick to it or not. He also mentions that it is not TOO long, and that because of this fact you should be able to do anything you want. It is a simple concept, but his excited way of expressing the idea and his use of anecdotes proves effective in keeping the audience interested. His audience was everyone attending that TED talk session; these people pay significant sums of money to go and listen to the worlds most innovative ideas. His idea was simple, but that is part of its greatness; he believes that those who feel like their life is uneventful and that the months blend into each other could benefit greatly from trying new things every month. Overall, I think he expressed the idea well enough that it left an impression on the audience.

Response to Rob Trump’s “Why Would You Ever Give Money Through Kickstarter?”

I have to admit the title is intriguing. Most things I have heard about Kickstarter have been good, so the fact that someone has a seemingly negative approach to the website caught my attention. He starts his article talking about his experiences as a teenager and the game Magic: The Gathering. This approach would be especially effective at keeping people who know and like the game interested(Me!), but could keep anyone reading as long as it was well written and it merged into his main point. He did this effectively, linking one incident in which he received free cards from an “unknown” person over the internet to the Kickstarter project. Although the introduction that referenced the card game would not necessarily fancy every reader, he was able to use it effectively to present his point. He wrote his article with vocabulary that educated people would most likely be able to understand, and he demonstrated his main point well: Kickstarter is a great concept and could serve to build a community and help starting entrepreneurs, but it could be possible that after giving money away it go to waste. His tone throughout the article was impartial; he provided some points that favored the use of the website, and also provided some examples of failures.
Overall, I believe this was a very well written article. Kept me interested all the way!

Response to Megan McArdle’s “Is College a Lousy Investment?”

McArdle’s purpose in this article is to argue against spending large amounts of money on college degrees. Many people think that spending a lot of money on renowned institutions is always worth the cost, but the author provides arguments against this belief. I believe that her strongest argument was that in today’s world, having the title that proves you went through college is almost always more important than the actual skills earned through the process. She maintains that if the purpose of the student is mainly to obtain a degree, then there is no point in spending giant amounts of money when other economic education options exist. This is especially true when many new graduates are unable to find jobs. There is no point in racking up a large debt, when after finishing college one cannot pay them back. Her audience is most likely at least somewhat educated, because her article is on a news website and those who browse through news are typically educated. Many people who are educated know how valuable it is and believe that college is a worthy investment, so the author’s stance against expensive college degrees probably attracted many readers out of curiosity(Why does she think that way?.)  To me, his tone feels somewhat defensive. Maybe the author felt like he had to take a more defensive stance, seeing as how many people would likely disagree with some of his statements. Overall, I feel her article was well developed. She presented clear arguments, and provided concrete examples to prove her point.

Analysis of “Modern Times” by Charlie Chaplin

At the end of the 19th century, the United States changed significantly with the arrival of the industrialization. Among the changes were technological innovations, an abundant supply of natural resources, and new forms of factory organization. This time was especially characterized by the exploitation of millions of immigrants to mass-produce consumer goods. Charlie Chaplain, an English filmmaker who typically included forms of social criticism in his works, directly expressed his negative view of the industrialization in his film “Modern Times”. Even in the first 20 minutes of this film, criticism of the dehumanization caused by the industrialization is already present.

The plot of the first 20 minutes mainly consists of the experiences one factory worker has in his day of work. Chaplin beings his criticism almost immediately after the film starts. The first few scenes show all the workers arriving at the factory in large amounts. However, before any people were shown traveling to the factory, there is a short scene with a large herd of sheep traveling in the same direction. By comparing the workers to a herd of sheep, Chaplin begins to criticize the factory’s dehumanizing working conditions.  The comparison suggests that the workers have become as mindless as a herd of sheep. The effects of the factory work on the people are also criticized several minutes afterwards into the film. Forced to repeat the same motion for a long time, the main actor becomes so obsessed with completing his job that the assembly line machine swallows him while he tries to keep up with the work. This incident portrays how the kind of repetitive work the workers do may even turn the workers themselves into machines, whose only priority is to complete their task. Another aspect of the industrialization the filmmaker criticizes is the immense focus on efficiency and production. The president of the company constantly monitors employees, even in private spaces like the bathroom, to ensure that they are not wasting time. Chaplin further criticizes the focus on efficiency once a series of scenes involving a “feeding machine” appear. This feeding machine is supposed to be enable factory workers to eat while still working, eliminating the need for a lunch hour and further increasing the factory’s profits. When testing the machine, however, it malfunctions terribly and covers the main actor with food. These events are meant to show how ridiculous the focus on efficiency and profit had gotten. The president was even willing to try and forcibly feed his workers through a machine to achieve more production.

In all, even though the film itself contains heavy criticism on the working conditions imposed by the industrialization, the film remains very entertaining through the use of humor. The absurdity of the feeding machine as well as the exaggerated effects that the nature of the work produced in the main actor would likely cause the audience to be very entertained, and keep them interested in the film.

Cultural Analysis Essay

Cover Letter

Mr. Hedges,

The following work is an academic paper on the subject of the effects of cooperative play in video games. As suggested by you, I decided to treat this assignment as if it had been an academic research paper assigned by a professor. The document is a little dense with information, but I believe this is appropriate considering this paper would be read by a professor, whom would be able to digest all the information. The purpose of the document was to identify the effects of playing video games in cooperative settings, and identify the benefits and possible uses for this media. The tone used was formal, because the intended audience was this imaginary professor. As an academic paper, I would most likely have been required to provide the resources I used in the form of bibliographies. I included these at the end of the paper. Most of the information I used in the paper came from databases available through the university’s library website. The two databases I used the most were ProQuest, which has a wide selection of information on many topics, and PsycINFO, which focuses on psychological topics. 

I believe the paper could still be improved. I present a lot of information from studies that show the effects of game, and then some analysis that explains some possible uses for the games based on the data. I feel like there is too much information compared to the analysis I provide. This information does serve another purpose, which is to help me by establishing authority on the subject and making my claims more credible.

 

Thank you for your consideration,

Joel González

 

Essay:

Effects and Potential Benefits of Cooperative Video Game Play 

Video games, like other mass media such as music, television, and newspapers, have the potential to influence its consumers. For the past two and a half decades, these games have been under study to identify the effects they have on players. Recently, two large murder cases brought the issue of violent video games and its effect on players to the public. Over 90 people in total perished because of both incidents. In both instances, the murderers self-identified themselves as avid violent video game players. [1][2] These incidents caused large public outcries and caused many people to connect violent video games with destructive behavior. Many vilified video games, and blamed them for these two criminal’s actions. Heated discussions over whether these games were responsible for their actions surged. Those that were “in favor” of violent games usually stated if these games caused violent reactions, the huge player base of millions of people would have been committing despicable acts around the world. Since only a few cases of violence have been related to the games, these people felt that the anger was misdirected. Among their arguments was also the claim that video games had potentially beneficial effects.  Studies on the effects of violent games on players had already been done to that point, and it explained that the players were likely to act aggressively after playing violent titles, because they “learnt” the content of the games, and later applied it in subsequent tests. Although many studies have found that violent video games do indeed increase violent tendencies in their players [3], it is important to note that these studies have mainly focused on single-player gameplay.  

Most modern video games have some sort of multiplayer option, many of them in cooperative contexts. It is estimated that a 76% of adolescent gamers play with others in some way. In light of this, studies were conducted to ascertain the effects of video games while played in cooperative contexts. The findings indicate that the content of the video games is not the only factor that influences people’s behavior; the methods by which players participate greatly affect how the games influence the players. 

The context in which players participate in a video game is important, as it greatly changes their behavioral tendencies in subsequent tasks. Recent studies have suggested that when played in a cooperative setting, the games either have slightly positive effects on cooperation or greatly promote cooperative behavior, depending on the content. When experimenting with cooperative play in video games containing violent content, the results indicated that the players’ cooperation in subsequent tasks was approximately equal to those that played single-player non-violent video games. This suggests that cooperative play has the potential to ameliorate the negative effects of violent video games on cooperative behavior. [4] Playing neutral (non-violent) games cooperatively, however, increased cooperation in subsequent tasks compared to other participants that played the same neutral game in single-player contexts. [5] These findings suggest that playing violent video games in cooperative contexts do not harm subsequent social interactions, but that playing neutral video games in cooperative contexts actually benefits social interactions. One of the positive effects of cooperative play in neutral video games is increased cohesion within teams. [6]

There is more to video games than just entertainment. Studies that linked aggressive behavior with violent video games suggested that the individuals first learned the behavior from the games, and later “applied” their newly learned violent knowledge in social contexts. This phenomenon could possibly be beneficial in other contexts, such as education. Since the people who play the games learnt the content of the games, educational games could prove useful in that students would willingly play games and learn the content, to later apply it in school. The positive social effects of cooperative play in neutral video games could also prove useful in other ways than just entertainment: it could serve as an effective team building exercise. This could be useful in business scenarios in which a group of people must work together to achieve common goals. One specific example in which this could prove useful is when a group of people gathers with the purpose of starting up a new company. This requires a team effort, in which all members contribute to achieve collective success. Increased team cohesion would give a competitive edge in such a situation. 

 

 

References:

 1. Pidd, H. (2012, August 24). Anders behring breivik spent years training and plotting for massacre. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/aug/24/anders- behring- breivik-profile-oslo

 2. Barron, J. (2012, December 15). Children were all shot multiple times with a semiautomatic, officials say. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/16/nyregion/gunman-kills-20- children-at-school-in-connecticut-28-dead-in-all.html?_r=2&

  3. Eastin, M. S., & Griffiths, R. P. (2006). Beyond the shooter game: Examining presence and hostile outcomes among male game players. Communication Research, 33(6), 448-466. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.proxy.lib.umich.edu/docview/19713 3683?accountid=14667

 4. Greitemeyer, T., Traut-Mattausch, E., & Osswald, S. (2012). How to ameliorate negative effects of violent video games on cooperation: Play it cooperatively in a team. Computers in Human Behavior, 28(4), 1465-1470. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2012.03.009 

 5. Greitemeyer,  (2013). There’s no ‘I’ in team: Effects of cooperative video games on cooperative behavior. European Journal of Social Psychology, 43(3), 224-228.6. Anderson,  (2010). The impact of cooperative video games on team cohesion. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses

Response to McCollough’s “You Are Not Special” Speech

McCollough does a great job of delivering his “You Are Not Special” speech. I think that message is a bit dangerous to use as a speech directed towards a graduating class, as it may upset the audience. However, when McCollough gives his speech, the student body receives his message positively. This is because he uses humor effectively, and uses terminology that appeals to his young audience. Humor kept the speech engaging, and probably kept students listening to him because they had genuine interest in what he was saying. His use of the acronym “Yolo” and reference to viral internet videos appeals to his audience, which also keeps them interested and willing to hear him out. What I thought was best about his speech was that he kept his main premise basic, but gave numerous rational arguments to support his premise. By doing that, I believe that most of the audience would remember what he wanted to say even if they were not listening attentively throughout the speech.