Midterm Story Draft – Harris Foster

At St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, a classroom is filled with students, a typical scene for any major university. The students of this class are like any other. Working in groups, they are hunched intensely around their computers, occasionally glancing to their neighbors screen to make a quick suggestion or ask for help on a formula. Are these students future mechanical engineers designing the next great wonder? Are they scientists looking for the next medical breakthrough?  While math is greatly involved, their goals are far different. These students are creating fun.

These are the Interactive Games Studies students, and they are creating the next great video game. Jumping between graphical interfaces and lines of code, these students are implementing their knowledge of algebra, geometry, and even physics in order to create virtual worlds in both 2D and 3D space. Using industry standard programs such as Unity and Unreal Engine, the games created by St. Edward’s students have the potential to be the next big blockbuster release.

Different roles populate the teams creating the games. Coders and Engineers work alongside the gameplay designers to create the skeleton frame of the game, manipulating the mathematical, behind-the-scenes data that determines everything from in-game weapons to the height of the player character’s jump. All of these attributes are brought to life by the artists, who draw, sculpt, and animate on their digital canvas. All of this is overseen by a director. Just like in a film crew, the director runs the show. They call the shots, they make the decisions, and they have the final say.

One of St. Edward’s most notable game development teams is BigCat games, who have been working on a project together for the past __ months. An interview with BigCat games is scheduled, in which I will speak to both the director and one of the designers.

While the students of St. Edwards University are able to create a fully functioning game using what they’ve learned, the program is not without criticism. Some students in the program believe that they are not learning enough core concepts to be ready for the video game industry following graduation. While the tools being offered to the students are industry standard, some students believe that the way some of the classes are handled leads to more confusion than education. The gaming program at St. Edward’s is also greatly understaffed, with many faculty either leaving the program or getting fired after only a few years of its existence.

As only one of two schools in the state offering a dedicated video game program, St. Edward’s University has an advantage at drawing in students interested in perusing a career in the world’s newest medium. Time will tell if the quality of the program improves, which hopefully reflects in the work produced by the small, independent teams of dedicated student creators.

Midterm Story Pitch – Harris Foster

For my midterm story, I’d like to look at the video games being developed by the Interactive Game studies students here at St. Edwards. Formerly part of that degree, I have insight into a few of the classes, but I’m interested to see how far along some of these projects have gone. Content can include direct feed capture of the projects as well as video interviews with the developers of the projects.

Media Critique – Harris Foster

For my piece, I chose the Playstation 4 review piece by Polygon, a website that covers the video game industry under the Vox Media umbrella. The article is credited as written by the staff as a whole, with Justin McElroy leading the effort, providing direction and voice acting for the video component. From the start, the purpose of the article is clear: This would be a review of the Playstation 4 experience at the time of its launch, from the capabilities of its hardware to the integrity of its day-one software lineup. These critiques are presented in a beautiful, blue-print inspired interactive article that seems to build itself on screen in front of the reader, drawing a metaphoric parallel to the next generation of video gaming that was being formed at around the same time.

Polygon and other Vox Media subsidiaries are well known in and outside of the tech journalism bubble for their aesthetically pleasing sites. This article in particular is no different, with the first thing the viewer sees after clicking onto the page is a striking animation of the Playstation 4 console, controller, and camera clicking into place. The article utilizes notched scrolling and a side navigation bar to direct the reader into different areas they may be interested in in relation to the Playstation 4, from power and design of the console itself to the features and capability of the online component. The “Controller” section of the article utilizes a shifting photo window that compares the new controller of the Playstation 4 to that of the Playstation 3, giving readers an insight into the minor differences of Sony’s new device.

This design beauty really is one of the main strengths of this article. With every section containing a new animation or infographic, I was drawn into the minimalistic world and because of that, I wanted to read every little snippet of information that I could. That said, while the minimalistic design of this article is a plus, I’m left wondering if any information was left out of this review in order to keep it looking as sleek as possible. Console launches are one of the most important times for those following the video game industry, and fans of the hobby typically want to get as much information as possible before dropping hundreds of dollars on a new video game system. While the contents of the article didn’t feel like they were necessarily missing anything, I find that it’s always nice to have as many impressions as possible before I buy.

This was the first major console launch covered by Polygon since their formation, and it seems like they put a lot of resources toward it. Encapsulating everything about a video game console on the day it releases is a tough job, but Polygon not only did it, but they did it in style. As always, the writing of Justin McElroy is detailed and clean, compliment that with the minimalistic beauty of this article and you’ve got yourself a piece of video game coverage that will be remembered for a long time.

Media Critique

Harris Foster

February 14, 2017

JOUR 2314

Heath

 

Media Critique

For my piece, I chose the Playstation 4 review piece by Polygon, a website that covers the video game industry under the Vox Media umbrella. The article is credited as written by the staff as a whole, with Justin McElroy leading the effort, providing direction and voice acting for the video component. From the start, the purpose of the article is clear: This would be a review of the Playstation 4 experience at the time of its launch, from the capabilities of its hardware to the integrity of its day-one software lineup. These critiques are presented in a beautiful, blue-print inspired interactive article that seems to build itself on screen in front of the reader, drawing a metaphoric parallel to the next generation of video gaming that was being formed at around the same time.

Polygon and other Vox Media subsidiaries are well known in and outside of the tech journalism bubble for their aesthetically pleasing sites. This article in particular is no different, with the first thing the viewer sees after clicking onto the page is a striking animation of the Playstation 4 console, controller, and camera clicking into place. The article utilizes notched scrolling and a side navigation bar to direct the reader into different areas they may be interested in in relation to the Playstation 4, from power and design of the console itself to the features and capability of the online component. The “Controller” section of the article utilizes a shifting photo window that compares the new controller of the Playstation 4 to that of the Playstation 3, giving readers an insight into the minor differences of Sony’s new device.

This design beauty really is one of the main strengths of this article. With every section containing a new animation or infographic, I was drawn into the minimalistic world and because of that, I wanted to read every little snippet of information that I could. That said, while the minimalistic design of this article is a plus, I’m left wondering if any information was left out of this review in order to keep it looking as sleek as possible. Console launches are one of the most important times for those following the video game industry, and fans of the hobby typically want to get as much information as possible before dropping hundreds of dollars on a new video game system. While the contents of the article didn’t feel like they were necessarily missing anything, I find that it’s always nice to have as many impressions as possible before I buy.

This was the first major console launch covered by Polygon since their formation, and it seems like they put a lot of resources toward it. Encapsulating everything about a video game console on the day it releases is a tough job, but Polygon not only did it, but they did it in style. As always, the writing of Justin McElroy is detailed and clean, compliment that with the minimalistic beauty of this article and you’ve got yourself a piece of video game coverage that will be remembered for a long time.

Thought Exercise 3 Harris Foster

  1. Brainstorm possible news story ideas. If it helps you may think about news story ideas by using some of your own life experiences and those of your family, friends, neighbors and community. Think about what makes the stories interesting and important, select 2 and write them down.
    • Trump’s Travel Ban
    • SAG Voice Actor’s Strike
  1. Think about news values (timeliness, proximity, conflict and controversy, human interest, relevance), pick one of your story ideas from question #1 above and explain which news values are present in your story.
    • Trump’s Travel Ban – Human Interest
      • The debate of National Security vs. Human Rights is at play with this story, and the status and effectiveness of the ban is wavering consistently. Informing the public on the current state of the ban is an obligation of the media.
  1. Identify and list potential sources and interviewees for your story.
    • National Judges
    • Airline Security Experts
    • TSA Agents
    • Civil Liberities/Rights representatives
    • Individuals and families who are effected, such as those who are denied entry due to the ban
  1. Think about some of the interactive media elements from thought exercise #2. What types (photos, video, interactive maps, etc.) of interactive media would add depth and understanding to your story?
    • Population Graph, comparing the ratio of successful terrorist attacks to those affected by the ban.
    • Population breakdowns, showing the ethnic distribution of those affected by the ban
    • Visualizations of money lost due to industry workers being denied entry to the country
  1. Explain why the public would find the story relevant, interesting or important.
    • This travel ban is one of President Trump’s executive orders, and right out of the gate it’s controversial. Keeping the public informed on this subject seems important to our nation’s future, as this issue has already lead to mass protest. Should anything change on this issue, informing the public would be very important, as they are the direct subjects of this order.

Thought exercise #2 – Interactive media and social issues.

NAME: Harris Foster

Read and explore “Payday Nation (Links to an external site.)” from Al Jazeera America and answer these questions:

  1. Do the interactive media elements help you to understand the problem of predatory lending? Why or why not?
  • Absolutely. The step by step nature of the interactive elements as well as the graphic designs helped give me context as to what is at stake, as well as what exactly is going on in terms of predatory lending.
  1. Who might benefit from reading and engaging with this content?
  • Those who are susceptible to predatory lending, or ignorant to its practices. Granted, predatory lending typically focuses on those with little education, so whether or not articles like this are actually reaching them is debatable.

Read and explore the interactive media “Map: Where is Childhood Homelessness Getting Worse? (Links to an external site.)” and answer these questions:

  1. Why do you think there are such differences in the percentage change in childhood homelessness from state to state? Does the map help you to understand causes or reasons for the different increases?
  • Population combined with Government spending seems to be the biggest influencer of childhood homelessness in the United States, with states who put more into programs to prevent such things naturally having lower numbers. While the map does provide an interesting display of the raw data, I wouldn’t say that it provides any reasoning or interpretation
  1. Name the two states with the highest percentage of homeless students as a “share of all students.” (Be careful, not looking for percentage change)
  • California, Texas

5. Explore the Frontline web app “Concussion Watch (Links to an external site.)” and answer this question: What creative techniques are used to attract your attention?

  • Laying out the graphics in terms of a football starting line was a nice creative touch, but I would have liked more text to explain the purpose of the graphic.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/concussion-watch/

  1. Does the interactive web app “Concussion Watch” help you understand the issue of concussions in the National Football League? Why or why not?
  • The only thing that I gleamed from this graphic is which positions were impacted most by concussions. I didn’t understand the brunt of the issue or steps that are being done to prevent it, such as new equipment or changes in rules.

Thought Exercise 1

1. How do you get most of your news? – Social Media, NPR

2. What device do you prefer when interacting with news stories online? – Desktop Computer

3. Do you read any print newspapers regularly? If so, which ones? – No

4. Do you watch TV News (network or Cable). If so, which programs? – Yes, NBC Nightly News

5. Do you listen to news on the radio? If so, what programs? – Yes, NPR

6. What is your favorite news or entertainment website? – None in Particular

7. How often do you read, watch or listen to news stories? – Daily

 

8. Please write the response that applies next to each question:

News organizations play a key role in democracy: Strongly Agree

Politicians are not held accountable by journalists: Disagree

The media I consume keeps me informed about my community: Strongly Agree

News organizations hurt democracy: Strongly Disagree

The reporting of facts and events is important for our society: Strongly Agree

I have knowingly shared a fake news story on social media at least once: Strongly Disagree

I have shared a story I later realized was fake news on social media at least once: Disagree