Continuing with my field notes in analyzing the 80 Days video game, as a part of my studies in Digital Games, Learning, and Pedagogy (ETEC 565S), this game log reflects my observations watching another gamer on their playthrough of 80 Days.
Name of Game: 80 Days
Friday August 28th, 2020
Session 3: Video Observations
Watch an online video of your game, either via live-streaming (Twitch.tv) or conventional video (YouTube). Get a sense of how an expert plays that game: see how they understand and react to the game and how that differs from YOUR playthrough; see what it is like to watch the game not just as a viewer, but as a mass media spectator. Again, organize your account into three kinds of notes.
The gameplay that I watched was Gavin of Paragon Plays‘ Mutiny Aboard the Waterlily | 80 Days [Interactive Novel Gameplay].
a) Descriptive Notes
Document what the player is doing, paying attention to, ignoring, prioritizing, but also what they are talking about (i.e. what they verbally frame as important during the playthrough). Make notes of what the player is paying attention to, prioritizing, and/or ignoring and if and how that is different from your play.
- Gavin was well read on Jules Verne’s novel, Around the World in 80 Days, and as such had an idea in playing, the sort of character that Passepartout is, and what sort of daring decisions he might make in parts – taking risks. I have to say, this lead to some fun suspense in the gameplay. As Passepartout says as they approached Bombay in Around the World in 80 Days, “Fortune favours the bold.”
- I also gained some insights into the character of Phileas Fogg and how he might react to Passepartout’s decisions (based on Jules Verne’s writing of his character) from kebzero‘s gameplay, Let’s Play 80 Days – Around the World We Go! – Episode 01. It is important in maintaining character health and good relations with Phileas Fogg to think what an English gentleman might decide in a public interaction.
- Gavin pointed out the importance of having conversations with passengers and crew members during transport, in order to quickly find travel routes and save time in each location.
- So as not to waste time and to keep to story flowing, Gavin makes decisions quickly – this is definitely an area that I need to take note and tighten up in my gameplay.
- Definitely important to keep a deck of cards to play whist, as that’s Phileas Fogg’s game of choice.
- Somethings are not as they seem, like the ship the Waterlily transforming into a submarine. These hidden details are only shared if you engage others in conversation, and ultimately are only revealed based on the decisions that you choose to make and how your character is perceived.
- Many other players are terming 80 Days ‘fan fiction’ or ‘further fiction’, which has encouraged me to reread Jules Verne’s novel, Around the World in 80 Days, so that I might enjoy some of the easter eggs and insider jokes in the game to the original novel, like meeting characters from the novel and the jokes around crossing the International Date Line.
- Apparently you can even travel to the North Pole and shave several days (even weeks) off your journey.
- Even if you don’t use certain routes or knowledge in one game, your character retains them for future games.
b) Affective Notes
What affective responses did you observe the streamer having while playing? What evidence did you have of their affective response/s? What did they choose to focus on? How were they different from responses and focus/foci you had? Pay specific attention to instances where you were surprised by something the video streamer said or did. And if possible, reflect on how affective responses impacted the ‘learning’ or ‘engagement’ you think can be recognized and documented from this observed play session.
- Excitement – over the game, the adventure, and the invitation into a new world of stories started by Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days.
- Accomplishment – over the route Gavin accomplished in making it around the world in 71 days, on his 3rd attempt at the game – after 2 previously failed attempts of play.
- Anticipation – over visiting all the cities on the globe that Gavin has not visited yet, and the adventures that might unfold from there with encountering new characters and trade routes.
- Relishing – in the fun story bites, and some of the choices Gavin made that garnered his character alliances.
- A Note of Pride – at understanding the insider joke with regards to the dateline.
- Frustration – at having to stop in Honolulu.
- Disappointment – over first attempt of mutiny not working.
- Hope – that there would be another opportunity for mutiny.
- Amusement – at the graphics for the submarine and reading the voices of different characters.
- Pride – at speedy travel by the submarine.
- Pleasure – at words of praise from Phileas Fogg.
- Excitement – at the idea of following the route of the book.
Gavin chose to focus on one small story within his journey, that he enjoyed, to share his gameplay from. I thought this was smart, as it kept his audience’s attention and left us wanting more. This had not been his original goal, which had been to share a full game from start to finish, but was a smart choice of circumstance, when his recording cut off.
In terms of play and choices within the game, Gavin leaned towards risky choses, mixed with humour, and camaraderie. This definitely lead to excitement, and has encouraged me to be a little bolder on my next playthrough.
I really loved Gavin’s narration and storytelling. This has inspired a desire in me to film routes of travel and city visits in the game in short chunks in sequence to act as a serialized / chaptered bedtime story that I could share chapter by chapter to our StoryToGo YouTube Channel.
c) Analytic Notes
Review your descriptive notes and consider the problems the player encountered and the strategies/solutions that they enacted. Furthermore, consider how the player navigated/commented on issues/structures of race, gender, class, and violence. What did you notice about the game when you watched, as opposed to when you played? Any quick connections to make here to either Bogost or Taylor? Hold off on making any big conclusions for now.
- Many of Gavin’s choices in the game had him fraternizing with the crew of the ship he was sailing on, which lead to stories in the game about friction between religions, and allowed for Gavin to use those to instigate change within the game, accompanied by a certain amount of expected violence inherent in the ensuing mutiny.
- As Gavin chose to treat the female characters in the game with respect and as equals, this won him alliances that ultimately helped him in his gameplay. I noticed the same thing in some of the choices I made. I suspect much of this comes from having a strong female writer on the game, and wonder if the female characters in the game would be different, weaker or not in roles of authority if a man had been the writer of the game? That said, in beginning to reread Jules Verne’s novel, he too treated the women they encountered with a great deal of respect. However, sticking with the time, there were not as many women in their travels or in as strong roles. I am also curious how the game plays out differently, if one were not to treat those female characters with respect?
- The main strategies I gleaned from Gavin are to be daring, make quick decisions, fraternize with the other characters within the game every chance you get, and familiarize yourself with the story of Around the World in 80 Days.
- I am also gathering that it behooves one to make decisions within the game that show respect for other religions and female characters, which I have to say makes me smile.
Fieldnote Summary Session 3
At the end of your fieldnotes for session three, craft one or two sentences (no more) that, for you, summarize your observations of a more skilled player playing this game. Include one image that supports your conclusions.
I had a lot of fun watching Gavin of Paragon Plays’ gameplay of 80 Days. He drew me into the story with his wonderful narration and infectious excitement and sense of anticipation, encouraging me to make some bolder choices when I next play, quickly, and with an eye out for gaining understanding of other characters within the game’s circumstance and if I am able to catalyze positive change in that circumstance, whilst approaching my own task at hand.