Your second essay is an in-depth game analysis, conducted as an extension of the work you did in the first essay. This time, however, you will provide a detailed game description (a summary of the game’s premise, its gameplay, its virtual environment, music, characters) in addition to outlining of its studio history and reception. The emphasis of the essay, however, is analyzing the game (linking its major themes and gameplay to an argument on what you think the game is about with respect to larger social or cultural categories such as gender, race, geopolitical economy, etc.). This essay will be slightly longer (2000-2500 words) and will also require 10 sources, 2 of which must deal with the game directly. A full description of the assignment will follow.
Essentially, this essay 1 was a historical survey. You were able to research your game company’s history and to evaluate responses to it. The nice thing about this approach is that while you were relieved from having to produce a detailed argument, you were also guided toward the central preoccupations of those who have begun to think critically about the game. So you can really think of essay 2 as an extension of this piece (1), where you take up significant thematic strands within the game (plot, objectives, character, gameplay, soundtrack, etc.) and rebind them to the concerns identified in essay 1. Essentially, this means that you’ll be finding ways to relate what takes place within the world of the game to events taking place outside of it in a “real” world of social, political, and economic upheaval.
One of the things that you might consider as you begin your analysis, is how the plot, characters, objectives, gameplay, perspectives in Watch Dogs relate to circumstances outside of the world of the game. So, for instance, why does the game operate in the perspective it does? Why does it locate itself in a certain city? How might these choices relate to broader historical/economic/social circumstances, or to the precise corporate circumstances faced by Ubisoft as they develop their genre?
For Essay 2, I want you guys to have a lot more freedom with your topics. So there isn’t a specific prompt or a specific set of questions that you are meant to answer. Instead, you are going to be developing an argument about your game, somewhat in the style of the articles I’m having you read this week (Nakamura’s piece on Warcraft and Racial Identity, for instance).
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