Thursday, March 1, 2012

Blog #6, Prompt #1

Patrick Kilduff

To start this blog post off, I no way, shape, or form did I expect Cup of Death to be anything spectacular, but I was really disappointed with the interactivity that was displayed in this choose your own adventure book.

To start off, there are a total of 23 different endings in this novel. At first one approaches this book and can say to oneself: “Okay this should be interesting, I wonder what trouble or success I may find in this book?” But, this is complete deception. If you take the total number of pages in the book (120) and divide it by the total number of endings (23) then you get an average of 5.217 pages per story. Now the actual number per story varies from this number, but I think that the point I am try to make is clear. All of the stories in this book were very brief and quick to the ending.

Maybe I am being a little too judgmental, seeing that the testimonies as soon as you open the book are by 11 and 12 year olds, but I mean there is very little effort or variation in these stories. Sure I guess technically speaking there is variation in this story, but I mean the outcomes were very uninteresting. I mean in one variation of an ending that I read I ended up washing dishes on a boat, and we never find out what happens to the teacup.

Now that my tangent about this book is over, I’d like to discuss the point of a choose your own adventure book, my strategy to reading the book, and a comparison to video games.

The point of a choose your own adventure book is to allow the reader to deviate from a central plot and determine the outcome of the main character. Essentially, the reader is in control of their destiny. Now, the number of outcomes is limited by the options posed by the author, but the appeal of a book of this nature is pretty cool and interesting if you ask me.

In Cup of Death, you are an Asian American visiting Japan for the Japanese New Year, and your friend calls you up and says he needs you to help solve a mystery of a missing/stolen teacup. And boom, you are thrown into the world of choose your own adventure. The outcomes are sometimes dangerous, sometimes depressing, sometimes comical, and sometimes successful, but the point is interactivity, which this book accomplishes (although in my opinion very poorly).

My strategy for reading this book was to read until I reached an ending, return to the very beginning of the story and choose a different avenue for completing the story. I did somewhat feel connected to the story, wondering what lies on the next step of my journey, but in all honesty I was not surprised to find myself locked in a ships ground floor control room or whatever happens. The interactivity was there, but not at the level I was hoping for.

Now when someone thinks of video games, we can definitely see and expect some interactivity. Just like a book, the plot is set for the player, having a set way of getting their (following the desired path) but the player has a very interesting amount of choices to get their. Let’s take your typical first person shooter, something like Call of Duty or close to the sort. The player has to defeat the bad guy, play through the specified amount of levels, and so on and so-forth. But the strategy to beating each level and getting to that final boss is different. Does one rush in with a head full of steam into a group of enemies and gun them all down? Take a quiet approach and knife them? Maybe use a long distance weapon such as a sniper rifle? These choices are endless. The weapons used, the strategies taken, the use of teammates to defeat the opposition (in on-line play) make video games have so much interactivity, a lot more than a choose your own adventure book.

I think the video game with the most interactivity I have ever played is either The Sims or a game like Fallout 3 or Skyrim (somewhat of the same premise with these two). In The Sims, you start out with nothing essentially, and customize your life the way you want it. A really interesting approach to a game, and probably the most interactivity that I have seen in a game. In Fallout 3 or Skyrim, you start from square one as a character and explore the worlds you are placed in, allowing you to complete the game at your own pace while completing side quests if wanted. Both of these games really display full interactivity with the player.

All in all, video games display more interactivity than a choose your own adventure tale, and I prefer video games to the stories as well.


Adam said...

Note that the second you admit is a tangent takes up a substantial part of the essay. These are not highly formal essays, but you still should have rethought at this point - there's no clear strategy or direction there.

By the last third of the essay, you haven't said anything about the details of the text, about what interactivity is, or about why you value it - you simply say that Cup of Death doesn't have much of it. That's a lot of writing, to express an opinion (which isn't to say that you're wrong, but is to say I don't see anything like an argument here).

Note that when you begin to write about interactivity, you are simply assuming that it is created by having *enough* choices, or *enough* objects. I'm not sure I'd argue against that, but I'd at least like you to reflect on what your views and values *are*. Why do you define interactivity in terms of volume (essentially) without even seeming to think about it?

The generalizations about random games at the end serve no function; writing at length about how interactivity works in a given game would have been much better.

Overall: I see no trace of an argument here, and very little that I'd call a reading - it's a series of opinions.

Margaret Julian said...

So I totally agree with your statement that interactivity is higher and overall a better experience as far as involvement I concerned but I'm just not sure I understand why you're arguing the point. It just seems like a lot of opinion and commentary on the book a little critical argument. Not that I found it uninteresting there just wasn't anything that I see being able to open up and form a larger argument, I guess I'm missing the "why it matters" part of your point.