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Analyze a Video Game with Network Visualization

Choose your game

The worlds designed by artists and programmers (and artist-programmers) for video games can constitute an art form in and of themselves, requiring active learning and participation on the part of the game player. This assignment involves you in exploring the complexity of a genre of video games that immerse you in a constructed Secondary World with its own set of rules that define how you move, interact, solve problems, and explore its dimensions.

Our assignment invites you to explore a game made by indie designers posted freely in the game development and testing venue, or from historic games available on the web. Choose a game to explore from one of the following sources:

Downloading and installing (as needed): troubleshooting tips

This assignment does not require that you pay for a game! Most games are available for free, but if you want to donate to the developer the interface will encourage you to do so. You can click past the donation screen to a download page, and choose the download that is likely compatible with your computer. Note: Some games (perhaps those that are a few years old) might not be compatible with your computer, but there are some very common file permission errors that we can troubleshoot.

First stage of analysis

Begin by taking notes on the following:

Take notes either on your computer or even hand-written on paper as you are playing the game. Write up these notes for your website or as a post on your own GitHub issues page on your personal repo. For this portion of the assignment, you will submit a link to your GitHub issue or webpage as a first round of analysis of your game experience.

Visuals: Prepare screen captures and a network of the game

Take a slow, careful walk through the game to capture distinctive moments that help to illustrate your review. You can use some of these visualizations, say of game characters or distinctive objects, in your network graphing if you wish.

Start a Google sheet and Kumu network, working with our template and following the methods we introduce in class. Choose a set of relationships to represent as nodes and connections in a network graph to help visualize something significant about this game, for example: interactions with characters or with game objects of various kinds. This time, you must use the Description column to describe your nodes and relationships, to invite people unfamiliar with your game to understand the elements and connections you're visualizing when they click through your graph. Develop a communicative, descriptive network visualization to help illustrate your game review for this assignment.

Write and post your illustrated game review on your website

Develop your assembled notes, screen captures, and network visualization into a review of this game to post on one of the websites you have constructed for this class this semester. For the network graph: use's embed feature to collect an iframe element to embed the Kumu network in your game review, and you shoud also provide a direct link, using the permalink feature in, to invite people to explore your network graph in a new window.

Your review should include several paragraphs of text, related to visuals that you carefully position to illustrate and help develop the points of your analysis. Our selection of games are not necessarily well-known, though some are reasonably famous. Your goal is to introduce an interesting indie game to people who may be interested in trying it out. What aspects of the game do you find worthy of praise? What do you find problematic aobut it? Be sure to cover in your review the distinctive features of the game on which you took notes: Discuss the setting, the characters, objects in game and how you interact with them. Use your network visualization to help people comprehend something about interactions and challenges in the game as a whole. Finally, reflect on this game as an art form, a real, immersive environment that might have some value and meaning to us in our world: why did this game interest you, or why might it be worth exploring for a little while?