Terrible first blog post title aside…
I’m Marie Cuenca. I’ve been at Chico State for about three years now. I’m an undergraduate English studies major with a minor in Japanese (though fluency still escapes me). I’m still not really sure what I plan to do after I graduate, but I’m keeping an open mind. For me, English 431 is a way to sort of test myself and to see if teaching would be something that I would be interested in doing. I think it will be good to experience how a classroom and its students function from an outsider’s perspective rather than being a student myself.
I’m honestly a giant nerd to the point that it’s kind of embarrassing sometimes. I really love video games, tabletop games, anime/manga, and so on. So my literary interest pertains to those kinds of subjects. Throughout the week I found myself noting how often I check up on video game reporting sites like Gameinformer or Polygon. In terms of writing, at the moment most of it was for school. I was writing another blog post similar to this for my English 315, which is intro to publishing among reading for assignments. Obviously, there is also texting and other social media outlets (for me it’s mostly messaging friends from Tumblr or IMing them in Skype). While waiting for a responses to messages, I’m constantly switching between and engaging through different literacies all at the same time. From my tablet, to my phone, to my computer, or my even 3ds, I’m sifting through my reading or writing either to communicate, for knowledge, or to engage in an entertainment medium.
Which brings me to the point about Szwed when he talked about “book culture” (425). I always think about how there is the perception that books are the be all end all of what defines literacy. Something that comes to mind when I think about this concept is my younger brother, for example. He isn’t a fan of reading books especially assigned reading he’s given in his high school classes. Yet, he loves to read comic books, manga, and even fanfiction on his phone. He’s constantly engaging in a sort of literacy that interests him, however, my parent’s don’t approve that he’s always on the phone reading. Yet if he was reading a book, would their response to him reading all the time be the same? Of course not, but that idea remains, that for them and his school “good” reading can only stem from books and books alone.
It makes me kind of take a step back to examine all the kind of literacy I encounter without thinking. Which brings me back to video games, because they have been such a constant in my life. What always kind of amazes me is how much reading a person actually does in video games and for video games. Szwed’s idea of “reading matter that is not normally included under the category of literature” (424) instantly comes to mind in relation to how literacy is found even in the places one wouldn’t think. Video games, whether it be the game itself or video game walkthroughs and so on, have really shaped and helped define my own way of reading and writing in ways that I don’t always realize or notice. Especially for video games that rely so heavily on text to be the “voice” of the characters (and even the ones with voice acting do this with captions).
So then it starts to become more than just a medium to “waste time” with, but one that actively has the player involved. When I was a kid, I always had trouble reading. I was always put in the lowest reading group with others who struggled. It was frustrating to have to sit still for so long and stare at a block of text I couldn’t understand or engage with. But with video games, like Legend of Zelda, or old text based adventure games like the Oregon Trail, I found I could spend hours reading something that engaged me thoroughly and never get bored with it. Another great example I can think of is game like Ace Attorney in which the player is a lawyer that must analyze the language of the characters and gather evidence to help solve courtroom cases. The player is often allowed and encouraged to analyze the words of the person being prosecuted and to gather as many clues as possible. I equate it to doing annotations or analyzing a text.
I know I’ve rambled a lot about games but I find that in correlation with how Szwed talked about different forms of literacy, video games are such a good medium in which to explore that kind of discussion about what literacy is and how it tackles that question in its own unique ways. It’s something that I find fascinating. I look forward to seeing where this conversation will take us.