Thesis Writing 2.0: After the draft

After meeting with my advisor yesterday, I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that I was nowhere near done my thesis regardless of page count. Fooling myself into thinking that I was almost done writing, the meeting was a well needed reality check. Although the “frame” of what I wanted to say is good, it remains a frame. Luckily, every page has comments scribbled in the margins to help me focus on what it was I was really trying to do.

So – my deadline has shifted – March 1st is now what I am aiming for, but after my meeting yesterday, I feel a bit better that the deadline is a soft one – that I might finish earlier, or later, but what really matters is getting what I have to say out of my head and down coherently on paper. It frustrates me that I know what it is I am trying to say – and when in conversation, I can express it in a thousand different ways, but when it comes to organizing it on paper – it gets lost in hundreds of convoluted sentences and misplaced paragraphs.

Indeed, it is a learning process – one that will make me stronger if it doesnt kill me first. Here’s to another bout of writing (will have to lay off the DDR for a bit!).

A Slice of Humble Pie

Over the last three years, those who know me, know that all the research and coursework that I have done has been towards one aim – my MA thesis. When asked, I always spoke confidently of my research topic, and how I had been working towards this goal for the last three years – since the year that I had met my advisor – writing my first paper on Rational Choice Theory and the guild structure in EverQuest (wasn’t even that bad really!)

But as deadlines loom, with my coursework over and convocation around the corner (well in a few months, but convocation deadlines loom!), I realize .. I am coming to terms with all the people who told me that the MA thesis was an exercise in mental capacity – that freaking out was all part of the process and that it is meant to challenge what I thought I wanted out of all of this. That if it doesn’t do this, then … well… most had nothing left to say since in all their experiences (this coming from more than one seasoned academic veteran and a student or two) everyone goes through moments of self doubt. Even the most prepared student who thinks they have it all under control SHOULD face some sort of moment of reckoning – thats what it is all about. I thought I was above that … I thought I had prepared properly.

Well, to all those who have tried to tell me … I get it now… As a good friend (and my relative second advisor) said, its like when someone who hasn’t had children tells you what they WOULD do in terms of child rearing …. yup – as a mom of two, I can relate to that analogy. You never really know till you get there.

So I want to acknowledge that as I submit my first (incomplete) draft, sipping the last of my wine, I understand now. Thank you for being there through my arrogance. The pie is settling well.

Final Fantasy Thoughts

Yesterday while meandering through the aisles of the game store, searching for something to play now that we have finished Final Fantasy XII, we found Final Fantasy VII: The Dirge of Cerebrus. The story line takes place after the events of FFVII and FF Advent Children. Same beautiful animation, the tale of yet another character in the massive narrative that is the Final Fantasy dynasty but with a different type of gameplay. For some it is a welcome change, and for others not so much:

Dirge of Cerberus tells the interesting story of a memorable video game character, but beyond that it’s nothing more than a very generic shooter. (www.gamespot.com)

As a very novice player of the FF series, I enjoy watching the game more than I do playing it (I have always had a hard time managing one character, let alone 4!). Last night, as my partner was playing the game in the living room, my daughters and I watching the cinematics between battles, I started to wonder about a few things.

In a game as complex as any of the Final Fantasy games, where one can complete the game per se but with only 53% completion rate, what does that do for the cinematics/cut scenes? In the class I took with Bernard Perron last year at the Universite de Montreal (Cinema, jeu video et fiction interactif), there was discussion about the use and purpose of cut scenes within the context of game-play.

I wonder – are the cut scenes dependent on your play choices in a series such as FF or do the cut scenes drive your play choics? If cut scenes were there to drive the narrative of the play along, but you can complete the game, with (i believe) the same ending at 53% or 99%, what role does your play really … play? By taking different play paths in the game, are the cinematics organized differently? Or does the play navigate the player to the relevant cut scene to further the narrative? How many scenes were missed if I finish the game at 53% and what extras do I get at 99%? And do they even matter if the narrative winds the same way at either percentage to the same final scene? I don’t know if this really makes sense – please feel free to clarify – by all means actually!

Finally – as a spectator, we enjoy the cut scenes in the Final Fantasy series, and for us (my daughter’s and I) we often urge my partner to hurry up and get to the end of the fight so we can see what is next, I wonder if there are online versions of each games cut scenes sewn together to make a film of sorts. And if so, how congruent are they (or would they be) in this case?

Gamer Revolution

Part one airing tonight at 8:00pm eastern, on the CBC, a documentary called “Gamer Revolution” which looks at:

How computer games are transforming the world. Gamer Revolution is a groundbreaking leap into pop culture’s new dark continent, an intelligent, pop savvy, and visually stunning compendium of everything you need to know about game culture. A long overdue look at a business and a cultural phenomenon that is changing not only the way we play-but quite possibly the way we live.