DailyAfirmation (dailyafirmation) wrote,

Is playing an old video game like riding a bicycle or getting back on the horse?

~Sunday~  I've mentioned here before that as part of our assignments for this graduate level Games & Learning Design Course, we have to play games—six of them to be exact—and do "game journal" entries about them.

At one point in my life, I spent a lot of time playing this game:

Screen capture of the game Zuma

It's probably been about 10 years since I played it, which I did today, and here's the game journal entry I wrote about it.

Game Journal

Your name: John Martin
Date: 03/31/13


  • Game name: Zuma
  • Genre: Video
  • Four-word description: Ball elimination game
  • Describe winning condition: Completing 22 levels before losing all of your “lives”


  • How many people are needed? One
  • How many are optimal? One
  • How many did you play with? One
  • Who were they and how were they related? N/A
  • How many people knew the game? I had played this game before, ages ago.


  • Are there teams? No.
  • How many people per team? N/A
  • How many teams? N/A
  • Did any single person take a “master” or leadership role? N/A

Communication Patterns

  • What are the key social interactions (e.g., direct competition, collaboration, deceit, alliances, trading, parallel personal achievement, etc.)? Direct competition with the computer. Talking to “myself.” (Ejaculations such as “Shit!” and “Damn!” at the computer screen.) :-)
  • Was communication mediated? How? No
  • Was there (non-deliberate) miscommunication? No


  • How long did you play the game? 49 minutes
  • Do you take turns? It was always my turn against the computer.
  • How long does it take to play a full game? It could take hours, even days, as you learn the game. I reached 15 of the 22 levels in the 49 minutes I played.
  • How long did a turn take? I played continuously.
  • How many full games did you play? 15/22ths :-)
  • How do you know the game is over? There is an indication at each level that you’ve completed it. I never finished the game, but I imagine there is some big enthusiastic splash screen letting you know you “won.”
  • Did you pause during play? Yes. Once. As my arm began to cramp up from the tension and continuous play, especially having not played for years.


  • How much room does the game require? Just the area around my computer. I played on my desktop machine.
  • What level of physical activity is necessary? “Lard” level. :-) I just had to move my hand around on the mouse, which resulted in the cramps mentioned above.
  • Is the game mobile? Do you end in the same space you begin? In the sense that I could play it on a laptop, yes. There is also a phone version of it, but I don’t play games on my phone.
  • Are there environmental needs? No.


  • What equipment is involved (pieces, board, console, etc.)? Just a mouse.
  • Are resources equally available? N/A
  • Are players eliminated before a winning condition is met? Yes, as soon as you lose three lives on a level, you’re eliminated.
  • Is anything physical produced? No, other than arm pain. :-)
  • Is anything physical depleted? No


  • How long did it take for a shared understanding of the rules? The “rules” and strategies came back to me pretty quickly; I would say within minutes.
  • How does the game compare to the rules description? Favorably.
  • Did you change any rules? No.
  • Was a shared understanding of the game required of everyone? N/A
  • Were there any disagreements or arguments over the rules as the game proceeded? N/A
  • Did anyone cheat? N/A


  • How did you feel playing the game? Totally absorbed, and skilled, especially when I was able to reach the 15th stage on my first time playing it again after not playing for so long.
  • How engaging was the game? So much so that I actually thought at one point, “Uh-oh. It would be way too easy to get hooked on this game again. I was shocked to find out that I had played for 49 minutes of the allowed 60-minute free trial when I was finally eliminated.
  • How did other players feel? N/A
  • Did winners and losers have significantly different reactions to the game? N/A
  • Was there interest in playing again? I’m interested, but I know I won’t. It’s a time suck, and there are other things I’d rather be doing.


  • What did you learn
    1. about the game? That I was completely disinterested in the narrative that was the backdrop of the game (i.e., It is “set” in Aztec, Mexico with each level in the first stage having names like Spiral of Doom, Osprey Talon, Riverbed Mosaic, Breath of Ehecatl, Dark Vortex (two rows), Switchback (second temple), and Long Range (third temple).) It could have been called “Marbles” for all I care or noticed while playing.
    2. about the people you played with? N/A
    3. that is transferable to other situations? Just the hand-eye coordination comes to mind, and perhaps the notion of “perseverance.”
  • New content knowledge: None, as I ignored the narrative, although I’m not sure, for instance, that “Osprey Talon, Riverbed Mosaic, or Breath of Ehecatl even have anything to do with Aztec civilization. Heck, I”m not even sure that that “l” on the end of “Ehecatl” isn’t a typo, and I don't even care enough to Google it. :-)
  • Strategy and Tactics that can transfer: “Shooting” things sooner and faster is almost always “better.”

Brief Narrative
Write a brief narrative about your experience. Describe any notable issues that came up during the game structure (mediating, group, materials) and playing the game (cheating, confusion, quitting).

I remember spending a lot of time learning to play this game well, whenever I played it many years ago. I really don’t have a good feel for when I played, but it wouldn't surprise me if it was even as much as ten years ago.

I was surprised that I had completed yet another stage whenever one ended. I really expected to be eliminated a lot sooner than I did. It wasn't until my arm started hurting that I looked for an opportunity to stop the game, and that’s when I first noticed the “Hit the spacebar to pause” instruction, which was presumably there all along.

In terms of “intellectual inquiry” while playing, this is the first time I've played thinking of myself as a “first person shooter,” as well as trying to be cognizant of any “educational opportunity” I might be availing myself of while playing. Aside from “keeping my mind active,” and “exercising manual dexterity,” I can’t think of a lot, and I’d rather be getting those two things from something other than playing Zuma.
Tags: class, eac795, games

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