This assignment involves playing a game called Human Resource Machine. You should play the game with a few different objectives, prioritized like this:
1. Understand the basic principles of computer programming
2. Write elegant and efficient solutions to puzzles
3. Think critically about the structure and presentation of the game
4. Solve as many puzzles as possible
Most people will not complete the game before the Sunday deadline. You do not need to finish the game to get a good grade; nor does finishing the game guarantee getting a good grade (though getting pretty far along will help your understanding — and grade — of course!)
What you will submit for this assignment is a single PDF file containing screenshots of the game and one SIGNIFICANT paragraph (approximately 250 words or one half-page single spaced) detailing your experience and understanding of the game. This is a 10-point assignment and will use the grading scheme outlined in the syllabus (aka "Home" on Canvas).
Screenshots can theoretically be of anything you think relevant but at minimum should include some demonstration of your progress and examples of code you wrote in the game, like this:
And will likely also include a couple of size and speed challenges, like this:
If you wish to additionally discuss the narrative content of the game, you are free to include dramatic interludes:
The game is available in the Mac lab in which we are holding tutorials/labs as well as one additional PC lab on campus (location TBA). We also have approximately 10 iPads reserved for 7-day loan to people who do not own a device that runs any of the platforms below.
However we expect most students will prefer to install the game on their own devices, and the university has generously agreed to purchase one* copy of the game for each student!!
For people who want the PC version, please use this link. (You will need to right-click on the downloaded file and install it).
For people who want the Mac version, please use this link. (You will need to double-click the file and then drag the icon into your applications folder to install it).
This game also exists for iOS, Android, Linux, Nintendo Switch, Wii, lots of platforms, but the university can't provide those licenses. If you wish to purchase the game on those platforms, it is very reasonably priced between $5 - $12.
For the text reflection: Please do NOT just describe the basic functioning of the game. Your GTA and I have already played the game ourselves — think of how boring it would be to read 100 of those! Instead, you are being asked something much more interesting: your own ORIGINAL insights, expressed in eloquent or otherwise interesting ways. This can include things like:
- Critically reflect on your own experience of playing the game. How did YOU play the game? How did it feel? Why is that?
- What did you learn from playing the game? (Again, there is no single right answer to this question. Learn something about programming? About games? About yourself?)
- Critical analysis of what's going on in the game, as you've probably done for other kinds of 'texts' like films or literature in other courses. For example: how does the mix of aesthetics, narrative, and technical aspects of the game fit together? What's the ideological undercurrent? Unpack the game as a cultural phenomenon!
One screenshot is sufficient to show how far you made it in the game, but again feel free to include in your PDF additional specific images if they are useful to illustrate the narrative you're writing or otherwise convey something about the project. (e.g., if you want to discuss a particular level or program you wrote, scene from the dramatic interludes, or any other aspect of the game playing experience). You are also free to include other kinds of images, for example, if the physical device or location you're playing the game is somehow important to your analysis, photographs might be appropriate to include?
Also: Have FUN, this game is hilarious and frustrating and great!!
* Please note that this is copyrighted software. By downloading it, you agree to abide by the terms of the license set by the game's owner and purchased by University of Auckland, i.e., you can play the game for the purposes of this course and keep it on your own device but should not distribute it to anybody else.