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Artifact #3: Steampunk Video Essay

Calendar Common First Week Assignment Artifact #1 Artifact #2 Artifact #3 Twitter Multimedia Portfolio

Students, in groups of 5, will select one Steampunk video game from the list below to play from start to finish. Only one group per section may select any of the games on this list. Groups will compose an approximately 7 to 10-minute video essay synthesizing one or several of the course themes using the game as evidence for this analysis. Although the topic is open, make sure that your project is not merely a review and summary of the game. Your film’s viewers should have little sense as to whether or not you liked the game. Rather, this video essay will emerge out of a research question to critique what ideological and narrative work this game accomplishes. Projects should attend particularly to the role of interactive story lines and the manner in which the game’s input device alters the user’s experience.

Video games are a form of interactive New Media. According to Martin Lister, “being interactive signifies the users’ (the individual members of the new media ‘audience’) ability to directly intervene in and change the images and texts that they access” (Lister, et al, New Media: A Critical Introduction 22). This means that unlike less interactive media such as books and even hyperlinked e-books, assessing the ideology and narrative of a video game must take the experience of play into account. Your video essay should question how this interactive media form adapts and remediates the nineteenth century. In what ways do games permit players to understand history differently? Why do game developers look to the past for inspiration for the settings and cultures of games? Why do so many video games employ the aesthetic of steampunk, a subgenre of science fiction and fantasy set in the Victorian era (1837-1901) that reimagines how life would be if steam power was dominant over every other technology? What are the advantages and dangers of presenting the past in the form of a video game? In short, how have video games set in the nineteenth century impacted the manner in which we view “The Victorians In the Rear-View Mirror”.

Video Essay

A video essay is a brief video created by joining video footage and slides on a specific topic and narrating the connections in order to generate novel insights. Like a written essay, these videos should have a clearly stated thesis, strong and well-argued sections, logical transitions, and a Works Cited (at least five scholarly sources). The film footage in your project must come predominantly from your game. Groups must conduct outside research and cite a minimum of five secondary sources in addition to the primary source of the selected game. Final videos must be uploaded to Vimeo or YouTube. Links to these projects, as well as supporting material, should be submitted through T-Square. Pick one team member to submit your team’s materials.

Examples of Video Essays of the topic of Video Games

Examples of Video Essays by Undergraduate Students


This assignment challenges you four ways:


I recommend OBS, a free and open source software for recording your gameplay. Final videos must be saved as MP4 files.

All voice-overs must use a professional microphone. Do not use the built-in microphones on your laptops or cameras.

You can rent Audio/ Visual equipment on the GaTech campus through the Library’s Gadgets; the College of Design; or the Bill Moore Student Success Center.

Considerations Before Selecting a Game

Eligible Games

Alternate Games

If your group would like to suggest a narrative-driven game I am open to other games. Email proposals for different games to me by October 18th. Proposals must offer a compelling argument for why you feel it fulfills the goals of this assignment. If I reject your proposal you will still have an opportunity to select from the provided list of games at the same time as your peers.

Links to Select Games

Video Essay Script

On Monday, 11/6, every group will bring a completed copy of their Video Essay script to class. Scripts should be written in polished prose, and not in outline form. This draft should be at least 4-pages in length (12 pt font, 1 inch margins, double spaced). Bring 6 print copies (enough for every person in your group, plus one for your instructor).

Although this script may be written as a regular essay, you may also want to include images and storyboard slides to indicate the visual evidence your group plans to pair with your words. If your team intends to have multiple speakers rather than one, consider identifying which team member will speak each section in the script.

Your essay should incorporate some preliminary research (2 secondary sources minimum). At the very least every team should Google their game to see what the game’s developers have to say about their intentions (if anything), and to get some sense of its reviews from gamers. You should also Google important keywords and new media ideas about interactivity, remediation, SteamPunk, etc. I suggest using Lister and Bolters books (linked above), as well as sources from Artifact #1 (sources from Artifact #1 are not eligible for the annotated bibliography).

The script due Monday, 11/6, is a first draft. Your peers and your instructor will review this script, and your team will implement revision suggestions before recording your final project. Seeing this script will afford your instructor with the opportunity to critique the quality your thesis, evidence, organization, and mechanics, so that you know what to improve before submitting your final video essay on 11/20. I will be able to give the best feedback to those groups that bring in the most polished scripts.

Annotated Bibliography

Students must research and write annotated bibliographies for at least five secondary sources. At least three of these sources should be academic, meaning that they are published in peer-reviewed journals or books. This is a joint, co-authored bibliography. You should use these annotations to determine what belongs in your video essay, and what doesn’t.

I suggest you review Chapter 20 in WOVEN Text covering “Process: Integrating and Documenting Sources” (pp. 776-796).

Time Line