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Professor LaytonThe Bitmob Writing Challenge is entering its third year, and its mission is to help our community members come up with unique topics and hone their craft. These prompts can be useful to both new writers and veterans.

I recently had the opportunity to write a blurb on Matt Polen’s “Stumping in the wasteland: On the politics of Fallout,” which was one of last year’s most-read stories. I liked the article, not because I'm a fan of a series, but because Matt discussed the ideologies that each post-nuclear faction follows – ones that have roots in real life. He analyzed the themes of the game just as any book, movie, or art critic would, and the results are more interesting than a straightforward review.

In other mediums, scholars have examined works from a variety of critical and social perspectives. These essays allow us to look at old favorites in new ways, and with our own Rus McLaughlin proclaiming 2011 to be the year of the story, now is the time to write about games in an unique light.


The Prompt

Write a 400- to 800-word article that interprets the themes of a game. A few classic approaches are:

  • Familiar: Examine the game as a reflection of the events, figures, and ideas of the period.
  • Psychological: Emphasize unconscious motivations and symbols that don’t have a stated meaning.
  • Deconstruction: While the game may have one stated message, the real themes can be found by examining the inconsistencies within the narrative.
  • Feminist: Discuss the roles of women in the game and how they are treated.
  • Political philosophies like progressivism, conservatism, Marxism, etc.

You don’t need to use specialized vocabulary that’s common in scholarly papers. In fact, you shouldn't. Just make sure to avoid evaluating the game like a traditional review would.

Also, you don't have to be completely serious. Egoraptor’s Sequilitis video on Mega Man X has the kind of NSFW humor you'd expect from a Newgrounds poster, but it also has an excellent interpretation of the platformer's story arc starting at 11:58. It is mind-blowing.

Post the article by January 31, 2012 (make sure to use the tag "Bitmob Writing Challenge"), and it will appear in the general Mobfeed (where all articles show up before staffers vet and edit the best ones to be placed on the front page of Bitmob). I will collect all of the entries and highlight them in a compilation piece after the deadline.

Good luck, and make sure to read the holiday-themed results of Jeremy Signor's Secret Santa challenge.