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Graduate School: The Video Game?

Calm down. All you have to do is write a thousand words and everything will be fine. And you have all day, except it's already noon.

Jeremy Freese, a Northwestern sociologist who blogs at scatterplot, has dreamed up a very cute computer game called Violet. It is likely the only videogame ever to have a graduate student as the main character. Here's the premise:
You're a graduate student working on your dissertation, but you haven't gotten any writing done in months. Your girlfriend Violet has put her life on hold, waiting for you to finish, and she's getting fed up. If you don't get a thousand words written today, your relationship is over and she flies home to Australia. Unfortunately, your office is full of every kind of distraction, from the window overlooking campus hijinx to the computer on your desk, always ready to show you the latest blogs and web comics instead of your chapter-in-progress. So you have no choice but to shut out everything that's causing you distraction so that you can turn in a few hours of solid work for once.
Violet, your girlfriend, pipes in with commentary, i.e., "You told me you were making progress. Then I find out you haven't finished a paragraph in five months....So now you are here, up in your office. I am sorry that today is a Saturday. I am especially sorry that today is your thirtieth birthday. We had all kinds of adventures planned. I refuse to feel guilty. Of course I am still upset. I will try to set that aside and be encouraging. I really want you to succeed today."

I got as far as opening Chapter 3 of my dissertation, finding out that my pet name is wallaroo, and learning that I'd been kicked out of bed last night by Violet for my misbehavior, and then decided I should be writing my own dissertation. Hopefully you'll have better luck with the game than I did.

I'm living this nightmare...too soon. Too soon.

A text-based game? Reminds me of "adventure" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colossal_Cave_Adventure) from the '70s. . . .

If you think your pet name is wallaroo, you didn't play very long. Which is probably a good thing. As I'll probably be saying in the future, the only good dissertation is a real -- not virtual -- dissertation.

I thought this was pretty cool. Interactive fiction is pretty tricky but I think the writing was well done and amusing.

For anyone looking for some more examples of games for learning check out this demo my company put together to train university faculty on identifying and approaching students in mental distress. www.kognito.com/atrisk

Comments are now closed for this post.


Recent Comments

  • Ralph Vacca: I thought this was pretty cool. Interactive fiction is pretty read more
  • skoolboy: If you think your pet name is wallaroo, you didn't read more
  • Dan Willingham: A text-based game? Reminds me of "adventure" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colossal_Cave_Adventure) from the read more
  • Bob: I'm living this nightmare...too soon. Too soon. read more




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