(4 points) A brief description of the game. You may include images or even video clips to help give readers a better idea of the game.

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Bastion is an action role-playing game set in a post-apocalyptic-like sci-fi/fantasy world. The gameplay isn’t terribly difficult or innovative, basically consisting clicking and pressing keys to move a character, have the character attack, and use a few items. But the game is quite remarkable in its method of storytelling and narration. The game is very strongly atmospheric, with beautiful and evocative settings, music and story. The story has a strong magical, “Space Opera” meets “Space Cowboy” feel. Playing this games feels like being completely immersed in a fantastical novel, being “read” to the player in large parts by a narrator.

Speaking of which, there is an omnipresent narrator that describes nearly all aspect of the game. The narrator's dark, brooding voice describes the scenes, the action and the character's (“The Kid’s”) reactions. There is a large strain of dry, witty humor that accompanies nearly all of the narration. The Kid explores/quests (with the aid of the narrator) on a mission to save the world. Despite the strong presence of this other voice, playing this game never feels like just watching a movie, and I was immersed in this compelling, enjoyable story.

One technologically interesting aspect to this game is that it can be played through a web browser. There are lots of short, uninteresting games that can be played this way, but this is one of the few I have found that are interesting and long enough to feel like I get something out of playing it. It is interesting to see how “cloud” computing is extending to intricate games as well as things like office productivity.

(5 points) The kinds of learning involved (i.e. What specifically did you learn from playing the game?). Think about the game tasks, objectives, terminology, etc. What skills did you need to learn to be successful at the game?
(5 points) The kinds of teaching involved (i.e. How did the game teach you?). Think about the kinds of feedback, rewards, guidance, and information the game gave you, and how it paced and structured your learning. Which Principles of Learning did the game utilize?

There seemed to be two types of things I learned playing the game. The first is the mechanics of the gameplay, and the second is the way the story works. I suppose one could argue that on another level there was a “learning” to the game akin to the learning that accompanies the reading of any good story.

The game mechanics involve using the standard “W, A, S, and D” keys to move the Kid around, and clicking with the mouse buttons to strike or shoot. While it was moderately involved, there weren't a ton of different control options. Moving around the game is a bit tricky initially. The game takes place on a floating world, and the ground rises up when the Kid approaches. It was quite easy to run off the edge, especially when in combat. There were also details like how to shoot the ranged weapons, strategies around how to engage with the enemy creatures, etc.

There was also the “how to interact with the story” aspect to be learned. The game opens as a mystery, with the Kid hearing the narrator, but having no memory of what came before. As I progressed through the game, I had to learn how to travel, unlock worlds, solve puzzles, upgrade my character and acquire/upgrade equipment, and meet a acquire and achieve a variety of goals.

Overall, though, my favorite aspect of this game was how much it felt like a good story, so I think it is fair to say that I also learned how to “read” a story in this game medium.

The entire game is in the form of a story, and the ways the game teaches is no exception. The game opens with the Kid just “waking up”, and the narrator describes a bit about the story and a bit about how to do things, simultaneously. As the kid reaches the next stage or option, more of the story and game mechanic is revealed. Because of this, it never feels like an explicit tutorial, and the learning of the game mechanisms flows quite naturally to the discovering of the story. As a new item is discovered, its use and its role in the story is described in tandem.

The game is fairly linear, and it does not provide nearly as much independent exploration as some other games I’ve played. But it does not suffer from the feel of a “limited” world, perhaps because of the appropriate amount of agency allowed in what essentially is exploring a story.

While I haven’t finished more than an hour of the game, and haven’t read more than a couple chapters of Gee’s book, the following Principles of Learning seem present:

6) "Psychosocial Moratorium" Principle - Learners can take risks in a space where real-world consequences are lowered. - This seems present in nearly all games where adventure and death of a character seem to be possible.

8) Identity Principle - Learning involves taking on and playing with identities in such a way that the learner has real choices (in developing the virtual identity) and ample opportunity to meditate on the relationship between new identities and old ones. There is a tripartite play of identities as learners relate, and reflect on, their multiple real-world identities, a virtual identity, and a projective identity
I am not yet sure exactly how much the game is tailored to a specific play style or character development choices, but this seems to be at least partly relevant.

11) Achievement Principle - For learners of all levels of skill there are intrinsic rewards from the beginning, customized to each learner's level, effort, and growing mastery and signaling the learner's ongoing achievements

12) Practice Principle - Learners get lots and lots of practice in a context where the practice is not boring (i.e. in a virtual world that is compelling to learners on their own terms and where the learners experience ongoing success). They spend lots of time on task.
For example, the option to work on the harder mechanics such as shooting on the target practice levels.

13. Ongoing Learning Principle - The distinction between the learner and the master is vague, since learners, thanks to the operation of the "regime of competency" principle listed next, must, at higher and higher levels, undo their routinized mastery to adapt to new or changed conditions. There are cycles of new learning, automatization, undoing automatization, and new re-organized automatization

14) "Regime of Competence" Principle - The learner gets ample opportunity to operate within, but at the outer edge of, his or her resources, so that at those points things are felt as challenging but not "Undoable"

18) Text Principle - Texts are not understood purely verbally (i.e. only in terms of the definitions of the words in the text and their text-internal relationships to each other) but are understood in terms of embodied experience. Learners move back and forth between texts and embodied experiences. More purely verbal understanding (reading texts apart from embodied action) comes only when learners have enough embodied experience in the domain and ample experiences with similar texts

(Descriptions of learning principles taken from __here__)

(3 points) A brief description of the kinds (and quantity) of online sites, forums, wikis, etc. devoted to the game. What game activities (e.g. walk-thoughs/guides, databases, cheats, theorycrafting, modding, etc.) are most-commonly discussed?

The game dates back to 2011, so some of the online information was a bit dated. But there were still somewhat active __forums__ through the game portal Steam, as well as __walkthroughs, FAQ’s__, and even __Lyric Guides__ to the songs!. While the game doesn't lend itself to the type of multiplayer modding and other more involved editing that some games offer, it was interesting to see that there was the creative side to some of the fan work (art, lyrics, etc).

(3 points) Your overall reflections on playing the game.
As is probably clear from my above description, I enjoyed very much the immersive storytelling aspects of the game. Learning the game felt smooth and seamless, and really was never noticeable as I was engrossed in discovering the next part of the adventure. It really felt more like an interactive novel withing a different medium than anything else. But I will admit that I didn't really need to learn much in the way of game mechanisms as I am quite familiar with this type of control setup (as would be any experienced gamer)