Grades & Assignments


10% Participation – including informal blog posts (CLO 1, 2) – see below for description

10% Graded blog posts (CLO 1, 2) – see below for description & rubric

10%  Critical Review Presentation (CLO 1, 3)

30%  House of Leaves Project (CLO 1, 2, 3)

15%  Collaborative Presentation: How to Play a Game (CLO 2)

25%  Final Project Game and Pecha Kucha Presentation (CLO 2, 3)

Course Requirements and Assignments

SJSU classes are designed such that in order to be successful, it is expected that students will spend a minimum of forty-five hours for each unit of credit (normally three hours per unit per week), including preparing for class, participating in course activities, completing assignments, and so on.

Class Discussion & Participation

Your participation in each class meeting is imperative. Since this class is largely discussion-based, arrive to class prepared with the proper readings. A student’s participation is assessed by his/her contribution throughout the semester. Use the following as guidelines for this portion of your final grade:

  • To earn a “C,” do the minimum: read and prepare assigned readings so you are never at a loss if you are asked a question, but speak only when called upon, do “ordinary,” plain-vanilla presentations and responses. This is the “bottom line” for getting a “C” in this part of the course.
  • To earn a “B,” prepare assigned readings thoroughly, initiate discussions about them by asking good questions or suggesting ways to interpret readings, do presentations that reveal that you have done good additional work that you can make both interesting and meaningful to our discussions, and participate actively in those discussions.
  • For an “A,” take it up another level entirely: prepare readings thoroughly, find and talk about connections among them and among other aspects of culture (then and now), take a real leadership role in class discussions, including working actively to get others involved in the talk, make your presentations and responses “sparkle” by bringing to them something really special in terms of your own contributions, interests, skills, and abilities to think in broad even interdisciplinary terms. Most of all, remember that an “A” indicates the very best grade a person can get; that should tell you what sort of work you need to do to earn the grade of “A.”

If you miss class, contact a classmate for notes, reading assignments and handouts – or, better yet, check our Course Website.

Weekly Blog Posts

Throughout the semester, we will write weekly blog posts to capture our thoughts about that week’s readings, discussions, and games. During our first meeting, we will spend some time setting up a WordPress blog for this very assignment. At other points in the semester, I’ll ask you to read each others’ posts and offer a comment. Typically, you will receive a prompt or question about which to pontificate. I encourage you to use the medium and include images, video, web links, and whatever else you can find. As we become more comfortable with the technology, we may even venture into making screencasts (aka videos). Also included in each post will be a word limit that will consist of formally written paragraphs. (I still need to know that you know how to write!) Each post will receive a tag to ensure that I can find it.

We will have 2 types of blog posts:

  • Informal, in-class posts that will capture your thoughts about a particular discussion point or progress in a project. The completion of the post will be noted in the grade sheet. If the post warrants it, a comment will be made either about the quality of the post or the interesting information conveyed within. These posts are marked on the Schedule with “for participation.” I reserve the right to convert these posts into graded posts if it becomes apparent that the reading is not being completed prior to our class session.
  • Five (5) formally-written posts completed outside of class that will ask a more complex question than the informal, in-class posts. Usually, these posts will reflect our discussions and the readings. The prompt and tag will be provided during the class session. See our Schedule for the due dates of these posts. Each post is eligible for a maximum of 20 points based on the intellectual quality and your command of the written language. There will be no make-up for these blog posts; you simply receive a zero for that post if you do not meet the time/date requirement. No exceptions. Grading rubric for posts:
    • 18-20 points: The post explores the prompt using references from our discussions, details from evidence, and an intellectual exploration of the topic. The post is free from grammatical and writing errors and follows MLA style as well as our Style Sheet (see Writing Tips). This level of points is difficult to achieve. Expectations are high for the intellectual rigor of the post.
    • 13-17 points: The post has the beginnings of intellectual rigor but lacks one of the qualities above. (Posts will be severely down-graded for ignoring our Style Sheet and MLA style.)
    • 9-12 points: The post regurgitates class discussion without exploring the topic further in addition to lacking evidence. The post contains grammatical errors, informal writing (such as the use of I or you), ignores MLA style and our Style Sheet.
    • 1-8: The post severely lacks elements from above or does not answer the prompt. This point range also signifies a lack of formal writing and a recommendation to visit the Writing Center for help with formal writing style. This point range also signifies use of personal pronouns throughout the post as well as a lack of interest in the topic/prompt.
    • 0 points: This represents not submitting the post on time, not at all, or not answering the prompt at all.

See instructions on setting up your WordPress blog.

Critical Review Presentation

A speaker and respondent will present a critical review of an article from the scholarly journal, Game Studies. The speaker is responsible for articulating the primary argument(s) of the article; the respondent is responsible for responding to the validity of the argument(s). The presentation, only 7-10 minutes long, will take place either in the first 5 minutes of the class session (right after an in-class blog post), or in the last 5 minutes of our class session. (See detailed instructions.)

House of Leaves Game Project

This is our major project of the semester and involves several assignments to be submitted on the due date as a project portfolio. Each assignment represents a step in creating individual games of interactive fiction about House of Leaves — a scaffolded project. Due dates are indicated on the Schedule. This project will also serve as an example of scaffolded steps for your final project. (See detailed instructions.)

Collaboration Presentation: How to Play a Game

Using the readings, references, and typology of play (Callois), each team will present in Pecha Kucha style on how to play a video game. Students will create their own teams based on previous experience and/or the About page on each students’ blog. (See detailed instructions.)

Final Project: Game and Pecha Kucha Presentation

For the final project in this course, students will create their own interactive fiction or video games using the theories, references, and examples from our course readings and discussions as the foundation. Students may work individually or in teams. The final project will be presented in Pecha Kucha style on our final exam meeting day in addition to submission of written materials. Students will have an opportunity to demo their work prior to the final meeting. (See detailed instructions.)

Late Submission Policy

If you cannot meet an assignment deadline (other than the blog posts), you must contact me at least 48 hours prior to our class meeting to discuss the situation. If this is not done, for every day that an essay is late, you will be penalized one grade step: A becomes A-, A- becomes a B+, etc. The weekend will count as one day. In order to avoid late penalties, the assignment must be submitted in the required form (Google Docs, blog post, etc.). No late submissions allowed for blog posts (both formal and informal) or the House of Leaves project assignments.

Formal Writing and Letter Grades

The Department of English reaffirms its commitment to the differential grading scale as defined in the official SJSU Catalog (“The Grading System”). Grades issued must represent a full range of student performance: A = excellent; B = above average; C = average; D = below average; F = failure.

In English Department courses, instructors will comment on and grade the quality of student writing as well as the quality of the ideas being conveyed. All student writing should be distinguished by correct grammar and punctuation, appropriate diction and syntax, and well-organized paragraphs.

  • The “A” essay will be well organized and well developed, demonstrating a clear understanding and fulfillment of the assignment. It will show the student’s ability to use language effectively and construct sentences distinguished by syntactic complexity and variety. Such essays will be essentially free of grammatical, mechanical, and usage errors.
  • The “B” essay will demonstrate competence in the same categories as the “A” essay. The chief difference is that the “B” essay will show some describably slight weaknesses in one of those categories. It may slight one of the assigned tasks, show less facility of expression, or contain some minor grammatical, mechanical, or usage flaws.
  • The “C” essay will complete all tasks set by the assignment, but show weakness in fundamentals (usually development), with barely enough specific information to illustrate the experience or support generalizations. The sentence construction may be less mature, and the use of language less effective and correct than the “B” essay.
  • The “D” essay will neglect one of the assigned tasks and be noticeably superficial in its treatment of the assignment–that is, too simplistic or short. The essay may reveal some problems in development, with insufficient specific information to illustrate the experience or support generalizations. It will contain grammatical, mechanical, and usage errors that render some sentences incomprehensible.
  • The “F” essay will demonstrate a striking underdevelopment of ideas and insufficient or unfocused organization. It will contain serious grammatical, mechanical, and usage errors that render some sentences incomprehensible.

Calculating Your Final Grade

For your final grades, 100-90 is an A, 89-80 is a B, 79-70 is a C, 69-60 is a D, and below 60 is an F. Pluses and minuses are the middle of each range. In calculating the final grade, a set number will represent each letter grade; for example, B+ is 87.5, B is 85, and B- is 82.5.

Within any of the letter grade ranges (e.g. B+/B/B-), the assignment of a + or – grade will reflect stronger (+) or weaker (-) completion of the goals of the assignment.

A Word about Plagiarism & Turnitin

Plagiarism checks will be performed by asking students to submit various written exercises or essays to, a service which scans documents for all references to Web sources and other essays. To sign up for Turnitin use the Class ID xxxxx  and Password xxxx. You may see your Turnitin report when you submit your assignment; if there are any discrepancies, I will request a meeting with you; if plagiarism is indicated, you will receive a zero for the assignment and will be reported to Judicial Affairs. A second offense will result in failing the course and will require disciplinary action by Judicial Affairs.