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  • Writer's picturelea belejova

Autumn Semester 2022 🍁 - Recap

I’m not gonna lie…this semester was tough for me. Not really because of the classes, but my mind has not been working the way it used to, reasons unknown, trying to figure it out. I got a bit mad about it since the first semester was delightful, but the things like writing an essay or simply learning something new became suddenly incredibly hard and caused me stress and anxiety. Hopefully, I will figure it all out soon.

Overall, my focus was mainly on design — I took 3 design classes, each one focusing on a slightly different aspect of design, and enjoyed all of them immensely.

Apart from classes, I had a chance to visit the Encountering Non-Humans: On Methodologies for the Post-Anthropocene conference, speak at KISKfórum | svoboda, and enjoy the Christmas one even though I lost my voice that day, attend KISKohraní, go on one city walk Očima Michala Černého, go on a field trip to 3 Czech and Slovak libraries with my classmates, help a tiny bit with the online KISKord Discord community (not as much as I would like to but as much as I could), and organize an embroidery game CraftFlow with my dear classmate Šárka.

Other random things I did during this semester: I learned how to crotchet in one evening (huge thanks to Šárka), I organized talks and workshops for dozens of people who want to get into game dev, I helped with setting up the new gamedev incubator at KUMST, and I stepped outside of my comfort zone and went to a burlesque open class.

Thesis Seminar📜

I don’t have much to say about this class. I skipped the classes because I attended almost all of them last semester so I have nothing to say about them. As for the commented review, most of the instructions were clear apart from the table — the template for one of the most crucial parts of the text was delivered late. The commented review we were supposed to write for this class helped me to delve more into the topic I was interested in a see what research has been done in this field. I narrowed my topic to two possible fields — how things are learned through games and how to design games so that they have the desired learning impact. Both topics will most probably be practical to some extent, the first one would be probably based on researching an already existing game, and the second one would probably include designing a game for the purpose of the thesis. I still have to think about how to narrow the theme more and who to approach as a consultant from the industry.

Literature, Market and Library Processes 📚

I am rather ambivalent about this class. I have to say I learned a lot of interesting things, but literature is not my cup of tea. I do however understand that it is an integral part of our field of studies. What I appreciated a lot was the connection to creative industries in general, especially in the last few classes but also when it comes to various readings. What was harder for me to grasp were the first classes — I found them quite too in-depth for the studies. I did not attend the parts focused on libraries in person but I appreciate the general overview of how libraries work in the Czech Republic that was provided. The last part about creative industries was refreshing. I enjoyed the topics and the discussions. The final evaluation was reflecting the classes and I really enjoyed writing the short essays and the special project in the end. This semester we worked with AI tools to create visual poems and think about AI as a tool in the process. Although this was not my favorite class, overall I did enjoy it. I also enjoyed the field trip to Zlín and Bratislava. Visiting the libraries and learning the current trends and perspectives directly from professional librarians was great, and I am also glad I got to spend more time with my classmates.

Information Sciences ❓

As for the knowledge, this class was essential for me — I don’t have a bachelor's degree in information science, so I have to learn all the basics from scratch. My favorite topics were socio-technical systems, digital humanities, and trans-humanism. What was really bothering me about this class was the huge clash between the way the lectures were conducted and the final evaluation. The classes were more discussion-based, and I didn’t mind that, but the final evaluation was based on a test. I think that either a more frontal approach would be well-suited for this type of evaluation, or an oral exam for the discussion-based type of lectures. I know that the test was hard, and I know it changed later, but I have to say that learning for it caused me a bit of anxiety, and I feel like I could have had a better grade. I don’t care about grades that much, but it would probably bug me a lot if I didn’t repeat the thesis seminar last semester…The lectures were also quite hard to follow — up until one of my classmates explained what the term “informatics” actually mean, I was quite lost. That goes for other topics as well — I feel like with many topics there was a strong focus on one very specific part of that topic and the context for the topic as a whole was missing. As for the class assignments, we were supposed to create a podcast on a selected type of informatics and make notes for two different classes. I did enjoy preparing and making the podcast, what I don’t appreciate is that we never got any feedback, neither for the podcast, nor for the notes, and to this day I see no point in making the notes.

Design of Information Services, Interfaces and Interactions (DISRI) 💡

This class was very enjoyable for me. I like that the classes were focused on many different types of learning — apart from traditional reading assignments, we also had a lot of discussions, practical group and individual assignments (designing a library check-out desk, reflecting on current mega-trends, brainstorming on good and bad services), a couple of frontal lectures mostly based on case studies so we could connect the knowledge with real-life examples, and last but not least, discussions with professional designers. I would say that the best way to experience this class was in-person, but I also appreciate the preparation for the online students that was almost always present. The online test at the end reflected the classes well (open questions), and the assignments were also very nice. I had a chance to do an interview about design with game designer Zdeněk Záhora, and I learned a lot from his very unique perspective (and I have a hunch that a lot of my classmates learned a lot as well from their interviews). The discussion with the professional designers at the end of the semester was life-changing for me. I have been struggling with the way I want to work and what should the next thing in my life be and they answered some questions that were hard for me to answer by myself, so I am very grateful for that and that the guests were very open about their life and experiences. I also appreciate that we got practical cards to help us design, I just wish I knew a bit more about them so I could choose (now I think I would probably pick the social innovations).

Digital Games — Analysis and Design 🎲

PSYCH! Tis Game Design I. but for 1 more credit if you are from FF. I signed up for this class since I was interested in educational games, only to learn that this is the Game Design I. class I did not want to take this semester. I decided to stay, and I don’t regret it one bit. Although I did not learn much “hard knowledge” since I already attended several game design courses, I did learn a lot about prototyping and iterative design by being forced to do it (the best way to learn something, at least for me). We worked in teams of 3, and I had a chance to work with my KISK and TIM friend Ondra and an exchange IT student Lennse from Germany. Together we created and continuously tested a board game for two players — one is a ghost hunter trying to uncover a specific type of ghost and the other one is the ghost trying to attack the hunter and make him mad. We tested several iterations of the game together and had a playtest with the lecturer with feedback at the end of the semester. The whole second part of the classes was focused on playtesting — we playtested our games with other students in our class and we gave each other valuable feedback. I would recommend this class to everyone interested in rapid prototyping of any kind and iterative design, even if you are not interested in game design specifically, you will learn a lot about design and prototyping and will have some creative outlet, maybe even a game you can play with your friends at the end of the course. We managed to create a playable prototype, but it still needs to be tested more since it needs more balancing. I am quite happy with what we managed to create together.

Design in Context 🔮

One of my favorite classes of the semester. I chose this class because I had a short workshop with Roman at summer school that resonated with me strongly, and I was not disappointed. The classes were a lovely combination of readings of short texts and reflecting on them, frontal lectures, discussions about texts we read with workshop facilitation, and practical method learning and practicing sprinkled on top of everything. The class was focused on design processes and methods with a strong focus on responsible design and values. The main focus was on transition design that deals with wicked problems and transition periods of big changes. I learned a lot not only about design but also about myself — some of the used methods made me yeet what I thought was possible and helped me to let go of these notions and create more freely (and that is something that is very difficult for me to do). I really appreciate the attitude and how the lectures were held, we had a chance to express ourselves meaningfully in a very safe space, and I got to meet some amazing people through this class.

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