Video Essay Project Assignment Sheet, Text Only

Christina M. Colvin, ENGL 1102, Fall 2017

For the image-based version of this assignment sheet, please click here.

Project Overview

In groups of 4-5 students each, use the genre of the video essay to analyze the way a video game represents the use, function, value, behavior, and/or appearance of an animal or animals. According to the UW-Madison DesignLab, video essays “use audiovisual materials to research and explore topics in an objective, subjective, or even poetic manner. Like written essays, video essays may contain an introduction, argument, supporting evidence, and conclusion. The simultaneity of sound, visual, text, and voice and the rhythms of editing and juxtaposition can create complex patterns of meaning and association.” The goal of this project is for your group to use direct evidence in the form of close, rhetorical analyses of moments from the game to support an argument about how a video game represents animals. The rhetorical purpose of your video essay should be to persuade an interested, public audience unfamiliar with your chosen game of the validity and significance of your argument.

Project Breakdown

Your TOPIC DECLARATION should: 1) consist of at least 200 words, 2) establish your group’s chosen game and the working stance of your video essay, 3) describe your team plan for completing your video essay including, at minimum, a description of the responsibilities to be undertaken by each team member, how many times you will need to meet to execute your plan, and a timeline for completion of all project components (anticipating that your group will meet with me at least once).

Your SCRIPT DRAFT should be a complete (albeit in progress) representation of how your group will narrate and visually depict your video essay’s argument. Your SCRIPT DRAFT should include both oral, narrated components as well as a storyboard of the images/visuals that will accompany the oral narration.

Completed VIDEO ESSAYS should be between 5-8 minutes in length; see additional details below. Upload completed video essays to YouTube; make sure that the video is marked “public.” Paste the link to your YouTube video in Tsquare via the Project I: Video Essay assignment link.

Each group’s IN-CLASS PRESENTATION should span 13-14 minutes in length and include a screening of your video essay. During your IN-CLASS PRESENTATION, you should: 1) include a speaking role for each member, 2) provide an overview of your essay’s argument and objectives, 3) describe what you learned about video games and animal representations by undertaking this project, and 4) show your understanding of your presentation’s status as a rhetorical text.

Each member of your group should compose his or her REFLECTION individually. The REFLECTION is the only component of this project that is not identical for all group members. The REFLECTION should be at least 200 words in length. It should 1) evaluate the effectiveness of your project by answering the questions: what do you think your group did well? how well did your video essay accommodate your argument? what would you change if you had more time? Your REFLECTION should also 2) describe how you contributed to your group’s success. Did you stick with the group’s original plan or depart from it? Why? What challenges did you and your group face and overcome?

Choose a Game

Make an argument about one of the following games available on Steam:
Shelter 2
Hunting Unlimited 2011 
Paws and Claws: Pampered Pets
Never Alone
Untamed: Life of a Cougar
Wildlife Park 3
Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon
Catlateral Damage
Home Wars
If your group would like to focus on the representation of animals in a game not listed above, you can propose an alternative. You must email your proposal for an alternative game by MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 11 at 4PM. Your proposal must argue on behalf of your chosen game, particularly as regards its suitability for this project. I will accept or reject your proposal within 24 hours.

Record Footage

For the purposes of recording your Steam gameplay, I recommend OBS, free and open source software available at Voice-over narration must use a professional microphone. Do not use the built-in microphone on your laptop or phone. You can rent A/V equipment for free on campus through the Library’s Gadgets site, the College of Design, and the Bill Moore Student Success Center. If you propose and are approved to focus on a console game (as opposed to a Mac and/or PC exclusive), you are responsible for determining how you will import and edit your gameplay footage.

Project Assessment

When I assess your VIDEO ESSAY, I will ask no fewer than the following questions to aid in my evaluation of your work in accordance with the WCP evaluation rubric.

Rhetorical Awareness:

1) Does the text demonstrate an attention to its audience and what might persuade audience members? An attention to what they may or may not know?

2) Does the text articulate and maintain a clear purpose for existing? 3) Does the text meet all the basic required components of this assignment?


1) Does the text make a clear, straightforward claim about how the game represents animals?

2) Does the text provide an analysis of key moments from the game to support its argument? Does that analysis include observations, an interpretation of observations, and an explanation of why that interpretation supports the text’s stance?

3) Does the text consider the implications of its argument, ie., how its argument advances our understanding of human culture’s relationship to or perspective of animals?

Development of Ideas:

1) Does the text patiently think through the evidence it provides?

2) Does the text consider multiple large and small details (such as player experience, game objectives and goals, aesthetic presentation, possibilities for interaction with animals, primary and secondary functions of animals in the game, etc.) and how these details support or challenge the text’s stance?

3) Does the text anticipate and discuss an objection to its argument and/or one of its interpretations and take that objection seriously?


1) Does the text have a logical beginning, middle, and end?

2) Are the analyses sequenced in a logical fashion that builds on previous points and supports the overall argument?

3) Does the footage sync up in a logical way with the narration?


1) Is all spoken and written material mechanically and grammatically sound?

2) If outside sources are referenced, are they cited in MLA style?

Design for Medium:

1) Does the text take advantage of the video essay medium by combining images, narration, slides, still images, editing techniques, etc. (as is pertinent) in order to produce meaning and to support the text’s argument?

2) Is the video comprised of high quality images and sound?

Parts of this assignment were adapted from the work of Kate Holterhoff, Brittain Fellow.

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