Reflective Narrative – Spring 2022

Concerning Learning

When looking back on my projects for this semester, I find that my skillset has grown significantly over the past few months. Very quickly, I was introduced to a great many ways to compose work that tells a story, caries meaning.

Personal Narrative Story

“When the pandemic hit in late 2019, and the lockdowns started, everyone’s lives was thrown into disarray….”

Jonathan Carpenter, 2022
Title Screen of Foxhole, a game central to my personal narrative.

My Personal Narrative Story was the culmination of the first of those efforts. I was set to find a way to tell a personal narrative that would engage audiences, and find one that would be relevant to the times. Though difficult, I decided to focus on the story of my social and personal recovery after the damage done by the pandemic. Interestingly enough, that recovery was aided by a game called Foxhole, and the friends I made in its multiplayer environment. Telling that story involved a mix of photography and screen captures, plus video editing. The initial curations for this project are posted here. You’ll see as you review them that I went through an image editing process for my opening title screen, and I utilized a number of photography techniques to showcase my experiences, including the rule of thirds, leading lines, and off-center subjects to help guide the eyes of a viewer. The most interesting part however was the narration and music. I had to find a set of copyright free songs that would fit my story, and balance their volume and timing with my narration and video transitions. I took the feedback from my peers into consideration before submitting my final cut, taking part in class workshops to improve my composition skills. It’s not a perfect first project, but it was fun, engaging, and a strong first learning experience.

“Passion is present in every word, and it is incredibly clear that this is more than just a game to you. I love how you showed its effect on you in the real world, and it makes me wonder about the effects games can have on its players. Finally, I like all of the pictures of the game and how you really emphasize the community in the game for those who are not familiar with it.”

Hannah, Digital Storytelling Peer, 2022

The response from my peers was the push I needed to keep going strong, growing my skills and my confidence as a digital storyteller. This initial project was a strong opening step into digital storytelling.

Sense of Place

My Sense of Place project was a real test of my growing photography skills, pulling upon all I had learned so far about the associated techniques. It involved a full day of exploring the places I had been to throughout my hometown to help tell that story. The full list of my curated works for this project can be found here. I’ll let this project and the work that went into it primarily speak for itself, but if I had to say one primary lesson I learned here, it would be how to always be looking for photo opportunities and story opportunities, both in the past and the present.

“Douglasville is my central hub. It’s my home base, where I begin all my journeys and adventures. And like I said earlier, it’s also about the lessons. The people around here, the experiences you can have, the connections you can make with nature here, they all can teach and remind you many things, not the least of which is to be grateful for what you have in life.”

Jonathan Carpenter, discussing sense of place, 2022

Podcast Review

Axle1324 in his stream/podcast.

Telling a story and reviewing stories are two very different experiences, the latter of which requires a different kind of observational skillset. Analysis and critical thinking took center stage when I did this for a Podcast Review of a series called the Iconic Video Game Podcast, a YouTube podcast with a small following, but an engaging and entertaining panel. I had to talk about what makes their podcast engaging, where its strengths are and what makes it successful as a storytelling experience. Doing so required me to be an attentive listener, taking into account all that’s being said, the tone in which it is being said, contexts, dispositions, and of course, content. By analyzing each, I was able to give a thought out analysis-backed review of the episodes I chose. At the same time, I got to learn a lot more about the world of gaming, and how some members of older generations view and interact with it.

“I had very specific interests in mind when I chose the podcast that I did. I wanted to enter the world of gaming in a way I hadn’t before, by taking a closer look at the interests and views of those who had lived with video games since their earliest days.”

Jonathan Carpenter, 2022

Collaborative Article

Perhaps the most challenging story of this course was in fact one where I had to focus on a single specific topic. In this case, I needed to focus on encouraging my readers and viewers to adopt dogs, not shop for them. I needed to tell a personable, emotionally engaging story that would draw attention to this mission. Finally, I had to keep in mind that this project was a collaboration with Rescue Dog Games. Thus, my Collaborative Article was born. This project called upon all of my learned skills from throughout the semester. I had to locate old photos, curate new ones, think creatively about how I would tell my story, carry out a professional interview, and do a lot of self-discovery, or self-rediscovery. I had to be analytical, reviewing my family’s past in a manner similar to how I had carried out my podcast review, paying attention to the context and content of events. It was a very eye-opening and pleasant stroll down memory lane.

“The act of adopting and fostering rescue dogs has been a part of my family’s history for as long as I can remember. Ever since I was a child, there was always a rescue dog somewhere in the family, somewhere in our lives.”

Jonathan Carpenter, on the topic of canine adoption, 2022

In Closing

Each of these projects either brought a new and unique challenge to the table, or called upon a wide array of previously developed skills to be completed. They drove me to develop as a storyteller and an individual. I’m eager to see what I can do with these new abilities I’ve acquired, and look forward to further expanding upon them. For a closer look at my gallery highlights and curation reflections, check here. To my peers and the professor who helped me get this far, I offer my sincerest thanks and well wishes. I wish you all good fortune on your own upcoming storytelling projects and future career endeavors.