Opinion: theatre will survive and adapt to technology

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Without a doubt theatre has gone through a lot. For centuries it was the main form of entertainment. From ancient Greece to London England, theatre has inspired, terrified, educated and broadened the craft of acting and storytelling. Ultimately technology was developed, and the birth of motion picture came to be. Technology has drastically changed our way of life, culture, and how we consume entertainment. What does this mean for theatre? Well, it means that it is going to change whether we like it or not. Thinking back on shows I have seen throughout my time at university, and out of university, there have been implementations of new technologies. It is important to realize, that although the technical aspects are not the the main feature. It has slowly become more integrated component of a show. Theatre is adapting for the climate of entertainment presently. I think this means theatre will look different and maybe draw in a newer crowd/demographic. After all the artists of the future have already grown up with more technology than the artists that are currently active. Perhaps the integration of technology in theatre will lift it hit to new heights. However, it could also lead to theatre costing more to produce and perform. So far only major shows or things like Broadway have the funds to afford newer technology for their shows. Meanwhile small theatre companies produce amazing work, but not as many people will see it because it does not have the money to afford technology like a high grossing show does. Although, due to everyone being locked inside from COVID-19, it could very well be the opposite. Maybe people will get bored of shows with technological splendor or perhaps appreciate seeing a live show because we have been limited/deprived of physical entertainment like theatre and concerts for quite some time.

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Seeing people fill up venues and seeing festivals looking for artists, brings a hopefulness that theatre will indeed come back and the demand to see a live show, will outweigh the expectation of a show being a full-blown spectacle like phantom of the opera. Some great things about technology in theatre is that it has brought sound, lighting, and projection. But how far should we go with this? Tech is great, but you don’t need much to make a meaningful or entertaining piece of theatre. In my experience there is something exciting about working or watching a play produced with a lower budget because it forces the production team to think outside of the box. Certain items, costumes, set pieces, and moments become highly theatrical and cleverly presented. It is the challenge of a low budget that has potential to elevates the piece itself. I think we, as society, have become accustomed to technological entertainment and therefore, we see it as a must for things like theatre. For example, technology allows instant access to anything you want. It gives gratification. A fix of media to stimulate ourselves. In 2019 Pornhub alone had an average of 39 billion searches and had 42 billion people accessed the site. As a form of entertainment…That is a hell of a lot of searches and time spent on one site in general. This beats the number of searches and views on YouTube immensely. So, what does this mean? I think this tells us that technology has changed our identities, but to what extent should we want it/ let it change us as an audience? Does it matter, does it not? With entertainment being so easily accessed via streaming services and YouTube, it makes sense on why theatre is not as popular as it once was.

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When playwright Christopher Durang arrived in New York City in 1975, he paid $10 for a standing-room or obstructed-view tickets. A few years later, it cost only about $30 from 1981 to 1984. By 2008, the average ticket on Broadway was $86, and premium orchestra seats can now fetch $400 to $600. “These seats must be for people in the financial industry,” Durang marvels. “I don’t feel there is any play I personally want to pay $400 to see.” With live performance becoming more niche, while still trying to make a profit the prices for certain shows goes up. This in turn leads to people not wanting to go see theatre because of the pricing. If we add more technologies into a theatre show, naturally the price for the show itself would go up. So where does this leave theatre? In my opinion I think it will be fine. It may sound like I am admitting defeat when I say this, but I think theatre has already accepted it will never be at the forefront of entertainment as it once was. Theatre, for quite some time now has been struggling, but it is because of that struggle I think theatre has become stronger in terms of the community of artists and theater goers that inhabit it. It also has made theatre companies get more creative and involved with their communities. Many offer classes and summer programs or camps for children who are passionate about performative arts. The bottom line is there is an energy from going to a theatre show that can never be replaced. Even going to a movie theatre can greatly improve the viewing of a movie. Although the movie itself is recorded, the crowd witnessing the story unfold together helps create an almost mystical feeling.

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If that is what it can feel like to attend a movie at the theatre, attending a play can feel if not as good, even better. As an artistic medium the driving force that keeps theatre going is the battle to tell stories in a personal manner. Theatre is a fleeting creature and once the show is done, you could go to the same show the following night, but the moments from the first night can never be replicated again. That is where theatre thrives, that is where magical moments come to life, that is where conversations start, and that is where memorable moments cling to our minds for years to come.

 

 

Opinion: Richard in Shakespeare’s, Richard III is one of the most tragic villains out there

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Villains are almost just as compelling as their hero counterparts. Darth Vader, Venom, Iago, and Joker; are just a few of the many captivating characters that span from a wide range of genres of entertainment. Where a hero has youthful hope and an internal struggle to battle through, a villain has a wound. A wound or traumatic experienced that makes them feel left out. They may feel powerless, even though they come across as the most powerful. Villains are born from an event that whittled them down. Often these events are personal and tragic. For example, Darth Vader turned to the dark side of the Force because he thought it would be the only way to save his dying wife after giving birth to his two children. His own fear and helplessness caused him to break the Jedi code and become a Sith lord. Although I could go on about Darth Vader, I want to bring your attention to a villain that I think is one of the most isolated, tragic, and deeply insecure. Shakespeare’s character, Richard from the play, Richard III. Richard is a character that feels so alone that the only way he can feel better about himself is to deceive, murder, and put on a façade of power because there is no one there to make him feel important or loved.

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Although Richard is successful in his self-fashioning for the most part, this success does not prove that the human self is and can only be performative. Richard, as deceiving as he is, uses his mastery of subterfuge to challenge the reality in which he lives. Throughout the play, Richard shows his prowess and tenacity when it comes to being a strategic deceiver. As dastardly as Richard may seem, his deception and relentlessness to kill/betray any who oppose him, is driven by an unconscious desire to gain a connection with others. This desire to achieve connection is shown through his relentless ambition to achieve his aspirations for power since that is the only way he feels anyone will respect him or have a sense of connection with another person. This can be seen through the insecurities of his physical image, his misogyny, and his deceptions. The play begins with Richard showing off his masculinity. by critiquing the other gender and immediately blaming his mother for his physical defect. Richard states:

I that am rudely stamped, and want love’s majesty

To strut before a wanton-ambling nymph,

I that am curtailed of this fair proportion,

Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,

Deformed, unfinished, sent before my time

Into this breathing world scarce half made up,

And that so lamely and unfashionable

That dogs bark at me as I halt by them:

(1.1. 16-23).

I believe this clearly shows Richard is aware of his defect and believes it to be a personal crutch against him socially and intimately.  He states he lacks a sexy strut, that he is unfinished, and that nature has stolen his potential for looking fairer than his current state. Richard thinks he is unfashionable. He shows his insecurity by believing that dogs bark because of his unattractive appearance. On top of critiquing himself, he blames his deformity on his mother. He believes that his form was stamped out in his mother’s womb making his deformity seem bound to fate and not choice. This self-critique shows Richard’s discomfort with himself. He attacks his own image; however, blames his state of being on his mother. This reveals Richard’s insecurities. Because of his insecurity, Richard compensates by using deception and performances to gain a sense of power and recognition of his mischievous personality. Richard wants his personality to outweigh his physical appearance. Richard feels his only way to be taken seriously is by power of words and subterfuge, as opposed to his appearance. Richard thrives off his power of words of deception. This is shown after wooing Lady Anne, when he says:

Was ever a woman in this humour wooed?

Was ever a woman in this humour won?

I’ll have her, but I will not keep her long.

What, I that killed her husband and his father,

To take her in her heart’s extremest hate,

With curses in her mouth, tears in her eyes,

The bleeding witness of her hatred by,

Having God, her conscience, and these bars against me, And I nothing to back my suit at all

(1.2. 213-221).

Not only does Richard applaud his own performance, because he persuaded a woman whose husband he killed, he openly says he will not let Lady Anne stay in the picture for long. Richard believes that marrying Lady Anne will help progress in his mission to gain the throne. Deciding to dispose of Lady Anne shows how fixed Richard is on ensuring he reaches the throne. Later in the play, the fate of Lady Anne is assumed that Richard succeeded in his plan to get rid of her. Richard used Lady Anne to gain supremacy instead of marrying her to pursue intimacy. This is another example of how lost and alone Richard is and the only thing he believes will make him feel better is attention through power. Throughout his journey to the throne Richard lacks the desire for an intimate relationship. The lack of wanting an intimate connection with women, unveils his hate against them. Richard hates women for seeing him in his deformity. For example, a line in the play said by Lady Anne; “What black magician conjures up this fiend, / To stop devoted charitable deeds?” (1.2.32), Lady Anne sees Richard as a fiend created from black magic. This shows how Richard is justified in his frustration that people see him as a spawn of evil. Furthermore, this can be understood as the reason Richard begins to play the villain, since people already see him in that way, and the only way he will feel a connection with someone is if he overpowers them. His want to overpower in this scene is fueled by misogyny. Richard’s inner hate makes it easy for him to dismiss any potential connection with Lady Anne. Therefore; his joy of deceptions substitute the joy relationships.

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Later in the play, once Richard becomes king and has received all the power and connection he dreamed of his actions of murder and deceit come back to haunt him. When he becomes king the power gets to his head and he easily betrays his one and only friend Buckingham. He betrays Buckingham by not giving him the earldom he promised. Richard at this point has killed off all his opponents. However, many of them were not true enemies, they were only in his way to claim the throne. This is when Richard begins to make critical mistakes that lead to his downfall. Having confided his plots with his best pal Buckingham and promising earldom as reward for his service, Richard denies Buckingham of this earldom by casting him aside saying “I am not in the giving vein today” (4.2. 118). Richard destroy his friendship with his one and only friend. Afterwards Richards gets news that Buckingham has sided with an opposing army of Welshmen, because of the denied promise. As Richards actions come back to bit him in the ass Richard when he dreams about the ghosts of all the people he had killed. This is where his guilt come out and he realizes he holds remorse for the things he has done:

 

O coward conscience, how dost though afflict me!

The lights burn blue. It is now dead midnight.

Cold fearful drops stand on my trembling flesh.

What do I fear? Myself? There’s none else by.

Richard loves Richard; that is, I and I.

(5.4. 156-161).

 

This monologue is Richard’s self-recognition of all his wrong doings. Unconsciously, Richard’s dream of seeing everyone he killed causes him to feel grief for his actions. As much as he desired to be wanted and have connections with others through power, he killed everyone he had potential to create connections with. Richard asks himself what he fears; He answers this question by asking if he fears himself. Richard begins to realize that in result of his success for power and connection, he has become a monster and does not love himself. When he proclaims that he loves himself it comes off as a false reassurance to help him cope with the fact he has destroyed all potential connections with family and friends. However, he attempts to redeem himself by being a proper king. This can be seen when he still decides to fight Richmond near the end of the play. He gives an inspiring speech to rally his men. Before his death he says: “A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!” (5.6. 7. 353). Richard willingly gives up his title as king, for a horse, so that he may prove his worth from a lowly rank to earn the title of king instead of deceiving his way to it.  

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Richard’s wound, his tragedy, lies deep within the fact that his own agenda to gain power and to achieve connection prevented him from opening his eyes. It prevented him from acting as a true leader, a loyal friend, and a loving family member Since his only feeling of fulfillment and connection came from his plots of deception, this made him blind to the potential of any true relationship. Sadly, he realized it too late. Through his guilt of betraying his friends and family, he gave up everything and died looking like a king to redeem himself; therefore, I believe Shakespeare creates sympathy for Richard by the last act. Richard willingly sacrifices his title as king and sets aside his personal grief before the battle. Richard channels his traumatic experience of recognizing the error of his ways to prove he is a worthy and capable leader. Enabling himself to set aside his demoralizing state, he uses the battle as an opportunity of redemption so that he may be a decent person and not a villain. I often compare this final act by Richard to Darth Vader in his last few moments. In Star Wars Return of the Jedi, Vader saves his son Luke from being killed by Emperor Palpatine. By doing so he becomes the father he had always wanted to be. Darth Vader didn’t want to be a powerful Sith, he wanted to be a husband and a father because he did not have one growing up. Darth Vader felt like such a failure because he could not save his wife or be a father to his kids that he filled that emptiness with anger and power. Richard on the other hand, only wanted power because he could not find friendship or love because he had been to hurt from feeling ostracized due to his appearance, and failing to find acceptance for himself. It is not until Richard realizes his impending doom, that he concludes that he did not need power, he just needed to be more confident in himself and trustworthy of others.

Opinion: most video games are political and if you disagree, you are wrong

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Video games have been around since the early 1970s. Providing entertainment from arcades to households for many years. Now more than ever the video game median delivers compelling stories through visuals, storytelling, and acting to create a piece of entertainment that can motivate, terrify, excite, or even cause self-reflection. Video games have become a craft like no other, that demands your attention and your participation. They can draw you in and make you become invested in the journey the character you are controlling is going through. Often it can pull a player in so much, that an attachment can occur where a player can feel some level of happiness or remorse that the character on screen is feeling because you as the player, took part in whatever has occurred on screen. For many gamers, this is exciting and is often revered as something every game or video game developer should strive for. However, there are some gamers who only want this to go so far. That or they think it should only be considered entertainment and nothing else. Not all games need to be the same, but most games have a purpose on top of being a fun hobby. It is within human nature we are drawn to stories. We seek out things we can relate to or things that inspire us or make us feel something. However, over the past few years, the gaming community has been polarizing when it comes to what a game should try and achieve through a story, and if a story needs to be anything more than just entertainment. Here is the thing though, it is impossible to do that. Again, falling back on human nature, a person could read literature, and the piece of literature could try not to be about anything. Its only goal is wanting to come off as absurd.

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Yet even though the goal of this piece of literature is to be nonsensical, humans will find a way to interpret and analyze something to relate it to. No matter how hard we try, everything is categorized or interpreted a certain way so we can conceptualize what it is. This is loosely based on the term Phenomenology. A philosophy that studied the structure of experience and consciousness and how people use that to determine how they understand/relate to something. I bring this up simply to make it apparent that no matter how pointless or absurd something created by someone is, an individual will find a way to give it meaning. Unfortunately, some people do not understand that it is impossible to not imbue things like entertainment as anything more than entertainment. A few years back when the Last of Us Part II was released for PlayStation, many fans of the first game were angry because they thought the game had a political agenda due to the main character being a gay woman and another character later in the plot identified as the opposite gender. For some of these gamers, this was seen as a political agenda. Or something that was being shoved in their face to try and say that people should be okay with this. My reaction to this anger from other Last of Us fans was also anger, but anger toward those who thought that because the themes of LGBTQ were showcased in the Last of Us Part II, some gamers felt it was being forced upon them. That it was coming off more like education or a stance from the left-wing of political values. Meanwhile, most of these angry gamers would play the series Call of Duty, where you literally play as an American soldier “delivering justice” to terrorists…I’m sorry, how the hell is that not political?

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Honestly, that may be more politically charged than showcasing a protagonist as being gay. The romanticization of American soldiers in Call of Duty, in my opinion greatly outweighs that of a protagonist liking the same sex. Highlighting that military power and aggression on actual historical events or groups of people seem far more political, but because it is a shooter, do people think it is not political? Hello…war is about politics. It is about power; it is about values. Conflict is usually born from differences in beliefs, so when someone says that Call of Duty is just a game and it is fun, I greatly disagree. It is by far more political than any other game out there. Some of the greatest role-playing games of our time are highly political. Take Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic for example. Star Wars’s foundation is built on light and dark. Peace and dominance. Every choice in KOTOR is a statement you make within the world and as the player, you follow through on those stances and see the results, whether good or bad. Some of the most successful storytelling games and RPGs are filled to the brim with different factions, nations, regimes, and right and left-wing characters. Without any of those, there would be now Luke Skywalker to counter a Darth Vader. Without politics even on a small scale, there would be no story to be told. I think when the word “politics” or phrase; “social agenda” is thrown around, people tend to close off because the fact that a game can make a person critically think about a hard topic is still relatively known. Or at least the way in how much more effective storytelling in video games has become is something that some people may still need to come to grips with.

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Video games are a participatory medium that grants us the opportunity to live within a world and make hard choices. That is why more than ever they feel more political. The immersion into each and every world a gamer tunes into has a way of making a player ask themselves hard questions and potentially cause self-reflection. Of course, not all games need to drive this agenda so hard, but as storytelling improves so to will the response of the person voluntarily playing that content.

Opinion: if domestic travel was cheaper, there would be less of a divide among Canadians

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This is perhaps the most Canadian article I will ever write…

There is no doubt that within the climate we currently live in, the divide amongst Canadians is growing ever wider. Especially now with the controversy pertaining to vaccination passports being mandatory to access numerous services and facilities nationwide. This divide has been growing for several years now, even prior to COVID-19…and it is not okay. Of course, not everyone, nor can every province meet eye to eye and agree on policy, legislation, and what is right or wrong for themselves and for all of Canada. If that was the case, you’d either be the nicest person in the world or too trusting…that or I’m terrible and I need to figure my life out. However, what if I told you that I think this problem could be reduced if citizens in Canada had the ability to travel more freely? By freely I mean fiscally easier. Here’s the thing. Do you recall the big question in school; what does it mean to be Canadian? Usually, many people answer with; “I don’t know” or we just say, “we are a mosaic with all kinds of ethnicities”. What if all the confusion is caused by the fact our freedom to travel within Canada is too expensive? That we only ever get a small taste of what our whole country has to offer? For example, I often hear people in British Columbia talk poorly about people in Alberta, just as much as I hear Albertans talk trash about British Columbians. I grew up in Calgary, Alberta, and then moved to Vancouver in 2018, and have lived here since. Although Alberta and British Columbia are neighbouring provinces, there is still a divide amongst the people that inhabit these provinces, because of political beliefs and values. Yet both Albertans and British Columbians enjoy visiting each other’s provinces for what they have to offer.

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Both places have vacations, jobs, recreational hobbies, and so on. Even though BC and Alberta often clash when it comes to values, there is more of a connection or consideration towards one another, because it is easier to access each other’s provinces. We are more attuned to one another because our closeness in proximity. The experience of physically being able to be in either province offers an inner look at how a city in BC functions, what its struggles and successes are, and how the people live. This is interchangeable with British Columbians going to Alberta. So even though there is a divide between the neighbouring province (AB), we can connect much better than we are able to connect to Quebec…Oh Quebec… From my experience, most Albertans and British Columbians have a stigma towards Quebec just as powerful as the stigma Quebec holds for the rest of Canada. This is not to say that everyone in Quebec, BC, or Alberta hates one another, but the farther we are physically, the harder it is to relate and understand what it is like to live in that province, city, or town. This is where I think Canada needs to do better. After all, we are the 2nd largest country in the world. Now sure, we can travel freely in our own country as Canadian citizens. This is fantastic! I can go to Montreal today and then the Yukon tomorrow if I really wanted to…there is a catch though. Do you have the funds to do so? If you want to have a roundtrip to Montreal from Vancouver, it is going to cost you a whopping $758. If you want to go to Newfoundland from Vancouver, on a roundtrip it will cost you $834 dollars. These trips are a total of 4 days long. Meanwhile, if you want to go to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico it will cost you $752 dollars.

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Why is it that traveling to Mexico, a place that is farther away than both Montreal and Newfoundland, holds the same value/cheaper than me wanting to see the rest of the country I live in? It is absurd. The incentive to go see the east coast of Canada is squandered, because I’d save more money going to a different country rather than staying and experiencing my own. I’m not saying traveling out of Canada is bad, or people shouldn’t do it, but it bothers me that my own country can’t even incentivize me to want to see what other provinces have to offer. The outrageous prices to travel within Canada have caused a rift between Canadians because we feel discouraged to see and experience the other provinces. I think that if there was a flat fee for air travel in Canada for all Canadian citizens, the people of Canada would be able to relate better to one another. If we were able to see what it is like, perhaps a more mutual understanding would come to fruition. If Canadians could better understand the lives of someone from the east coast compared to the west coast or central Canada, I think things like federal election outcomes would look a lot different. Consideration and relatability would cause more unity and strengthen relations with other provinces. When a federal election is taking place, all the candidates travel across Canada to try and get a better feel for what that province needs or cares about. If Canadian citizens were able to do this too, the scope of what Canada would be defined as for each Canadian I think would greatly improve. On a personal level, being able to grasp the woes and successes of an individual can help create a better understanding of why a person is the way they are.

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Why can this not be the approach to travel for Canada? So that Canadians can better understand one another and connect more with Canada as a whole? I believe the results would lead to a better understanding on an individual level, that would ultimately carry more weight in terms of how provinces cooperate with one another, I believe that incentivizing Canadians to see their country would lessen the divide that has been growing ever wider for the past decade, I believe that Canadians would feel happier and more relatable to one another.  Besides, the last thing I want is a divide that reflects that of our United States counterpart…Now more than ever I think Canadians need to find ways to understand and know each other. These past few years have been rough and we stand a better chance of coming out better than worse if we support one another, not discourage or look at Canada from a limited point of view.

Resident Evil Village Thoughts/Impressions (Spoiler alert)

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On March 22nd, 2021 Capcom celebrated the 25th anniversary of their flagship survival horror series Resident Evil. Shortly after this celebration, on May 7th, 2021, the 8th installment of the franchise cleverly named Resident Evil VII.I.AGE released. Over the past 25 years, this series has taken crazy twists and turns in story and genre. Most importantly, Resident Evil has gone from a fixed camera perspective to creating the famous over-the-shoulder camera perspective in Resident Evil 4. This perspective revolutionized the action genre of video games, bringing players games like Dead Space, Mass Effect, and Gears of War.

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Resident Evil 7 took on a new camera perspective as well. Instead of following its predecessors RE 4 to 6, it opted for a first-person view. It also had the player take the role of a new character, Ethan Winters, as he tries to save his wife, Mia from a crazed and infected family, the Bakers, in Louisiana. Each family member had their odd quirks and lurked in the shadows waiting to snuff Ethan out. Lucky enough for Ethan, Resident Evil 7 ends with him and his wife, Mia being saved by Chris Redfield, one of the franchises’ longest-running characters since the first game back in 1996. For the latter half of RE 7, Ethan discovers both he and his wife Mia have been infected by a deadly superorganism called Mold. During his time at the Baker residence, Ethan manages to get a hold of a vaccine to cure himself and his wife. Flash forward 3 years later, Ethan and Mia now live in Europe under the order of Chris Redfield, but they are also now a mother and a father. After Ethan sets his baby Rose to sleep, he talks with his wife Mia, and out of nowhere, a bullet burst through the window, shooting Mia. In a panic, Ethan hits the floor to take cover from the incoming barrage of bullets. Just then the table he is hiding behind is pushed away and we see long-time protagonist Chris Redfield gun down Ethan’s wife and steal his baby, Rose.

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Resident Evil Village has Ethan Winters on a rescue mission to save his baby daughter and search for answers on why Chris killed his wife. There is also a bigger narrative at play which ties into the rest of the Resident Evil series, and its main antagonist the Umbrella Corporation, which caused the events of the first three games.

Design:

Having completed the game on standard difficulty, I can say I had a blast. It is important to note, I am a huge Resident Evil fan. I played on PC and have a decent set-up that allowed me to get the best experience out of Village. From beautiful graphics, amazing sound design, terrifying enemies, and a colorful cast of characters, this game is a celebration of the Resident Evil franchise. Village pays homage specifically to Resident Evil 4 in many ways.

The Setting:

Village may still follow RE 7’s first-person perspective, but the setting alone is reminiscent of Resident Evil 4. In RE 4 the protagonist, Leon fights against crazed denizens of a village in an undisclosed area of Spain. When you play as Ethan, you enter a village (in an undisclosed area of Romania), and a swarm of enemies attempts to overwhelm you, and you must hold them off for a certain amount of time. If you survive a cutscene is triggered and bell tolls beckoning the monsters away. This echoes the opening of RE 4 to the T.

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Inventory system & Merchant:

Another aspect it mirrors is the inventory system and a merchant-like character. The inventory system in Resident Evil 4 was an Attache case that formed a grid, making players play an almost mini-game of Tetris to manage their inventory. This Attache case could be upgraded via a merchant that shows up in specific areas within the game. Village has its own rendition of the merchant, the Duke. Both the lively merchant and the Duke offer supplies, weapon upgrades, and allow you to sell any treasures you find or collect throughout your harrowing adventure.

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Combat:

As a first-person shooter/survival horror, RE Village’s combat feels great. Each weapon has the right amount of kickback. Landing a hit on your foes is satisfying, and it makes you feel slightly safer than you felt the moment prior. It also has a good balance of keeping you on edge. It makes you second guess if you should craft more ammo or healing salves. The fight or flight aspect kicks when you become overwhelmed by zombies, lycans and bat-like creatures. Combat is a constant reminder that the odds are stacked against you. However, I have found personally that playing on standard difficulty has not been as much of a challenge for me. I think this is because I have been playing Resident Evil games since Resident Evil 4, which was released back in 2005. It is worth mentioning if you are new to the franchise. I’m sure standard difficulty will do the trick for new players. If you are a veteran of the series, I recommend playing on hardcore, but if you want to play on standard do it, all that matters is you have fun!

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Mother Miranda & The four lords (Characters):

Lastly, there is no way we cannot mention Resident Evil Village’s colorful cast of antagonists. Quite early on we hear about a mysterious woman named Mother Miranda, who is the big bad wolf of this title. Mother Miranda has some unknown plan involving Ethan’s daughter Rose and a ceremony. Aside from Mother Miranda, four lords have control over different districts of the village. First is internet sensation Lady Dimitrescu and her three vampire-like daughters. Lady Dimitresu is a whopping 9 feet and 6-inch-tall woman that resides in a castle. Lady D’s stature is imposing as she looms over Ethan, hunting the player down as you try to navigate the castle halls. The second lord is Donna Beneviento, a dark cloaked doll-maker, and ventriloquist residing in a mansion. The third lord is Salvatore Moreau, a repulsive-looking fish-man living in the reservoir…anyone for a swim? Lastly is Karl Heisenberg, a mysterious hammer-wielding man that seems to have a telekinesis ability who looks after a factory.

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So far in my second playthrough, I have finished my time in the castle, and I am heading to Beneviento’s mansion. In my opinion, this section of the game is the creepiest. You lose all your equipment and must solve puzzles and hide away from a giant baby-like monstrosity that calls out to you. Once you escape this dark basement you must run away from dolls scattered around Beneviento’s mansion that leap up at you.

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Final Thoughts:

I am enjoying Resident Evil Village even more on my second playthrough. I highly recommend picking it up if you are a long-time fan or have been itching for a good action/survival horror experience. Resident Evil Village’s story was satisfying, with a few miss-steps in the narrative that I wish were more fleshed out. Overall, this title offers nostalgia for long-time fans by paying homage to Resident Evil 4, while managing to  stay true to its survival horror roots (aside from the last 30 minutes of the game) and keep the series fresh. I am excited to see where the franchise will go after Resident Evil Village’s interesting conclusion.

Opinion & Spoilers: Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic is the best Star Wars game ever

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A long time ago, well actually in 2003, Edmonton-based studio Bioware, released Knights of the old republic. Kotor for short. The best Star Wars game to date. Taking place nearly 4000 years before the Star Wars films starts with Darth Malak, Darth Revan’s apprentice unleashing a Sith armada against the Republic. This has left many Jedi scattered and vulnerable to Malak’s hostility. Jedi either die in battle or swear allegiance to Malak. Kotor opens with the player creating their character, male or female, and has you select 1 of 3 starting classes in the game; soldier, scout, and scoundrel. Your character wakes up on a doomed Republic capital ship with no memory of their past. After escaping the ill-fated ship, you crash land on a planet named Taris. The player over time collects companions and pieces together their characters’ past while attempting to stop Malak’s onslaught. To accomplish this task, the main character, and their companions search for Star Maps, that when put together reveal the location of the Star Forge, an ancient space station that creates vast amounts of material for Malak. As your character seeks out these star maps, they end up discovering they are Darth Revan, and during a confrontation, Darth Malak betrayed his master, Revan (you) and in the process, your character lost their memory. However, the Jedi decided to hide this truth from your character in hopes that you would come back to the light side of the Force (this moment will be talked about later). Since Kotor is a role-playing video game, the main character’s actions and dialogue influence whether they align themselves with the light or dark side of the Force. Depending on the character’s alignment, eventually, the Star Forge is reached and you either defeat the Sith lord Malak (light-side path) or overthrow Malak (dark-side path) to gain control of the Sith.

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Now, why do I think Knight of the old republic is the best Star Wars game when it has been out since 2003 and there have been plenty of Star Wars video games released since then…Well first off, this game sold over 2.5 million copies by February of 2005, and among gaming critics, it averaged 92% out of a 100. Secondly, In an article by Games Radar on April 21st, 2021, a remake of Kotor is in the works and will be made by Aspyr Media, the studio that ported the original Kotor to IOS. I am very excited to go through this amazing adventure once again, but I am also thrilled that anyone who has not played this game will get the chance to play it with a fresh coat of updated graphics. Kotor allows you to create your own lightsaber-wielding Jedi or Sith, but it makes you work for it.

 

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The first planet you crash on is Taris. Taris can get stale quickly, but it teaches you how to play the game, it gives you the time to develop where your morals lie as your character. Countless encounters have you walking by a conflict with thugs or Sith troopers taking advantage of Taris’s citizens, sometimes even mid-act trying to kill them. You are then prompted with a decision, help, or do nothing. Here is where it gets interesting though, say you help save the citizen from being blasted by a thug or Sith trooper. That citizen will then thank you for saving them. You are then prompted with dialogue choices, but you don’t just have to be an “all in the days’ work” kind of hero. You can threaten them to pay you for saving their lives or you will kill them. Kotor tries to tap into the essence of what makes Star Wars heroes, heroes and what makes villains, villains, while also making you the player ask yourself why? You see if you decide to be evil, you can get off Taris fairly quickly, after all, cutting corners and stealing people’s money, blackmailing, or taking what you want from a corpse is far easier than infiltrating a swoop bike gang to steal some rare parts to give to another gang so you can get access to a ship to get you off-world meanwhile, you are being hunted down by the Sith themselves.

Knights of the Old Republic escape pod scene

 

This game makes the player question how to approach every situation. It reflects the temptation of the dark side against the morality of the light side. There is a push and pull that constantly forces you to make you think about bad and good…Here is where it gets juicy. Back in 2003 when players found out that their character was the assumed to be dead Sith Lord Darth Revan, it was one of the biggest twists in video game history. Imagine from the start of the game you decided to be the paragon, a beacon of light for the Jedi, and then you learn that you were previously a Sith Lord, and not only were you betrayed by your apprentice Malak but the Jedi themselves decided to manipulate you to think you were a different person entirely, in hopes you would devote yourself to the Jedi. I suppose further context is needed as to why this would shock players and perhaps make them angry with the benevolent Jedi. You see, Revan and Malak were once Jedi, however, there was a major concern with the Mandalorians. The Mandalorians are a race of people whose culture was based around total domination and conquering. Almost total Darwinism. Only the strongest survive kind of thing. Revan and Malak had a growing concern that the Mandalorians would take over the galaxy because they were going planet to planet conquering for sport and were unmatched in skill and ruthlessness. So, Revan purposed to the Jedi council to intervene, seeing that only the Jedi were powerful enough to ward off these battle-hardened warriors from Mandalore. The Jedi council forbade it. The Jedi are not warriors, they are defenders of peace. Enraged by this inaction, Revan and Malak took it upon themselves to fight the Mandalorians and had gained a following. By doing this many Jedi left the order to follow Revan and Malak into the Mandalorian Wars. This however warped Revan and Malak, and all the Jedi that followed them to battle. Because they fought with a purpose to eradicate, they had abandoned the Jedi ways and slowly eroded to become Sith, feeling that the only way to defeat the powerful Mandalorians was to become powerful themselves.

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This revelation that the main character was Darth Revan, shook the foundations of the player and the main character. How could the Jedi of all people manipulate someone for their gain? Isn’t that what the Sith do? This injected a grey side into the mix of light and dark. The Jedi lied about knowing who the main character was because they thought it best Revan was a blank slate. Revan could become a Jedi again and use their powers for good. However, by doing this the Jedi denied Revan the chance to choose for themselves, on whether they wanted to support the Jedi. The Jedi for the first time were depicted as corrupt. They took advantage of their power and lied for their gain out of fear of Revan. Emotions clouded their judgment. This shade of grey would be seen throughout the prequel trilogy and ultimately help depict the cracks within the Jedi council that would lead to Anakin Skywalker turning evil, and Senator Palpatine became the Emperor of the Galactic Empire. The downfall of the Jedi would ultimately be more than just an evil cloaked Sith with an elaborate plan, it would also be caused by the hubris of the Jedi.

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The influence of your decisions does more than craft the identity of the main character and shaping the outcome of the game itself. Your decisions as the main character can cause drastic changes of influence among your companions who follow you throughout the galaxy. Enough so, that you could turn a good-hearted Jedi into a bloodthirsty Sith, or a ruthless bounty hunter into a valiant hero. The main character’s influence can shake the very foundation of a companion’s way of seeing the galaxy. In turn, this changes the relationship between the main character and their companions, for better or worse.

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So, you see the reason why Knights of the old republic are the best Star Wars game, is because it adheres to the balance of the Force, the ebb and flow of light and dark, (it is also a bonus that it was created by a Canadian video game developer), but it also questions the laws of the Star Wars universe on a heightened level. No other Star Wars game has been successful in representing the light and dark side, while also questioning it. Kotor gives the player the chance to combine both light and dark. It shows that sometimes one-sided thinking is narrowminded and a mix of both philosophies (light and dark) is needed. When the main character discovers they were once Darth Revan, your character freaks out, and the player freaks out. The balance is set off-kilter because now you don’t know what is trustworthy anymore. The deception from the Jedi is questioned. Does it justify the means to stop Malak? Once you discover this charade, you have already been traveling across the galaxy trying to save everyone and clean up mistakes that the Jedi could have prevented. You have visited Dantooine, where the Jedi Council is hiding. You learn the way of the Force, starting from scratch as a Padawan. You dedicate yourself to yet another venture unknowingly, that deceit is taking place right in front of you. Morality is characterized so effectively. Kotor allows you to paint your stroke, whether it be light, grey, or dark.

Opinion: Travel bans and restrictions do little to nothing

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Since December of 2020, new restrictions and rules have been put in place in BC to help combat and prevent the spread of COVID-19. In the following months leading up to the present day, there have been new iterations and rules toppled on one another to try and stop people from gathering. Yet none of that has done anything to motivate people from hanging out. Listen, I am 110% down to quell this virus. I have followed the guidelines very seriously. My girlfriend and I have 1 other friend we go on walks with. We keep our distance, say hello, then go home…That is it. Any other activity, such as going for a drink on a patio is strictly my partner and me, but that is not stopping other people from going in groups of 2 to 5 for a drink on a patio, and I can guarantee they don’t all live together. Back in December, my girlfriend took me out to dinner for my birthday. As we sat down the table across from us had a middle-aged couple talking away and enjoying their drinks…then 2 other couples waved to them and said, “hey it is so nice to see you, wow it has been so long!” as they trotted over and sat down with them… Immediately in my head, I was thinking what the fu**! Seriously? If you are going to break the rules, at least don’t be so obvious about it!

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Then it got me thinking. What happens if you get caught breaking the rules? Well, you get fined, right? Or you are subject to getting fined. Okay, paying a hefty fine is never fun, that must stop some people. Nope! I still see groups of people gather at parks or go for drinks every weekend. The rules in place from December to now are crap. The health orders kept getting extended and the rules stacked like a tower of pancakes. I think the rules are half-baked. I think the most serious BC has ever been about COVID-19, was back when this all started and everything was shut down. Then things calmed down before Christmas, and they loosened the restrictions. Then after the holidays, low and behold things started to ramp up again. More rules were put in place, but it was too late and not as strict as the initial lockdown. Why did we not just have another lockdown? Is the government afraid people will get angry? They already are. Life has drastically changed, and it may never be the same again. Worried about the economy? Ha, hasn’t the economy been shit for a while now? Or has it just not changed for me, because I’m a broke-ass student?

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Whether you believe in COVID or not, if the government had mentioned the word lockdown, people would probably have taken the rules more seriously. It also would have made it easier to give out fines or press actual charges! Right and wrong would be more obvious. resulting in people having less ways to exploit the rules like they currently are. According to a Global News article from May 8th, 2021, RCMP spokesperson, Dawn Roberts said the RCMP will release their times and locations for travel check stops, so the public could know when and where these stops would take place… As of today, the first ticket has been issued for the entirety of the travel ban, according to an article from CTV News. What does this tell me? It tells me I could just drive to where I want when you are not doing check stops. Wouldn’t they rather have people think that at any time during their travel there could be a check stop? They might as well start posting when and where they will be pulling people over to do breathalyzer tests too.

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Instead of the government making a more concrete decision for rules and restrictions. They are like an adult telling another adult, that if they do not follow the rules, they could get a spanking. Would you take a grown-ass adult seriously if they told you, you would get a spanking? Don’t put this into dirty context…Honestly though it is laughable. I could hop in my car right now and drive over to the Okanagan for a little getaway. If I run into a check stop, I could say I’m a student going back to my parent’s place, I’m helping a friend move out from the Okanagan to Vancouver, or I’m looking at places because I’m moving to the Okanagan. Any of these answers would go unchallenged, and I could be on my merry way to wherever I want without question…. For the first time, my student ID holds more power than just giving me a student discount at participating stores…Hooray? Perhaps I come off too strong when it comes to rules and lockdowns, but I still think we should have had another. It would have been a great incentive for people to keep following guidelines because if they didn’t, we would have to stay home. It would make anyone who does not follow the rules look like a complete dill-weed.

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I guess what I’m trying to say is from the start things should have been harsher. Punishments should have been set in place to prevent people from being blatantly inconsiderate of other people’s health, because the current fines are not scaring anyone. Daily Hive covered a whole story about some penthouse owner, who had a make-shift nightclub in his penthouse, and he refused to pay fines for disobeying health orders. Luckily, that ended, and Mr. Penthouse had to pay his fines, spend a day in jail and be on 18-month probation. They should have given him more jail time, but at least it is something.

We also can’t forget about servers at restaurants. Imagine how a server feels when a group of people come to have some food and drinks, and there is no way in hell they are from the same household. It would enrage me. Look, I get it. I miss doing things too, I miss seeing friends and family, but the longer we have dimwits out there not following the guidelines, the longer it will take. I know for certain overseeing these decisions and running health regulations for a whole province is hard work. I don’t think I could ever do it. I’m just some idiot with a mouth and an opinion who never shuts up. I think if BC were harsher with its rules, we would be in a better position than we currently are.

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The good thing is vaccines are here and the cases have gone down. Right now people in their 40’s can book appointments! I cannot wait until people 30 and under can book their appointment. If you have received your vaccine or have booked your appointment, congratulations! However, people need to still be smart about this. So, stay safe and try and stay happy.

Opinion: The high school English curriculum sucks at introducing theatre to students

 

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The high school English curriculum does not do theatre justice. It is far better at killing any inkling of interest a teenager may have in fine arts. Why so much Shakespeare? Death of a Salesman who cares? I’m sorry what is Canadian theatre? I never read any in high school…

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When you hear the word theatre or play, what do you think of? For many, that answer would be Shakespeare, more specifically Romeo and Juliet. However, if you are like me, maybe you were introduced to theatre in a drama class. Perhaps it opened a new interest or appreciation for what theatre is. If you did not take a drama class, theatre and plays were introduced as a literary element in English class in high school. For the most part, what is introduced is various plays of Shakespeare and Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller…I am here to say: WHY!? Seriously, the introduction to the world of theatre and plays in high school is abysmal. I think reading Romeo and Juliet is fine. It provides a good example for students to learn about tragedy, motifs, symbolism, irony…all that good stuff students learn for analysis and how to come up with their conclusion on what to take away from stories. However, being introduced to old-English styled text as a teenager, can miss-conceptualize and shut down any interest in theatre before it even begins. It was not until I went to university for theatre, and took an English-cognate class about Shakespeare, that I finally understood how to navigate the text of Shakespeare. High schools should choose one of Shakespeare’s plays and then move on or rotate one out each year. They also could use Greek tragedies like Madea, by Euripides or Oedipus, by Sophocles. At least these two plays are written like modern text and are far less intimidating at a first glance. Again, I’m not hating on Shakespeare, I just think they could simmer down on how much of it they use.

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Perhaps one reason theatre often fills their seats with an older audience, is because our education system suffocates any interest in theatre beyond high school. Creating an indifferent outlook on theatre for multiple generations. Did you ever read Death of a Salesman in school? I bet you did. If you did not, I am jealous. For starters, Death of a Salesman premiered in 1949. The whole play is about the death of the American dream, through the story of a struggling salesman and the main protagonist, Willy Loman. First off, salesman doesn’t even really exist anymore. You want to see a salesman, go click on the “add to cart” button on a website. There is your salesman. Secondly, you already learned enough about the United States in Social Studies or Humanities class. That, and American media has dominated Canadian television for several years. I don’t think we need to read an old-ass play about the death of the American dream. They have enough spotlight time so, please leave. Compared to Shakespeare, Death of a Salesman cannot be adapted to fit the present day. There is no new purpose or a new iteration like you can with any of Shakespeare’s plays. I could see how you may argue that Death of a Salesman still has some thought when it comes to capitalism, and how salesman is not a thing anymore, but there are more modern pieces that discuss these topics without stretching themselves too thin.

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So, what should they do? How could they inject some much-needed modernization into the introductory of theatre for teenagers? Easy, show some Canadian theatre. We have a plethora of playwrights who have created and are creating amazing plays, that high school students would find far more engaging, and more in tune with what is going on around the world and in Canada. There is a horrifying lack of Canadian theatre content being introduced in the high school English curriculum, and I have no idea why. Using Canadian playwrights such as Judith Thompson, Tomson Highway and David Yee (to name a few) would help highlight the numerous cultures of Canada while providing a glimpse of what is currently happening in theatre within Canada. When teenagers are introduced to a play like Romeo and Juliet that was written in 1597…I don’t blame them for thinking it is old. Hell, teenagers right now think Facebook is used by old people and Instagram and Tik-tok are for young folks. The point is, why is it that since I was in high school from 2011-2013, and my younger brother, who currently is finishing his senior year of high school in 2021, must-read Death of a Salesman? The world has become so fast-paced that whatever happened yesterday is already old and will often not hold people’s attention. Yet we have our high school education system not keeping up with the times. They do not change to reflect the world their students are currently living in. This is not to say we should not showcase things of the past. After all, there are major world history events, and pieces like Shakespeare that provide great lessons, but it does not mean our education systems should not update their source material now and then.

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I suppose the nice thing is that boards of education do help support certain pieces of theatre, by funding a production so it can travel across a province performing in multiple schools. Often these plays involve subjects like alcohol and drug abuse, environmental concerns, racism, sexism, and mental health. They can be hit or miss, but at least they are new works that try to align themselves closely to the concerns of the present-day student body.

Let us not forget optional classes like drama or musical theatre. These classes incorporate modern source material for school productions and scene work. These optional classes can revitalize interest in theatre for students. It did for me. However, not all students take those courses, there are other options and interests for students, but all students are required to take English. Perhaps the English curriculum and the drama curriculum could riff off one another. Student productions could be an open discussion in English class. It could make text analysis more practical. People already do that when they go to a movie theatre, it certainly would not be hard to do it for theatre.

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If it sounds like I am beating a dead horse here, good. The English curriculum has been beating a dead horse called: “theatre” for quite some time. In conclusion, the high school English curriculum should consider modernizing its source material, because it would perhaps encourage and support Canadian theatre and put an end to stifling a student’s bare minimum interest in what theatre is and can be. Not everyone needs to like theatre, but if it was introduced in a more present-day manner, I think it would at least hold a student’s interest for a little longer than it does now.

 

Opinion: Video games can spark interests and encourage learning

Pac-Man

Video games changed my life. As a child who struggled with reading and writing, video games made me feel like I had some sort of control or understanding of something that other people did not. As I kept diving deeper into the gaming world from an early age, one game took real-world history to create their world, and thus my passion for Japanese history ignited, and my will to get better at reading and writing began.

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Growing up I was fortunate enough to have a Super Nintendo and a Sega genesis lying around the house. In the ’80s my mother’s family used to own a game shop while she was in her teens, and she decided to collect these state-of-the-art consoles, and so in the year 2000, at the age of 5, my video game adventures would begin. I played Alien invaders, Pong, Alerted beast, Tetris, and many more that my memory cannot recall. As time was spent playing each of these games, I was able to pick up on certain patterns. Seeing how the aliens loom ever closer to the space-fighter as you attempt to ward off the never-ending invasion, while trying to hit the flying saucer that taunts the player as it flies by, to Altered Beast, a game where you collected power-up orbs to transform into overpowered beasts to dominate your foes. These patterns or designs of the game became more familiar as I played, I began to get better and better at it. Being 5 years old and becoming capable to comprehend the laws of a game is crazy. It made me feel accomplished like I found “my thing” as some people would put it. Nowadays children at the age of 2 are seen chilling in their stroller playing on an iPad, kind of scary and a whole other issue to discuss…but I digress, the point is I felt like I was understanding something new, I adapted to the reality the game presented and found ways to ward off the aliens or collect power-up orbs more efficiently.

 

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Now, why do I bring this up? Why do I care that much about these archaic video games that most likely a kid from the early 2000s would not even know about? Well like anyone with nostalgia, they are near and dear to my heart, but they also sparked various interests and passions and provided me with the and desire to learn how to read! By the time I was in grade 2, my reading and writing skills were terrible. I was reading at a kindergarten level… I know what you are thinking; Bailey you were a child you did not need to be good at anything when your 7! Yes, I know, all kids are humans in training, but try telling that to a 7-year-old who cannot even do simple math equations or read and write at a grade 1 to 2 level…For me anyone remotely better at these subjects could see the matric and I felt dumb.

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Soon after expressing my frustration, and my teacher showing my below-average grades to my parents, my family discovered I had a learning disability. This would greatly affect my education confidence up until I went to university. Okay…so what does this have to do with video games Bailey? I am getting there, but this article needs to be a minimum of 1000 words for it to be marked, so please bear with me. When I turned 7, I got a PlayStation 2 for my Birthday. I was ecstatic. This new console had so much to offer. During the PS2’s lifespan, some major franchises were born. Jak and Daxter and Ratchet and Clank are just two of numerous titles that would go on to become some of Sony’s greatest hits. Then during one trip to blockbuster…Wait let’s stop…Remember blockbuster? If your answer was yes, hooray you have earned my respect. If it was no, don’t worry…I’ll tell you!  Blockbuster was created in 1985 and closed in 2010. It was like Netflix before Netflix, but instead of paying a monthly fee, you would physically walk into a blockbuster store and browse the aisles looking for movies and video games to rent. They also had a rewards program and I had way too many free rentals. I had no life.

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Anyways back to what I was saying. During my trip to blockbuster, I discovered a Japanese role-playing game called Way of the Samurai. It launched its first game on the PS2. This game allowed the player to create a Ronin samurai during the latter half of feudal Japan. You would roam cities, villages, and the countryside doing quests and fighting thugs or magistrates. This game allowed the player to join different factions. If you wanted to be a thug you could join them, if you wanted to be a magistrate, basically like a police officer, you could join them. For its time, a game with multiple endings and various in-game choices was astounding! Since Way of the Samurai was created by a Japanese developer, the cutscenes were voice dubbed in English to cover major plot points. However, all the other interactions with NPC’s (non-playable characters) had blips of text above their heads giving you further context on what is happening. Now here is where my struggle started…I fell in love with the feudal japan world before me. I found Japanese culture and the samurai to be interesting. From their clothes, swords, and their code of honor, I was hooked. Sadly, I was only capable of understanding things that were voiced because I could not decipher the text! My reading was so bad, that I could not understand integral details about objectives, or characters telling me how they felt or anything! It made me feel so lost. Here I had this amazing console that allowed me to play this game, that awakened a passion for Japanese history, yet I could only put half of the puzzle together because I was incapable of reading…This frustration grew more and more until I told myself I needed to learn how to read. I began to challenge myself to read harder books and study the dreaded words that would appear on my weekly spelling tests. My passion to understand this game motivated me to get better at reading and writing.

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I guess what I am trying to say is that often-video games are framed around people who are unable of growing up. People who rot their brains away consuming interactive media. Well to you I say…that is your opinion, but for me, I would have never challenged myself to learn without discovering video games. For me, video games nudged my interest and showed me a different world. It gave me a passion for Japanese history that later extended to history in general, and in doing so made me take it upon myself, at the age of 7 to try harder and deal with my reading and writing struggles. Of course, too much of something can be a bad thing, but now more than ever video games have become an interactive platform that offers a variety of genres and unique stories. These games can be gateways to all kinds of passions, it could spark an interest in music, animation, computer science, visual art, history (like me), and many more. These collaborative works are more than just entertainment, they are a medium of discovery. Now if you would excuse me, I have some video games to play.

 

The Guilty Pleasure Podcast Dungeons & Dragons edition

You and your band of misfit adventurers have been invited on a quest! A quest to delve into the world of Dungeons and Dragons to learn how this fantastical game is a guilty pleasure and how versatile it is when it comes to letting your imagination run wild. So, stock up on healing potions and pick up your swords, staffs, bows and shields and enter the dungeon!