Maybe the Future is Bright, Maybe?

In H.G. Wells’ The Time Traveler, our protagonist travels deep into the theoretical dimension of time. Coming out on the other side, he experiences a few realities that all show the fate of earth as a bleak outcome for humanity. I, like many of the narrator’s guests, do not believe the traveler’s stories. I choose not to believe, not because time travel is impossible but because I have faith that humanity will not evolve and transform the earth into something as cruel and unfortunate as the scenes that the readers are introduced to.I don’t remember who said it, but there is a quote that says something along the lines of ~the universe had the infinite possibility to be ugly, yet somehow it is beautiful. Instead of the protagonist tales, let’s actually imagine a world that isn’t ugly.

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In this day, social media is huge and there is no way that it will become less relevant. In my opinion and highest hopes, social media will be what prevent humanity from crumbling to war, crime, and evil science that may have led to the creatures that are seen in a large part o the novel. As a future officer in the Marine Corps, I believe now that the most powerful weapon in the world is finally the common people. It’s not ballistic missile submarines or bombers, it’s the easy of communication and way that sympathy spreads like wildfire that is truly humanity’s hope. A few decades ago, atrocities did not get the coverage they demanded to end, but now nation’s are being held accountable by citizens. I’d like to think that this shift in power will never be undone, when people are in control instead of power craving individuals, then the true nature of humanity comes to light.

This guy. Such love.

Thousands of years of change are impossible to predict, but I refuse to accept Wells’ weak faith in us, as I ultimately see the novel as a refection of human’s direct influence on their own future. I think our future is bright. With so much possibility to be ugly, the universe has continued to choose beauty and I don’t think it’ll ever change it’s mind.

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I’d be willing to bet Einstein said the quote btw.

By Squidward

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Sieze the Moment and Climb

In League of Legends snowballing is the name of the game. Big plays that win the game often start as a small minion lead or that double kill that happened near the first dragon fight. Every click really does have an impact; just as every ranked game should mean something. From the first champion select of placements to the final promotion game when you’re 2-2 for the next tier, snowballing your actual win rate is a huge way to get where your goal for the season lies. With the dawn of season 5 on the horizon, here are my reasons why getting a good start is so important in ranked solo queue.

Firstly, it’s important not to get stuck in elo hell – just can’t let it happen. The difference between 7-3 and 6-4 is insane when determining where you are placed. Getting put in bronze as opposed to high silver could mean that you are forced to climb for a lot longer than you should in order to get to the correct elo. As a player who was in silver for months, it really can be challenging to get rolling and pick up the LP you need to escape the pits. It is pretty essential that you take breaks and have the right mindset going into each game that decides your placement.

Right after that, whether you are placed in bronze, silver, or gold, you need to jump right into ranked and try to get up as fast as possible. When the new season starts, many players will be shifting up and down. Your goal as one of the many fish is to try to ride the urrent upwards. There are going to be many good players mixed in with awful players. Remember this and use I to your advantage, make those good players strong and crush the weaker individuals. While it’s important to climb, it’s even more important to not get bogged down. No matter what, don’t rage or you will find yourself in a place you don’t belong in – so take breaks when the going gets tough.

A lot of players like to use elo boosting at the end of seasons in order to scramble to a better tier, but I’d argue that being boosted at the beginning is even more useful. You get put in a better spot, get to play and learn from higher quality players, and really get better at the game. When the new season comes, don’t get down on where you were, get climbing!

Squidward

My Golden Years of Gaming

By: Squidward

I’ve never really written about this and the only people that know of this little story are the super nerds that will understand the excitement of being very good at a video game. From 7th grade to 10th grade I played a game called The Battle for Middle Earth 2 and I was pretty obsessed. BFME2 is a very fast paced real-time strategy game that takes the lore from The Lord of the Rings and creates epic fights between the races of Middle-Earth. This RTS was my introduction to online gaming and I couldn’t enough. As a kid without a way to get around I found myself playing this game every time I had any free space in my day – which was hours after school and almost whole days on the weekend. After a couple years, I found myself in a top clan and widely known as one of the top players in the game.

So I’m 15 and I’m writing guides, playing in tournaments and a part of one of the best teams. It’s so nerdy but it’s true. I crushed 8 hours of BFME2 a day and the game took complete control of my imagination. A regular weekend would be spent meeting with my team, practicing, then going head to head with opponents in order to be on the top of the ladder. My favorite team was Mordor and I was the best Mordor player in the game when I played. In the end, I left the game when grades became more important – the servers are still online but I haven’t touched the game in years. So, as a strange throwback to the younger Squid, I’m going to write about how I’ve changed as a gamer.

Gaming is awesome; I’ve always thought so and I will always think so. It’s a complete escape and that escape is really beautiful (I’m listening to the Kingdom Hearts 2 soundtrack atm, so I’m getting the feels). I have always searched for games to be lost in whether that’s through the action, the romance, or just the absolute mystery of a different world and time. When I was very young, the action got to me the most. If I wasn’t cutting my way through foes or watching my army of Pikmin wage war, I lost interest. Luckily, there is a never ending supply of those types of games so I kept gaming until the point where story mattered. This leads me to my first big games: The Legend of Zelda series. These games had a perfect combination of action, great music, puzzles, and a story deep enough to still have me thinking about Hyrule as a 20 year old. Entering middle school, games became more of lifestyle for me. Even though that sounds a little lame, it is just like picking up a good book and not being able to put it down until you’ve finished. Middle school was my time of speeding through tons of games – every month I would grab a few games from Gamestop and beat them as fast as I could. Of course I enjoyed them fully and now I really get a kick thinking of all the games I have beaten. And as I talked about before, late middle school was dominated by one game to rule them all — BFME2. This was the first time I thought of gaming as my life and nothing was as enjoyable. However, with the weight of high school I really did have to change my habits. I dropped my team and my favorite game….and I started back on games with great stories that had less of a commitment. I really wish I could go back to those years sometimes, but that brings me to where I am today as a gamer.

League of Legends was completely unknown to me until the very end of freshman year of college. Up to then I was playing a game every few months and going back and visiting many of the games I passed up. Now I mostly play the addictive MOBA League of Legends with small bursts of other games. While the games have changed, the biggest thing that has changed is how I view games. Now I fully appreciate games as an escape, playing them for 8 hours a day isn’t an escape when it’s all you do. As a junior video games are really only in my extremely free time but they hold an even deeper meaning now. To me, video games are another reality that is mine. I can get on my computer, pop in my headphones, blast A$AP Rocky, play some games and smile – because, hey…I was one of the best Mordor players ever.

Wanted More From a Game Titled Journey

Journey is a game about experience. From the beautiful soundtrack to the visuals that capture the imagination, the Playstation 3 title immerses the player in a world of beauty and mystery. The game revolves around an unnamed character’s journey through a desert to a mountain. It is both stunning and sobering – it’s a game about life that forces the player to think about beginnings and endings. While the gameplay and players’ goals are simple, the delivery of the material is what makes this game a piece of artwork. As an avid gamer and one that loves to find beauty in what I’m playing, I felt both captivated yet hungry for more substance.

Journey does a lot of things right. The gameplay is clean and relatively easy to grasp but still offers challenges. The simple mechanics allows players to move swiftly through the game while still appreciating the artistic presentation that the game delivers. The developer’s best executed design was the soundtrack. Every piece has a purpose; it slows a player down, speeds a player up, reminds a player when to take in the scenery, and keeps the player absorbed in the journey. All you need is a cigarette and a scented candle to forget you are playing a video game.

The ending brings it all together with a message of time, endings, and the cycle of existence. The character appears to be met by angels/memories/truth and after the credits the player is asked if they want to play again. It’s rebirth and brings the story full circle. After my first experience with Journey I sat down and compared it to other games as both art and a video game. It delivers on both to a degree but won’t satisfy gamers looking for a complete game experience. Reflecting on some of my favorites (the Final Fantasy series, Legend of Zelda, Halo, Kingdom Hearts) I realized that Journey works to express a great theme but with little substantial game behind it.

Journey’s music, visuals, and streamline gameplay is beautiful, yes – but it serves mostly as a piece of art rather than a game. It is a game that is nice to look at and listen to, but it lacks the essential x factor that gets me saying “I can’t wait to get back home and play some [……]”! As an independent game, it meets expectations but doesn’t astound or inspire past the first experience. It is outclassed by other independent games like Hotline Miami and Outlast. Ultimately, the game deserves a play through by any avid gamer and those looking for a short immersion into a mysterious world. While I craved more, I can definitely see Journey as a top game on the lists of some more casual gamers.

Mirror’s Edge Made Me Throw Up – A Squid’s Tale

(More shaky camera, please make it more shaky)

For years, I’ve felt behind the gaming curve and have always yearned to play the games that have passed me by. I’ve wanted to know what it was like to play deep into the night and this summer I had the opportunity to find out what the magic was all about. So, after years of wanting more, I decided to build my own PC. It turned out to be an absolute beast and I have a strange “this is my baby” feeling about it. Seeing it play modern games at the highest graphics settings gives me a sense of pride and has led me buy a bunch of games in order to catch up on all the graphics, action, stories, and late nights that I’ve never had.

It wasn’t easy but after only a couple weeks of assembling the USS Enterprise I felt like I was ready to dive into gaming. I started with some of the games I saw in magazines and websites that I felt sad to have never played. Instantly some came to mind and I hopped on Steam to compile my library: Skyrim, Total War: Rome, Bioshock, multiple Final Fantasies, Portal, and (last and 100% least) Mirror’s Edge. While I am a huge fan of League of Legends, I really enjoyed taking a break from LoL and grinding through some new adventures. Skyrim, Bio, FF, Total War, Portal, and many other games were a ton of fun – I binged hours of each and still pick up and play them all the time. BUT, I still don’t have to courage to go back to Mirror’s Edge after one horrific night.

The night started like any other night, I was playing some League of Legends but after a few losses I needed to do something else. No friends were able to hang out so I went to my contingency plan and started a new game: Mirror’s Edge. Mirror’s Edge is an action game where the player takes on a first-person view of a character that battles police forces using an arsenal of parkour moves. It’s exciting, fast paced, and has impressive visuals. I started ME with the goal of beating it in a few days, I’d heard the story was short and I thought it would be a quick fun game – I was hilariously wrong. That night, I started strong but after a couplre hours into the game, the parkour visuals and shaky camera was starting to affect me physically. Every time I fell or jumped to a different platform I felt myself having to take a few seconds to recover in order to prevent motion sickness. It was fine though until it got really late and a certain level (about level 5 or 6) starting giving me trouble. Suddenly, every time I fell I became anxious, my head was starting to hurt and I just wanted to beat this stage so I could go to bed.

BUT I COULDN’T.

It was crushing me, jumping around buildings and falling was really making me flash back to the days I would get car sick on family car trips in the summers. I would die, have to restart at a checkpoint and be filled with overwhelming dread. Over and over again the cycle happened. Run; jump; run; jump; MISS A LEDGE AND DIE; sob silently; restart from checkpoint. “Just finish, then you can go to bed. Dear goodness just finish” was all I kept telling myself – I wasn’t having fun….it was kind of like self-inflicted torture. Finally, I get to the end of the level and I find myself having to lay on the floor; the room is spinning and I have officially been defeated physically, in the real world, by a video game. I crawl to the bathroom where the motion sickness sinks its fangs in. I throw up, sit there in self-pity for a little while, wash up and go to bed.

The first thing I did the next morning was go to my computer and delete Mirror’s Edge from my computer – it’s not gone forever but it had to be done temporarily as just the thought of the game made me feel sick. However, I really learned a lot from that experience and wanted to share my lesson. Video games are supposed to be fun, relaxing, and a vacation from reality. Don’t put yourself through an experience where getting through a level is so imperative that you won’t quit until it’s accomplished. Mirror’s Edge is a great game I’m sure, and I plan to beat it one day, but for now the game’s name just reminds me of worst experience I’ve ever had gaming and it’s one I will never repeat.

~Squidward

GAME OR BUST. Probably Bust Though….

By: Squid

 

In King of Kong – A Fistful of Quarters we witness the underdog, Steve, tackle the task of getting the world record score in the arcade classic Donkey Kong by practicing for hours a day and performing under pressure. The other side of the story shows a demigod of the arcade world, Billy, as he constantly displays a smug grin while maintaining his super star status from the comfort of his home. It really is a great story of a clash of titans that have mastered their craft to an uncomfortable level. By the end of the story, Steve’s works pays off and the audience is left with the knowledge that he successfully holds the top scores on Donkey Kong (live and recorded). Everything is right in the world – Billy and his goons don’t come out ahead, and the audience can stop feeling sorry for Steve. But what if he didn’t get the record? What if he just failed and I was just left there….cringing and feeling sorry for Steve, his wife, and his kids? Well, if that happened, Steve’s story would be like thousands of gamers around the world — thousands of gamers in the United States that all play the same game: League of Legends.

League of Legends is a notoriously addictive game. It has everything it needs to capture gamers and keep them playing the game. One of the biggest features of LoL is the immense professional scene that allows top gamers to make salaries and become famous like Billy Mitchell. But unlike Steve, most League of Legends players will never come close to becoming professional because they lack the work ethic and skill. The saddest stories are the players that come close to making it and end up failing; they put their money on the line, they move to a gaming house, take off college, and walk away with nothing…their dreams shattered. For young players that is a huge fear when trying to become the best. In Steve’s case, not as much was on the line, but he was clearly obsessed and had the risk of walking away as a failure who threw away valuable time.

Games can consume so much of an individual’s life. From the hours spend casually, to thousands of dollars gambled on the opportunity to become do what you love most, professional gaming is risky. When watching King of Kong, I couldn’t help but imagine the Steve that could have been: a sad, broken dude who obsessed over an arcade game. Steve is more than a character in a great documentary. He is a vivid example of what it takes to be a professional gamer; it’s hard; it requires countless hours of practice and dedication; you have to juggle real life with your dream; the chance of failure is high. In the end, you might fail….or you could play video games for a living….which is rad.

Rewind and Go Play Braid

Squidward – Author

 

I’m motivated. I like to push myself to be my very best and I know I’m not alone. However, we all need to be motivated differently in order to study, run, call our family, and finish projects we have started. Personally, I love video games, I’ve played most genres and have definitely developed a taste for what drives me most to finish a video game. Typically, I’m not the guy that will collect every secret and beat every challenge a game has to offer. What I look for in a game is development. Once a story gets old, gameplay grows stale, or I feel like there is no more personal growth for me, I stop playing. This set of feelings has me quitting about 50% of games before completing the main story line or delving deeper into games. When I first opened up Braid, I thought I’d crush a few hours of game before moving on – completing the story wasn’t my plan. After about an hour, I craved to finish the story because although the gameplay is simple, Braid challenges the player to get better, think outside the box, and forget about immediate rewards in exchange for the long-run growth of skill and story.

When playing video games, most players are going to categorize a game by comparing it with personal favorites. For me, I immediately begun to stack-up Braid next to The Legend of Zelda, League of Legends, Star Wars Battlefront, and Elder Scrolls. It didn’t fit into any box and I had to figure out what about Braid made me like it so much when it had seemingly little in common with my favorites. You walk back and forth, you cannot die, and there is no fast twitch actions challenging the player. At the same time, I don’t know what exactly I’m fighting for, the character’s background, and no items or powerups for me to work for. So, what holds it together and why can I say I can compare it to games I’ve spent hundreds of hours playing? Simple, I (as a gamer) haven’t stopped growing and gaining skill from this game – and it’s as motivating as any weapon or quest in Skyrim.

Right of the bat, there is a great freedom to move to any level and finish the levels quickly without getting too caught up on menial tasks. I’m skipping puzzles I can’t figure out because I know I can come back once I get better. Every level has something unique but the gameplay skills the player gains from one can be used in the others. I’m constantly getting better and that is what excites me. There is this one puzzle piece I still cannot get (…my way of admitting I still haven’t beat the game) and I keep coming back to it. Every time I see it I have a different plan as well as faster, smarter fingers. I’m not leveling up my skills, unlocking new skins to show off, or getting a rush off the gameplay, but the fact that I have to have a set of puzzle-solving skills in order to say I’ve beat Braid just makes me want to beat the developers challenges and figure out why the protagonist has to combat time in order to get back what he once had.

I’m glad Braid didn’t pass me by, it’s a fun genre of its own that gets the gamer to play through intrinsic motivation. Whether I’m growing my skills, digging the artistic beauty, or guessing the ending of the story, all I know is this game makes me love video games….and I haven’t felt that in a while.