Beyonce - Self Titled
By: Dante Johnson
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
The Beyhive is in full effect as superstar, model, singer, actress and above all positive role model Beyoncé rolls out her new surprise album. She hit the ground hard and in full force with a heartfelt message to the fans and the shocking announcement of 14 videos to accompany the 14 new tracks on the self titled album Beyoncé.
“I didn’t want to release my music the way I’ve done it,” she said. “I am bored with that. I feel like I am able to speak directly to my fans. There’s so much that gets between the music, the artist and the fans. I felt like I didn’t want anybody to give the message when my record is coming out. I just want this to come out when it’s ready and from me to my fans.”
She presents the record as a gift to her fans and most of her fans see it as nothing less than a gift.
The album itself, like the greater majority of the videos, is exotic and bold. The singer sounds better, or at the very least, as good as she has ever sounded. The album is filled with music that is just as sexy as the lyrics but still keeps it classy as we all expect Beyoncé to be.
This album also picks up on the newer trend of bringing back the 80’s synthpop sound and mixing it with todays R&B. This new sound has been widely successful for artists like Drake on his last album, which was fantastic, and the sound is followed up well on Beyoncé.
The experience kicks off with Pretty Hurts. An interesting first track. Pretty hurts talks about pageant life and a little girl growing up made to believe that looks are all that matters. Something we certainly hear often in mass media. The song states “But you can't fix what you can't see, It’s the soul that needs the surgery” The song is emotional and strong and a bold choice for an opening track but reminds us why Beyoncé is a positive role model, especially when pop music appears to lack such role models in this day. Beyoncé sets herself apart from the rest.
As the rest of the album plays out with a similar, chill and haunting sound Beyoncé goes on to talk about motherhood, marriage, sexuality, self-empowerment and the record industry as a whole beautifully tied together with music taking influence from wide variety of musicians including Prince and David Bowie. One of her most interesting and best projects to date and defiantly worth the listen.
This album lacks a big pop club banger, with the exception of Grown Woman, a bonus video with a vibe much different than the album, but the album is intimate, intelligent, sexy, bold and a nice experience.
I have never been known as a Beyoncé fan, and still don’t consider myself one, but this album goes above and beyond pop into just good music.
As R&B musician Choklate mention on her twitter feed, “Beyoncé said "sssssshhhhhhhhh, take notes baby..." to the enTIRE game last night at midnite. She'ont take that "Queen" title lightly at’tall”
I don’t think there’s any better way to say it.
You're Not Alone
By: TiMar Long
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
There’s a conversation happening in geek/nerd culture and it’s a great one, to an extent. See there’s a lot being said about how popular geek/nerd culture is these days. A conversation about how the stigma of being a gamer or enjoying comic books has lessened over the years. And I’m not saying this isn’t true. But there is a theme that arises in a lot of these conversations about the trials and tribulations of growing up a geek when it wasn’t cool to be a geek that I can’t agree with. This theme is one of loneliness and a tough choice between having to be a nerd or dating.
Growing up a geek didn’t mean that I always had a date. Like any teenager or young adult there were times when I did and there were times when I didn’t. But the choice to date, to interact with girls, never came down to me having to choose between the hobby I loved dearly and snuggling up to someone. As a young man I had to develop a skill that has helped me go far in life, time management.
Being a functioning adult means balancing various demands on life. This idea holds true for nerds as it does for anyone else. As a young lad I had to decide when I wanted to spend my Friday night rolling dice or eating popcorn with a pretty girl. Some Fridays I’d game. Others I’d go to the movies. Or I’d schedule gaming related events in the early afternoon so that I’d have my evenings free to be sociable with other people.
Next came developing multiple interest. I was never afraid of being a nerd. These days most of my friends know that if I’m causally reading on my Nexus 7, odds are strong that I’m reading an rpg supplement. But before the implementation of pdfs and tablets I used to carry good ole fashion rpg supplements. You know how heavy those get in a back pack after awhile!!! But that wasn’t the end of my personality or the scope of my interest. Yeah I could go on and on about why THACO sucked, or why Mage was better than Vampire, or why the X-Men combined would never in one million years be as cool as Batman. But I could also hold a reasonable conversation about politics. Sure I didn’t play any sports but that didn’t mean I wouldn’t be caught dead at a college football game (as an fyi they can be a lot of fun). I not only watched Star Trek The Next Generation but also The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. In short I developed a varied set of interest and this variety of interest allowed me to have something to say in the company of gamers and in the company of non gamers.
I make mention of this not to understate the difficulties faced by gamers, nerds and geeks growing up. Instead I bring this up to serve as a reminder that not every nerd had a difficult time growing up. Your teenage years and into your young adult years is a very hard time for everyone. Regardless of your hobbies and interest. It’s a time of self discovery. It’s a time when you desperately want to fit in. It’s a time in your life where you start to figure the kind of person you want to be when you “grow up”. I placed quotes there mostly because we never really grow up.
It’s important to remember that everyone faces these basic challenges. And we all adapt differently. It’s important to remember that everyone faces these challenges so that we can come together as people. Focusing on that period of our lives as being some how negative because you had to make a hard choice between gaming and dating is misleading. It’s a choice we all make no matter the hobby. It also scares away people who may otherwise self identify as a geek or nerd. No one wants to be alone. And no one wants to get involved in a hobby that may make them feel alone.
Now I’m not going to claim it’s easy. It takes a lot of work balancing the various aspects of life and my personality. But it is equally rewarding.
Being in this hobby doesn’t condemn you to a life of solitude.
My Week In Comics Issue: 2
By: TiMar Long
Thursday, December 5, 2013
My Week In Comics Issue #2
And we’re back. Another week and more comics for me to talk about. This week I had time to read Nightwing #25, Batgirl #25, Wonder Woman #25. So that means I have a lot to talk about.
This month’s issue for Nightwing takes a break from his ongoing adventures in Chicago and takes us back to when Dick Grayson was a teenager and flying high with Haley’s Circus. Before I get to far into the book I’m gonna have to point out that this issue was another Zero Year tie in. ?.
The book opens up with Dick doing the trapeze act. He alienates his two best friends by hogging the lime light and they decide to bail on him for the movie they were going to watch that night. His parents, who are angry with him for what he did during the show, forbid him from going to see the movie. So you already know whats gonna happen next. The power goes out all over the city and everyone in the theatre panics.
Dick hocks up with three kids, one of which is the son of one of Gotham’s biggest gangster boss. As the kids make their way through the back allies the bump into a huge muscled Killer Croc type guy. I’m not 100% sure what it was. Which is kinda sad.
Movvvvving along. Kids are chased and a younger Robin saves the day. That’s pretty much how the comic comes off. Rushed. There was nothing to tie me into the story other than the fact that it was a Zero Month tie in. But the story itself was very weak for a Nightwing comic. There isn’t much reason for me to care about the characters.
You get the hint that the monster they faced or C.J. Maroni (one of the kids in the group) may come back as a villain for Nightwing to face. On the upside …. At least they didn’t interrupt an ongoing plot line for Nightwing. Which brings us toooooo
sigh Why … DC …. Why? Batgirl has been my favorite comic of the new 52. I love Gail’s work on the comic. My dislike for this issue may be because Gail didn’t write this story. I hope she wasn’t taken off Batgirl because if this story is any indication then …..
So we’re back to Zero Year tie ins. For Batgirl the story focuses on Bab’s having to take care of her brother as it starts to rain. I don’t know why it’s raining because there was no rain storm in Batwing or Nightwing. But whatever …. So Barbara is out getting supplies for the rain since there may be a flood. She narrowly escapes being shot by a guy who is desperate for supplies. After her father, Jim Gordon, leaves to head down to the police station. As the storm rages on Barbara and her brother have to leave their home because the area may flood. Sadly they may have been safer at home because the shelter they are staying begins to flood and the only way out is on the roof top. And this is where the story starts to really fall apart.
The rest of the story is just them walking from one roof top to the next. And I wish I was kidding about that. The story is slow, a common theme it seems among the Zero Year tie ins. The only real sense of action in the story is when Henry (who was leading the group from the shelter from roof to roof) decides he’s going to run off with everyone’s belongings. Barbara tries to stop him, but she only manages to prevent him from taking a few things.
The story aggravates me. Gail had a really tight story brewing with Barbara and the fall out surrounding the death of her brother James. And that story has kinda being held up as DC does one tie in after the next. There was the 23.1 Villains month issue, of which Batgirl wasn’t given a villain to face. And now there’s this Zero Year tie in. To be honest I’m not thrilled with the Zero Year tie in and I hope DC dials down the number of ties they are going to do. I know they have one more coming up tied back into their overall villains month Forever Evil thing they got going on. But I’m kinda feeling burned out on cross overs. Especially when there is a good story going on in the comics normal line. sigh
Wonder Woman #25
I’m wondering if November just isn’t my month for DC Comics. For some bizarre reason I just couldn’t get into this issue of Wonder Woman. The art work has changed a bit and I don’t think I like it. The story isn’t slow but it also isn’t fast. It’s kinda like this issue is building up for an even bigger and better story. Likely a huge show down with the First Born.
Also … I didn’t care to much for Apollo eating the spleen of the First Born. Or them cutting chunks out of him for their meal. It just doesn’t jive with the rest of the series.
So in this issue Wonder Woman is adjusting to being the new god of war. Which would make for an interesting video game …Meanwhile Hera is getting used to being mortal. And I think this is what I enjoyed most out of this issue, the humanization of Hera. In previous uses of Hera in other mediums she is a total bitch. In this issue we are given a glimpse of why she behaved the way she was. So that moment of introspection was a nice touch to an otherwise dull issue.
If I could change one thing about Wonder Woman though it’s the use of Orion. He just doesn’t fit in with this comic. In this issue he comes off as a petulant child throwing a tantrum because Wonder Woman told him to stop. He’s also a misogynist. His overall tone doesn’t sit well with the series and I think that is readily clear in this issue
The wrap up
Overall this month hasn’t been a good one for my reads. I still have one more book to read from this month and I will likely discuss it in the next issue. I have higher hopes for December though. Gail will conclude the current story arc for Batgirl and I'm betting it will be good.
Nightwing #25 2 Fros
Batgirl #25 2 Fros
Wonder Woman #25 2 ½ Fros
No pity party for you!
By: Courtney Brandy-McCreary
Monday, December 2, 2013
It's so easy to get caught up in social networks...Facebook....Instagram...Twitter. Sometimes it "seems" as if everyone is doing better than you and progressing in life. People are either getting married, having great friendships, families and relationships, living out their dreams, taking exotic trips, gaining and keeping popularity, losing weight, staying beautiful, dreams coming true etc. And that demon I like to call "comparison" creeps up on you and here comes pity party train. Most people would never admit they've ever felt this way. This is all do to pride and not wanting to appear insecure or jealous aka "hating."
But c'mon we have all felt that way some point. We tend to forget sometimes that people reveal what they want you see on these sites....the glorified parts of their life. That's right... parts.....meaning their whole life is not glitz, glamour and happiness all the time. Not to mention the fantasy world that Internet users create. Do not fall for it! We all have struggles and daily challenges. But sometimes you just need to sign off, log off or deactivate for a little while and connect with "real" life.
For myself, I admit 2013 has been one the toughest years for me thus far. From relationships to self-esteem from health to fighting for job opportunities. My spirit was broken and I never thought I would improve emotionally or in life. It was easy to feel bad for myself and to feel resentment and like I said before compare. Don't get sucked into depression or the "woe" is me mentality.
By no means am I a professional or an expert.But with much prayer, support and action here's what I did to nip that feeling and regain my focus.
Sounds basic. Sounds simple. But it does take a lot of effort to make it consistent and a everyday part of your life. I'm still working on this even now. Having a regular conversation with God everyday has helped me tremendously. It helps me to relax and focus on Him. He knows everything you're struggling with. When you pray, ask God for strength, wisdom and courage to get through life's challenges. Give it a try.
Talk to someone.
You have to be careful about this one. Make sure you seek out someone who is wise and who truly cares for you. Mom. Dad. Pastor. Cousin. Whoever you trust. Sometimes even getting a non biased opinion can help as well such as a counselor. They can give you the tools and advice to get to very root of your issue. Keeping your feelings bottled up inside is very detrimental to your health and your spirit. You have to release yourself.
A Journal of Gratitude.
Write down what you're thankful and the things that you do have. It could your job. Your children. Your car. Your health. You would be surprised how many things you come up with. This can be challenging as well. Your mind is on your problems. But with you comparing yourself this can really be really vital for you. Yes... you don't have everything but you do have something that someone would give their right arm to have. Get a notebook or journal and if not everyday...maybe every week write down something that you are thankful for. It can be a material item but try to focus on the non materialistic. Decorate your notebook or journal cover to make it fun. Purchase a journal that suits your personality. Cut out magazine pictures or words. Be creative!
Use your gift. Discover your talent.
I always had a passion for the arts. I love dance,writing and doing makeup. So I make sure in some way, shape or form I'm doing one of these activities. Not only is it therapeutic but it helps to build self-esteem and takes your mind off your issues and it keeps you busy. Who would have time to look and compare their life to everyone else...you'll be occupied! Everyone is good at something. Yes even you!I believe God gave us our gifts and talents to help others. I may not be the best dancer, writer or makeup artist but when I'm doing one those activities I feel energized and good about myself. Sharing your gifts with other can gives one sense of fulfillment.
Give of yourself.
Helping others can do wonders for your spirit. Putting a smile on someones face always makes me feel good inside. Call or text a loved one to let them know you're thinking about them. Volunteer at a church or a nonprofit organization. It's not always about giving the tangible things but rather your time.
Write down your goals and dreams.
This can go into your journal as well. Never be afraid to dream. When you have a goal and stick with it ,whether it is long term or short term it totally refocuses your thoughts. Put it into action...pursue it....be proactive. Of course there will be distractions and adversity when trying to obtain a goal. But there will be no time to compare yourself to other people because you will be too busy living out your own life.
Sometimes you need to break away from the social networking. Now don't get me wrong it is a powerful tool and it has it's benefits. But sometimes it can be too much a part of our lives.
So with that being said......
Live your life. It's a gift. Even when it's hard try to make the best of it. Yes it's easier said than done but not impossible.
Your problems won't last forever. Have a positive vision. Focus on a better future!
Even when life has thrown the rug from underneath you, you still have something you can be thankful for.
You are unique. Don't compare your life to someone else's. Trust me it will make you miserable. No pity party!
You have so much to offer. Share it with the world!
“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
My Week in Comics Issue #1
By: TiMar Long
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
My Week in Comics – November Part I
I don’t get a chance to read a lot of comics, being a college student and all, but when I do read I like to talk about them. So what did I get to read this week? I took on Batwing #25 and Nightwing Annual #1. One was a strong comic and the other was weak. So let’s start with the weak.
Batwing #25 To be fair I’ve been struggling with Batwing for a while now. The comic took some time to grow on me and when it did DC decided to up and change who Batwing was. Right now I’m just not feeling Luke Fox as Batwing. His character is missing something. He has none of the pain or emotion that David had before him. And frankly he lacks someone to talk to. Everyone needs an Alfred.
The fact that it was a Zero Year tie in comic also held back this issue for me. There have to many breaks in the speed and development of Luke as Batwing that I don’t think it would be good for the character to do another tie in. You had break from Villains month and now you have the break in the normal pacing to do this tie in and when it adds up I don’t feel like Luke is being given the chance for the audience to like him. And I want to like him I really do.
So this issue sets up a big baddie for Batwing, in the form of a high school friend who went super villain. This isn’t a bad thing since to some extent I think Batwing is lacking in a real foe. But the story pacing is really slow and I don’t feel like I’m given much reason to care about the kid. Then again I’m not given much reason to really care about Luke either. He beats up on his best friend in a sparring match (he was asked to go easy on him) and comes off as far far to reckless.
The sad thing is that I want to like this comic. I really really want to like Batwing. I used to love this title. Normally I would stop reading a comic book that hasn’t been working for me. But sadly, there is a lack of black characters in leading roles in DC right now. And thus I feel compelled to support one of the few titles in comics lead by a black man.
Overall I give this comic 2 Fro’s (out of 5). The story isn’t all that strong and in my opinion a bit on the slow slide. I really hope this comic picks up steam soon.
Nightwing Annual #1 Nightwing is one of my favorite comic book characters to follow. In my opinion Nightwing is one of the stronger titles in the new 52. It makes me wonder why it took so long for him to get his first annual. Going on two years? But I’m glad it’s here.
Normally I’d have no interest in an annual that features another character. My personal opinion has always been that the annual should just focus on the star of the comic. But in this case I’ll forgive DC. I’m willing to read any story featuring Batgirl and Nightwing together. And this one is a perfect story.
The annual picks up in after the events of Nightwings adventures in Chicago and Batgirls recent troubles in her own comic. So this little adventure has both characters at a cross roads in their lives. With Batman out of Gotham (likely due to the events taking place in Forever Evil) Nightwing answers the call of the Bat Signal.
He’s drawn into a case in which a famous actress is being hunted down by a masked killer called Fire Fly. She doesn’t trust the cops to solve the case but she is willing to trust the Bat family to get to the bottom of things.
Batgirl comes along for the ride (though not in her normal Batgirl costume) in this story. But it isn’t the case that makes this comic. Instead it’s the relationship development between Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon. There really hasn’t been much attention paid to Bab’s and Dick’s relationship since the new 52 started. We knew they had dated at one point but it really hadn’t been touched upon. Until now.
I can’t really say much about the development of their relationship with out spoiling it overall. But I will say this, we need more of this kind of development for both characters. It’s nice to see the characters be … human. If anyone deserves to be married in the new 52 it’s these two. Granted I’ve heard rumors that DC has no plans of allowing any of its characters marry in the near future but I hope it’s a policy that isn’t writ in stone. I assure you, it’s a match made in heaven.
So overall I give this issue 4 out of 5 Fro’s. The story is ok, you’re average catch the villain fare. What makes this issue shine though is the relationship development between Nightwing and Batgirl. It’s worth the read for that alone.
Pathfinder #11 Bonus comic!!! Pathfinder is a series based on the popular RPG Pathfinder. Done by Dynamite Comics, the book reads like your average table top session of Pathfinder (or any medieval fantasy rpg). In issue 11 we are picking up midway through an ongoing adventure that started in 10.
When last the crew was left, they had just fallen into a trap set up by worshipers of the evil goddess of monsters Lamashtu. Trapped in a dark, dank dungeon filled with dire rats, our plucky band of hero’s must find some way to escape what used to be a prison. Rats, illusions and statues oh my.
Sadly this issue was kinda slow. It’s like that night at the gaming table where you don’t make much progress on the overall story. You fight a couple of things but your party took so long to get to where the GM needed you to go that you end the night at the climax of the dungeon crawl. And that’s what happens here. The team fights its way through the dungeon and the story ends with them meeting the master mind that set the trap for them and his big …. bad ass … body guard. So right away I can tell that the next issue is going to be fun to read.
Overall this issue gets 3 out of 5 Fro’s. It’s a stand up series, so this may not be the best issue to jump in on. But next issue is likely to have an especially cool fight. And I do enjoy those.
Damian: Son of Batman Issue #1 Review
By: Denzel Lamar
Friday, November 15, 2013
Hey there BlerdNation it's your friendly neighborhood Black Chivalrous Nerd Denzel Lamar dropping through with another awesome and thrill seeking post. But first I would like to apologize for my inactivity on the website. I've been dealing with personal issues and I believe that it would've been unfair for you the readers if I posted things and my heart wasn't in it so I went to take care of those issues and like Batman, I've taken care of those issues. Now that I'm back I will be posting about more than just Naruto now, I'll be posting about comics, video games and manga so you get to experience more than one thing from me lol.
And now on to today's post but first a little backstory about it. Back in February, we as comic fans witnessed this generations version of Death in the Family when the current Robin Damian Wayne was killed in battle and the whole world went bananas. Everywhere you looked on the internet afterwards, there were R.I.P. Damian and dedication posts towards this character that is donned the Greatest Robin of all time. Not only was his death felt in the real world but it was also felt in the DC Universe just as well. A little while after that, Andy Kubert who is the co-creator of Damian decided to create a story of a now seemingly impossible future where Damian is alive and is now donning the Cape and Cowl and Bruce is Dead. The mini series is called "Damian: Son Of Batman" and it is what this post is about as I will be talking about the first issue that came out a while back.
Fast forward the Batman timeline 7 years from now and Damian is 17 years old. Him and Batman are investigating a crime scene at Gotham's Tricorner Docks, it's raining, and the combination smell of dead bodies and fish is in the air and it's nauseating. They're investigating the scene, looking for clues and trying to figure out who could've done this massacre when Batman finds a Piranha with a smile on it and he detects from that clue that The Joker is behind this crime. But just as Batman starts to move the fish, he triggers a switch that triggers a bomb and that explodes with Batman less than 6 inches away from it.
The explosion is so huge that it knocks Robin back and he's in a daze and then when he wakes he sees the aftermath explosion and he runs towards it to see if Batman is okay and as he's removing the rubble, he sees that Batman is dead and in the splash page, you see Damian Wayne holding his dead father in his arms and Damian screaming into the sky. After the funeral which was small and had what looks like Alfred, Tim, Dick and a Barbara Gordon that is still in the wheelchair, Damian goes to Isle Murjeno which is one of the several homes to The League of Assassins and his Grandfather Ra's Al Ghul. As he enters the building, he see's clones and other experiments in tubes and then he runs into his mother Talia and of course his Grandfather.
Damian tells them that he needs their help and Talia goes on a monologue on how he was made and birthed and raised and how after the submarine incident which resulted in his near death (Go and read Batman: The Black Glove), Damian decided to go and be with Batman instead of being with his mother and grandfather. After that she tells him that they will not help him and also that they were severing all of his ties to the League of Assassins and then Ra's tells Damian that the Batman lineage must be upheld and that he must take his place as the Next Batman.
After that Damian is in the Batcave looking up criminal files and checking up on the Rogues Gallery because after news spread that Batman died, EVERYONE was taking credit for it and the first three that you see take credit for it is Dr. Freeze, Killer Croc and Jackanape and upon hearing this, Damian goes to deal his own version of justice and it is BRUTAL. Damian unplugs one of Dr. Freeze's cooling tubes from his outfit and inserts the barrel of a flame thrower into the socket and melts Freeze away. For Killer Croc, his mouth is wrapped shut and there's a harpoon spear right in the middle of his chest. As for Jackanapes? Well let's just say that he'll be the headless horseman's hairy identical twin.
That's right nerds and nerdettes, Damian decides to go down that road of killing off the members of the Rogues Gallery and like I said, it's getting brutal, dark, scary and downright AWESOME. Later on in the issue, Alfred talks to Damian about his actions and how Bruce wouldn't approve of Damian's methods of dealing with villains and then Damian tells him that he blames himself for Batman's death and whether Alfred likes it or not, this is his way of dealing with the rogues. As he's suiting up to go out and patrol the streets in search of Gotham, he hears someone call his name and he looks and his jaw drops. Well, boys and girls that's how I'm going to end it because I don't wanna spoil the last page but I think you have an idea of what happens.
Alright guys that's all of the time I have for today. Be sure to comment, love, share and let your people know that The Black Chivalrous Nerd is back and better than ever. Also stay tuned because big things are coming and you don't want to miss it
Until next time this is the Black Chivalrous Nerd Denzel Lamar saying Love, Peace and Bacon Grease Smoke Bombs Out
The Witch Doctor
By: TiMar Long
Monday, November 11, 2013
So I wrote the following piece for class about few weeks ago. I’m opting to post it now because I think the basic concepts in it are important. You’re likely to hear me talk about symbolic annihilation in future musings and it’s a concept I feel applies a lot to not only the game in question but to a lot of nerd culture.
So sit back and enjoy.
The Witch Doctor or Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.
For those who haven’t left the World of Warcraft in awhile (and I mean a long while), Diablo 3 is the third game in a franchise that Blizzard Entertainment had allowed to go dormant for far too long. I would blame Warcraft, but that would be a digression I’m sure I shouldn’t take. Instead I want to talk about the Witch Doctor from Diablo 3.
The Witch Doctor is one of five playable classes in this game. His power set is similar to the Necromancer from Diablo 2, in that he raises things from the dead, summons helpers and has a magic hue of sickly green. Though Blizzard claims he’s not the Necromancer. The main difference between the two appears to be that the Necromancer was white, meanwhile the Witch Doctor is black. And herein lies the problem.
The problem isn’t so much that the character is black. It’s that the portrayal of the only black character in the game is that of a savage primitive. The voice acting for the character has that old school authentic African touch. He wears big voodoo mask that look more like Zulu warrior mask. Oh and don’t forget the bone jewelry, the icing on the cake.
To explain why this is all wrong I would like to first introduce a sociological theory called symbolic annihilation. This occurs when a minority group is marginalized or trivialized in a media portrayal. This occurs when negative stereotypes are reinforced. Or when the only thing we see of a minority group is not positive. Good examples of this is when lesbians are shown only as butch. Or gay men only shown as flaming. Jewish accountant, Asian drycleaners and even only athletic black men are also all examples of symbolic annihilation as it regulates those minority groups to these very specific and often times negative roles. When you’re only exposure to a sub group is through video games, movies and tv shows these portrayals become very problematic as it forms your only idea of what that group or minority is like.
Black people are not seen in fantasy games very often. And it’s been over a decade since Blizzard’s more positive portrayals from Diablo (the black character was a wizard) and Diablo 2 (the black character was a paladin). So for many players their only exposure to a black man in a fantasy setting is that of a primitive savage, which reinforces the subtle idea that black people are more primitive than white people (the other four classes are all white).
Now Diablo 3 is an otherwise fun game. And I don’t think that when Blizzard set out to create the Witch Doctor they were plotting and planning and intending to portray black people in such a negative way. I’m pretty sure that when the idea of the Witch Doctor came up it was thought to be a fun addition to the game. So I by no means mean to imply that Blizzard is being malicious in it’s portrayal here. But that’s the insidious part of symbolic annihilation. The in group is, in some cases, unknowingly marginalizing a minority group. The in group (in this case white males) are deciding for their audience how a minority group is going to be portrayed and be told what is “cool” for them. That’s a powerful thing. And it’s something that as gamers we all need to watch out for. Because in the end if we remain silent then we allow these images to continue and these idea’s to spread.
If you’re interested in what the Witch Doctor looks like and what the class entails here’s Blizzards page on the class.
For a really good read on symbolic annihilation check out this article.
Batman Arkham Origins - Review
By: TiMar Long
Friday, November 8, 2013
What’s to say about a game that is likely to receive 9’s and 10’s from most magazines that review it? A lot actually, seeing as how I’m currently playing Mass Effect 1 again as opposed to completing my game on Batman Arkham Origins. Now that’s not to imply that Mass Effect is a bad game (though the first one hasn’t aged as well as the second one did), but I have beaten this game 2 times already and I’m only playing again because a good friend told the Tali romance brings out a lot more character from her and is highly amusing.
Now I’m a huge Batman fan, so much so that I’m taking one of the lithographs that I got from buying the strategy guide, framing it, and placing it on my desk in my office on campus. But this game does have some flaws. But first lets cover what it did well.
The game has a pretty interesting story. Black Mask is a semi big villain in the Batman universe. He was one of the villains in Batman: Under the Red Hood (an excellent movie I might add). And while the Joker does seem to play a big role (remember I haven’t beaten the game yet) having the Red Hood play a major part of the story helps to keep the game about something other than Batman and the Joker. I love the Joker, but I don’t need him to be the only thing we see in a Batman game. And another point in favor of the story is that it is an origin tale. So we get to see the Joker become … well … the Joker. A pre Oracle Barbara Gordon is also a nice touch. Toss in Jim Gordon as the not commissioner yet and well you have a nice set up to see where things are going later on down the road. It was nice to see the tension between Batman and Jim and for Batman when he has to deal with a corrupt GCPD.
The combat and the gadgets are pretty much the same as the last game. So controlling Batman isn’t a new learning experience. This is good as it allows you to jump right in and get straight to the action. If you had mastered combat in the previous game then you’ll have no problem here. Though I do miss the electro gun. That thing was crazy fun to use in combat.
And finally I have to say that I did enjoy the addition of the multiplayer. It isn’t enough to sale the game alone. But it is an interesting diversion, much like the multiplayer for Mass Effect 3 was. It could use more gangs, and I hope that they even add more hero’s to play as, but overall it was fun. The fact that there were three teams each match is an interesting approach to multiplayer play. It’s not just about killing the other team but also avoiding Batman and Robin who are out to mess up both teams.
On the flip side, as an origin story I question Batman’s gadgets. He starts the game with almost everything he needs. If this is a Batman that is younger and more rookie then shouldn’t he start with less equipment? I would go so far to suggest that maybe some gadgets may have been left off entirely. I haven’t decided which ones I would have removed from the game entirely but I lean heavily towards the sonic batarang and your decoder. In the very least a device like the decoder should have been an item that he picked up from someone else. With that in mind I think the game missed out on a chance to maybe add a development aspect to becoming the Batman that we see in Arkham City and Arkham Asylum.
Also while it was nice that the game play and fighting was unchanged from the previous game it also made it somewhat boring. Again, this is an origin tale, so I think to some extent Batman not being the combat master that he is in later games would have been justified. I feel that it may have been more fun to build up to being the master and bad ass that you know he will one day become. A combat development path would have added a new aspect to the game. I admit it may have been something tricky to balance, but you already have Batman buying moves with his experience.
The city of Gotham is also very bland. You’re playing in the same part of Gotham that you played in during Arkham City. Now I’m not asking for a large sandbox to play in. But typically the entire city of Gotham is crime ridden. There isn’t much of a reason to focus on just the part of the city that was featured in the last game. Thus I don’t feel compelled to truly explore the city like I did the last time. Which is sad, because that was fun in Arkham City.
Also game play wise I feel the game took a step backwards by not including a second character to play as. Being Catwoman last game was incredible fun. It offered up a different style of play that was also integrated into the overall story of the game itself. While I wasn’t looking to play as Catwoman again I had hopes that something like that would return for the next game. Perhaps the chances to play as Nightwing, Batgirl, or Robin and have that play tie in to the overall story being told. Perhaps even having their missions be little side quest that they take up to free up Batman’s time. Now with it being an origin story you can’t exactly go that route with a large number of the possible characters. But perhaps a young Dick Grayson as Robin would have added a bit of depth to the play experience. It wouldn’t have hurt. More so if you consider that you play as Robin in the multiplayer part of the game. Hell you could have had Robin going to get parts for a new gadget for Batman to use and having him bring it to the Dark Knight. And finally, no Poison Ivy. You lose points for that automatically.
Overall this isn’t a bad game. It has its strengths and it has its weakness. The biggest fault of the game I would have to say is that it just doesn’t stand out enough from the second game in the series. That’s what harms it the most, same city, same moves, same bat gadgets. The biggest new thing of Arkham City, the inclusion of Catwoman, wasn’t carried over to the third game and I think that hurts it a lot. I really wish I could give this game a perfect score but sadly when you compare it to the experience I had with Arkham Asylum and Arkham City it just doesn’t overall stand up. So I give the game 3 and half afro’s (out of a possible 5). If you’re a Batman fan get the game. But overall you’re not gonna miss much if you pass on it or wait till it drops in price in the used game market.