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Video games owe a lot to President Obama’s administration

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Former President Barack Obama was the most video game-friendly president in U.S. history, a title that he may retain for awhile. It was under Obama’s administration that the Supreme Court of the United States declared video games free and protected speech, afforded the same rights as a Mark Twain short story and a Jackson Pollock painting. It was during Obama’s administration that the federal government was given the opportunity to investigate any real link between violence and video games, but declined to. And it was under Obama’s White House roof that game developers gathered for the first ever White House game jam and an online stream of a video game competition. One could argue that the times, not the president, were what made this last administration so accepting of video games....

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The Nintendo Switch won’t kill the 3DS

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When Nintendo first revealed its new handheld-home console hybrid system, the Switch, I was convinced that it was more than a replacement for the Wii U: It would take the place of Nintendo 3DS, too. After going hands-on with the Switch last week, however, I’m not so sure that’s the case. Despite its stature and portable-friendly features, the Switch doesn’t read quite like Nintendo’s next move in the handheld space. Instead, the tiny console feels more like ... well, a tiny console. That’s a whole different thing There are plenty of obvious reasons for this. The Switch’s battery life is notably lackluster; games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the system’s most exciting launch title by far, will only last for three hours on a Switch that’s not plugged in. The Joy-Con...

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Stop using Kanye West’s ‘Power’ in trailers

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On May 28, 2010, Kanye West released “Power,” a single from his fifth studio album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Just a few months later, Sony Pictures Entertainment featured the song in one of its TV spots for David Fincher’s The Social Network. Since then, “Power” has made an appearance in countless trailers for movies, TV shows and games, but it may be time to retire it. West’s “Power” has a bit of a history, and it wasn’t long after it debuted that it became the center of a new meme. In 2011, the use of “Power” in trailers was appropriately referred to as “No One Trailer Should Have All This Power.” It started as a result of two games, Saints Row: The Third and Forza Motorsport 4, using the song in their trailers during E3 2011. Giant Bomb writer Jeff Gerstmann tweeted out...

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We need a good Wolverine movie

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Hugh Jackman has played Wolverine nine times, if you include Logan. The most passable films have included the X-Men, with each stand-alone film being uniquely disappointing for different reasons. This is Hugh Jackman’s last chance with the character, and if it doesn’t work out the actor will have spent a significant portion of his career on a series of films that can, at best, be considered OK. The stakes are as high for him as they are for us. Everyone involved, including the audience, deserves a good Wolverine film before Jackman bows out of the franchise. They weren’t all bad, right? The first X-Men film came out in 2000, which makes it 16 years old. If it were a person, it would be driving. This was before the era of mainstream superhero films and cinematic universes, which...

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Skyrim helped me fix my relationship with food

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Roast chickens, venison stew, apple dumplings, cabbages … these are the items that fill my Skyrim character’s bloated pouches. Though certainly not the most efficient way to play, I’ve always opted out of purchasing potions to restore health — although I’d certainly use them if I had them — and instead turned toward the stuff that’s lying around everywhere: food. Found scraps of food in Skyrim are a cheap way to keep health up, although you’re going to need lots of it to heal completely. And I had loads of it. Food is power in Skyrim, whether it’s boar meat stripped right from the bone or a pile of cheese wheels stolen from the vendor next door. This didn’t extend to my own reality. My body was shriveled, and my bones were as brittle as ice at the dawn of spring. Anorexia plagued me...

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Nintendo Switch’s touchscreen looks toward the past, not the future

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The Nintendo Switch will include a touchscreen, one that sounds like an upgrade from that of the Wii U or Nintendo 3DS. As Nintendo revealed during last week’s Switch press conference, the hybrid console’s screen will have multi-capacitive touch, allowing for numerous points of interaction at once. That’s an exciting upgrade for fans of touch-based gaming. Yet on the floor at Nintendo’s New York City hands-on event for media last Friday, it was easy to forget that the Switch had a touchscreen at all. Not a single Nintendo game included touch-based controls whatsoever; only one of the games we sampled even allowed players to take their hands off the Joy-Con controllers and start tapping the tablet’s screen instead. Skylanders Imaginators, a launch title from Activision that’s already...

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When violent games want you to play nice

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So much of video game narrative consists of finding justifications for mass murder. The enemies are baddies/zombies/demons/splicers! Killing everyone is the least bad of two bad outcomes! You get the point. There needs to be a good reason for people to die so you can kill them without feeling bad about it. The Dishonored series offers no pretense. Act like a mass murderer and the game will rightfully call you a tyrant; the populace will fear you because you’re a serial killer. Dishonored 2 is not afraid to call it like it is and, by the same token, envision the world as it could be. Dishonored 2 believes in and cares about its own world, and goes to great lengths to get you to care as well. When killing makes a difference Since most violent games don’t think that all killing is OK,...

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Black-ish is the first, perfect example of how TV should handle Trump’s election

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It didn’t take long after Donald Trump was elected as the 45th President of the United States for television to address the orange elephant in the room. The producers behind series like Designated Survivor, The Good Fight, Quantico, and Mr. Robot all publicly announced their shows would tackle the divisive election in some capacity. One of the most outspoken creators, however, was Kenya Barris, who reiterated that Black-ish, a family sitcom on ABC that follows a wealthy black family in Los Angeles trying to retain their cultural heritage in an overwhelmingly white landscape, has always been a series about addressing complex issues. “We need to be examining each other as a country and as a society," Barris told Complex in November. "It’s not about money or having success, it’s about...

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Hyper Light Drifter taught me that it was OK to ask for help

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Hyper Light Drifter is my game of the year. The look, the feel, the sound, the story ... everything about it appealed to me. It’s the game I didn’t know I wanted until I played it, and then it felt like something that was made specifically for me. It’s hard not to be consumed by an ongoing sense of dread when playing through Hyper Light Drifter. The immaculate pixel art, the hair-raising tones and the apocalyptic landscapes continually reinforce a message of decay. This morose tone is punctuated by moments of relief: you can feel it in the pause after a battle, the beautiful vistas wrapped in pleasing synths or a peaceful town of refugees who’ve escaped from their ruined homelands. The tension is highlighted by the time you’re freed from it. But that wasn’t why I picked it. I choose...

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How Twitch is turning ‘always be streaming’ into a career with zero balance

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There are 168 hours in each week. As a full-time Twitch streamer, I’m expected to be live for as many of them as possible. The only reprieve granted by the general populous of Twitch viewers is the understanding that all broadcasters are human and will eventually break without things like food and sleep. Twitch has just introduced a new directory that might take away that option for many up-and-coming broadcasters. What changed Twitch has introduced the “IRL” directory, a new place where broadcasters can share anything from their life, creating the potential to erode the ever-delicate balance of separating life and streaming that many broadcasters find so difficult already. IRL broadcasts require interacting with your chat instead of just streaming whatever you want, with no...

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