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Organic World Building Done Right

Ash Lake

When I reflect on what’s missing from a lot of games these days, my first thought is “a cure for my crippling loneliness.” My second thought? A sense of discovery and mystery, of finding and uncovering of my own accord pieces of a game’s lore and world. I like going into a world that feels real, one that feels like it wasn’t created with my satisfaction in mind, but rather could have organically existed without my participation. A game shouldn’t have to spell everything out for me, because its job shouldn’t be to please the player. Not all games have to be fun. Games can be more than just things to do in order to pass the time; they can be challenging, emotionally engaging, thought provoking, and even sad. Not every game needs to make me excited, it just needs to succeed in its own right in whatever it sets out to do. Help from the game or being given a sense of power is nice sometimes, but I usually don’t want a game to hold my hand.…

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Orphan Black


It’s not easy to be a feminist and watch TV. I don’t deny there are shows that are making strides in their representation of women and non-normative people, such as Orange is the New Black, Parks and Recreation, Bob’s Burgers, etc. But despite these shows, television seems stuck in a rut. Though there is a lot available, shows stay rigidly within their genre and tend to market towards one single demographic. Cop shows work one way, sitcoms another, teen dramas are different from soap operas, and soap operas are different from prime time. So although the shows employ many different lenses, they remain clustered around a few primary ideas, showing but not embracing diversity in characters or life narratives. Watching through a feminist lens traps you in wanting to praise and encourage a show for the progress it does make but feeling disappointed by the conservative structures that TV can’t seem to let go of.

Orphan Black is a show that begins to deconstruct these ideas.…

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The Filmmaker as God: Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)


Who is the star of Birdman? I ask genuinely, as director Alejandro González Iñárritu, cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (fresh off an Oscar win for Gravity), and star Michael Keaton, seem perfectly content to live harmoniously in this wonder of a film, while also threatening to overwhelm each other to stand as the true star. It’s a film about egos though, so I suppose this is only fitting.…

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Ms. Marvel & The Power of Tropes


Bursting on the scene with the exuberance of youth comes the new Ms. Marvel, superhero extraordinaire. Premiering from Marvel comics in February of 2014 the story starts with sixteen-year-old Muslim Kamala Khan living in a New Jersey where spandex heroes are commonplace celebrities. She spends most of her time writing stories about them. Or hanging out with her friends at the 7/11 EXPY. After sneaking out for a night on the town, Kamala acquires shape-shifting and healing abilities. Now instead of only having to balance her identity as an American teenager with her Pakistani background and her faith, Kamala also has to balance it with new superhero responsibilities. Naming herself in honor of her favorite superhero, the blonde Captain Marvel who can lift cars over her head, Kamala decides to actively help her community, in the same way that the heroes she admired from behind her computer screen do.

Though not the first Muslim superhero in the Marvel universe, Kamala Khan is the first to have her own title.…

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Love on Campus

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Jane the Virgin is far from a Beginner


Just based on the title alone, Jane The Virgin is an attention grabber of a show. This CW comedy-drama focuses on Jane Villanueva, a virgin (surprise, surprise), who finds herself at the center of numerous crazy developments that complicate her life and the lives of those around her at every turn. It was developed for an American audience by Jennie Snyder Urman and is loosely based on a Venezuelan telenovela called Juana La Virgen. The show itself is a pseudo-telenovela and pays a lot of tribute to the genre: its characters are predominantly Latino, dialogue is occasionally in Spanish, and a fictional telenovela regularly plays on the characters’ TV screens.

Jane (Gina Rodriguez) is young Latina woman going to school and waitressing in Miami, where she still lives at home with her flirtatious mother (Andrea Navedo) and devoutly religious ‘Abuelita’ (Ivonne Coll). In the series premiere, Jane finds herself artificially inseminated because of a mix-up at the gynecologist. This plays into the religious undertones of the show as Jane becomes pregnant despite still being a virgin (her purity is something her grandmother preached to her to protect when she was younger).…

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Agnès Varda’s Clèo from 5 to 7

1 Cleo

At night, as my head sinks into my pillow, I often wonder if I’d be able to recognize love when it appears in my life. I usually arrive at the conclusion that I have, on countless occasions, obliviously waltzed right past it with a big, dumb grin on my face–and then I start thinking about Agnès Varda’s 1962 film, Clèo from 5 to 7.

There are a handful of terrific films in history that successfully portray action in real time, but none of them quite as precise, as meticulously committed to capturing real human experience, as Cleo from 5 to 7. After watching the film I feel like I’ve just spent 90 minutes marching down the Left Bank of Paris, soaking in the energy of the early sixties alongside our protagonist. Breaking away from conventional film technique, in which narrative rhythm and drama is manufactured through the manipulation of space and time, Varda embraces the subjectivity of her lead, ensuring the viewer experiences every moment the way Clèo (Corrinne Marchand) does, in real time.…

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Sweet Melancholy: Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice


“Listen carefully to first criticisms made of your work. Note just what it is about your work that critics don’t like–then cultivate it. That’s the only part of your work that’s individual and worth keeping.” – Jean Cocteau

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Interview with Sara Shahriari


Sara Shahriari is a freelance journalist living in La Paz, Bolivia, and working in the Andean region. She reports on a broad range of topics with an emphasis on social justice, the environment, and politics. Her print work has appeared in The Guardian, Al Jazeera America, The Christian Science Monitor, and Indian Country Today, and her radio work on Deutsche Welle.

BRITTANY: Tell me a little bit about how you got to where you are now.

SARA: Well, it was a circuitous path. I studied writing in college and was always really interested in it, but wasn’t sure how that would play out into a career. I considered going to law school. I considered going back to school for a bunch of different things, and I eventually decided that journalism would be the best way to sort of merge together the things I loved. I always knew that I wanted to work abroad and I decided on Latin America because I had already studied some Spanish, and I felt that I could learn enough Spanish in a not really extended period of time to be able to work well there.…

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