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I hate to inject too many personal anecdotes – music related, emotional, or otherwise – into these writings but what you are doing and how you are feeling at the time of reading and writing something I do believe affects how you intake the words pretty heavily, and I often feel this effect is understated, so I don’t want to diminish its power.

I almost always read and write to Sirius XM Radio – the Springsteen station – and as a result, my reading is guided by a thumping downbeat and often an Americana lyric of troubles in the heartland, described by a man and his band I used to like a lot, until 83 shows later and the obsession is far and above normal.

That said, as I read ‘Election,’ appropriately set in New Jersey, where Springsteen is from, and which forms the backdrop for nearly every song I listened to as I read, the school is readying to vote for class president.  This is of course unique and a niche environment, but like a few of the other stories, this story is as old as writing itself: it is about power, it is about loyalty, it is about emotional confusion, and the feeling of depth across many levels of life.  That’s what’s interesting – even the unique tenets of the story make it more tethered to the stereotypes of the few genres it fits within.  Just like Springsteen’s music – standard, average by classification and genre, but leagues above and beyond with lyrical ability, songwriting, composition, and that thing that sets both the records and the shows apart: performance. The book, then, is like a performance in that way.

There is a U.S. Presidential going on.  It’s 1992.  Springsteen was on his one and only tour (at that point) with a ‘different’ band.  It’s a detour from the norm; so is the book. 

Our character, Tracey, is like me at the elementary school and middle school age.  It’s what I tried and half-failed at in high school, and really, what I am now – she’s too ambitious for her own good, driven, a smart girl, that is not liked but likely largely misunderstood and largely for reasons that she doesn’t allow herself to be peered into – a key facet of many of these stories, and one which I hope to explore far further: Teachers, students, people in the classroom environment have difficulty opening up, particularly about deeper and emotional things, and this can be the strongest takeaway from a class, so this poses an inherent wall, an omnipresent barrier, that should be worked on and fixed. 

Tracey, for all her confusion, we learn has a heated sexual affair with her former teacher, and her mother serves as a character that could be in one of the more twisted Springsteen songs: she finds out and, of course, ruins the teachers marriage and career.  This is part of the Americana story – hope, faith, dreams, dreams rewarded, and as Bruce writes, ‘dreams thwarted.’  There has to be a downfall at some point.

 

Working all day in my daddy’s garage

Driving all night, chasing some mirage; Pretty soon, little girl, I’m gonna take charge

Former teacher Jim McAllister encourages his ‘pet’, a student named Paul Warren, to run.  

Well the dog’s on Main Street howl

‘Cause they understand

If I could take one moment, into my hand

Mr. I ain’t a boy, no I’m a man

And I believe in the Promised Land 

In turn, Paul’s outcast lesbian sister, Tammy, begins a full-throated effort and campaign to be school president in retaliation to her ex-girlfriend who is now dating Paul.   Our teacher, Mr. McAllister, loses his job as part of this mounted defense – and I hear Springsteen singing, “Man turns his back on his family, he ain’t no friend of mine.” This is a story about doing either what you believe is right and still losing for it, because that’s what our society has allowed.  Or it is, like several of the other songs in the catalog, open to more interpretation – what happens when our sense of right and wrong are both misguided and it is also society’s fault? If I’ve been told by teachers since I was four that stealing is okay, am I legally bound when I’m 16 to the law? To using that as a defense? What about as a 19 year old, with even stronger lessons put into me?

In 2012’s ‘Wrecking Ball,’ album, the statements in the songs ring bold and loud; they actually pose questions themselves.  The album’s leadoff single, “We Take Care of Our Own,” is really more of a question: Do we take care of our own? Do teachers in this book believe in helping kids, or are their heavier egos at play? Is that always a bad thing?

 

I’ve been knocking on the door that holds the throne

I’ve been looking for the map that leads me home

I’ve been stumbling on good hearts, turned to stone

The road of good intentions has gone dry as a bone 

That road of intentions going dry is the perfect metaphor for this book, and for why it was smart to assign and read: The teacher has a role to play and when he or she doesn’t, or otherwise alters that role to significantly – good or bad – it alters factors in the otherwise stable environment that don’t allow the society to function ‘as planned’ around them.  Just ask Springsteen.

I always thought of Mario Party as a game of luck that involved chance rather than actual skill. Because of this, I always disliked the game and never played it much. I also disliked the game because it took so long to play, often taking multiple hours, which is why I disliked playing a full game of monopoly. Another complaint that I had with the game is that the character you choose has no effect on the game or how you play. I personally like a game where picking a specific character has a benefit or challenge. So every time I saw that Mario Party 8 or 9 are coming out, I just viewed it as a dying attempt to save the Mario Trademark, which in this regard is strictly based off luck. So this blog will focus primarily on the fact that I think that Mario Party is solely based on luck and your ability in the mini-games. This past week, my friend challenged me in a bet and had the challenge defeating him in a game of Mario Party. I hoped I could Sadly, I was proven wrong when by my friend who showed me Mario Party is all skill rather than luck. We started off wit h4 players, and he guaranteed that he would win in the beginning because he said he was best at the mini-games, which often decide how many coins a certain player obtains. It turns out that not only did I lose the bet, my view on Mario Party was changed because although the rolling of the game dice is slightly luck, the mini-games can allow a player to obtain so many coins that it can benefit him in the end of the game, because the person who has the most coins gets primary shots at the stars, which is the objective of the game. This changed my opinion of Mario Party slightly, in that I now can confidently saw that the initial Mario Party, which have only “Party Mode” can be called luck because you never get a chance to improve your mini-game skills. This is later changed in the sequels when they create a part of the game called mini-games, which then allows you to become an expert in the mini-games, allowing you to be a better Mario Party gamer as a whole. Although I lost the bet, it still doesn’t change my opinion that there is a great deal of luck involved in Mario Party, whether it be to where the star happens to go, to the number you receive in the gaming dice, to who ends up taking your coins and stars away. It is because of the great deal of luck and the length of the game that although it is a classic, I do not like Mario Party.

the modern gaming industry seems to have taken a strong interest in updating it’s players education, as the games Words With Friends, Hang with Friends, and Scramble With Friends seemed to have become popular overnight about a year and a half ago.   These three ZYNA apps have become the primary source of entertainment on the smart phones, along with Temple Run.  As an app for the smart phone generation, you will find millions of young adults obsessed with 3 games thad do an excellent job of not just being entertainment but educating young people from a vocabulary perspective.  It is well documented and known that the vocabulary of college kids is one of the weakest aspects of their education. Words, Hang and Scramble with Friends have each allowed the smart phone generation to expand their vocabulary while on the run. These games are easily accessible, because unlike most games, you don’t have to pay a cent to acquire the full versions.   They are now accessible to Iphones as well as Androids, which gives access to many different college students. Most people play these games while doing another activity entirely, which also makes the game easy because it allows for muli-tasking. I personally end up playing the game while I’m riding in a bus or car, or am waiting for laundry, or just in general doing another task where I have a couple of minutes in between. Not only am I using my time wisely by partaking in other task, but the little free time I have is being used to expand my vocabulary in a competitive state. For those that don’t know, all three games are meant to expand vocabulary in different ways. Words with Friends is basically Scrabble on a phone. Scramble with Friends gives a set of 16 letters, and you must create as many words out of those 16 random letters in 2 minutes. Hang with Friends is basically hangman on a phone, but you are  given a select few letters to create a word off of rather than all 26 alphabets being available. The drawbacks to these games is that these games have a great deal to cause people to be “addicted” to their smart phones, which is becoming a extreme problem in the modern world, especially in college students. Combining texting, games, youtube, and internet has made some people hooked to their phone at all times. Yet, as someone who has a smart phone and enjoys all these liberties, I’m not one to complain. The competitive nature is also a pro, because you will find many friends playing each other in these games and actually getting excited about playing a game that will expand their intellectual range. It is because of this that although it may result in college student being addicted to their phones, that I am in favor of ZYNGA creating more games of this nature that will allow people to grow in their mind as well as be entertained. I know for one that if any person thinks they are a good Scramble or Words player, I look forward to playing in order to display competitive spirit.

I am fairly confident that I could ask every single kid my age in this country about the game monopoly, and they all would know what it was and have played it at some point in their lives. That may be an exaggeration, yet it doesn’t take away the fact that monopoly may be one of the most intellectual and competent kids games created because it is a fun game as well a game that has professional aspects to it. I would compare it to a game such as Scrabble, which allows a player to enjoy yet still exercise his brain in an enjoyable way. Even though most games that have intellectual aspects to it are usually not fun, I share fond memories of Monopoly because it taught me my interest in business. The game, as most people know, revolves around players competing to gain money, properties, and utilities deeds in an attempt to make your their opponents go bankrupt. Some of the properties have become so famous that their very names strike a familiarity with people, such as he famous Boardwalk, which is the most expensive property in the game. The game allows for people to use skills and terminology of a businessman in a game. It allows the player to practice simple arithmetic and even money management skills. I remember a I was in high school and we were at Barnes and Noble, and a kid said to his father when his father ran out of money on his gift card, that the card was Bankrupt. The father asked where did the kid know that term from, and the child replied monopoly. I found this extremely funny because it reminded me of my first experience playing the game, where i thought i had become a full-fledged businessman just because I knew some of the terms of monopoly. One of the few drawbacks that I feel exist within the game is that the game is too long, and there are not many ways to shorten it unless you limit the amount of terms a person can play. I know this because that is a personal experience that happened multiple times between my cousins and I. Also, it is not meant for a large group of people to play, and honestly should not be played by more than 5 people.However, this often results in some of the properties not being bought, creating arguments on who would have ultimately won. I also believe monopoly is one of the elite games created because it is available for all ages groups. i still could sit down in my free time and be willing to play a game of monopoly at the age of 19, just as I was when I was 9 years old. It is because of these factors that monopoly is still one of the top game today, and everyday movies, and video games create their own versions on Monopoly because they know that will attract customers. You never know, they could have learned that business tactic by playing monopoly as kids.

Sorry Statement

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http://www.columbinegame.com/

http://www.columbinegame.com/statement.htm

http://www.columbinegame.com/discuss/

 

I mentioned Super Columbine Massacre RPG! in response to a previous post, and am sure that it’s been discussed ad nauseam, but I say something about it myself.

This game was created by Danny Ledonne, 6 or so years after the tragedy using RPG Maker. As you’ve probably assumed from the title of the game, in the game, you play as Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris and you reenact the Columbine massacre. You also make your way through Hell and meet John Lennon, Malcolm X and Friedrich Nietzsche among others. The game is an amalgam of footage and images from the tragedy with 16 bit hoo-hah.

The game was met with a predominantly negative response, but was, oddly enough, supported by one of the victims of the shooting.

I hate this game and everything about it. In response to the question of whether or not this is a work of art or a trivialization of a tragedy, I’d say the latter.

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The fact that the victims, or “enemies”, in the game are divided into stereotypical tags such as “Prep”, “Jock” or “Math Teacher” is more appropriate than using the actual names of victims, but still masks the fact that even with the fantastical elements added, you are acting out what was a tragic reality to so many people.

The victim in support of Super Columbine Massacre RPG! thought the game would give rise to appropriate dialogue about the tragedy. I will never know the reality of the tragedy, but isn’t the tragedy enough to bring about appropriate discussion ?

6 years later, what made Ledonne want to create something that would force those affected by the tragedy to revisit it ?

Ledonne says the following in a section lifted from his artistic statement; “The lingering question—that grand burning query so many have tried to answer—is one I believe this game allows us to at least access in a more honest way. Beyond the simple platitudes and panaceas of gun control, media ratings/censorship, bully prevention programs, and parental supervision remains a glaring possibility: that the society we have created is deeply moribund. This game asks more of its audience than rudimentary button-pushing and map navigation; it implores introspection. This is why the game’s forum is equally important to the SCMRPG project. Through it, people from six continents and all walks of life are discussing the game itself and the incident it is based on. Some of them confess childhood pain or share personal feelings on the shooting. Some of them sustain vulgar diatribes or accuse the creator of wrongdoing. Some of them discuss the game’s social implications in a broader context. At the end of the day, the understanding of the Columbine school shooting is deepened and redefined. That is the real object of the game.”

An “understanding” of a tragedy like that which we’re discussing is in my opinion, not something that can or should be “deepened” or “redefined” by one person with something like Super Columbine Massacre RPG!

I remain unconvinced. There is a tasteful way to do this.

I always thought of Mario Party as a game of luck that involved chance rather than actual skill. Because of this, I always disliked the game and never played it much. I also disliked the game because it took so long to play, often taking multiple hours, which is why I disliked playing a full game of monopoly. Another complaint that I had with the game is that the character you choose has no effect on the game or how you play. I personally like a game where picking a specific character has a benefit or challenge. So every time I saw that Mario Party 8 or 9 are coming out, I just viewed it as a dying attempt to save the Mario Trademark, which in this regard is strictly based off luck. So this blog will focus primarily on the fact that I think that Mario Party is solely based on luck and your ability in the mini-games. This past week, my friend challenged me in a bet and had the challenge defeating him in a game of Mario Party. I hoped I could Sadly, I was proven wrong when by my friend who showed me Mario Party is all skill rather than luck. We started off wit h4 players, and he guaranteed that he would win in the beginning because he said he was best at the mini-games, which often decide how many coins a certain player obtains. It turns out that not only did I lose the bet, my view on Mario Party was changed because although the rolling of the game dice is slightly luck, the mini-games can allow a player to obtain so many coins that it can benefit him in the end of the game, because the person who has the most coins gets primary shots at the stars, which is the objective of the game. This changed my opinion of Mario Party slightly, in that I now can confidently saw that the initial Mario Party, which have only “Party Mode” can be called luck because you never get a chance to improve your mini-game skills. This is later changed in the sequels when they create a part of the game called mini-games, which then allows you to become an expert in the mini-games, allowing you to be a better Mario Party gamer as a whole. Although I lost the bet, it still doesn’t change my opinion that there is a great deal of luck involved in Mario Party, whether it be to where the star happens to go, to the number you receive in the gaming dice, to who ends up taking your coins and stars away. It is because of the great deal of luck and the length of the game that although it is a classic, I do not like Mario Party.

MarioPArty.jpg

Love, like love, is a game based on social interaction. In fact, the metaphor isn’t well-disguised, and that’s intentional. Love is a very literal game with a simple premise: gain happiness by getting close to others. Love is intentionally constructed to mirror real world social relationships and designed in such a specific way that it’s hard to make a distinction when talking about Love the game and love the concept. Read More