Monday, January 9, 2023

Race in Videogames



Lengthy videogame retrospectives are the norm rather than the exception these days. Games like Skyrim now have 20 hour retrospectives that, while generally being of exceedingly high quality, got me thinking about an interesting topic: Race in videogames. 

Just how are videogame retrospectives and race are related? To me it has to do with who is creating these retrospectives and how this impacts their analysis of games. It's not controversial to say that most of the YouTubers creating these retrospectives are white men without graduate degrees in history or related analytical disciplines. Even so, they present their conclusions with the confidence of a scholar speaking from the pulpit of an Ivy League lecture hall. 

The question this article asks is this: Have they earned that confidence? I would argue that, when it comes to discussing topics like race and racism, no, no they have not. 

Monday, January 31, 2022

5 Ways To Fix NBA 2K22's MyNBA Mode


I've been playing NBA 2K for years now, my first being 2K6 on the original Xbox. At the time, I thought it was a revelation compared to NBA Live. The movement, the shooting, the presentation, everything felt better and more realistic. 

Flashforward to the present, and I think it's true that most people view NBA 2K as a stagnant franchise. It has no competition in the industry, and its yearly releases are glorified roster updates with a few boondoggles taped on here an there to encourage folks to spend money on microtransactions. 

Friday, January 21, 2022

Tales of Arise: Addicting Game, Flawed Story

Shionne (left) and Alphen (right), the game's main characters.

[Warning: Spoilers Ahead]

These days I don't have much time, so it's rare that I finish long sprawling RPGs like Tales of Arise. But finish it I did, and so I figured I'd take the time to jot down some of the thoughts on the game. To sum up, my initial impressions were very positive. I liked the protagonist, I liked the graphics, and I found the combat to be a nice improvement over the last Tales game I played, Tales of Vesperia (admittedly I have not finished this one). 

As the game wore on, I ran into several roadblocks that tend to arise (sorry) in most Japanese RPGs (or JRPG for short): the enemies got tougher, requiring some grinding. The bosses had overinflated health pools, and money and other important battle items like Arise's equivalent of health potions became scarce. Maybe I am less dedicated than the average gamer these days, but I felt obligated to buy the double EXP downloadable content around midway through the game, because keeping up with the leveling curve was becoming a chore. For those of you who have played, this is right around after you defeat Almeidrea and begin journeying to Ganath Haros. 

Friday, January 7, 2022

Empowered: The Grad School Chronicles


[Author's Note: Hello all, below you will find a story written by me. It is about a newly minted grad student who quickly finds themselves amid a supernatural conspiracy corrupting the heart of their university. Something here is rotten, and it's up to them to figure out how to vanquish the threat lurking in the halls of this institution. Currently this is a work in progress, however I plan to make semi-frequent updates.]

You wake up to the sound of your alarm. With some difficulty, you sweep your hand towards your nightstand and switch it off. Slowly, you roll out of bed and trudge over to the mirror standing in the corner of the room. 

You take stock of what you see before you: a slightly disheveled dark complexioned male in his early twenties. Your eyes drift to the reflection of your digital clock displaying "8:30" in reverse. 

Got a little bit of time before class at 10. Time to get ready. 

Luckily you prepared the coffee pot the night before, so in moments you're drinking your favorite hot beverage. A few sips later you feel energized enough to get ready. 

You shower and scarf a granola bar, bounding down the stairs of your apartment to begin your trek to Eliot University. 

You're feeling a bit too tired to ride your bike, so you head to the bus stop in front of your apartment instead. There's a few other grad students already lined up, one of whom is flipping through a book on Foucault and muttering something about "the panopticon." 

"What class are you reading that for," you ask. The man looks up in a start, his bushy red eyebrows aimed at you suspiciously. 

"Intellectualism in the 20th Century." He turns his back to you and returns to his task. 

Alright then. Nobody else around you looks interested in chatting, so you pop in some earphones and switch on some of your favorite music. Soon after, the bus arrives. You pay the bus driver a dollar (grad students don't ride for free) and take one of the last seats near the back of the bus. 

The drive over is uneventful, and within minutes you've arrived on campus. It's only a short walk from the bus stop before you've made it to your destination. 

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Nespresso Vertuo Next Review

The Nespresso Vertuo Next and Aeroccino.

I love coffee. Since college my reliance on it has grown until now, as a nearly-finished grad student, it has become an essential part of my daily rhythm. Unfortunately, it's not easy to get a perfect cup of coffee at home, at least for me. Drip machines sometimes leave you with weak or plastic-y coffee, percolators sometimes burn the grounds, pour over is good but requires time and patience to be great. 

Enter the pod machines. Like many my first experience with them was Keurig, which at the time was a revelation. However, the machines were expensive and there was no way to recycle the pods. I never bought one for myself, but I do have fond memories of some of its offerings, namely the Newman's Own line of pods. 

I could never justify buying a Keurig machine though. It was good, but not quite good enough to move away from drip coffee. This article doesn't intend to compare Keurig and Nespresso, which I'm sure has been done by others already. Some points of comparison are necessary, but I'll try not to focus on that. Let's move on to the subject, then: it wasn't until this year that I received my first coffee pod machine (as a gift): the Nespresso Vertuo Next. 

About The Author

My photo
Nicholas Garcia (M.A.) is a PhD Candidate at the University of California, Davis. He is also a Co-Founder of the Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies. Previously, he contributed to Lifehack.org and the Davis Humanities Institute.