Doris Lessing died today

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The date on this post will probably say November 18, but that will be a lie as far as the day Doris Lessing died, which is actually today, the 17th, here in America. I want to point this out first because Doris Lessing is among the greatest writers I’ve ever read, and I want to do her justice by getting the date right; and I also think it’s appropriate to start out a blog post about her by pointing out the arbitrary nature of language and its inherent inability to achieve its own ideal of absolute, clear, effective communication exactly because the whole thing is made up and only exists because we all pretend it does.. If you didn’t know, Lessing was a postmodern novelist. More

Which Mass Effect is the best? Mass Effect 2?

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It took me a super long time to finally get to Mass Effect 2–I only finished it last year. And I got some serious flack, involving repurposed Rick Perry memes, from friends for initially saying that I was pretty sure the original Mass Effect was better. More

I finally finished the Mass Effect series. So, which one is the best?

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The Mass Effect video game series has been another source of guilt for me. The original Mass Effect came out during the brief console golden age of 2007 to 2009 when AAA (industry term for huge, top-tier) game developers and publishers started taking risks on a whole gaggle of fresh intellectual properties that fueled the creation of big-budget games, and these games are the same that have given us five years of nothing but sequels thanks to their success. Assassin’s Creed, Gears of War, Modern Warfare, Mirror’s Edge, Dragon Age, the long-awaited reemergence of Fallout, and Mass Effect are all children of this era, and I did my best to get into all of them, since this was probably an era that will be remembered by the gaming world forever. But I just didn’t have time to devote to all of them. I’ve played the original game in each series, all of which are fantastic in their own ways, but I haven’t been able to get any further with any of them for years.

I knew that if I had to choose one series to complete, it had to be Mass Effect. I mean, a galaxy-spanning, Star Trek inspired, sci-fi action roll-playing epic trilogy flavored with some pulpy space opera? Nothing like this has ever existed anywhere near this scale in the game industry, and the fact that it’s as huge a commercial success as it is, living in a somewhat niche genre, makes it probably the most interesting 2007-2009 golden age specimen to get into.

There’s an endless list of things I could talk about with these games, and most of it comes out when I try to answer the most interesting question of all: Which Mass Effect game is the best? More

Schindler’s List, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and “saying about”/”saying with.” Also Spielberg and Kubrick

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Illinois Wesleyan is pretty big on theater, and I ended up seeing a few plays for English classes. I can’t remember at all what the last one I saw was called, but I can vividly remember what it was about. A Jewish family from Poland is separated before the second war when the father moves to America with the younger of the two daughters. Their plan was to wait for him to make enough money to bring over the mother and other sister and her husband, but the war breaks out before that can happen. The play is set after the war, when the older sister is found alive and comes to America to live with her sister in the city.

Some of my friends loved it to death, while a few others agreed with me that there seemed to be something not quite right about it. I think most of my problems came from acting and directing decisions, but I didn’t know how to articulate it at the time, so when my friend asked me how it didn’t tear my heart open, I said something stupid like “There’s been tons of things about the Holocaust. What is there left to say about it?” My friend immediately said “everything.” More

Why Spec Ops: The Line is the most important video game ever made

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If you want to know why I’m not a very good English major, it’s because I’m distracted by all kinds of narratives other than the ones in books. I know I’ve got millions of books to read, but I’ve also got a million movies to see and video games to play. And right now I have a specific game to rant about, because nothing pisses me off like people misunderstanding Spec Ops: The Line.

I have to cut some slack for the reviewers who have gotten on my nerves with this, though—The Line is easy to misunderstand without, first, being a specific kind of gamer, and, second, being willing to think about The Line beyond it’s own contextI don’t imagine that’s an easy place to be when you’re trying to evaluate a game in a review, but it’s where you need to be for this one. More