Death Stranding Is ????? (And I'm Okay With That)

Death Stranding Is ????? (And I'm Okay With That)

Kojima is keeping everyone's heads spinning
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“To see a world in a grain of sand, / And a heaven in a wild flower. / Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, / and eternity in an hour.” These lines from a poem by William Blake open the first of two trailers for Death Stranding, the brainchild of Hideo Kojima. Kojima is well-known in the video game development industry as the creator of Metal Gear Solid – considered by most to be the first steal-action game made and a revolutionary franchise for the industry. But after a disagreeable breakup between Kojima and his home studio, Konami (which unfortunately resulted in the cancelling of Silent Hills and a likely rushed Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain), all eyes have been on Hideo to see what he would do next.

Well, the truth is, we still don’t have much of a clue. Kojima Productions didn’t disappoint in their latest teasers for Stranding, which take place in a bizarre surrealist alter-world that is still very unclear in its nature. We know that Norman Reedus will be playing a main character, as will Mads Mikkelsen. Guillermo del Toro has appeared in one of the trailers, and there are rumors floating around of a yet-unnamed actress joining the cast, but nothing confirmed. The most surprising thing? There’s been absolutely no talk of gameplay, but Death Stranding is still one of the most hotly anticipated games in production.

How does Kojima manage to do this? Both trailers for Stranding are absolutely loaded with imagery. Seriously, you can have a field day with the metaphors and themes being presented – many of which are ambiguously defined – and as a result the speculations and fan theories are growing immensely in number and complexity.

So far, it’s been concluded that Death Stranding may take place in a purgatory-style world, full of imagery that isn’t unlike Silent Hill or the comics of Junji Ito. There’s a constant motif of umbilical cords and the relationship between newborn babies and adults. Kojima also seems presenting an argument on humanity’s effects on the environment: death stranding is a moniker for the events of a mass beaching of aquatic life – and many scenes in the trailers feature a rising tide of oil. There are also skeleton soldiers dressed in American WWII uniforms, floating supernatural beings in the distance, a conversation about Einstein’s theories on relativity and the Dirac field equations – and still more bizarre questions waiting to be answered. It’s supposedly cerebral media taken to the extreme.

I actually love this about Kojima’s work, though. These kinds of video games just don’t get made: they’re risky, they’re challenging, and they require more effort from the player’s side. It’s easy to see how a medium like video games could never approach these kinds of conversations when it’s so much easier to pump out triple-A first-person shooters or copy-paste RPGs. Kojima believes in a different kind of thesis though: that a medium like video games could be elevated into a fundamentally thought-provoking experience – and that since video games require input from the participant to continue, the medium could experiment with unique properties.

It’s a big task, to be sure, and who knows if Kojima will be able to accomplish it. But in the meantime, he’s going for it. I’m definitely excited to see what Death Stranding becomes.

Cover Image Credit: Kojima Productions

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.
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When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...

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"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

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