Game Maker's Toolkit: Breaking Down Your Favorite Games

Game Maker's Toolkit: Breaking Down Your Favorite Games

Game Maker's Toolkit is Mark Brown's fantastic playground of video game research and philosophy
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I first came across the work of Mark Brown on Youtube through his series “Boss Keys.” “Boss Keys” is a selection of videos dedicated to playing through, analyzing and breaking down the structures of the dungeons throughout the “Legend of Zelda” franchise. As a “Legend of Zelda” fan and a bit (okay, more than a bit) of a hopeless nerd, I quickly found myself watching through the entire series and subscribing to his channel. I later found out that Mark had been an editor-at-large (among a variety of other roles) for the UK's mobile and handheld gaming publication “Pocket Gamer”. His time working for the publication came to an end in January of 2017 in order to allow himself more time and energy for his main Youtube show.

Mark’s main show, which he funds through a Patreon, is called “Game Maker’s Toolkit”. This series covers a variety of games, franchises, and genres in an attempt to dissect various elements of gameplay and game design. The idea is simply to study the inner workings of video games and video game design philosophy in a palatable, approachable format. The execution, however, is so much more.

The essence of Mark’s videos is a sort of honesty. Far from the sometimes cringe-inducing attempts at humor that many of the major gaming publications strive for, when Mark says something cheeky it often feels authentic and warm. Instead of strictly gushing about a game or critically panning it, the viewer can usually rely on him to find a specific aspect of a game and present it in a nuanced fashion. It all feels like he’s truly passionate about the subject matter rather than going through articles and video essays for work’s sake.

That genuine feeling that he is just as intrigued as you are is important to an audience that wants to learn more about the industry and medium that they love. Mark also brings a sense of refinement to each video. They look sharp, with professional editing that sets him apart from some of the other gaming content creators on Youtube that may not be part of larger groups or companies like IGN or Gamespot. This is not at all to disparage budding gaming and tech journalists (trust me I’m in no position to judge), but instead to note and appreciate a level of quality that is not always seen in this niche.

Though I have yet to watch all of the videos on his channel, I feel that I can safely say to anyone interested in video gaming and game design (or just in good video essays) that Mark is a must watch. I look up to the way that he is able to balance intellectual dissection of a topic with the excitement of a fan. You never feel like he is going overboard in one direction and neglecting the other. To me personally he and his videos are an example of things that we need much more of in video game journalism.

Out of Mark’s videos I’d highly suggest starting with his episode on the idea of “versatile verbs” and his episode talking about the so called “language” of games. You can follow Mark Brown on Twitter and support him on his Patreon, linked above.

Cover Image Credit: PocketGamer

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'Isle of Dogs' Is My New Favorite Wes Anderson Movie, But It's Hard To Ignore The Cultural Appropriation

“Isle of Dogs” may even be the best Wes Anderson movie so far.
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Being a minor-level film nerd, I love Wes Anderson.

Wes Anderson, if you’re not familiar with his work, is a director who produced movies such as: “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” “Moonrise Kingdom,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” and the recently released “Isle of Dogs.”

He has a very distinct, interesting style to all of his work that I love; it feels like stepping into a new whimsical world for each movie. If you want to know more about his common themes, common characters, or about his film style, I would recommend checking out this video from one of my favorite YouTube channels, Screenprism:

You Know It's Wes Anderson IF ...

There are a few things that I want to touch on about “Isle of Dogs.” I saw it in the theater a few days ago and initially loved it. “Isle of Dogs” may even be the best Wes Anderson movie so far; the movie that best encapsulates who he is as a person and director.

However, I do have a few problems with it, including how he portrayed the culture of Japan.

I’m not going to go into great detail, because I really have no authority on the subject, but many critics are calling out Anderson for cultural appropriation. I didn’t see it at first, but I completely understand why they’re saying this.

“Isle of Dogs” is set in Japan, specifically the city of Megasaki. There is an old rivalry between everyone who loves dogs and the Kobayashi family who is known for loving cats. Eventually, in the future, a Kobayashi is mayor of Megasaki and decides to banish all dogs to Trash Island because of several diseases that are dominating the canine population.

With the overwhelming support of the public, the first dog sent to Trash Island is Spot, best friend to the mayor’s ward, Atari. About six months after Spot is sent away, the movie focuses on a specific pack of dogs - Rex, King, Duke, Boss, and Chief.

They witness Atari’s plane crash on Trash Island and discover that Atari is trying to find and retrieve his lost best friend, Spot. There are many scenes throughout the movie that are filled with Japanese stereotypes like sumo-wrestling or sushi. They’re visually pleasing, but were they necessary to the story?

On the other hand, his stop-motion is purposeful and beautiful. I love that it’s obvious how much thought was put into each and every shot. For instance, the best part about every character were the eyes. Since dogs can’t really give as detailed face expressions as humans can, Anderson chose to focus all the emotion and character into the eyes.

I loved it. This highlighted unique parts of every character’s personality and added a new division of humor to the story. My favorite character is probably Bryan Cranston as Chief; the head of the pack of five, he has a seemingly hard shell and was a stray back on the mainland.

I’ve always been more of a cat person myself, but I can understand the appeal for a dog after watching Anderson’s latest masterpiece.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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5 Movies To Watch Instead Of Studying

You can find them all online.
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We all have those days when... well... we don't do anything at all. You might be laying in bed sick, laying in bed instead of going to class, or simply procrastinating. One of the best activities for this is watching movies. All. Day. Long. It's even better when those movies are readily available on your pre-paid streaming services.

Here are some movies (found on streaming services) that will prevent you from doing your homework.

1. Game Over, Man (Netflix)

This new Netflix original movie is ridiculously hilarious -- Adam Devine, Anders Holm, and Blake Anderson (the Workaholics crew) star in an action-packed comedy that will keep you on your feet. It's also pretty violent, though, so be prepared.


2. Moonlight or Room (Amazon Prime)

These movies are actually very different, but they were those movies that won a bunch of awards AND are REALLY good. I'm always hesitant to watch movies that everyone says is good, but these are actually worth the watch. These movies are definitely better if you want something a little more intense. (Note: You can get a free Amazon Prime membership if you're a student/have a student email!)


3. The Karate Kid (Hulu)

As much as I love Jaden Smith, you can't beat the original Karate Kid. You can never go wrong with a classic like The Karate Kid, and you might even learn some tips to keep your exams from kicking your butt. (Note: In case you didn't know, you can get a free Hulu membership if you pay for Spotify premium!)


4. The Big Sick (Amazon Prime)

I actually haven't seen this one yet, but my mom keeps telling me to watch it. Even then, I trust any Judd Apatow movie, and he's one of the producers of The Big Sick! It's an Amazon original movie as well, and from what I've seen (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, a TV series I also recommend), they're doing amazing work in their studios.


5. Any of the Harry Potter movies (HBO Go)

Harry Potter is a go-to classic that allows you to escape the real world and explore a whimsical world full of magic. If you haven't seen these yet, I highly recommend them (I mean, who hasn't seen Harry Potter?!). Anyway, you can find all 8 of the movie series on HBO Go (if your family has an HBO subscription, go get their username and password -- it's definitely worth it).

Cover Image Credit: Giphy

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