In Defense of No Man's Sky

In Defense of No Man's Sky

When a game is better than its gameplay.

“No Man’s Sky” is a game about wandering. More than that, it is a video game that allows the player the freedom to completely ignore the narrative threads presented to them and immerse themselves in the digital cosmos. In many ways it is a sort of culmination of that classic gaming idea of “switching your brain off” and exploring. “No Man’s Sky” is also a game rife with controversy in the gaming industry, and middling in broken expectations.

After its launch on August 9 of this year, “No Man’s Sky” has garnered a jumble of mixed reviews from critics and gamers alike. Some people have enjoyed the game while others seem to despise it, even going so far as to make threatening remarks towards the small indie team responsible for its development (this is the internet after all). I, for one, have found myself staunchly in the middle of many of these arguments. The complaints of poor gameplay mechanics and broken promises are all entirely understandable, and raise legitimate concerns about hype, over-promising, and development practices in the gaming industry overall. On the other hand there’s something endlessly fascinating about “No Man’s Sky” and the weird universe it sets you loose in with little to no direction.

The gameplay flaws present in “No Man’s Sky” are, at times, glaring. They can simply be nuisances of extreme minutiae that build overtime to make some of the in-game activities feel like chores, or they can be features that feel straight up broken and frustrating in their poor implementation. The clunky controls, mediocre user interface, and absurd redundancy seem like deal breakers. For many people, these issues have ruined the entire gameplay experience, and yet there are those who, despite it all, are able to enjoy the canvas beneath the interface.





There is a strange sense of magic to “No Man’s Sky” and its boggling digital universe of over 18 quintillion planets, all of which were formed using algorithms and procedural generation to take the input of the artists and designers at Hello Games and form it into something astronomical in scale. The concept alone is enough give those who grew up on science-fiction, whether it be literary works such as Frank Herbert’s classic “Dune” and Larry Niven’s magnificent “Ringworld” (a personal favourite), or cinematic juggernauts such as the “Star Wars” franchise, feel an undeniable desire to meander through the alien landscapes that sprawl out before them.

These planets, undiscovered until a player sets foot upon them for the first time, can be vibrant with otherworldly plant and animal life, or barren like a vast wasteland that curves endlessly past the horizon, leaving you as a lonely explorer. The art direction of “No Man’s Sky” is pulpy and pleasant, feeling like a journey across the covers of the classic science-fiction novels and choose your own adventure books of years gone by, giving itself up only to those players who allow themselves to get past the broken gameplay and simply enjoy the world itself. That, in essence, is the key to not only understanding why some people still play “No Man’s Sky” even with its dreadfully executed systems but also to understanding that while it works poorly as a video game it works fabulously as an adventure. The expressive art, adventurous music, strange and hazy lore, and brazenly vague presentation all come together to create an experience that can, for those who are open to the ideas and mysteries tucked beneath the flawed gameplay, immerse you in landscapes and lonely explorations unlike anything else.

I will not argue that “No Man’s Sky” is a great game, it simply isn’t. From a pure gameplay perspective “No Man’s Sky” is a fairly unpolished mess that finds itself emulating overplayed, often lazy tropes of the survival genre with an unintuitive user interface and a clunky control scheme to boot. Those who dislike it and feel disappointed by the lacklustre game are perfectly reasonable, but to me, that is far from the point. The argument here, rather, is that “No Man’s Sky” is the embodiment of digital wanderlust, it is a surreal experience rather than a good game. It opens up the doors of possibilities in digital entertainment and brings the pure aesthetic joy of sci-fi adventure into a new realm. For some, myself included, it is a reminder of those beautiful moments as a child where science-fiction pulled you past the screen or the page and gave you the stars to wander through and play with.

Cover Image Credit: Engadget

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The Logan Paul Fiasco Is Just A Symptom Of A Much Larger Problem

In the wake of Logan Paul's suicide forest debacle, I decided to explore how this could even happen in the first place.

Wow, 2018 sure has started off with a bang, hasn't it? First, Donald Trump seemingly threatens North Korea with nuclear annihilation. Then, all these stupid memes about tide pods and Knuckles the echidna circulate across the web, and finally, Logan Paul decided that he would not be outdone.

Yes, the YouTube star decided to vlog in Japan, and every foreigner who has ever hated American tourists for their arrogance and ignorance has been validated. When he arrived in the country, Paul stated that Japanese culture was all about respect. He then proceeded to run around streets in traditional Japanese attire, buy a Game Boy Color from a store only to immediately spike it on the road like a football, and oh yeah, went to the suicide forest, and decided to film the body of a man they found who had recently hung himself in the forest.

Yep, Logan Paul found a dead body and decided to post it on YouTube. I imagine this is what the end of "Stand By Me" would've looked like if it were written today, and by a trash person. Paul has since apologized after lots of backlashes.

Logan Paul is one of, if not the fastest growing star on YouTube, and this controversy has barely affected his ascent in subscribers, some of which defended his actions, and even sent threats to those who didn't. Also, I feel I am justified in saying that both Logan and his brother Jake Paul (a former Disney channel actor turned YouTuber) are both arrogant pricks who make their livings messing with people and being an overall nuisance to anyone they encounter and have no concept of consequences for their actions, but this article isn't about them.

I believe that their popularity is only a result of several fundamental problems with YouTube.

First, I want to get into YouTube's algorithms. It's how the site decides what videos are recommended for you, and more importantly to this story, what videos are on the trending page. Logan Paul's suicide forest video, the one with the dead body in the thumbnail, and the one with the words "dead body" in the title was NUMBER 1 on trending.

YouTube's algorithm exposed millions of people to this deplorable video.

YouTube wasn't even able to take the video down; this was a video that had to have been flagged thousands of times, and it was only removed because Logan Paul himself took it down after all of the backlashes. YouTube was simply unable to do anything about this, and there have to be changed to ensure that they don't let things like this slip through the cracks again.

The real question, at least to me, is why even make a video this ridiculous and ignorant and disrespectful in the first place?

The answer, of course, is for the content. Unfortunately, this is not new. YouTubers have been doing shocking things to get views for years now, and this has led to the bar being raised. Many things that were shocking before simply aren't anymore. We've seen it so many times we get numb, so creators come up with even crazier things to do. Eventually, it becomes normalized, and the cycle continues on and on until we have people filming dead bodies in haunted forests.

YouTubers are trying to get a rise out of us so that we click on their videos, and they're seeing how much they can get away with. It seems that on the internet, no matter which site you go to, the loudest, most obnoxious, most divisive voices always rise to the top, but they don't have to. We can resist that knee-jerk angry share that they want from us.

We don't have to give these idiots the light of day, and we can tell them that we have had enough of their crap, not with our voices, but with our views, because once those go away, they'll have no choice but to listen up.

Cover Image Credit: Esther Vargas

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"Reputation" Brings Taylor Back From The Dead

10 verses that assert Taylor's dominance.

Taylor is NOT dead. In fact, she's come back harder and stronger than she ever has in her 2017 album, "Reputation". This album is full of disses and self-confidence as she points out those that have wronged her as well as she has asserted her dominance. She is one of the most talked about celebrities in popular media as she's one of the most controversial and drama-filled artists as well.

Here is a list of the best kick-ass verses from each song off of "Reputation". The old innocent Taylor evolves anew as fierce and fiery Taylor. Here are the top ten badass verses that assert Taylor's dominance and fierce flare.

1. …Ready for it?

“Every love I’ve ever known in comparison is a failure// I forget their names now, I’m so very tame now// Never be the same now, now”

This song is perfect to put as #1 because it shows Taylor's new rocker vibe as well as her fight against all those who have doubted her.


2. End Game (feat. Ed Sheeran and Future)

“I swear I don’t love the drama, it loves me// And I can’t let you go, your handprints on my soul”

Here's Taylor asserting her dominance in the guy she hopes to end up with. She not only sells herself to be valuable but also confident which is something that everyone should look up to.


3. I Did Something Bad

“I never trust a playboy but they love me// and so I fly ‘em all over the world// And I let them think they saved me// They never see it coming what I do next// This is how the world works// You gotta leave before you get left”

Taylor sings proudly of her conquers of the guys she's hurt over her life.

This is the perfect anthem for doing what the f*** you want to do because there's always going to be someone who doubts you anyways. In the end, you have to do what makes you happy.


4. Don’t Blame Me

“I’ve been breaking hearts a long time// And toying with them older guys// Just playthings for me to use// Something happened for the first time// In the darkest little paradise// Shakin’, pacin’, I just need you”

I think I can say for all of us who have experienced a love that it has made us do crazy things and think crazy thoughts from time to time. Falling in love is one of the most addicting times which is why Taylor refers to her love as a drug.


5. Delicate

“Sometimes I wonder when you sleep, are you ever dreaming of me?”

This song is about finding a new love to spend your time and energy on. It's about seeing the person that you daydream over, even if it was lust at first sight.

6. Look What You Made Me Do

“But I got smarter, I got harder in the nick of time// Honey, I rose up from the dead, I do it all the time”

On the reputation Album Release Party, Taylor revealed that “Look What You Made Me Do” started out as a poem:

It actually started with just a poem that I wrote about my feelings, and it’s basically about realizing that you couldn’t trust certain people, but realizing you appreciate the people you can trust. Realizing that you can’t just let everyone in, but the ones you can let in, you need to cherish. And it had all the verses in it, just basically as is.

7. So It Goes…

“cause we break down a little, but when you get me alone, it’s so simple// cause baby, I know what you know, and we can feel it”

This song is about Taylor's relationship being strong enough to withstand even the publicity and circumstances thrown their way. She's so infatuated with her beau that she even talks about how they met and the way he makes her feel. This song is definitely for you if you need some loving.

8. Gorgeous

“And I got a boyfriend he’s older than us// he’s in the club doing I don’t know what”

This song is about lusting after someone that you see at the bar and you want to talk to but you are too nervous to. This song is the song to listen to in order to gather up the nerves to talk to that attractive stranger that you see across from you but are too nervous to say hi to.

9. Getaway Car

“But you weren’t thinking, and I was just thinking”

This song is about being in an intense and romance-filled relationship that is crashing and has red flags all along. Sometimes relationships are fun rides but they come to a point where they crash.

10. King of My Heart

“Up on the rooftop with a schoolgirl crush// drinking beer out of plastic cups”

We often fool ourselves by saying we're fine by our own until a cute boy walks into our lives and begin to consume our thoughts and desires. It's that boy that makes you feel youthful and fulfilled despite all of the walls you've put up since you've been hurt so many times before.


11. Dancing With Our Hands Tied

“So baby, can we dance? Oh, through an avalanche? And say, say that we got it// I’m a mess, but I’m the mess that you wanted// Oh, cause it’s gravity, oh keeping you with me, I could’ve spent forever with your hands in my pocket”

That one love that you would be willing to climb mountains for, as long as it meant you got to be with them.

12. Dress

Flashback to my mistakes, my rebounds, my earthquake// Even in my worst lies, you saw the truth in me// And I woke up just in time// Now I wake up by your side// My one and only, my lifeline’’

Sometimes, it takes a friend or a lover to make us feel better. Regardless of whatever your past may be, you can always be born again.

13. This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

“There I was, giving you a second chance// But then you stabbed me in the back while shaking my hand”

To that one love that you don't necessarily want to trust in the first place and they end up letting you down like you expected. Yeah, we see you. And no, you don't get a second chance.

14. Call It What You Want To

“You don’t need to save me, but would you run away with me?”

During the iHeartRadio reputation release party, a clip of Taylor saying the following at a reputation Secret Session was played:

The way I feel the album is, as far as a storyline, is I feel like it starts with just getting out any kind of rebellion, or anger, or angst, or whatever. And then, like, falling in love, and realizing that you kind of settle into what your priorities are, and your life changes, but you welcome it because it’s something that matters to you. And this last part of the album feels like settling into where I am now. So it started with where I was when I started making the album, and ends with kind of my emotional state now. And this song, I think, really reflects that probably the best on the album, and it’s called “Call It What You Want.

15. New Year’s Day

“Don’t read the last page// But I stay when it’s hard or it’s wrong// But I’ll be cleaning up the

bottles with you on New Years Day”

During the iHeartRadio reputation Release Party, a clip of Taylor saying the following at an earlier Secret Session for select fans was played:

We threw a big New Year’s Eve party in London this year, and I was thinking about how everybody talks and thinks about who you kiss at midnight. Like it’s this big romantic idea of like, ‘Who are you gonna kiss at midnight, like ring in the New Year.’ And I think that is very romantic. But I think there’s something even more romantic about who’s gonna deal with you on New Year’s Day. Who’s willing to give you Advil and clean up the house. I think that states more of a permanence. So I was thinking about that, and I wrote this song called ‘New Year’s Day.’ There are two lines in this song that I had been saving for a long time, for the right moment, and I had picked them for this song, and I’m really excited about them. The first one is, ‘Please don’t ever become a stranger whose laugh I could recognize anywhere.’ And the other one is, ‘Hold on to the memories, they will hold on to you.’
Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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