In Defense of No Man's Sky

In Defense of No Man's Sky

When a game is better than its gameplay.
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“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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'Difficult Women' Book Review

How Roxane Gay changed how I saw myself
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Roxane Gay is an extremely talented author. I fell in love with her writing after being assigned a section of The Bad Feminist in a creative writing class. I was instantly sucked into this world of someone who expresses sentiments I had not been able to. That got me started, from there I began Difficult Women. As I was wandering through Square Books, it was the title that caught my attention. As a girl I often here comments on how "crazy" or "dramatic" I can be. I could not help myself, I grabbed the book and ran home to start it.

For me, the first few pages makes - or breaks - a book for me. I flew through the first chapter and turned the page ready to find out more. But I was shocked to find that an entirely new story began. Slightly perturbed I started the next chapter expecting the third chapter to go revert back to the trials of the characters in the first chapter. It never happened. By the seventh chapter I was so enthralled with the stories of all the women presented I completely forgot that I wanted some resolution for the sisters in chapter one. The struggles of the women broke my heart, made me want to fight for them, give them and hug and cry for them.

It was then I realized I had a literary crush on Roxane Gay. She exposed the stories behind so called "difficult women" and made the world recognize that those supposed crazy moments were the product of outside events. I felt justified. I felt that as a women someone was finally shedding light on the reasons that I sometimes overreact or get emotional when people do not understand why.

If you are looking for a good pool, beach or airport read I strongly suggest this book. It is one of the most humanizing books with elements of fiction to make it appeal to a wide group of women. The short story style keeps it interesting from start to finish and allows you to decide what the fate of the women may be or for the story to end there and you allow the thoughts of the author to carry on difficult conversations in your thoughts.

Cover Image Credit: LibroMobile

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Teddy And Owen Show All That Not Waiting For Your Best Friend Makes You A Strong Woman

Shonda Rimes shows young woman that valuing yourself in a relationship for two is a strong decision.
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Avani
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Shonda Rimes, the creative genius behind "Grey's Anatomy," has done some crazy things in this 14-season-and-still-going-strong show. From tragically ending the McDreamy storyline to starting the Avery-Pierce romance, Shonda has thrown every sort of curveball for the doctors at Grey-Sloan.

However, in the episode entitled, "One Day Like This," Shonda kicks up the heat with Owen Hunt and Teddy Altman only to end it with a semi-familiar message: even if he is your best friend, you do not have to give up everything for him.

For those that need a quick recap of the relationship between Major Owen Hunt and Major Teddy Altman, their relationship started out on their Iraqi tour where they were both stationed as trauma surgeons. While it was evident that they had some chemistry, Owen, unfortunately, was engaged to Beth at the time.

When Owen was done with the army, he took up a job (post-breakup with Beth) at Seattle Grace where he was wooed by the snarky Cristina Yang. However, never once was Teddy thought of until Christina wanted to learn from a cardio god after Burke left.

Teddy, in every sense of the word, was a badass at cardiology. Cool, collected and a wealth of knowledge, Teddy offered a wide variety of expertise to Christina while still maintaining her composure regarding her feelings about Owen. As a good best friend to a guy, she kept it on the lockdown about how she was the right person for him.

But with Shonda, such feelings have usually been kept a secret for long (otherwise what happens to the good television ratings), and Teddy spills everything to Owen who ends up pushing her away and turning to Christina. And to really top it all off, Owen manages to be involved with her late husband's, Henry's, death.

So when Owen finally gets his life together post-Amelia and goes after Teddy, she gives him a chance. An almost 24-hour chance. Once Owen mentions it was Amelia that brought him to her, Teddy kicks him out and closes the door behind him.

This may disappoint a lot of viewers given that Teddy and Owen are made for each other, but I believe that Shonda Rimes is making an underlying point that waiting around for your best friend is undervaluing you as a woman of power.

Teddy and Owen's relationship is exactly what girls should not do for their best guy friend because all it ends up proving is that the girl puts herself second in the relationship. No woman should ever put herself in the position of waiting for a man to notice her.

Teddy is beautiful in many ways and Owen is only realizing her beauty now. Smart, charismatic, dedicated and caring, Teddy would have loved to have Owen by her side. But time and time again, Owen pushed her away for what he thought was something better.

When Teddy was faced with the decision to have her happily ever after come true, she decides to let it go forever which makes her even more beautiful in my eyes than ever before. Instead of holding on to Owen to complete her, she comes to her senses and lets him go because her own value matters more than what he thinks.

To get to the essence of this moment, Teddy is a stronger, independent woman because she did not fold in the face of Owen promising to be there for her because he wants to. This poignant moment hits home for me because it shows women that for every guy best friend they have, it does not make them weak for giving into them or strong if they don't. Instead, it makes her human.

Then again, we would all be human because choices like that aren't easy. Making the right choice for you regarding your best friend is important because it only accounts for what you want. Not what is good for the other person which ultimately is not selfish at all.

Cover Image Credit: ABC
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