Month: April 2019

The Super Smash Bros. Cinematic Universe

The Super Smash Bros. Cinematic Universe

As many of you have seen, a trailer for Paramount’s upcoming Sonic the Hedgehog movie dropped today.

It’s terrifying.

But more than it is terrifying, the trailer feels frustrating. There’s a whole lot of missed potential from what I can see as a casual fan of the series, and I spent a fair amount of time ranting about it on Twitter:

The memes have been fun. Yet I can’t help but wonder how Sega let Sonic take this hit with Detective Pikachu showing us what video game movies are capable of—

Oh. Right.

Well anyway, as my friends and I spent the morning looking at Sonic, Jonathan brought to our attention an interesting take.

Much like Sonic’s obscene baby teeth and gross, gangly baby legs, I couldn’t stop thinking about the idea of a Super Smash Bros. Cinematic Universe.

Or, the SSBCU, as any sane individual would call it.

My friends’ discord group became flooded with suggestions on what could conceivably be included to flesh out the universe. By the end of the day, I fell in love with the idea of putting this list together!

But I wasn’t able to come up with everything on my own.

So let’s consider this post a work in progress, and a call to arms.

I have a collection of what movies should count in the SSBCU, some that I think could be surrogate “analog” entries in retrospect, and other media that could be related.

I’ll list them out with character confirmations based on Nintendo’s official listing.

If you have any ideas on how to flesh the list out, let me know! I think the idea is great and I would love to keep it going.


Confirmed Entries

Super Mario Bros. (1993)

You know it, you love it. Illumination may be working on an animated Mario movie, but until then we’ve got this classic of terrible cinema to fill out a whole lot of fighters. Just tell me you don’t want to see Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo beat up CGI Pokémon in an Avengers-style crossover.

  • Fighters: Mario (1), Yoshi (5), Luigi (9), Peach (13), Daisy (13e), Bowser (14)

Sonic the Hedgehog (2019)

The terror that started it all. This movie is probably going to be an utter disaster… But that means it’s also probably a blast to watch. Like a car crash after your blue cadillac haphazardly rolls around at the speed of sound. Sonic is Mario’s eternal rival, so he deserves a bad movie too.

  • Fighters: Sonic (38)

Detective Pikachu (2019)

This movie looks brilliant. Full stop. And I can conceivably throw in every Pokémon representative, so it’s a catch-all. I’ll even include Pokémon trainer, because despite the Red analog not being a character in Detective Pikachu, the Kanto starters are all there.

  • Fighters: Pikachu (8), Pichu (19), Mewtwo (24), Pokémon Trainer (33-35), Lucario (41), Greninja (50), Incineroar (69)

Street Fighter (1994)

Bet you forgot this movie existed. Well you’ll be happy to know that Ryu and Ken are in this terrible picture via Byron Matt and Damian Chapa, so you can picture them punching Bob Hoskins in the face!

For real though, can you believe Ming-Na Wen went from being Chun-Li to Mulan four years later? What a glow up.

  • Fighters: Ryu (60), Ken (60e)

Mega Man movie (????)

Keeping on the Capcom train, this is apparently a movie that’s in production. Thus the blue bomber gets to hang out with the squad!

  • Fighters: Mega Man (46)

Monster Hunter (2020)

What’s that? You really like the Capcom train? Well, lucky for you there’s a Monster Hunter movie staring Milla Jovovich in our future. There’s technically no fighter from this series, but Rathalos was added in Ultimate. So maybe there’s room for a cameo?

  • Fighters: DLC fighter, hopefully?

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (2005)

Alright, I’ll stop messing around. Here’s a not hypothetical entry on the list. I considered not including Cloud because this is a purely animated movie… But if Pikachu and Sonic can be “live action” fighters, why not Angst McGiantSword?

Plus his alternate costumes in Smash are literally based on this movie. So.

  • Fighters: Cloud (61)

Analog Movies

Alien (1979) or Aliens (1986)

Depending on your preference for horror or action sci-fi.

I don’t know if we’re ever going to get a Metroid movie. Samus would be a great candidate for the SSBCU’s Wonder Woman or Captain Marvel-esque leading female character, but in the meantime Sigourney Weaver seems like a damn fine addition.

Plus Ridley is literally a homage to Ridley Scott, so baby teeth Sonic can fight a Xenomorph Queen.

  • Fighters: Samus (4), Dark Samus (4e), Zero Suit Samus (29), Ridley (65)

Fast and the Furious

As someone who has never played an F-Zero game, I can confidently say that the ridiculously over-the-top Fast and the Furious franchise would be a perfect analog.

But in this case I’m going to say Furious 6 (2013) in particular because that’s when Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson joined and he’s the perfect Captain Falcon.

Courtesy of wwe.com and SSB Wiki

Just saying.

  • Fighters: Captain Falcon (11)

Inception (2010)

Joker from Persona 5 just got added into Smash Ultimate. I know next to nothing about the game, but I do know it involves going into people’s memories to plant ideas or find secrets.

Sounds a lot like Inception to me. Add Leo DiCaprio into the SSBCU!

He can probably pull off that anime twink look in his Gangs of New York era.

  • Fighters: Joker (71)

King Kong (1933) or Rampage (2018)

King Kong is the obvious choice to get Donkey Kong into the SSBCU. A somewhat sentient ape who kidnaps ladies and climbs up buildings? That may as well be the original arcade game’s script. Even if there isn’t much in the way for Diddy or K. Rool.

Though for my money, I’d also recommend using Rampage. Not only is it based on a video game and has a crocodile, but the fact that The Rock stars means we can turn the film into a retroactive Thor: Ragnarok-esque team up staring Falcon and DK.

  • Fighters: Donkey Kong (2), King K. Rool (67)

Related Media

Castlevania (2017)

Every other object on this list is a movie.

But Marvel got away with putting more characters into the MCU by having The Defenders series on Netflix.

So Nintendo can get away with putting more characters into the SSBCU by making the Castlevania series on Netflix its own Defenders. Not sure if Simon or Richter are featured, but whatever.

  • Fighters: Simon (66), Richter (66e)

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (2008)

This game is basically a movie, right?

  • Fighters: Snake (31)

Fighters Featured: 31

Total Fighters: 82


Ehhh?

This section is the lightning round for ideas my friends and I tossed around that are either jokes or so weird that I honestly couldn’t count them

  • Game of Thrones as Fire Emblem representation? Don’t know enough about GoT to accurately parse that out, but I’m willing to mention it for SEO purposes.
  • The Legend of Zelda T.V. series was floated around, but I’m not sure I take that as seriously as Castlevania to be extended material. Zelda deserves a flagship movie.
  • My friend Mitchell suggested playing 127 Hours on two separate televisions, with one version color corrected to give James Franco a blue shirt. It’s the only way I can conceivably include Ice Climbers, so I’ll mention it here.
A pre-preparation of rites

A pre-preparation of rites

Like I mentioned in my post showing off the character sketches from my novel-in-progress, this Friday I will be presenting my Senior Honors Project at the Honors Project Interdisciplinary Conference.

We got the official email with the final schedule brochure and everything. It’s happening.

Not only is it happening, it’s coming up at full speed.

So most of my day has been spent preparing the Powerpoint I’ll be using. A few weeks back the Honors Program Director Sandra Perez asked me to help another student who wanted to do a creative writing project, as she said the pre-preparation I’d done was impressive.

That experience wound up being my lightbulb of inspiration. I realized that my project was better grounded in a Pre-Preparation of Rites than “I wrote part of a book.”

By the end, I’ve come to find that a whole lot of preparation was involved in my novel.

Most of it is stuff I’ve discussed on the blog before. The character sketches, map-making, research into Dungeons and Dragons and plotting out the story among them.

But then there are more exotic elements to the process as an overarching narrative — Such as my inspirational material, John Scalzi’s Redshirts and the prep work on earlier creative writing pieces.

And let’s not forget the elements I have yet to talk about.

Notably backend research into creating believable cultures for my fantasy world. I asked my old professor Paulo Simoes for some advice because a lot of his background involves researching ancient societies, figuring out how they tick.

He recommended trying to model my fictional cultures and the events that characterize my world off of real-world societies.

After all, he says it’s a successful strategy for shows like Game of Thrones, which modeled its famous Red Wedding scene after massacres in Scotland.

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Image courtesy of Game of Thrones Memes and Quotes Blogspot

Game of Thrones is in vogue to reference right now, yeah?

I’d hope so. Because I’m more than happy to capitalize on that, even though I haven’t personally watched the show.

For my project, however, I am not utilizing Game of Thrones in any capacity. Rather, I’m using “The Story of Civilization” collection of historical novels to base parts of my book on periods of history. As suggested by Dr. Simoes.

Along the way, I’ve been trying to craft the oral part of the presentation:

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I have 15 minutes to present, and then I’ll have to be ready for five minutes of audience questions. I’m hoping I’ll be all put together and confident by then.

While getting prepared, I took some time off with my Mom to go out and put something sweet together with the drawings from Elizabeth:

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Just a little something to help remember the project by. Doesn’t it look nice?

I think it looks really nice, personally.

We’re through the Endgame

We’re through the Endgame

For days, all I’ve heard about Avengers: Endgame is that it is perfect. There was not a single bad thing said about the 22nd Marvel Cinematic Universe film.

That couldn’t be true.

This movie is three-hours long. It simultaneously culminates two-dozen films, sequelizes a massive blockbuster and ends stories for characters we’ve known over 10 years.

There was no way it could balance that and still come out perfect — even if everyone seemed to agree otherwise.

Without spoiling me, by the way. Thanks y’all!

But I had an open mind. The family watched Infinity War last night, then Dad and I did a deep dive into the One Marvelous Scene series on YouTube to prepare.

I even wore my finest Marvel socks for the occasion:

Three hours later, we left the theatre. Then came chores. Almost three more hours later, I sat down to write.

I still don’t understand how it was actually perfect. Better than I was led to believe.

Because this movie isn’t just a beautiful, all-encompassing endpoint for a decade-long story. It also makes every other MCU movie feel more important in hindsight.

I mean every movie.

I don’t care about Thor: The Dark World. But this movie genuinely made me care about it.

Endgame even improved characters.

Pepper Potts never really did it for me, in part because I hate Gwyneth Paltrow and her Goop pseudoscience.

But the way she plays into Tony Stark’s arc made me care about Pepper Potts beyond her cute version in the Nickelodeon cartoon.

In fact, the arcs given to each of the original six Avengers are about as fitting as I could ever hope to create (without spoiling them — yet).

Granted there is one thing about the movie I’m not a huge fan of in concept. Like Infinity War, Endgame starts with no context and uses the assumed familiarity of long-time fans to set up obviously telegraphed emotional ploys. Both dramatic and comedic.

The opening scene is Hawkeye spending time with his family on house arrest, paralleling Ant Man & The Wasp. I cringed in anticipation, as they make it obvious we’re about to watch the snap’s effect on this previously-unseen Avenger.

But the scene’s obvious dramatic intent didn’t make it less effective.

The moment is escalated by becoming Clint’s jarring driving force for the story, and informing his growing connection to Black Widow.

There are a dozen scenes in the movie that I could take a similar fine-toothed comb to because they’re blatant emotional ploys. But they’re effective and well-deserved story beats for MCU fans, as obvious as they are.

There are also references to jokes and cameos from other Marvel movies that are obvious callbacks, but emphasize the fleshed-out relationships between characters as far-flung as Thor and Rocket Raccoon, or Captain America and Spider-Man.

Hell, even things like “girl power” scenes that have gotten the studio crap from brainless fans in the past have seemingly been cranked up just to rub it in people’s faces.

But even this moment, which may have gotten an eye-roll out of me in a less well-crafted film, was arguably one of my favorite scenes. Because it emphasized how the MCU has developed some fantastic characters, who all got time to shine in the…

Big CGI Fight Scene™ between two armies. A scene that actually epitomized my feelings toward Endgame.

Again, in literally any other movie I would feel numb watching a mindless clash between mostly faceless mobs that includes moments of character fan service and callbacks.

But Marvel has elevated that mindless action to such a high degree for their decade-long viewers that it creates transcendent filmmaking.

In his One Marvelous Scene video, Nando v. Movies read a quote from this A.V. club article that perfectly captures my thoughts on how the MCU reverses action movie conventions. It’s worth a read.

When that army battle ended, my heart was racing so hard that I got worried.

Then five seconds later, the movie left me crying at three different scenes that wrapped up multiple stories supremely well.

All in a movie where I laughed out loud, and got to appreciate unexpectedly beautiful character dynamics like Iron Man and Nebula.

But on top of all that, this movie genuinely made me excited for a post-Endgame Marvel.

I thought once the core six were gone, I’d feel more apathetic because characters like Dr. Strange, Captain Marvel or Black Panther strike me as better ensemble heroes.

But torches were passed. And certain movies staring certain characters with certain plots sound amazing as a result.

There isn’t much I can do from here besides gush and spoil things.

So I’m going to do that. In the meantime, go watch Avengers: Endgame.

Believe the hype. This movie is, truly, a Marvel to behold.


Featured Image courtesy of IMDb

Continue reading “We’re through the Endgame”

Alm finally gets an alt

Alm finally gets an alt

Fire Emblem Heroes characters are showing up in another mobile game: Dragalia Lost.

It seems to be a relatively big deal. Big enough that news organizations like Kotaku are covering the crossover event.

For my money, the Awakening-inspired cover art is pretty amazing.

But I can’t say much more about Dragalia Lost. I’ve never played the game, and know nothing about it other than my friend Sam gave a high recommendation.

All I can say is that I’m looking forward to getting upset when Dragalia Lost characters get a summoning focus in FEH before we see another Sacred Stones-themed banner.

Not that I have the orbs anymore

Until then, we can celebrate the first alternate for our friendly neighborhood Alm!


AlmSaint-King

  • Luna Arc (Might = 14, Range = 2)
    • Effective against flying foes. Grants Speed +3. If unit initiates combat, deals damage = 25 percent of foe’s Defense (ignores reduction from special skills).
  • Lunar Flash (Cooldown = 2)
    • Treats foe’s Defense and Resistance as if reduced by 20 percent during combat. Boosts damage by 20 percent of unit’s Speed.
  • Darting Blow 4 (A Skill)
    • If unit initiates combat, grants Speed +9 during combat.
  • Null Follow-Up (B Skill)
    • Disables foe’s skills that guarantee foe’s follow-up attack and foe’s skills that prevent unit’s follow-up attack.
  • Odd Attack Wave (C Skill)
    • At start of odd-numbered turns, grants Attack +6 to unit and adjacent allies for one turn (bonus granted even if no allies are adjacent).

There’s only one way to describe Legendary Alm:

Powerful.

He gets +12 speed when initiating combat, and the opponent cannot prevent a follow-up.

Then all that extra speed is added into his two-turn (!!!) Special Attack, which reduces the foe’s Defense without affecting his weapon’s Defense-based damage boost.

It’s crazy how copacetic that build is — especially when you can add a Sacred Seal to boost his Speed further. Odd Attack Wave is probably the weak link because it’s situational, but +6 Attack is nothing to sneeze at.

And let’s not forget, he gets the brand new pair up mechanic. Meaning an ally can back the boy up.

If that doesn’t convince you that Alm is a powerful motherfucker, just look at his art.

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Image courtesy of Gamepress

This boy exudes power. The fact that his bow looks like it contains Mila’s Turnwheel is beautiful. He is beautiful

Really, I can’t say enough good things. Especially considering his posse is also solid:

I have none of the colorless units on this banner and want Alm and Eirika badly.

I also don’t own Legendary Roy, Nailah, Christmas Fae or Sue. I don’t care about them quite as much, but wouldn’t be opposed to summoning any.

There’s not much more to say beyond that. He’s got a map:

But I’m terrible at judging whether these things are difficult or not, so I won’t even try.

All I know is that Legendary Battle Maps mean more orbs. And boy am I going to need a lot of orbs by the end of this week.


… Did I say by the end of this week?

I may have underestimated. Because some part of me snapped once this banner came around, and I spent an embarrassing number of orbs trying to summon Alm and/or Eirika.

All I’ll say is that it was between 199 and 201 or so.

No big deal. My impulse control is fine! As is my missing orb horde.

What is a big deal is that being a big spender has only gotten me this return:

IMG_2621

Two new characters isn’t bad or anything, but it just figures the only colorless unit I get is the one I didn’t want (as much).

With all of these golden week rewards coming through, I’ll probably be pumping way more resources into Alm’s banner than I care to admit. So hopefully things work out soon, otherwise I’ll have another Legendary Ryoma situation on my hands.

In the meantime, let me know how many orbs you’ve spend on this banner! I’d like to feel justified by sharing in my pain.

Maybe then my hands will stop shaking from the dirty deeds I have done.

My children come to life

My children come to life

Next week I will be presenting my Senior Project at the Honors Project Interdisciplinary Conference.

Literally, next week. Friday, May 3 at 11:10 a.m. in room 1307 of the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics.  Just in case any of you are interested in going!

It’s a whole panel on creative writing that includes my novel, a children’s book about a character with Down Syndrome and a collection of essays about learning English.

I’ll talk about that more, but it’s worth a plug now.

Mostly because it gives me an excuse to talk about one of my most exciting pieces of presentation preparation:

The character sketches.

For the last couple months I’ve been working with the wonderful Elizabeth Person to draw my four main characters. Having tangible ways to see them was a perfect way to spice up the PowerPoint.

It just so happened that my Mom knew Elizabeth from her work with Edward Branley (whom she does book edits for), and her art style meshed well with the fantasy aesthetic.

As you can see in my Featured Image, the drawings came out really well!

But of course… You didn’t think I would show off my babies and not talk about them, did you?

Nah. We talking all about these good folks!

I need to practice for my presentation, after all.


Warrior

Eliott Aviknard

Eli is a human knight who leads the adventuring party into raids, looking for treasure and glory so they can leave their small trading town in the Western Badlands and see the Bresegon Empire’s capital.

He proudly uses his father’s white armor and blade, both staples of the paladins who serve as royal guards. For the most part he is stoic and cool-headed in combat.

However, that cool facade often gives way to a defeatist, lamenting rant into a mug of ale as he blames himself for the party’s frequent inability to secure the treasure they need. Which, as a result imposes upon Romeri for funding, keeps Julianna from going abroad and impedes Sovann’s desire to prove himself as a thief.

He is also deathly afraid of horses, which comes up often as he tries to overcome that roadblock preventing him from truly becoming the paladin he claims to be (to the jest of his friends).


Mage3

Julianna Rhuiviel

Julianna is a quiet, well-studied elven mage, an up-and-coming expert in both tome- and scroll-based magics. She carries around enough encyclopedias to be a jack-of-all-trades in lore around the continent.

In the world of Isenvid and the Four Orbs (my novel’s current title), the elvish people have a tragic backstory. Their village in the Gnarled Forest was invaded by Bresegon soldiers and razed, with most of the children being taken away to reeducation schools.

Julianna was one such child, and to this day retains both a desire to find acceptance (only used to racist rejection), a drive to learn her people’s history and a fear of fire.

An element that tends to being important for a mage.

Her personal feelings of being unaccepted leave the girl self-conscious about her 7′ height, glowing porcelain skin and somewhat gangly figure. She covers herself up (under the guise of avoiding sunburns) and prefers to go by “Julie.”

Though Sovann and Romeri will frequently get on her nerves with the affectionate “Ju-Ju.”


Archer

Romeri Russev

Romeri is a human archer and the oldest member of the party. She is business-savvy and worldly, having traveled before settling down to run a tavern, and she’s matriarchal; offering all of her friends an ear.

She tends to be the most fashion-forward when not in battle-ready armor — but even then tends to go for style over substance. Her desire to look good is matched only by her desire for wealth and fiscal security.

In combat Romeri is indispensable, though she has a tendency to arrive late to the party. Her long-ranged attacks almost never miss, as she has a long history of training with some of the best soldiers on the continent.

In fact, her ex was a royal soldier who now runs her own traveling mercenary troupe. A connection that may or may not become relevant in the story. Wink wink, plug plug.

She terrifies the elf who tends bar while she is away, and her hair is dyed by flowers.


Cleric

Sovann Krei

Sovann is a human thief with a skin condition called vitiligo.

From an early age he was trained to be a cleric in the Furbism tradition, a religion that was nearly wiped out as its capital was sacked to leave the Bresegon Empire in control.

He’s an effective healer, but got bored of that mundane life and decided to become a thief. There he could find action and fight with his preferred weapon: Daggers. That transformation is symbolized by his old priest’s vestment, which has been modified to serve as a cloak.

However… He’s a klutz, and more often than not people will defeat enemies before he has the chance, which leaves Sovann relegated to healing duty.

He bemoans the job but eagerly helps his friends, and carries his old staff tied to his back with the unused sleeves of his cloak.

Sovann is also known to be a tease (especially fond of poking fun at the budding romance between Eli and Julianna that only they do not realize is happening), and will hit on just about anything that moves.


They’re wonderful, aren’t they?

I’m planning on finishing my novel over the summer once I have the stress of finals and graduation out of the way, which means hopefully you’ll all be able to read their story sometime soon!

In the meantime, I definitely recommend checking out Elizabeth’s work. It was hard to give away my babies and let someone else try to visualize how I’ve imagined them, but she did a wonderful job and was really communicative throughout the process.

Even traded rough sketches here and there for my feedback:

It’s been awesome, something I’m absolutely considering doing again.

I can’t wait to show these guys off alongside the preplanning of my plot and map next week!

The last Comm Awards

The last Comm Awards

It has been a long 12-hour day, so let’s keep this brief.

Tonight was the Department of Communications Awards Ceremony for the year of our lord 2019.

Last year I attended the ceremony with Mom and had a great time. Won a few scholarships while I was at it.

Only my Mom was able to make it, however. Turns out the Department of Communications likes to schedule their fancy award dinner at the same time as my sister’s Pops Concert at Redondo Union High School, so Dad went with her to split our representation appropriately.

This year we swapped. Which means I got to bring the old man out to Fullerton:

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Apparently I don’t know where the camera is?

Now… I hate to say it. But I think Dad got the better end of the bargain. Sorry Mom.

For my senior year, I stepped things up from just a few scholarships to winning all of these accolades:

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I can’t hold all these awards!
  1. The Journalism Program’s “Outstanding Student” Award
  2. The J. William Maxwell Outstanding Communications Student Award (one of three Department-wide recognitions)
  3. Recognition of my graduation with a University Honors distinction
  4. Graduation with a Summa Cum Laude Honor (in other words, I kept my GPA above 3.90)

In other words — I not only received top marks for my concentration, but also for the department as a whole. While also graduating with Honors. And somehow keeping my grades very high.

What the hell did I do to myself these last four years?

Frankly, the only person who stepped on that stage more than I did was Harrison Faigen, who got a whole host of awards AND scholarships.

Showed me, I should have gone for some extra money.

Oh, and his awards were also well-deserved. That guy runs like a truck, and it has been an honor working with him in a number of capacities at Cal State Fullerton. The newspaper and SPJ, primarily. Definitely helped me learn a lot.

Speaking of learning a lot, the event was chock full of professors I’ve had over the last four years. And I tried to take a picture with a bunch of them for posterity!

I only got to Comm Department Chair Jason Shepard and current Daily Titan Advisor Walt Baranger, since people like my Honors Project Mentor Holly Rizzo left like a hurry once the show was over.

But they’re just three of many people I can thank for everything leading up to these esteemed accolades.

Frank Russell, Penchan Phoborisut, Amber Chitty, Emily Erickson… And of course Bonnie Stewart, probably most of all.

But there are so many more who have taught me so many things. Things that I’ll be taking on this adventure we call life as I finally get out of academia next month.

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Get it?

Because the banquet was adventure-themed?

Alright, that’s enough. You crazy kids get outta here.

Evolving at level 22

Evolving at level 22

A week ago, I lamented the passage of time after buying my graduation regalia from Titan Shops:

 

 

You might remember this as, “that thing that happened before I wrote about the SPJ meeting with Sonya Quick.”

But that brief moment of panic wasn’t actually all that brief.

Buying the cap and gown was an encapsulation of my anxiety about the imminent transition from academia into the professional workforce.

I’ve become something of an expert at navigating academia. In fact, I’m attending the Department of Communications Awards again tomorrow to get some unknown accolade.

They don’t tell us what we’re in for, so you’ll just have to wait for my recap!

Sick teasers aside, the “real world” intimidates me far more. Not only because job prospects are in decline for journalists at the moment, but because of the increase in necessities. Rent, bills, health insurance… All that good stuff.

I can’t imagine I’m alone in feeling a deep-seeded dread toward the kinds of formalities that mark the transition into adulthood, so I won’t linger on it.

Instead I’ll subvert that fear and anxiety by bringing up my favorite childhood pastime so I can keep my psyche in a place of comfort:

Pokémon

You should all know that I love me some Pokémon. Sword and Shield is coming out soon, and even though we haven’t heard anything since the first announcement, I can’t wait for it to be my obligatory Game of the Year.

Yet, having played the creature collection series since 2000, I’ve never had a reason to justifiably call myself a Pokémon…

Until now.

After I bought my cap and gown, Mom suggested I dig through my closet to find my other gowns. I didn’t remember holding onto them, so I was a little skeptical.

But then I found them.

And the three-stage evolution is actually incredible:

Over on the left you have a cute little preschool graduation gown. Because apparently my preschool did a fancy graduation.

It’s actually impossible for me to imagine ever having been small enough to fit into that.

Though who knows, maybe if I keep working on getting swole at the gym…

In the middle is my high school graduation gown. All the boys wore red while all the girls wore white, and it’s complete with extra cords and doodads—outside of a wreath made of candy that I remember wearing at the time.

Unfortunately, Cal State Fullerton denied me the opportunity of completing the red, white and blue set by using boring, plain black robes.

Like sure, the sleekness of the black robes is pretty nice. And the fact that it looks so big compared to the other two really completes that metaphorical Pokémon evolution I’ve gone through.

But was any of that worth it if America got shafted at the end?

I think not.

… Also for anyone that might ask, this is not my official “cap and gown picture” or whatever. I’ll probably wind up doing that once I have all my stoles and other doodads.

I might even be thinking about some fun pictures to take. We’ll just have to wait and see.

The Rochlins watch GTFO

The Rochlins watch GTFO

My Gaming in American Culture class has taken me all over the proverbial map when it comes to consuming all different kinds of media.

From tabletop games like Dungeons and Dragons or Barbie to re-reading books like Ender’s Game or Ready Player One with new lenses. From watching terrible video game-based movies like Tom Hanks’ Mazes and Monsters to documentaries like Second Skin that touch on the psychological effects of an increasingly isolated digital culture.

For my upcoming class, I had to watch a kickstarted documentary from 2015 called GTFO.

But this time I was not alone. GTFO is all about the treatment of females in the video game industry — both in production and play. That particular subject matter drew interest from other members of the Rochlin household:

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I’m assuming they would have otherwise rolled their eyes at the prospect of a documentary about video games (or at least Aly would), so it’s nice that we all had a subject to collectively appreciate.

… Well, it’s not nice that we had to appreciate the examination of sexual harassment/discrimination/misogyny/insert-buzzword-here in any industry.

That’s about what you can expect here, if you’re interested in the subject.

Subjects ranged from women being pressured in professional eSports, the distinct lack of females in game production (only occupying about 10 percent of the industry), the day-to-day harassment in the voice chats of games like Call of Duty, and more large-scale harassment public scandals like Gamergate.

Though Gamergate was a smaller subject, as the major example of harassment highlighted was Aris Bakhtanians’ treatment of Miranda Pakozdi on a livestream marketing campaign for Street Fighter x Tekken in 2012.

I wasn’t privy to that particular story prior to the documentary, but luckily journalists like Jason Schreier have always done their jobs well.

It’s crazy stuff, but not that crazy. Which is an unfortunate takeaway of the documentary to me.

When interviewees shared and even read out examples of terrible rape- and death-threat filled messages they’d received while gaming, my mom and sister seemed pretty shocked.

And yeah, there was some pretty graphic and intense shit read out.

Yet I’ve been gaming for a long time and saw the proliferated multiplayer days of Halo 3 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 on the Xbox 360 — before I refused to fix my broken console to spite my friends for some ultimately forgotten comment that annoyed me.

I’ve seen that kind of stuff happen, and I have a lot of female friends who play video games that have similar stories to tell.

So I can’t say I was surprised by anything in the documentary.

Which is unfortunate in itself, but the reality of the situation.

However, it’s not a reality that everyone knows about as multiple subjects remarked. The fact that such a well-composed and thorough documentary exists is great in that regard.

I’d definitely recommend watching it for that reason: More awareness is never a bad thing — even if it might put you back $5 for the day.

Especially given some interesting ideas fielded, such as hoping that encouraging more women to get involved at all levels would cause the toxicity to recess. It’s much harder to attack a woman if there are eight in the voice chat than if there’s only one or two.

But that’s enough of me sucking the oxygen out of the room.

I watched a documentary about treatment of women with a couple women, so it only seems right to let them have the last words.


Dara’s Corner:

I’ve always been aware of misogyny and how it is used in the video game industry. However, I was not prepared for how deeply pervasive it really was portrayed in this documentary. It think a lot of the problem stems from the anonymity allowed, and like my husband says, “on the internet, no one knows you are a dog…”


(And Introducing) Aly’s Corner:

Yayyy I finally get one of these! I walked into watching this thinking I’d be bored out of my mind, but it was actually super well done and intriguing for me. I never really considered myself a gamer, mostly because I can’t just sit down and spend hours finishing a game (Jason can attest to that), but the treatment that women in gaming go through is everywhere in society, and it’s kinda scary to see.

On Fandango and Vive

On Fandango and Vive

I’ve been vaguely hyping this up for a while, so I’m excited to finally talk about it.

A few weeks ago I had a lovely conversation Paul Yanover, the President of Fandango. I put together a Spotlight all about his career path from being a software-writing USC graduate to heading one of the largest names in the movie/entertainment industry, and it’s one of my favorite pieces.

Not just because he’s a big, recognizable name to promote either — though that does help. Mostly because he had a lot of great advice for anyone interested in managerial positions.

For instance, we talked about his early years at The Walt Disney Company.

There he learned that he was better with interpersonal relations than programming, which led to him “making a positive difference” as an advocate for the animator clientele he and other engineers were serving.

He had a lot to say about the value of recognizing one’s emotional quotient as an indicator of leadership potential, while recommending those who aspire to lead teams make sure they practice working with diverse staff who learn in different ways.

At one point we even went off on tangents about the Dyson vacuum cleaner company and Mike Tyson, because that man loves to tell stories and anecdotes.

Even with all that condensed from a 4,000+ word interview to a 1,000-ish word story, there was plenty more I couldn’t include.

Such as the quote that made its way into my Featured Image!

All-and-all, Paul Yanover was a great conversationalist with some excellent advice. I’m happy I got a bit of his time, even if it meant rushing to my car after class so I could lock myself in a quiet place, as the interview had been rescheduled once already. And also working some extra photos through corporate HR departments.

As is the life of a soon-to-be-not-student journalist.

If you want to read the piece in full, check it out here.


Editor’s Note:

Full disclosure, the way I got an in for this interview was because my Dad passed my interest along as an employee at Fandango.

He had nothing to do with the process beyond that introduction. The closest he came to being involved was when Yanover suggested I sound like the old man over the phone.


But wait, that’s not all folks!

I haven’t had the chance to talk about this yet either, but a Spotlight I wrote about Jason Ray, Senior Content Producer at HTC Vive, also got published recently.

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Here he is being a total badass with some virtual reality gear. Because if you haven’t heard of Vive, it’s one of the more well-known virtual reality headsets on the market right now — a field that has been growing substantially (in gaming especially) for the last few years.

Jason Ray up there helps to create the games in said virtual reality, which is awesome.

I’m obviously more interested in the writing side, but I do have aspirations to work on video games. So getting to talk to someone in the industry was pretty cool.

Especially since he too has a long history of working with companies like Activision and Konami, which let him touch properties like Yu-Gi-Oh!

Obviously that’s one I care about in particular, even if Duel Links hasn’t been opened in a bit.

Ray also had some great things to say about working on teams, so it’s definitely worth a read! There’s going to be more coming from me on that subject down the line, so I won’t go too deep on the matter now.

If you want to check out the piece, it’s right over here for your viewing pleasure.

Both of these Spotlights will soon be among my blog-based collection of writings for Gladeo, as will a whole bunch of other Spotlights and Career Profiles I’ve been working on for the last couple months as part of my Comm Internship class.

Would’ve had more to show off today but a few of the Profiles were sent back for a couple of updates. Stuff I’m about to go work on, actually.

I’m sure I’ll write another post whenever those get through the pipeline.

So look forward to that when it happens!

My little yellow book

This Zombie Jesus Day, I spent most of my time down in the cave.

… Is that an insensitive comparison to make?

I suppose it might be. But I think it’s funny, and really all I mean to say is that I spent the day cleaning my room and the downstairs bathroom. Not only has dust built up since the last time, but we have family coming out to California for my graduation in May.

Puts the brunt of making things look nice on my shoulders, since I’m the reason why people will inevitably be here stressing my Mom out.

All that toilet scrubbing and floor sweeping and Amiibo dusting has me worn out, so I don’t want to linger on writing too long. But I want to get something out considering I skipped yesterday in favor of playing Pokémon with Aly and watching The Lego Movie 2.

Not that I regret either of those choices.

Between my bouts of cleaning, I spent some time starting to pull together a PowerPoint for my Senior Honors Project presentation.

Doing so has been a trip down memory lane, as I’m essentially summing up everything I’ve done for the last year.

Except it goes much further than that.

Part of my project involves the context of my experiences with creative writing prior to this novel. I have many single-chapter story drafts lingering around different folders on my computer that came about from dreams or fantasies and unfortunately never went anywhere because all I had were those singular ideas.

But then I have the one project that made it further than any other prior. All because, I’d argue, I pre-planned everything in this sweet yellow notebook:

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The summer before I started at Cal State Fullerton, this book and I were inseparable.

I distinctly remember sitting out by the pool at my Dad’s friend Sylvan’s house writing things out. Everything from character descriptions—

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To bits of lore about the world and magic system—

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To a lengthy run-down of the plot—

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Beat-by-beat.

Because of the amount of effort I put into this thing, it’s one of my favorite stories conceptually. Even though I moved away from it because of school, it’s a piece I feel like I can return to one day.

Especially since I took such meticulous notes on where I wanted the story to go and when.

That’s the main takeaway for my current Senior Honors Project. Pre-planning is very important to coming up with a solid idea one can move forward with.

Though if I did go back to this yellow book story, I’d have to rework a number of the really cliché bits. Like more tastefully handling my “amnesiac protagonist,” if I keep that at all.

I’d also have to completely rework the ending. At the time I came up with a vague encounter against a large mechanical wolf because something, something, bad guys invented technology using magic.

Basically the arc of Avatar: The Last Airbender, in hindsight.

So yeah. Work would be needed.

But I still have a soft spot for Anya, Maribel and their band of misfits and fantasy tropes.

In fact, the yellow notebook has been in the front pocket of my backpack for all these years. Just in case I ever do go back to it.

Who knows, maybe after I finish with Isenvid and the Four Orbs, I will go back and put it together.

Fantasy-adventure novels seem to be my thing, apparently.

Might even be fun to take the genre in a less deconstructive direction.