on what, exactly, ASMR even is
ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response, which is a very scientific way of describing the feeling of pleasant, ticklish, shivers running up and down your body, usually the back of your neck and along your shoulders, in response to certain auditory, visual, or physical stimuli or “triggers.” The effect is commonly referred to as “tingles” by the ASMR community. You know the feeling you get when someone is scratching your back and hits the Exact Correct Spot and you get goosebumps on your arms? Well, ASMR is a similar, more prolonged feeling. It’s euphoric, relaxing and affects people sensitive to it in a bunch of different ways.
on Satoru Iwata's legacy
Iwata’s legacy at Nintendo runs deeper than game development and general corporate philosophy. His optimism, his love for games, and above all, his core conviction that Nintendo should be a force for good in the world — while still bringing in strong profits — is central to everything Nintendo is doing now to establish itself as a part of its customers’ day-to-day activities.
on calculating the true, mathematical power of friendship
Our pop culture preaches the “power of friendship,” but in these dire times, it’s important to understand what the phrase actually means. In physics, power has a specific definition: work over time, or more usefully, the rate at which energy can be transferred over a specific duration. As we face a global crisis due to our energy dependency, can we draw on this power in a real way to ensure the survival of humanity? Perhaps by understanding the true power of friendship in pop culture, we can, as a global society, learn how to effectively wield that power to solve real, global problems. And to achieve that understanding, we need math.
on the origins of the battle royale movement
The battle royale genre didn’t start with PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds or Minecraft survival mods or The Hunger Games. The seed of the idea — as far as old-fashioned, local library research can determine — lie with a novel that got adapted into a manga that in turn got adapted into a cult classic film starring Beat Takeshi: Battle Royale. But the book has its own origin story, too.
on the sublime joy of a small video game world map
Scale is important if, and only if, a game developer needs more space to cram in activities and features to a map that's already packed to the brim with truly interesting stuff to do. Otherwise, it's just empty space for taking screencaps of beautiful vistas and taking part in random shootouts, but not much more. Red Dead Redemption 2 can get away with this because it is, at its heart, a game about isolation. Few other games have that excuse.
on why super smash bros. melee has such awesome staying power
If you've spent any time around the competitive Super Smash Bros. scene, you know that there is a relatively small, but incredibly vocal, contingent of players that swear that Super Smash Bros. Melee is not just the perfect Super Smash Bros. title, but that it's the pinnacle of fighting games in general, the most perfect and complete competitive fighting game ever made. You've seen them.
So the question, then, remains, what's so special about Super Smash Bros. Melee? Why can't players at both the casual and competitive levels just move on to a newer, shinier game with more content? Why do people keep playing Super Smash Bros. Melee when other, better options exist?
on shitposting and the dada movement
According to Google Trends data, shitposting became an internet trend around 2014, spiking sometime around the 2016 presidential election and gaining popularity ever since. That time marked the start of a period of upheaval in our country, a spike in nationalism, acceleration in the growth of the wage gap as well as wage stagnation and a growing population of young people frustrated by their surroundings. There’s an unlikely historical parallel to the moment: World War I-era Europe.
on chicago's March For Our Lives
LGBT youths, youths of color, and youths in underprivileged neighborhoods are disproportionately affected by gun violence, and their voices have been historically silenced and ignored by lawmakers. March for Our Lives Chicago aims to raise these voices up. Because Chicago is simultaneously one of the most diverse and one of the most segregated cities in the country, March for Our Lives Chicago has emphasized that its advocacy must be intersectional and inclusive in order to be effective.
The Switch is a must-have console, but it's not a must-have-right-now console. Unless you're really itching to play the new Legend of Zelda game, or the portable nature of the console appeals to you because, say, you travel a bunch, you'd be wise to wait a bit until games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Splatoon 2 come out and Nintendo answers some of these lingering, burning questions. There are also, for us sports fans, exactly zero sports games for the console right now with the possible exception of the racing game Fast RMX. ARMS is on the way, as are FIFA and NBA 2k18 later on this year, but as of now, the genre hasn't really found a home here. Despite this, the fact remains that with the Switch, Nintendo has succeeded in creating a console that is, as of now, simply the best platform on which to play video games.
The most important thing to remember is that everyone hates Duke, and the people who don't aren't people you want to be friends with. Most of the time, you can skate through college basketball conversations by simply adopting an exasperated tone and saying "Ugh, freaking Duke, right?" People nearby will react to that prompt by talking about the specific aspects of the Duke team that make them say ugh. This will provide you with a convenient opportunity to either exit the conversation or change the subject to the Patriots, who are the Blue Devils of the NFL.
Yes, dear Chicagoans, your humble hometown, the Second City, the City of Broad Shoulders, the Many-Nicknamed City That Is Barely Habitable Eight Months Out of the Year, deserves some recognition when it comes to gaming. Though it doesn’t get as much credit as the tech havens on both sides of the Pacific Ocean, it really is at the forefront of video game development -- and has been for years.
Most Chicagoans have an identical story when they’re asked about their first Malort shot. Their faces contort into a twisted mask of regret, rage, and confusion, and they’ll begin telling you about a person they thought was their friend buying a round of shots for the table at some dive bar. They’ll mention how this “friend” placed a glass full of a yellowish liquid in front of them, and how, trusting this person, they took the shot with the group.
Immediately their tone will change. The story will quickly become one of betrayal, of man’s inhumanity to man, as the storyteller questions how a person could torture somebody else with a shot of this bitter, horrible spirit and then take a picture of their face afterwards, uploading it to Instagram with the hashtag #malortfaces.
We are left with the obvious: that pizza, as it exists now, is a blank canvas, ripe for interpretation. And much like anything can be art if an artist calls it art, anything can be pizza if it evokes the form of pizza. It won’t necessarily be good pizza, as anyone who has watched Chopped and seen contestants present “deconstructed” versions of foods will know well, but that doesn’t matter. Pizza, like art, is in the eye of the beholder.
So where does that leave deep dish? As a regionally famous riff on the theme of pizza, it definitely belongs under the larger pizza umbrella. But given the fact that pizza, by its nature, has changed so much over the years -- remember, it didn’t even come with cheese until relatively recently -- perhaps deep dish's innovation and creativity is a necessary element to the definition of pizza today. And by that logic, not only is deep dish pizza unquestionably a member of the pizza family, but it may indeed be the family’s favorite child. The defense rests.
The concert at Venkman's was just that — a concert. Homestar Runner was known for the songs that creators Michael and Mark Chapman wrote for the series, from hair metal ballads under the guise of the band Limozeen to indie anthems under the guise of the band Sloshy. They even released an album at the height of the site's popularity — "Strong Bad Sings and Other Type Hits" — that was available at the concert's merchandise table. The night largely consisted of the fictional bands and characters from the cartoon performing their songs, interspersed with a few videos and sneak peeks at upcoming content. And though the performances were great, I couldn't help but look around at the people around me as the concert went on. I was surrounded by fans of all ages. There were middle-school-aged girls with DSLR cameras up front geeking out about catching a pick tossed by Limozeen's lead singer, standing right in front of a couple of guys in their early 30s sporting flannel shirts and waxed mustaches. There were dads, moms, and people of all ages and walks of life there.
And maybe that's part of the magic, why it has such staying power and why I am obsessed with convincing people that I have a shaky claim to cult internet fame. When Homestar Runner was introduced online, it offered a perfect middle ground — somewhere between cheesy Saturday morning cartoon shows and "Aqua Teen Hunger Force." Like a Pixar movie, the cartoons are uniquely accessible to fans of all ages, as long as the fans are old enough to hear the word "crap."
Last week, Twitch teamed with the AbleGamers charity to feature differently abled gamers on the front page of the streaming service in an effort to raise awareness for gamers that have to approach their favorite hobby a bit differently. From highlighting a collective of deaf gamers to ThumblessGaming, a gamer without thumbs, to Halfcoordinated himself, Twitch and AbleGamers wanted to show the gaming world at large not just that there's a thriving community of differently abled gamers, but to show them specifically how these gamers work with and around their disabilities in amazing, inspirational ways.
ComboDudeTheGamer blasts his way through high-action games despite being born with spinal muscular atrophy with the help of assistive technologies that let him control his character using only his mouth and a couple of fingers. Blindgamer102 plays fighting games at an extremely high competitive level using only sound cues. What Halfcoordinated said in his speech at Summer Games Done Quick rings true: He's not the only one out there doing unbelievable things.
"Take what life has given you, and do your best with it," Halfcoordinated continued, as the credits of "Momodora" rolled. "Your limits are probably way farther out than you expect. And if you push yourself, you'll probably be really happy."
The famous “WOMBO COMBO!!!!” video might be the best example of what makes esports commentary so special. The commentators are not just fans of the game, of the esport, but commentate as fans as well. This team combo gets the commentators (HomeMadeWaffles, Phil, and Mango) excited to the point of yelling (and vulgarity), which naturally gets the crowd and viewers excited too. Compare that with the call for one of the most amazing athletic displays ever seen. Though the commentary duo of Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels sounds excited about Odell Beckham’s phenomenal catch, there is a distinct lack of emotion in their voices. The cadence of their voices, the analytical nature of the commentary, it all implies that the commentators are removed from the action somehow. They’re not showing their reaction to the amazing catch, they’re telling us how impressed they are by it. There’s a key difference.
Malört, generally, is a variety of bäsk brännvin, which means it is a spirit that is first distilled from either potatoes or grains, and then spiced with wormwood, much like an absinthe would be. The name Malört, in fact, comes from the Swedish word for wormwood. The spirit first made its appearance in Chicago in the early 1900s, as Swedish immigrants flocked to the city and brought their favorite alcoholic beverages with them. By the time prohibition was repealed, Malört was already quite a hit in the Swedish communities along Clark street, and as the Swedish immigrants introduced the spirit to the Polish immigrants who then introduced it to others, the drink quickly gained a foothold in the culture of Chicago.
Today, Malört is still used to a similar unifying effect, largely through Chicagoans buying friends from out of town a shot of the stuff as a joke and then posting the faces they make to instagram.
I see you.
I see you watching the Food Network on weeknights, laughing every time someone forgets an ingredient on Chopped. I hear you mutter to yourself “I could do better” in between bites of reheated Chinese take-out. I feel it when you roll your eyes at Rachel Ray, Alton Brown, and at Bobby Flay, wondering why they’re famous and you’re not. Then you finish your microwaved meal and continue picking Dorito crumbs out of your belly button, just like you do every day.
Today, we embark on an adventure. Throw away your microwave. Clean out your freezer. Set your “instant” foods ablaze and never look upon them again. Today, my friends, we cook.
Upon your victory, the party's souls happily return to their bodies from the busted robots, and you receive letters from friends and family. You walk Paula home. Everyone seems happy, and everything is...normal. You look at photos with your mom. You talk to your sister, and your dad wishes you a happy early birthday. You visit your old clubhouse, and the only thing that has changed is that you're more mature, that you're older— maybe not in age, but in mind.
And as the credits rolled, that's all I could think about.
I'm 24 years old, but there's a large part of me that remembers all those elements of my childhood, that reaches out to them even as I know I can't return to that state of mind. It's a part of growing up, and everyone does it. That doesn't make it easy.
People think it’s easy to draft a Pokémon QB. The issue isn’t one of power, however, it’s one of accuracy. Just because Machamp has a huge arm doesn’t mean he can deliver the ball accurately. One Pokémon out of the entire original 151 towers above and beyond all others in terms of throwing ability, and that’s Marowak. It’s literally been throwing things since its (tragic) childhood. Marowak is the only Pokémon here has the potential to be able to throw a football with the trajectory of a boomerang without the use of illegal telekinetic powers, so it’s unlikely he’ll turn out to be a bust.
on a female main character in the Legend of Zelda series
As a white male, I can literally point to thousands of games, The Legend of Zelda included, where I can see myself as the protagonist without having to do a bunch of mental acrobatics. Instead of simply playing through somebody else's story, I get to lose myself in the game and play through the adventure as if it is my own. It's one of my favorite things about gaming, and is a feeling entirely unique to the format.
And that's a privilege that non-male (and non-white, non-cisgendered, non-heterosexual, non-binary for that matter) people either don't have, or have to look a lot harder for. Nintendo could really have blazed a trail here and allowed a gigantic audience to experience the new Legend of Zelda game in a new way by structuring the story around a female hero.