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VE GE

Y E L W O R C MEADHBH P U S E H C T CA WITH

E H T ONAS

R O C

VERGE TALKS TO LEAD SINGER DANNY O’ REILLY TO GET THE LATEST ON THE NEW ALBUM & UPCOMING MARQUEE GIG

THE

CORONAS Danny O’ Reilly VOLUME II

ISSUE 12


UCC

EXPRESS

“We’re all mad here…”

March

FORTNIGHTLY FAVOURITE 4

Words: Ellen Desmond, Entertainment Editor

It’s March, the month of madness. Students are running around in circles like white rabbits late for tea parties. Lecturers dressed as the Red Queen are decapitating left, right and centre. The girl who got no sleep is crawling to college, in a giant grey hoody, to submit her essay and then run for President of … whatever’s up for grabs…and is definitely feeling like she’s lost her “muchness.” This editorial is Alice in Wonderland themed; I hope you’re keeping up. One of the greatest things Lewis Carroll’s story teaches is that if you “don’t much care where you’re going” it doesn’t matter a great deal which way you go to get there. Alice gets lost in Wonderland and asks for directions to nowhere, just like many of the students who haven’t a clue what they are up to right about now - while their peers are booking J1s, landing internships and running for Intergalactic Rep of the Officers’ Guild. The stress of writing a manifesto and a thesis is nothing compared to the stress of not knowing what to do with oneself. If you do want to try one last thing before summer, why don’t you try writing entertainment for the UCC Express? All you have to do is email entertainment@ uccexpress.ie and you might just get your chance, before it’s too late. You’d be as mad as a hatter not to. With only one more issue left of the UCC Express I’m going to have to join the frolicking March Hares and be moving on with my life soon. But looking back over what we’ve accomplished, it has to be said, we’ve come a long way since I first sat down to edit a Verge over six months ago. From our first mini-issue, to this one, the Verge section editors have provided the students of UCC free reviews, opinions and interviews about everything from Flappy Bird, to One Direction and Boba Fett. In this issue, Verge speaks to both The Coronas and Pauline Bewick, and provides such varied content as the history of radio plays and the closing down of the Irrational Games studio - there’s definitely something for everyone, as always. I’m one of those people who “sometimes believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast” and that’s probably one of the reasons I’ve managed to get this supplement put together and sent to design, when it so often looked like I would never get it there. So put away your pocket watch, forget about the essays, exams and the decision making. Give this a look over with a cup of tea. If there’s anything else Lewis Carroll has made clear, it’s that we’re all mad here and it’s always tea time. So if you’re feeling a little bit crazy this March, I’ll let you in on a secret; all the best people are.

2013

-Robert

@theCircleGuy

The Ballad of Reading Gaol

-Eoghan

@EoghanLyng

Like everyone else in the world, I recently got swept up with the new House of Cards. The show is about Frank Underwood, a Congressman and the Majority whip for the Democrat party, and his rise to power. After being snubbed for the office of Secretary of State, he makes it his mission to get revenge and get the power he wants; all of it. Kevin Spacey plays Underwood, and he really is on top form. One great aspect of the show is Frank Underwood’s breaking of the fourth wall: as he becomes more and more involved in his politics, they become more infrequent, to the point of becoming non-existent. In one of these little soliloquies, Underwood even remarks “You thought I’d forgotten about you. No, but you wish I did.” A truly great show, currently living up to the mark set by the original British show of the same name (yes, this is a remake).

Amy Winehouse – Back to Black

It`s odd. Man is pushed to the pinnacle of their ability under pressure. Just as many UCC students can produce 1h`s with only hours to spare, Oscar Wilde wrote his two best pieces after being locked away in prison. While De Profundis displays a tortured intellectual explaining himself to a former love, The Ballad of Reading Gaol is as much about inner solitude as it is a poem discussing death. Remarking that “each man kills the thing he loves”, Wilde wrote something of more philosophical value in a sentence than most writers accomplish in their entire careers. It seems almost laughable now, but Wilde had been imprisoned for ‘homosexual offences’, a gross lack of service to one of London`s finest modernist writers. But far be it a bitter rant towards the world he encapsulated, The Ballad shows a man aware at peace with his surroundings. Turning an everyday hanging (the poem itself was inspired by the execution of Charles Wooldridge) into an evangelical prayer, Wilde`s poem is beautifully and intelligibly written. Modern day readers will probably know Wilde best for his comedies on high society, creating an image of Wilde as a sartorial toff in the process. But as an example of pure, yet utterly brilliant writing, it`s hard to better The Ballad.

-Meadhbh

@meadhbh_crowley

Amy Winehouse has been one of my music idols since I heard her first album Frank many years ago. This week I dug up her album Back to Black to listen to, for about the millionth time, to relieve me from the stress of upcoming exams. Amy is like no other and I’ve found it hard to find anyone similar to her -in song writing ability or the richness in her voice. Relistening to the album I found myself on the journey of Amy’s life, from her doomed relationship with Blake Fielder-Civil in the title track, to her battle with an alcohol and drug addiction in Rehab. Besides it being a brilliant album, I also feel it’s a reminder of a great songstress who could have achieved so much more than the 2 albums she released while she was still alive.

Hotline Miami

EDITORIAL TEAM

Entertainment Editor: Ellen Desmond

07

House of Cards

@ellen_desmond

Music Editor: Méadhbh Crowley

Arts & Literature Editor: Eoghan Lyng

Film & TV Editor: Robert O’ Sullivan

Gaming Editor: Brian Conmy

Design: Cathal O’ Gara

2 VERGE EDIT

VERGE

-Brian

@aerach71

After finally finishing one of the longest, most grueling assignments I’ve yet had to do I had some spare time to actually play games this week. Hallelujah. So to escape the agitation that long drawn out assignments cause, I decided to play Limbo at long last. That was an odd choice to try and not actively annoy myself. While beautiful and with a fantastic mood, the game can be cruel in terms of precision of puzzles and the ending is a little unsatisfying but still, it was nice to get back in the flow of a game. Then I decided to finally try out Hotline Miami. I waited far too long to play this game. Oddly, it’s somewhat similar to Limbo in that at its core it’s almost a puzzle game, where you have to figure out the movement of enemies in a level and how best to quickly dispatch them all for big points in a bloody, gruesome manner. Don’t think that the last part of that sentence as condemnation, after the surprise horror or Limbo I’m thankful for out and out gore in Hotline Miami, it’s somehow less affecting. Also that score is pure synth gold.

CONTRIBUTOR LIST

Conor Shearman

Meaghan McCarthy

Daniel Sheehan

Molly Forsythe

Robert Byrne

Aoife Gleeson

Andrew Horgan


INTERVIEW

Pauline Bewick: Freedom Artist

Entertainment Editor Ellen Desmond speaks with one of the most accomplished Irish artists of our age, Pauline Bewick When Ms Bewick, now aged 78, spoke to The UCC Express, it was early morning and she had a full day’s work ahead of her. With a body of artistic creations now spanning 76 years (her earliest work completed at age 2 is now part of her Seven Ages collection) it was very intriguing to hear the routine of such a prolific artist. “I suppose I have a creative process but I’m not very aware of it. Let me just try and make myself aware of it now,” Ms Bewick explained, before pausing momentarily and going on, “well now, let’s look at today, I’ve got a commission and I do have a sort of a routine with a commission. I have to finish it today so I have it on the table here… and after, I’m going to put in this thing that they desired - it’s of a woman baking bread. I’m very conscious when I’m doing a commission.” Ms Bewick, who announced on The Late Late Show in 2005 that she was donating a vast collection of her masterpieces to the state, now has two permanent exhibitions of her Seven Ages collection on display in the Waterford Institute of Technology and in Killorglin Town Centre, Kerry. The third collection is travelling throughout Europe and Ireland. This Seven Ages collection is as unique as Ms Bewick, and she explains how her mother influenced her and encouraged her from a young age, spurring her to become an artist in the most organic of ways. “The word artist didn’t come into my consciousness as a child for many years because I just was a natural, as I think all children are…and therefore I never called, or thought, about whether I was “an artist”, or not. I worked liked that for all my childhood because my mother didn’t believe in education and therefore never exposed me to other artists and so it was a most unconscious passion that I had and it was a passion, I constantly drew out what I felt like, what I wanted, what I didn’t want, what I was afraid of...” Ms Bewick went on to explain that as she progressed during her late 20s, she became aware of the Impressionists and claims that “to this day, they wow me.” It is the freedom in their work that appeals to Ms Bewick, it’s a different type of freedom to that which she gives her pieces, but she admires it wholeheartedly nonetheless. In particular, the impressionists have inspired Ms Bewick in her pastel paintings, which is amore recently discovered fascination for her. She employs a much different technique when working in pastel and she does

not feel the impressionists have had the same impact on her acrylic or water colour work. Today Ms Bewick pours the same amount of passion, innovation and commitment into her work as she recalls having possessed when a young child. On top of the commissioned piece Ms Bewick is working on today, she is also in the process of creating another artwork. There is a big difference in how she approaches a commission and how she approaches a piece she instigates herself but each work remains just as dynamic and soulful. “I’ve got a line drawing ready to paint,” Ms Bewick tells The UCC Express, “it’s of a man on the beach looking at the sunset and he’s actually somebody who I know around, and he’s quite cruel to animals and I totally adore animals. So I’ve got him holding a skinny dog by a blue rope round its neck, but he’s got a moment of reflection, he’s looking at the sunset. So I’ve that to paint and how that started is I suddenly saw him looking at the sunset one evening, when I was on a walk and I said well imagine that, he’s got some sensitivity.” Ms Bewick has become increasingly popular as her long career progressed, and today she is at their peak of her popularity. As one of Ireland’s most esteemed, prolific and respected artists, she is a woman full to the brim with personality and living in present, with an incomparable sensitivity to the modern world and lifestyles around her. Her artwork stands apart from other artists, and is almost impossible to categorise into a genre. She feels her upbringing played a part in why her work is so unusual. “I wasn’t exposed to anybody else,” she explains, “It’s come as a sort of a virgin thing, you know? And I think, well, critics say it’s original. They can’t think of anyone that I’ve been influenced by, quite rightly, except that when I got older, which is when I became aware of other artists.” Her popularity however, has not always been as widespread as it is now. Perhaps this is one of the few ways in which Ms Bewick does resemble other great artists, in that it took the world quite a bit of time to adjust to what she has to offer, in order to fully appreciate it. “…it got - at the early stages of my life - a lot of scorn from critics because they didn’t like the sort of easy line, they didn’t like the sensuality, the sort of sexiness of it - way back in the 1950s, 60s, 70s… You know, I was rather disapproved of by a lot of people. But there was the odd one who stood out for

me and saw it as original but it wasn’t in general. Then there suddenly came a wave of younger people who felt that there was a freedom there, that they identified with, I think. I think that’s what it was.” Indeed, her work does have a tangible sense of freedom. Arguably it is in the autobiographical and personal nature of her art that the freedom comes from; her art is full of truth. For example her painting African Girl’s First Period from the 1980s stands out as full of innate honestly. “…the story of that is, I was having my last period as it were, and she, painted in the African jungle crouching with blood on her hands and a very querying look on her face, is saying ‘my God what’s happening to me’ you know? And this painting expressed all about femaleness and what not.” However, it’s nigh impossible to attempt to do justice to any individual piece of Ms Bewick’s work in one article, one would need pages and pages to give any sort of accurate portrayal. One Bewick creation that must always be mentioned though, is that of “the yellow man” and as I tell the artist of my admiration of this character, Ms Bewick lets out a delighted “Oh hooray!” The Yellow Man is the personification of Ms Bewick’s ideals; he is her ideal being. He’s complete in that he is very happy with himself and anything that comes into his life is a kind of bonus. “In other words if he has a partner, or meets a new friend or an animal or whatever he communication with that person flower, friend or whatever, is a bonus to him,” Ms Bewick describes, “mainly he’s silent, he doesn’t talk and he’s absolutely gobsmacked and everything that happens in his life comes fresh. He hasn’t consciousness of any history or anything, he looks at everything without any background to it so he sees it like wow, look at this!” Ms Bewick herself says that the best way to approach art is to“…look into your own soul and heart, and feelings and loves and dislikes and then be an illustrator; illustrate it, bring it out” With the recent passing of Patrick Scott and Louis Le Brocquy, Ms Bewick is one of Ireland’s greatest remaining gems - one of the most accomplished names we have in our midst today. She has an immense and incomparably original collection of work to her name; a collection that is only set to grow and develop even further in the years to come. It’s difficult to imagine, when looking at how far Ms Bewick has come, that her art could progress much further. But speaking to her she has left The UCC Express with little doubt that her creativity could develop in any direction and any masterpiece could still be produced. She just keeps getting better and better and taking on more challenges every day. Some amazing things are behind Ms Bewick, but there’s undoubtedly more to come.

VERGE ENTERTAINMENT 3


YOU BETTER

WORK Daniel Sheehan discusses the appeal of RuPaul’s Drag Race

In modern society, reality TV has become an integral part of popular culture and the world we live in. Millions tune in to shows like Geordie Shore, Big Brother and The Real Housewives on a weekly basis to get that crazy, stupid reality TV fix. With more and more people getting dragged into the world of reality TV, there is one show that mainstream audiences have yet to fully embrace and indulge themselves in: RuPaul’s Drag Race. The American reality TV competition follows a dozen or so drag queens from across the Americas, as they battle it out every week through a series of challenges that test their singing, acting, comedy and sewing skills, while also putting together eye-catching looks for the runaways in order to impress the judging panel. This panel of fierce judges is fronted by the world’s most famous drag queen, Miss RuPaul. All of this is done in the hopes of winning the crown and title of “America’s Next Drag Superstar,” as well as a cash prize of $100,000. What makes Drag Race such a joy to watch is seeing how it takes a familiar format, as seen in shows like Project Runway and America’s Next Top Model, but breathes new life into it, with its carefree, bitchy, fun take on the clichéd melodrama. One of the most entertaining aspects of the show, interestingly enough, is the contestants themselves. While people with big, entertaining personalities can be found on other reality competitions, they rarely go all the way to the final, with a rather forgettable, yet talented, contestant taking the prize home instead. On Drag Race big personalities aren’t just an added bonus but an essential quality if you want to make it far in the competition, leaving the more reserved (and frankly dull) queens to be sent home early on. The real winner for Drag Race, however, comes at the end of each episode. The elimination process on the majority of reality shows can be a rather tedious affair with the judges selecting a bottom two and then making them stand there awkwardly, while the Tanks Banks-like head judge decides who to send home. This is not the case on Drag Race. After the bottom two have been selected based on their performance that week, they must take part in one of drag’s most entertaining and historic activities: the lip sync. Every week the queens must lip sync (for their life!) in the often thrilling and occasionally iconic, final battle which RuPaul uses to make her final decision. You wouldn’t find this on Britain & Ireland’s Next Top Model! RuPaul’s Drag Race is set to start its sixth season this week and after amassing a massive cult following and a seventh season already ordered for the next year, the sky’s the limit for RuPaul and her queens. Fabulous new vocabulary, bitchy queens and shocking displays of charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent are packed into every episode. So, with seasons 1 through 5 available on Netflix Ireland right now... how could you possibly resist?

TCOONTEPSTAN5TS ALASKA THUNDERF*CK

DOWN WITH COMMUNISM

LATRICE ROYALE

MAKE THEM EAT IT!

RAVEN

IF YOU GOT TITS, SHOW EM.

JINKX MONSOON

I TRIED TO TEASE IT, BUT I JUST PISSED IT OFF.

SHARON NEEDLES

4 VERGE FILM & TV

…SHE ORDERED THOSE TEARS FROM CHINA


DEATH REBORN

APOCALYPSE WOW!

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Conor Shearman questions the Hollywood obsession with apocalyptic themes

Apocalypse, apocalypse, apocalypse. When will it end? Modern culture seems infatuated with that pesky notion of the end of the world. It seems impossible to escape a day without a fresh drudge of films and literature which revolve around a zombie outbreak, nuclear warfare or some large meteor headed for earth. If in the past the haranguing hand of religion preached matters of rapture, Hollywood has now been officially passed the flaming beacon of doom. It is this reason that society’s underlying preoccupation with apocalypse is arguably far more intriguing than any actual portrayals of apocalypse. After all, there are only so many times (typically four) you can watch a zombie unravel someone’s guts before it becomes tedious. The practical usefulness of such films is also at best questionable; hiding in a fridge is not going save you from a nuclear bomb, thank you very much, Mr Indiana Jones. The advent of modern science, in particular that of the nuclear bomb, can be traced as the dawn of society’s interest in imagining new and increasingly elaborate methods of destroying itself. The realisation that a technology now existed which could wipe out the entire population, rather than simply mediocre chunks of it, triggered concerns that have never really faded even to this day. Today though, even technology designed to aid humanity has potential for disaster. Just as Jesus transformed water into wine, so too Hollywood transforms miracle vaccines into triggers for a mass zombie pandemic. If killing one another isn’t enough, then technology now offers an awareness of a potential apocalypse which previously didn’t exist. Asteroid collisions, global warming and solar flares are all part of a wave of scientific possibilities, in which life as we know it could end. Technology alone, though, is not responsible for apocalyptic fascination; the search must be widened to discover its accomplices. The banality of modern life sticks out like twerking at a Garth Brooks concert. Contrary to the waves of outrage which scream from certain tabloids everyday (e.g “KILLER FOOD BUG HITS BRITAIN”), life in general is a lot better than it was in past generations. In the Middle Ages, for example, there simply wasn’t time to imagine clever methods of apocalypse as they were too busy with the actual eradication of mankind through plagues, wars and general medical care. By contrast, if one’s greatest priority is to get an 11 o’clock skinny chai tea latte, then it can’t be a massive surprise that people endeavour to look for an adrenaline rush somewhere. Boredom is just another flavour on the palate of a human’s appetite for destruction; however, it is precisely this morbid fascination towards death that perfectly captures the enchantment with the apocalypse. Freud claimed humans possessed an innate drive towards death, and in many respects this fascination makes perfect sense. Death is the one certainty of life; to be obsessed about with such an all-encompassing force is perfectly natural. In fact it would be rather disappointing if humans weren’t so interested in such a vital force. The ancient Greek proverb, which may or may not have been coined by Socrates, helps to sum up the situation: “don’t hate the playa, hate the game.” It is human nature to be obsessed with the idea of an apocalypse and it seems that there is to be no end in sight.

Film and TV Editor Robert O’Sullivan discusses the documentary A Band Called Death April, 1976: The Ramones released their debut eponymous album. December 1st, 1976: The Sex Pistols (and their entourage) went on the Thames Television Today show, using words like “shit,” “bastard,” and “fuck,” and thus punk was brought into British homes and the mainstream. August, 2005: Canadian band Nickleback release their song Rockstar. All of these are watershed moments in punk. Yet, in Detroit in 1971, three brothers formed a band, a punk band, before any other. A band called Death. The story of Death is told in the 2012 documentary A Band Called Death. The documentary begins almost in media res. We are introduced to the remaining Hackney brothers as they look for the masters of a demo they did in the early 70s. We then go back to 1964, when the father of the band made them sit down and watch The Beatles’ first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. The three brothers immediately took up instruments; in the middle of Motown, they decided to form a band. While initially forming an R&B group, the group started to play more rock n’ roll after seeing the likes of The Who and Alice Cooper play. They played gigs in their garage and around Detroit, and despite the time-period they played in, and the people they were playing to, they developed a following. They even had the president of Columbia Records paying for their recording session. With all of this going for them, you’re probably wondering: why didn’t they reach greater success? Throughout the documentary, there is a near-constant theme of the name of the band. It seems

that at almost every step of their career, someone told them to change the name. “Death” isn’t exactly the most marketable name. When they refused to change the name for the president of Columbia Records, he cancelled the rest of their sessions in 1974 and so the band broke up in 1977. The documentary not only chronicles the discovery of the band (and of their 7-track EP in their mother’s attic) but also their sudden cult status among record collectors and hipsters. One of which was one of the Hackney brother’s son. After getting over the shock of hearing his dad and uncles on an obscure 70s protopunk record (two of the brothers formed a reggae band, while the third brother died of lung cancer in 2000), he decided that people had to hear the music. The last part of the documentary records the revival of Death in two ways: the three sons of one of the Hackneys, and the original band reforming. The emotional crux of the movie can be found in its finale, when the two remaining brothers reform the band to play their old songs. A Band Called Death is an incredibly interesting subject on the face of it, but when you delve into the brother’s back stories, the loss and discovery of their music, you see the actual quality of it; their EP, For The Whole World To See, is surprisingly competent! The Story of Death is probably one of the greatest ‘What If” stories you’ve never heard about. The film itself echoed the eerie words of David Hackney, the brother who is sadly no longer with us: “Someday someone will come looking for this music.” And thankfully, they eventually did.

h

OSCAR SNUBS

WORDS: BRIAN CONMY There are a lot of decisions the Academy have been criticised for over the years. Even in the run up to the 2014 Oscars, notable films have failed to see expected nominations including The Butler, Saving Mr. Banks or a personal favourite of mine: James Franco for Best Supporting Actor in Spring Breakers. So here’s just a few of the biggest snubs from the Oscars over the years.

BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN -BEST PICTURE-

ELLEN BURSTYN -BEST ACTRESS-

Starting with a pretty recent pick is the gay romance piece from Director Ang Lee, staring the late Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal. Despite winning a number of awards including Best Director for Ang Lee, an award that usually comes paired with best picture, the 2006 Oscars instead gave the best picture nod to Crash. Crash has been so completely forgotten about and retroactively disliked that it makes the choice more egregious, with many citing homophobia as the reason Brokeback didn’t win when it had its chance. At least it’ll be more fondly remembered than the actual best picture winner.

In 2000 Ellen Burstyn starred in Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream as Sara Goldfarb and despite being the character with probably the least screen time, gave the best and most unexpected performance in the movie. Chronicling a downfall into addiction and mental unrest, she was a scene stealer opposite the now Oscar tipped Jared Leto. However, the movie itself and in particular Burstyn’s performance went unrecognised during award season with her performance earning her a nomination for Best Actress - which she lost out on to Julia Roberts for Erin Brockovich. When’s the last time anybody mentioned that movie?

ALFRED HITCHCOCK

STANLEY KUBRICK

One of the most beloved and renowned directors of all time was nominated for Best Director five times and never won. What makes this worse is that these nominations weren’t earned for some of his best movies. This stands as an embarrassment to the Academy but is not surprising: how many classic movies or artists that’ve stood the test of time were never recognised by the Academy in their day? Many of Hitchcock’s greatest works, including Vertigo, widely regarded as one of the greatest movies of all time, never received a single Academy Award; compounding the idea that the Academy voters often get things wrong.

Much in the same vain as Hitchcock, Kubrick is a beloved and respected director who was never been recognised with an award at the Oscars, even honorary, to this day. His greatest movies, while sometimes nominated, never won a best picture award, including 2001: A Space Odyssey-which lost out to My Fair Lady - mind boggling.

PULP FICTION VS SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION Perhaps the most contentious snub on this list was the 1994 race for Best Picture which featured Tarantino’s classic Pulp Fiction and Darabont’s public favourite Shawshank Redemption. Forrest Gump took home the award that year and while some say that was the right choice, this was a race that is still being argued about in movie circles. Personally I have to go with Pulp Fiction.

VERGE FILM & TV 5


THE CORO

BLAGGERS GUIDE TO

GARTH

NAS: BROOKS AN IRISH INSTITUTION As Garth Brooks embarks on a record breaking five nights (correct at time of print) at Croke Park, playing to 10% of the Irish population, Music Editor Méadhbh Crowley tells you all the facts that you need to know to fit in with the crowd. Garth’s first name is Troyal; Garth is actually his middle name.

Ahead of a jam packed summer of gigs, music editor Méadhbh Crowley meets lead singer Danny O’Reilly, to talk about The Coronas’ new album, song writing and their upcoming gig at the Marquee. Since their inception in 2003 The Coronas have been wowing crowds across Ireland but it wasn’t until 2007 that the band were signed and released their debut album Heroes or Ghosts. Since then the band have become a household name and have captured a big following across the UK, US, and Australia. The Coronas have been an essential download on the iPod or MP3 of every Irish man, woman and child for nearly 10 years and I was given the daunting task of asking exactly what the population of Ireland wants to know about the band. As most people already know the Dublin natives spend a lot of their time hanging with Fungi the dolphin in Dingle, while talking to Danny, I asked why exactly they chose this isolated tourist town to record their albums. “We love it down there,” he replies, “we've spent a lot of time in Dingle growing up and it feels like a home away from home for us. It's a beautiful and inspiring place so we love writing there.” Their album Closer to You exhibited the band’s evolution of sound from their previous albums. Their fans have been eagerly waiting since 2011 to hear another album from the boys and as O’Reilly exclusively tells Verge “It will be out in the summer and I'm extremely happy with it so far. I truly believe it's going to be our best album yet.” Having three years without a release, you would think that the band would be under serious pressure to release new material. Asking if there was some time limit, Danny explains “you take each song as it comes. Sometimes a song can take a lot of time to record while others come together quite quickly. There are times when you have to manage your time

6 VERGE MUSIC

Garth, who earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Advertising in 1985, earned his Master’s in Business Administration from Oklahoma State in 2011. efficiently and move on from something for the sake of progress…but thankfully we've never been under too much time pressure in the studio. Although, I do remember Dave finishing his thesis for his masters in studio while we were recording Heroes or Ghosts!” Being fans of Bruce Springsteen, who records every track in one take, without any other extras after recording, the band emulated his routine on their track Blind Will Lead The Blind. O’Reilly remarked “Our track Blind Will Lead the Blind is almost entirely taken from the first take we did. I like doing full takes for vocals as well to again help it sound live and dynamic.” Having spent so much time in the studio with various producers, The Coronas have come across a variety of different recording techniques but it seems that the simple methods are the best as Danny explains “Different producers have different techniques and thankfully we've been lucky enough to work with a few great producers. We like to be able to reproduce what we play live, so that's important to us. We try to get a live feel to our recordings too as we do feel like more of a live band.” Judging from many interviews, it becomes clear that many artists are very secretive about what happens inside the studio but Danny was very forthcoming about the band’s recording and song writing process. As every artist has a different way of writing, Taylor Swift for example writes songs in the moment and Arctic Monkeys get their inspiration from just jamming. For The Coronas it too is different, and Danny describes the process as “… different for different songs. Sometimes I'll come to the boys with an idea and we'll work on it from there. Other times we'll all just be in room together and start something totally new.” Since they released their debut single San Diego Song back in 2007, the band’s fame has escalated, speaking to Danny he is very humble and doesn’t pick winning awards or working with One Direction as the highlight

of his career, instead he says “headlining the O2 was an amazing moment for us. We've grown up going to gigs there and in the old Point Depot, and to sell it out was a special feeling.” Every gig The Coronas do seems to sell out in seconds, and they have even played a record breaking six nights in the Olympia in Dublin. They will soon be coming to Cork again to perform at The Marquee with the likes of Bryan Adams, Lana Del Ray and Jason Derulo. Danny tells Verge why this is his favourite venue in Ireland: “Even though the Marquee has a very large capacity, it still has a lovely intimacy where you feel like the crowd are right on top of you. The atmosphere is really special. I've said before that our show in the Marquee in 2012 was my favourite gig ever. The sound, crowd, atmosphere, everything was just right.” O’Reilly also explains why big names like Lady Gaga, Beyoncé and Justin Timberlake keep returning to Ireland “I think Irish audiences are very passionate and very honest. We're very lucky with how they embraced us, without any major label or hype about us. And now I feel like our crowd have grown with us and feel proud of us. It's a nice feeling. ”The Coronas are now an Irish institution, loved by people at home and abroad, having been so successful for so many years; you would think they had achieved it all. But the band is still dreaming of bigger and better things as Danny says “Hopefully we'll get to continue to do what we love, tour the world, and make music that we're proud of.” The Coronas play the Marquee on the 13th of June 2014, tickets €33.50 and also play a sold out Royal Hospital Kilmainham on the 27th of June, production tickets may be available closer to the time.

Garth released ‘To Make You Feel My Love,’ from the ‘Hope Floats’ movie soundtrack. The tune, written by Bob Dylan, has since been recorded by Billy Joel, Joan Osborne and Adele, among others. He has released albums 10 including  Garth Brooks, No Fences, Ropin’ the Wind and The Chase. In January 2012, Garth was crowned the top-selling artist of the last two decades. Since 1991, he has sold 68,561,000 units, some five million more than the No. 2 act, The Beatles. If you plan on downloading his albums from iTunes, you can’t, as he won’t allow online access to his catalogue because he doesn’t want people to buy specific songs off albums, instead of the entire album. His most loved singles include: The Dance, The River, Friends in Low Places and If Tomorrow Never Comes. Brook’s song Unanswered Prayers featured in Junior Cert Religion book A Question of Faith.


MY BLOODY VALENTINE

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CLASSIC REVIEW

Andrew Horgan revisits My Bloody Valentine’s legendary EP Tremolo My Bloody Valentine isn’t just the name of 1981 Canadian slasher film; it’s also the name of a band, a pretty special band at that. Pioneers of shoegaze, a genre characterised by heavy usage of effects pedals (hence the shoe gazing) and wall of noise production, the Irish/British quartet are most notably recognised for their release of the seminal ‘Loveless’ in 1991. The origins of the unique sound honed on this decisive record though, can be observed on Tremolo EP, a heavenly exploration of emotion and texture. Released seven months prior to ‘Loveless’, it marks a defining moment in the bands artistic progression, while also existing as a breathtaking experience in its own right. On the opener ‘To Here Knows When’, MBV’S creative mastermind and lead guitarist Kevin Shields exhibits the bands distinctive dreamy sound, utilizing his guitar’s tremolo system to produce a barrage of wistful noise. Belinda Butcher’s vocal is characteristically pensive, drowning softly beneath the eerie wave of distortion. ‘Swallow’ sees the introduction of a livelier far-eastern drum-beat while the guttural

guitars of ‘Honey-Power’ make it by far the heaviest track on this otherwise serene EP. These songs, for the most part, are drenched in lust and heartache; even a vague longing. No moment better encapsulates this mood than the coda which follows ‘Honey Power’, a goosebump inciting minute and a half of hazy guitar, shimmering synth and tender vocals. This jaw-dropping mini-composition is arguably MBV’s most inspiring work. ‘Moon Song’, Tremolo EP’s closer comes off like some sort of ghostly lullaby. Its haunting melody hides behind a spine-chilling drone, shepherding the listener into a deep sleep. Tremolo EP is a sonic masterpiece, blending woozy reverb-soaked guitar with indistinguishable vocal melodies to generate an ethereal soundscape. It was the conclusive step in the bands celebrated evolution towards a sound which many try and fail to recreate. With this EP, My Bloody Valentine began to explore the many emotional possibilities of sound, and ultimately, their music has come to exist in a world separate from so many other artists.

LONG HOT SUMMER Robert Byrne checks out the hottest new acts to catch at this summer’s festivals From the boutique charm of Castlepalooza to chilled vibes of Electric Picnic, the wealth of diversity in the summer festival scene is the perfect antidote to our all-too-often inclement summer weather. Call it a lack of budget or an attentive ear for new talent; Irish festivals are now internationally renowned for talent spotting new artists from across the globe. So to help you know the best of what is on offer,here are five brand new acts that beg your attention on thefestival circuit this summer:

ROCK

Royal Blood With so many pessimists declaring that the endof rock music is nigh, it is a relief to see something fresh injected into the scene to silence such gratuitous calls. Taking the term Drum & Bass to its most literal level, this duo’s primordial take on blues rock is largely down to the swapping of guitar riffs for those of the bass variety. With stunning vocals and meaty drumming added to the mix, the result is a sound reminiscent of White Stripes at their most frantic. A sound that has earned the duo several support slots for the Artic Monkeys and a BBC ‘Sound of 2014’ endorsement.

INDIE

CPlealyelbist This week’s playlist comes from The 1975….

MBV

Glass Animals Perhaps my favourite act to have emerged this year so far, Glass Animals’ quirky, intelligent and introspective take on the nature-folk of AltJand Wild Beasts,is one that is enjoyable as it is enthralling. Signed to Paul Epworth’s new music label (Adele, Florence & the Machine), Glass Animals has released a flurry of trippy singles in recent months as a taster for what is to come in their debut LP, which is set for an early summer release. Possessing a lead singer so shy that the vocals must be recorded under the sheets of his bed, some manning up will have to be had if the band wishes to take this years hazy summer festivals by storm with their suitably woozy indie bliss.

Key Track: Gooey POP

DANCE

Wave Racer Fresh from a Triple J “Best Unearthed Artist Nomination,” Sydney producer/DJ Thomas Purcell hasalreadygarnereda rapid fanbase despite having released only three tracks. Envisage a happy medium between Rustie’s brand of wonky tramp and sixties surf-pop and you have pretty much got the idea. The result is refreshingly different, gloriously skewed sunshine-bright electronica that begs you to dance into the early summer hours.

Key Track: Rock U Tonight R&B

Kelela Threading along a similar path to the seductively chilled R&B of Solange Knowles, the genrehopping R&B genius of Kelela refuses make any promises to break into the mainstream conscious anytime soon. The singers debut Mix Tape, ‘Cut 4 Me,’ rendered the moody, subdued electronica of late night alternative clubs with a butter-smooth vocal performance which exuded old school R&B. While contributions from Nguzunguzu and Jam City were a clear statement that Kelela desires experiment over fame, it is the uneasy, dusky cityscapes that Kelela conjures which make her artistry so compelling in the live environment.

The 1975 – Settle Down Haerts – Wings Synkro - Don’t Want SOHN – Bloodflows The Weeknd – What You Need M83 – Kim & Jessie Prince – I Would Die 4 U Marika Hackman – Cinnamon Justin Timberlake – You Got It On Sigur Ros – Glosoli

You can listen to this playlist at:

MØ While Denmark may not be famed for its contribution to the pop music industry, itslatest export, MØ, is without doubt its most promising. Possessing a voice eerily similar to that of Lana del Ray, but without the irking pomp and gloom, MØ’s audacious lyricism, clever pop hooks and innovative use of antiquated samples pose a clever and more enjoyable alternative to her sanitized pop counterparts: An Electric Picnicdebutantein 2013, but expect her to move further up festival billing lists this summer. Key Track: Cherry Coffee

Key Track: Pilgrim

Key Track: Out of the Black

SINGLE OF THE WEEK

ALBUM OF THE WEEK

Sam Smith- Money on My Mind After his win at the BRITs last week, Sam Smith has entered the Irish charts with his newest track Money on My Mind. Admittedly, it is a slightly disappointing first release to anyone who has heard his Nirvana EP last year and saw the great potential this debut single could have been.

Nina Nesbitt- Peroxide The 19 year old Scottish singer released her long awaited Peroxide which is the most pre-ordered debut album in Island history. With quirky songs such as Selfies where Nesbitt reflects on the madness of taking fake-happy selfies after a break-up. Overall the album is a great one and well worth a download.

ARTIST OF THE WEEK Arctic Monkeys Arctic Monkeys are making a lot of noise this week for their bazaar acceptance speech at the BRIT awards where lead singer Alex Turn said “That rock ‘n’ roll, eh? That rock ‘n’ roll, it just won’t go away. It might hibernate from time to time, sink back into the swamp” - before ending the speech by dropping the microphone on the stage. Publicity stunt or not, it has definitely made the band big news this week.

VERGE MUSIC 7


ENTERTAINING RAYMOND CHANDLER

MR. SLOANE Meaghan McCarthy reviews the play recently occupying the Everyman Theatre

Playing at the Everyman, February 19th until the 22nd, London Classic Theatre`s rendition is the kind of black comedy free to be taken at face value, as sheer entertainment, or as a statement on the state of society, all at the audience’s discretion. Not knowing what I was getting myself into, I was able to be amused by the actors’ frank (not trying too hard to be funny) delivery of the clever script, and later free to ponder the questions it raised on a wider scale. I was left to wonder about the various manifestations of human relationships and connections, both sexual and platonic, and all the funny shades in between. Written in 1964, it must have raised a number of eyebrows with its vociferous language and sexual innuendoes, particularly in the scene where Sloane sleeps with a woman old enough to be his mother! On first impression, the set was terribly interesting, a hodge-podge of dressers, lamps, and knickknacks all sculpted into a fascinating sitting room scene, one I could probably stare at for ages and still find things to look at. Fortunately, the performance itself was so pleasant to watch that the delightfully detailed set enhanced rather than detracted from it. Overall, the show was engaging, comfortably paced to give relaxing enjoyment. Certain audience members were less than impressed with Mr. Sloane’s performance, and physical fulfillment of the role of attractive young manipulator, and I must somewhat

8 VERGE ARTS & LITERATURE

agree. He was the weakest link in the production, coming across more as a prop to the other characters rather than the mastermind behind the action. However, the rest of the cast distracted from his underwhelming presence through their own brilliance. Paul Sandys was spot on as Kemp, his character choices bringing another layer to the convoluted, and sometimes uncomfortable, relationships between characters. He was the star of Act One from his simplicity, especially as compared to the melodramatic Kath. But Act Two proved to be Kath’s act. Pauline Whitetaker’s portrayal created the kind of woman you can’t help admire because you so dislike her. Seemingly stupid and ridiculous, her over the top displays of false emotion were perfectly executed, to reveal the conscious choice of the character to be such a ninny. In what I call the Daisy Buchanan effect (Buchanan being the main female character in The Great Gatsby), Whitetaker brought out in Kath a multifaceted woman, seen through the various tones taken with each man on stage, all under the guise of ignorance and idiocy. The overall production of Entertaining Mr. Sloane was pleasant to watch and generally enjoyable, though not life altering. Despite, or perhaps because of, the lack of introspection required and heavy handed didactic questioning, the play was an amusing use of an evening, perfectly content to be vaguely forgotten after a few days. It did not haunt its audience after the fact, and that is quite acceptable; it had provided a few simple laughs, and resulted in an evening generally well spent. For a play written in the sixties, it has aged like a Chardonnay, tasty, but with enough sting to maintain its adult nature.

In the year of The Big Sleep’s 75th anniversary, Molly Forsythe reminisces on the career of Chandler Chances are you already know far more about Raymond Chandler than you realise. Many of the detective clichés you are familiar with were his creation. With a collection of just 25 short stories, 7 novels, and 3 screenplays, Raymond Chandler secured his title as the king of pulp fiction. Chandler, along with Dashiell Hammett and James M. Cain, took detective fiction out of the chintzy, magnolia-scented parlours of Agatha Christie and into the ‘mean streets’ of 1940s and 50s America. Chandler is most well-known for the Philip Marlowe series, which follow the wisecracking sleuth as he investigates robberies, blackmail, and murder in the City of Angels. Chandler skilfully evokes L.A. of the 1940s- a boozy metropolis populated with grifters, gangsters, crooked cops - in all its sordid glory. However, to each book there is a melancholic undercurrent, as the hard-bitten narrator philosophizes on the loneliness of the big city. Marlowe himself is the perfect hero for post-war, McCarthy era America. He is, to use Chandler’s own words, “a man of honour” but also a cynic. He can be “tough without a gun” but is also a soulful, deep thinker. For the majority of readers though, the highlights of the series are the masterful oneliners, which are often just as funny, “It was a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained glass window”, as they are gorgeously poetic, “She smelled the way the Taj Mahal looks by moonlight.” No one put it better than Billy Wilder, who once said of Chandler’s work that “a kind of lightning struck on every page.” Raymond Chandler was fired from his job as an Oil Company Executive at 44. Looking for a way to eke a decent living in the Depression, Chandler decided to venture into the world of pulp fiction which he studied by literally rewriting every word of popular stories. The following year, he had first short story published and by 1939 he released his first full novel. Chandler had a complicated

relationship with his work, which he halfhated but also felt was unfairly overlooked by snobbish literary critics. In 1944, Chandler began what was to be a short and stormy career in Hollywood. His first project was a collaboration with renowned director Billy Wilder on the screenplay of Double Indemnity. In spite of their difficult working relationship, the pair wrote one of the greatest film noirs of all time. He then worked on The Blue Dahlia which secured him an Oscar nomination. Chandler’s last and most fraught collaboration was with the legendary director and notorious grump Alfred Hitchcock on Strangers on a Train. This relationship significantly soured after the director overheard Chandler calling him “that fat bastard”, to which he reportedly responded by throwing Chandler’s initial drafts into the bin. However the two managed to overcome their animosity to produce a classic. Chandler subsequently left Tinseltown for good, and poured his experiences into a brilliantly scathing account of the place in his 1949 novel The Little Sister. This year is the 75th anniversary of Chandler’s first major novel The Big Sleep and what better way to celebrate than to light up a Lucky Strike, pour a gin gimlet, and delve into the world of Philip Marlowe P.I. Chandler’s work has lasted through the decades and remains just as relevant now as it was in the 1940s. There are few writers who have had more influence on American culture than Raymond Chandler. Each decade has produced its own distinctive variant of Chandler’s work - from the classic noirs of the 40s and 50s, Chinatown in the 70s, Blade Runner in the 80s, The Big Lebowski in the 90s, to today with video games such as L.A. Noire and Heavy Rain. Raymond Chandler has influenced hundreds of artists in almost all spheres and will continue to do so as long as there are murders to be solved and dames to be seduced.


BERNARD O’SHEA There is always a risk regarding charity shows. For every Queen`s gigantic triumph at Live Aid, there are thousands of petty, insignificant routines that seem as inconsequential as bottled water. It`s pretty understandable. Why should any performer give an enigmatic performance to a, generally, inebriated crowd who are not giving them any money or are likely to go to any of their shows when they would? Lest we forget, this performance was held during R&G WEEK, and any artist in question would more than likely be performing to a room full of foppish and jarring inebriates during one of the more intolerable weeks of the year. In short, one was not expecting much from Bernard O`Shea`s performance. Expectations were not helped by the fact that he replaced the magnificent comic that is Andrew Maxwell. As great as O`Shea`s repertoire is on The Republic Of Telly, his performance is not as universally lauded as Maxwell`s- nor does an appearance on his behalf have quite the same ring of sexiness attached to it. It may not have been George Lazenby playing James Bond when Sean Connery proved unavailable, but there is no doubt that O`Shea`s initial appearance did not have the added zest that Maxwell has.

RADIO GAGA Arts and Literature Editor Eoghan Lyng gives a rundown on radio dramas

Words are funny things. They thistle, they thistle, they make noises. They evoke emotions, they conjugate sentences. Without words, society would crumble. The spoken word is one of the more essential components of a solid drama. Without them, a degree of uneasiness perpetrates the audience, as Harold Pinter and Samuel Beckett used in their some of their greater works. Choreography and physical actions are not always needed to produce a great play. Sometimes a radio station is just as powerful, if not more so, than a stage. A Radio Play is a tangible medium for pieces that are too visceral for stage. Spokesperson Peggy Noonan hit the nail on the head with her remarks “TV gives everyone an image, but radio gives birth to a million images in a million brains.” A radio play is arguably the closest thing any performance can come to an accurate portrayal of literature as a performance art. The words permeate the mind, creating images that could not ever be brought to life visually. Certainly, James Joyce`s ‘Ulysses’ is one text that no visual performance could ever give justice to. Stephen Dedalus`s internal thoughts would appear too stifled if portrayed by an actor, but the vocal prowess of a man/woman delivering the lines to the attentive ears of their respective listener evokes a stagnation of cerebral cognition necessitated from such wonderful dialogue as “Open your eyes now. I will. One moment. Has all vanished since? If I open and am for ever in the black adiaphane. Basta! I will see if I can see”. It may not be a surprise to hear that the two cinematic adaptations of Joyce`s great works were unmitigated disasters. RTÉ Raidio`s

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COMEDY PERFORMANCE:

WORDS: EOGHAN LYNG

Despite these drawbacks, O `Shea provided a solid performance. His set combined a pre-practiced set, alongside intuitive and instinctive one liners. Appearing in plain clothing (which he had worn since five o `clock that morning), O`Shea`s set succeeded in its intimacy. Unlike other performers, there is no way in hell O `Shea`s performance could have been interpreted as lofty or pretentious. Instead, his unassuming comments about Irish society was highly appropriate for the age group of his audience! Digressing about Irish parents, the silliness of The Late Late Show and the hilarity of late night debauchery, O`Shea`s quips centred themselves fully on the fickleness of youth. “One day you`ll look like me” he exclaimed, pointing to his, admittedly, flabby stomach, “…enjoy it while you can”. Other anecdotes included sucking off donkeys, the miserableness of Irishness, Italians and Polish people being the same and a tip of the hat to his supporting act, Bernard Casey - “the first man named Bernard I`ve ever met in my life” O`Shea quipped. Everything was put into the set, except mindless good taste. And then there was sex. Lots of it. Every penetrative method was elucidated and ruminated upon. Animals were brought into unimaginable contexts. As

mentioned in the previous line, donkeys were (hypothetically) sucked off by Irish women in Australia and another reference was thrown to cats shagging outside his apartment in Dublin. Most hilariously, he brought two people on stage to marry them, much to the embarrassment of the pair in question and the ecstatic delight of the other people in the audience. The show did suffer from some drawbacks, most glaringly from an insufferable interruption courtesy of people jumping into the middle of the Devere Hall as part of their R&G Week challenge. It altered O`Shea`s set and the final third of the performance lost momentum as a result. The venue featured appalling neon lights, while the loud music from the Campus Bars was similarly intrusive. But these criticisms ought to be directed at the University itself; by in large, O`Shea himself was cool, calculated and totally in control. He may not have the universal zest Maxwell possesses, but O`Shea still provided an enjoyable set that fulfilled its function as a charity gig, and more, to University students. Comedy legend Graham Clarke once claimed that an audience`s reaction is the greatest accolade any comedian can receive. If that is the case, O`Shea`s inherent response must have been Bafta-worthy!

{{

1982 audio adaptation, on the other hand, has been universally lauded as a pioneering tour de force. This may be an ennui for actors of a very aesthetically pleasing value to hear (many of whom their complexion speaks louder volumes than their vocal prowess in terms of employment ), but power truly belongs with the radio for literary accuracy and telepathic intimacy. Trust Orson Welles to scare the living daylights out of his listeners in a manner that Steven Spielberg could not with his 2005 film adaptation of ‘The War of The Worlds’. As part of his radio series ‘The Mercury Theatre on Air’, Welles`s fake extra terrestrial broadcast elicited genuine panic in 1937. Despite a diclaimer at the show`s opening enforcing its fictitious nature, many listeners took the show as a real live broadcast. Only Welles`s close monotones could create such genuine fear. The intimacy of a real voice changed perfectly rational people into God-fearing morons. Radio has also been the perfect backdrop for comedians. It certainly served Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe and Spike Milligan well during the nineteen fifties. Their verbal eccentricities were perfect for radio, an attribute that could not be translated to visual means (Sellers himself would discover this while making the tiring ‘A Show Called Fred’). Since then, radio would prove the way for future alternative comedians like Steve Coogan, Richard Ayoade, Chris Morris and Stephen Merchant. Their style of humour is simply too erudite for the average eye. Radio dramas have decreased in popularity in the last couple of decades. The advent of cinema and internet have rendered radio dramas an underground exercise. But it`s not completely finished with. ‘Doctor Who’ thrived in audio format during the televised show`s hiatus between 1990 and 2005, surviving the character for a new generation. The radio drama is an excellent art form- long may its reign continue.

A List of Adaptations That Would Be Better Served on Radio

Endgame (Samuel Beckett) The Hours (Michael Cunningham) A Clockwork Orange (Anthony Burgess) Mrs. Dalloway (Virginia Woolf) The Life and Times of Tristam Shandy (Laurence Sterne) The Hitchhiker`s Guide To The Galaxy (Douglas Adams) Thus Spoke Zarathustra (Friedrich Nietzche)

VERGE ARTS & LITERATURE 9


IRRATIONAL

GRIEF Aoife Gleeson (@AoifeGlees) discusses the closure of the Irrational Gaming Studio

“There’s always a lighthouse. There’s always a man. There’s always a city.” This was the truth stated by Elizabeth in Bioshock Infinite meaning in that universe, reality is comprised of infinite intertwining worlds and timelines, each containing the same set of constants but different variables. This made a subtle promise of endless stories, of boundless possibilities. There was so much more to tell. Now, the studio that gave us that universe, Irrational Games, is closing its doors, leaving its franchise behind. The man who started it all, Ken Levine, is starting something new - with just an elite few from the studio. This marks the end of an era and the loss of one of the most revered developers in the industry. So, why was Irrational Games so important, what brought about its closure and, most importantly, what happens now?

What was Irrational Games? Irrational was founded in 1997 by Ken Levine, Jonathan Chey and Robert Fermier, who were all previous employees of Looking Glass Studios (a studio famous for the creation of the Thief and System Shock series). Irrational’s first game, System Shock 2, was released in 1999 to great critical acclaim. In 2000 Irrational Canberra was opened and the game Deep Coverwas cancelled (followed by the cancellation of The Lostin 2002). The company was acquired by Take-Two in 2006 and the following year Bioshock, the spiritual successor to System Shock, and the game that would solidify the developer’s place in the industry as one of the best, was released. Lauded as a milestone and an invaluable piece of work in gaming culture, Bioshock took players to the ruined underwater city of Rapture to tell a haunting tale of moral corruption, the fall of a civilisation and the nature of choice (or lack thereof). Few games have worlds as immersive as that of Rapture and characters as iconic as the Big Daddies that menacingly stalked Rapture and the Little Sisters that scurried behind. Bioshock is still discussed, dissected and enjoyed to this day and is held up as one of the greatest games of all time. The game also established Ken Levine as one of the great auteurs in video games, capable of crafting amazing worlds and unique, high-minded stories (something the medium was desperate for) through an engrossing study of objectivism. After this success, people waited patiently for the company’s next project. Bioshock 2 was released by a different studio, 2K Marin (which was composed of employees that had originally been a part of Irrational) in 2010, but it was generally seen as an unnecessary retread and was quickly forgotten about. What everyone was really waiting for happened later in 2010, in August, when Bioshock Infinite was announced. The trailer was awe-inspiring, at first tricking viewers into thinking the series would return again to Rapture by showing a long shot of a murky underwater city that turned out to be a fish tank in which the protagonist was being violently

10 VERGE GAMING

{ { Bioshock Infinite was a game smothered by its own ambition. In trying to reach the heights set by the game’s predecessor, Irrational overreached. They prided themselves on a creative process free of overt planning

dunked. He’s pulled out by a mechanical monster with an exposed pumping heart in its chest and flung through a window, exploding out into a breathtakingly beautiful floating world, with buildings majestically floating by on giant blimps. An atmosphere of America at the turn of the century is immediately evoked by twinkling music floating through the air and self-righteous propaganda plastered on the walls. The protagonist begins plummeting towards ground, the whistling wind and his piercing scream creating a chilling din. The short trailer had the same effect on everyone: we wanted to explore this intriguing world, exactly the kind of creation that we had come to expect from Irrational. Multiple delays pushed the game back but each snippet shown was more compelling than the last. We waited with baited breath until Bioshock Infinite was finally released in March 2013.

What happened? Bioshock Infinite was a game smothered by its own ambition. In trying to reach the heights set by the game’s predecessor, Irrational overreached. They prided themselves on a creative process free of overt planning, and one where they threw away any elements that weren’t working. Watch old trailers for Infinite and read old interviews: you’ll spot some huge elements that never made it into the final product. This is part of the reason for the extremely protracted development cycle (the game was in development for over five years) and the reason the game ended up going way over budget. In the final product you can see Infinite struggling to cover such a wide range themes (American Exceptionalism, religious fanaticism, class divides, quantum physics, racism, the nature of evil) that sometimes you can feel it suffocating under its own weight. It touches on so many brilliant things but

never fully delves into them, feeling all over the place. Whispers in the industry (no one comes out and says anything for fear of being blacklisted) of impossible crunch times and the difficulty of Levine’s constantly changing creative whims, paint a compelling picture of an unwieldy development cycle and a difficult work environment. The game sold reasonably well, expected to be around the 5 million mark, but something wasn’t working. Then came Ken Levine’s open letter last week. In it he dropped the bomb that Irrational (as we know it) would be closing its doors, with a smaller team of 15 people remaining behind to focus on making “highly re-playable” “narrative-driven games”. This came as a huge shock to the industry and fans even though, according to some, the writing was on the wall. In an interview with IGN just before Levine announced the closure he said that, at 47 and having run Irrational for 17 years, he was exhausted by big development and having a studio of 100 to 150 people look to him for guidance. Perhaps the constant lauding of him as a creative genius went to his head a little - the language used in his letter is also fairly self-centred, with Levine primarily focusing on the environment he feels he needs creatively (“I need to refocus my energy on a smaller team…When I first contemplated what I wanted to do…my passion has turned to making a different kind of game”) rather than the huge amount of developers losing their jobs. A brilliant creator having a big ego is nothing new - even if it is a little bit disappointing. Levine states that he was initially going to have a clean slate in creating this new venture, completely fresh, but that Take-Two convinced him to stay with them. It’s hard to not begrudge Levine for seemingly bringing about the closure of the studio single handedly, and it’s also hard to stomach that there will never be another Irrational Bioshock game.

So, what happens now?

Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea Episode 2 is finished and will be released globally on 25th March. This, however, doesn’t appear to be the grand finale to the Bioshock series. In Levine’s letter he stated he was “handing the reins of [their] creation, the Bioshock universe, to 2K”, so it looks like we haven’t seen the last of it. It’s likely that 2K Marin, which merged with Irrational Canberra in 2010, will take over. Given the tepid response to the unimaginative Bioshock 2 this doesn’t inspire huge confidence. The previous Irrational employees look to be well taken care of, with a successful Twitter campaign being launched to find them work (#IGjobs). As for Levine, he’s currently writing the script for the Logan’s Run movie and, with his new team, hopefully his creative mind will benefit from simplification and a smaller work environment. Limited resources breeds ingenuity and creativity needs room to breathe. In his letter he repeats the phrase “re-playable narrative” in reference to the team’s future projects, which is vague enough that it could mean anything. Perhaps it could mean games like Telltales’ The Walking Dead but at this point it’s all speculation. If anything his move shows that AAA development for large games can be oppressive, with an underlying creative vision being smothered by enormous, unwieldy development and enormous teams that can make the creation of a cohesive vision difficult. Not to mention the ever-mounting costs of large development and the business pressures that can strangle creativity. In the race to make the biggest, most technically impressive game, one that appeals to everyone, a game (no matter how many interesting ideas it contains) can become bloated and confused. Smaller game development affords a great deal more creative freedom, unshackled by big business constraints. The small team coming from the death of Irrational is the phoenix rising from the ashes of a broken system. So: which do you want, the bird or the cage?


COMMENT

ENABLING GAMERS

WORDS: BRIAN CONMY Gaming has always been an escapist hobby. For as long as video games have existed, people have created fantastical worlds for others to delve into to forget about their day to day activities, for a time at least. With the growth of mobile and more “casual” games, the hobby has never been enjoyed by more people. Yet, the suggestion that gaming is for everyone may not be an entirely accurate one. There are entire swaths of people who may not be so easily able to enjoy gaming as a pastime, an easily overlooked group: people with disabilities. While some disabilities would presumably automatically stop a person from gaming, there are others which may be less obviously hampering a person’s ability to interact with a game in a number of ways. As such I’d like to highlight just some of the issues surrounding people with disabilities in the gaming world. The severity of any given disability can vary wildly from person to person and as such categorizing groups by their disability can be difficult, for instance one may think that a person who is blind simply can’t play video games. A largely visual media one would assume that sight is very important to be able to play games at all. Yet, visual disabilities range in such a way that someone who is “legally blind” or has low vision could play games with some assistance. In the case of legal blindness, magnification software exists that could enable a user to better show particular sections of on screen information and assist them in playing through a game experience. Granted, twitch gaming like Call of Duty will not be easy or even possible in this situation but software and hardware solutions exist to assist this type of disabled person to enjoy themselves if they choose to game. The same type of solution can exist for a range of visual impairments yet will likely be unhelpful for a totally blind person. Yet, there is still a way for a blind person

A number of companies offer modifications to existing controllers to enable people with specific needs to game comfortably while others may opt to have custom made controllers to better suit them. These workarounds are integral to a number of people being able to play games at all.

to game. Famously, a few years ago a report surfaced of a blind gamer who completed The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. The gamer in question, Canadian Jordan Verner, put out a call online for people to help him finish the game, when people answered his call they played through the game themselves and took note of every single action they took: move, roll, slash their sword and relayed it to Verner - who then mirrored the actions by having his computer read the actions aloud. This is an incredible tale of ingenuity that shows what persistence and planning can do to assist people with disabilities. Apart from situations such as these, which seem to not be the norm for

similarly blind people, a number of companies make specialist force feedback hardware for gamers with needs such as these to assist in playing game. Again, they may not enable a blind person to be a deadly killing machine in an online game like Call of Duty but these games are just the most public face of gaming, there are many more types of games that have been made playable to blind people in this way. Another visual impairment which is even less apparent or thought about is colour blindness. An issue which mostly affects men, while it may not seem like a major day to day issue it can be in gaming, a medium that often relies on visuals to communicate information to the gamer. Think about it, how many games use coloured orbs for health/mana/experience? If you’re colour blind these colours may not be differentiable - then your experience is undoubtedly hampered. Worse still, there are numerous cases of games which are basically unplayable to colour blind individuals. A recent example is Resident Evil 5 which relied on a red laser sight for aiming a gun, in a game which is entirely about shooting enemies the inability to see the colour red would be an obvious hindrance and render the game unplayable in some cases. What’s so shocking about this is how easy it would be to change the red laser sight to an aiming reticule, yet it’s so easy to overlook a small portion of the potential audience for a game that individual disabilities are often forgotten about and not catered to even in simple to resolve situations such as this. Deafness is another issue that may face potential gamers. As mentioned previously, gaming is a largely visual medium, yet sound is often an important aspect to games. While a lot of mainstream games have subtitle options for dialogue to enable deaf or hard of hearing gamers to at least follow a game’s story, there are other less obvious issues to contend with. For instance in horror games there are often scenarios where sound is important in locating enemies in dark hallways, Dead Space is an

example of such a horror game which utilizes sound to telegraph to players where possible enemy threats are located. How important audio storytelling is to a game varies wildly from title to title and while there are few games that would be outright unplayable for a deaf person there are many experiences that would be hampered by loss of auditory functions. At the very least the availability of surround sound gaming headsets may help a number of gamers who are not profoundly deaf to listen to a game without blowing the speakers out of their gaming machines. While the aforementioned disabilities or impairments can sometimes be invisible or easy to overlook there are a range of physical issues which may also make gaming a difficulty for people. For instance limb deformities, neurological disorders, age, repetitive stress injuries, paralysis and a wide array of other factors may be hindrances to a potential gamer. Yet much like the example above of a deaf gamer being incredibly clever and asking for assistance, there are a number of clever solutions to surmount these barriers to entry being developed by caring and thoughtful individuals. These types of physical issues largely stop a person from being able to input commands into a game in the traditional way: with a controller or a mouse and keyboard. A number of companies offer modifications to existing controllers to enable people with specific needs to game comfortably while others may opt to have custom made controllers to better suit them. These workarounds are integral to a number of people being able to play games at all. Even a person with no use of their extremities, limbs or general body may be able to game with new eye tracking software if it can be adapted to a given game. While the above disabilities are largely physical based there are also mental concerns to be taken into account. For instance someone with memory issues may be unable to play a specific type of game which requires memorization, unfortunately this may stop a person enjoying a story based or particularly long game such as a Final Fantasy but within game aids like automatic story journaling and a robust world map these issues can also be surmounted. ADHD offers the a similar problem which would make long games unplayable for some people but this is one issue where fast paced games like Call of Duty are the solution and not the problem. Even more everyday problems like dyslexia could seriously hamper a person’s enjoyment of certain titles. While it would be impossible to talk about every single issue that may unfortunately stop or hinder a person from enjoying gaming as a hobby, what becomes readily apparent as you research the topic is this: where there’s a will there’s a way. For every issue that’s brought up a solution exists in one way or another and while not every person may be able to enjoy every game equally, there will always be options for those willing to seek them out. With greater awareness of these issues going forward, game developers can look at ways to make their own games friendlier to a larger audience. The next time you play a game why not think further about the choices that were made in making the game accessible and wonder: if you had a disability could you even be playing this right now?

VERGE GAMING 11


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Verge  

Volume 2, Issue 12

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