UCC EXPRESS PRESENTS...
FORTNIGHTLY FAVOURITE 4
I HATE THESE BLURRED LINES
Murder, She Wrote
Words: Ellen Desmond, Entertainment Editor With all the controversy that has been going on lately my editorials have been writing themselves. It’s impossible for an entertainment journalist to escape the Robin Thick debate. It’s almost like the controversy was planned all along for extra publicity…which it probably was. I’ve spent so long trying to boycott this debate and I am, ironically, now about to add to it. To bring you up to speed, Blurred Lines is a very derogatory song, there are some awfully presumptuous lyrics involved and certain parties consider it as an ode to rape culture. I have no intention of disagreeing. But there have been groups and universities across the world campaigning to ban this song. Even though, in my opinion, banning things usually makes the kind of person who would engage in any such illegal activities, appreciate it further. “Banned” items are just so much more attractive to those individuals. Is that not incredibly obvious? My stance on the debate is that people can’t just randomly choose to ban one massive hit, regardless of how much it deserves it. This is largely because there are countless other songs/movies/books that can be justified as equally offence but have been given absolutely no form of censorship. It makes no sense to single out one if not the others. Take, for example, Akon’s Smack That. It’s pretty much a given that you can’t just smack the people you’re attracted to. It’s offensive and unnecessary. Yet, I’ve never heard anyone complain about that song. If I went around acting out all the songs I listen to I’d have hibernated for all of September and arrived at college swinging on a wrecking ball this morning. Listening to those songs has made me an enthusiast of neither of those actions. There are so many racist, sexist, violent and prejudiced songs out there. The problem is that once they are out there it’s too late, and though the majority of people aren’t going to act on them literally, there’s also nothing stopping them planting a bad idea in someone’s head. I hate the lyrics of Blurred Lines, I’m all about women’s rights and yet, I’ve been listening to Blurred Lines non-stop all week. Anyone I’ve spoken to about this issue has said they’ll listen to it again more carefully and then later been caught humming it. Blurred Lines is a really catchy song and it has sold millions of copies for that reason. Anything we now say or do is going to give it added publicity. Anything we make it out to be is what it is going to become. It’s a waste of time to think we can live in a 21st century world that is always going to reject any piece of music or artwork that can be interpreted like this. There are, however, realistic issues we can tackle right here at home that will actually help people. Why don’t we instead put to a stop the endless stream of offensive Facebook pages that specifically target our friends and peers? Why don’t we invest in more security around campus accommodation at night? These are things that we can do to make an actual difference, and there are actions carried out by people we know that we can change. We should use the song as an example, when highlighting that rape culture is a problem and that any person has a right to choose to say no to anything, at any given time. I can’t let it get past me that the intentions behind Blurred Lines are disgusting, and that the controversy was probably intended but turn it into something good. Turn it into the reason to get up and do something good…everybody get up! Check out the comment page of the Express for further debate.
A Tale of Two Cities
Though David Copperfield is generally viewed as Charles Dickens`s magnum opus, A Tale of Two Cities is a much better book. Certainly, Sydney Carton is a much more colourful character than David Copperfield, accounting for one of the earliest depictions of alcoholics as tangible human beings. True, the book glamorises the plight of the proletariat during the French Revolution to a hyperbolic level and, yes, the book seems to slag in the middle between the various sub-plots accounting in London and Paris. But in a book filled with gorgeous writing and intellectual ambition, it`s easy to oversee these minor drawbacks. The death of Carton is almost biblical in its description, while the description of the two cities in question is almost cinematic. The book set the blue print for many other great works such as Cloud Atlas, Blade Runner, Dr. Jekyll and Mr.Hyde and The Dark Knight Rises.
Professor Green –At Your Inconvenience
Since I started writing for the paper all the way back in 2011, I’ve always found it difficult to think of questions to ask artists and for a good year had a set of questions that I would ask pretty much every band and singer I came across. In one of my favourite songs by the Prof, he relays his frustration at being asked the same questions again and again, “when did you start rapping?”, “who would you say is the biggest influence in your music?” and many more basic questions that show that very little research was done by any journalist. I seriously love this song for its spontaneity and the catchy backing track. It’s also very educational to those budding journalists out there wondering how to structure an interview.
F a r C r y 3 –B l o o d D r a g o n
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
To follow up on a previous favourite, I marathoned seasons 2 and 3 of Game of Thrones recently. Nothing any of you said about the Red Wedding prepared me in any way. My screams echoed throughout the land. Anyway, as withdrawal symptoms set in, I returned to an old favourite. Murder, She Wrote is simply the best thing ever. A novelist travels around the country killing people, then “solving” their murders...in fact; it’s not too dissimilar to Game of Thrones...
Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon is a game that is pure 80’s action shlock fun. Having not gotten to Far Cry 3 yet, Blood Dragon is making me want to dive into that game fully as soon as possible. After reading as much next gen coverage as humanly possible and trying to figure out why people suddenly care about resolutions of games, in particular side by sides of Assassins Creed 4 on current and next gen, I finally booted up Assassins Creed 3. Not being a fan of the earlier games, I thought the American Revolutionary setting would draw me in. After attempting to climb a sail in an early mission and diving to my death for pressing a button, I’m pretty sure I may never go back to that game. I was not drawn in.
Entertainment Editor: Ellen Desmond
Ronan O’ Donavan
Celtic Warrior: The Legend of Will Sliney ent Entertainm n Editor Elle chats Desmond tionally a n r e t n i h t wi mic book o c d e m i a l acc Sliney l l i W t s i t r a
ailing from Ballycotton in Cork, Will Sliney has certainly been capturing the attention of top publishing companies both at home and abroad lately. Most notably that of Marvel Comics, who are situated over 4,000 miles from where he first began to draw. Sliney has made an assertively steady climb to success over the past few years, working on big brand comics such as Star Wars: The Clone Wars and more recently on Marvel’s all-female superhero team in The Fearless Defenders series. Sliney was given the “go ahead” by a Marvel talent scout, at a D.I.C.E convention, who had been tracking his progress and had seen his successful rise through smaller comic book companies. Earlier this year he was named 2013’s inductee in the Irish Comic News Hall of Fame. In mid-October Sliney made public, to many distraught fans, that Fearless Defenders will soon be coming to an end with its 12th issue. “Well I was definitely sad to see it end” he told Verge,“ but I’m very proud of what we did over the course of the year because it seems to have been a lot of people’s first comic, it got a lot of people into reading comics for the very first time.” The Defenders was acclaimed at the New York Comic Con and the all-female team is certainly one that drew attention from a new array of fans. Sliney told Verge that “it’s [The Defenders] gonna get its own TV series next. I suppose the comic had to come to an end to gel with what Marvel is doing on TV. So it
Spider-Man was always the goal... But it was a total shock for me... I kind of have to reassess things now after doing it was kind of inevitable really.” It is inevitable indeed for any successful comic to find its way to screens today in what has become a natural progression for many eminent Marvel works. Though Sliney claims he won’t be involved in the production of a Defenders TV show, he hasn’t ruled out screen animation completely. “…well, art is the main thing for me but a lot of people approach me about doing stuff like that [TV animation] on the CúChulainn book that I brought out last year so I’d maybe consider moving towards doing something along those lines, which would be kind of cool but I definitely want to focus on comics as my main thing.” Between a world of female superheroes and a reimagining of Celtic mythology, Will Sliney really does seem to be making the comic book world more intriguing and accessible for a wider scope of people than usual. Sliney’s original comic, Celtic Warrior: The Legend of CúChulainn, became the fastest selling graphic novel in the country and even made its way to the Irish Times Best Selling Books list. Fans of the Celtic comic can rest assured, as Sliney revealed
at D.I.C.E earlier this year that he intends Celtic Warrior to become a trilogy, with The Legend of Fionn Mac Cumhaill going to print in 2014. However, that’s only one half of Sliney’s exciting news, as he has just announced that Marvel has hired him to work on Superior Spider-Man Team-Up. “Spider-Man was always the goal”, Sliney admitted, “But it was a total shock for me when I got the call. I kind of have to reassess things now after doing it. Like, I do want keep going on both fronts. I want to keep working on those Marvel characters that have been around for years but I do really like doing my own books as well, I’ll maybe try doing some more mythology books, or maybe even some completely new characters themselves. I think that would be fun to do.” Illustrating Spider-Man for Marvel Comics is a far throw from the imagery one would generally associate with the countryside of Ballycotton, and Sliney discussed how in his childhood he didn’t have the level of access to comics that kids in Cork have today. Indeed, the O’Brien Press, publishers of Sliney’s Celtic Warrior, only made the decision to begin publishing comics four years ago and already the Irish industry has seen an impressive boom. Sliney told Verge that though he has always loved drawing cartoons, it wasn’t until he was in his twenties that he realised he had the potential to embark on a career in this kind of business. He advised any aspiring artists to just put in the time and get work up online for people to see. “It’s definitely a case of really putting the hours in. I remember reading an interview with one of the top guys in the industry when I was trying to break in and he was saying that you’d want to be drawing for at least five hours a day, every day, to be at the standard of all the people you’d be up against. Drawing is a muscle really and the more you work it the better it gets, the more time you put in, the more you’ll see yourself getting towards a professional level and getting there is basically the most important part of it.” Putting in the hours evidently is advice worth listening to, when one considers the career the young Sliney has made for himself already - and it’s easy to see he still has plenty to offer. With the amount of plans he has in the works it’s not difficult to understand why Sliney’s dream superpower is to be “somebody who could eh, pause time, and get more work done in the few hours that there is every day - to produce more books. That’s always the enemy of every book artist, your deadline.” Celtic Warrior: The Legend of CúCulainn is widely available in Irish bookstores and from The O’Brien Press. The Fearless Defenders Series can be bought in good comic book shops and online. Follow Will’s progress at sliney.blogspot.ie
VERGE ENTERTAINMENT 3
Film & TV Words: by Rob O’Sullivan
WHO WAS THE BEST DOCTOR?
First Doctor - William Hartnell The one that started it all. William Hartnell is my personal favourite. Best described as a mischievous old man, Hartnell played the role as both a wise elder and a crotchety old fool. Hartnell’s first companion, and thus the Doctor’s first companion, was the Doctor’s granddaughter Susan. Hartnell played the Doctor for the first 3 years of the show, leaving due to poor health and poor relations with the crew.
his companions to run. For those clever people out there, you may be noticing some commonalities between the Second Doctor and the Eleventh… Troughton left the show after three years, because of the gruelling shooting schedule and to avoid being typecast. Third Doctor - Jon Pertwee In contrast to the cosmic hobo, the Third Doctor was rather suave and well-dressed. The Third Doctor practised karate, fidgeted with gadgets and drove hovercrafts. He was a courageous man of action. Pertwee played the Doctor for four years, leaving because he, as with Troughton, did not want to be typecast, and he wanted to continue his stage career. Fourth Doctor - Tom Baker Ah Tom Baker. Even now, the Fourth Doctor is generally considered to be the best incarnation of the character. Eccentric and often sporting a wild grin, the Fourth Doctor was rather unpredictable at times, with the exception of his continual love of an overly large scarf. Playing the role for seven years, Baker played the Doctor in arguably the classic show’s most popular time on the air. Baker left the show because of personal issues with the production staff. Jellybaby? Fifth Doctor - Peter Davison My second favourite Doctor! Peter Davison had the incredibly difficult task of taking over from Tom Baker. Being younger in age, the character became a bit more vulnerable and reserved than previous incarnations.
November 23rd is the magic day. At 5:16pm on November 23rd 1963, Doctor Who first hit British screens. Since then, the show has caused both children and adults alike to enjoy the adventure of the Doctor’s travels and jump behind the couch any time the word “EXTERMINATE” would be heard. Since the show was revived in 2005, Doctor Who once again became a platform to bond multiple generations of a family. In a few weeks, one of the most exciting events in the show’s history will be happening again: born out of necessity, whenever an actor wants to leave the titular role, the character regenerates into a new person, which allows another actor to take on the role. On November 23rd, Matt Smith will morph into Peter Capaldi. There will then have been 12 (official) Doctors. Sadly, for a lot of people who started watching the show in 2005, they don’t know anything about the first 8 Doctors. An unfortunate group of individuals think there have only been three Doctors ever. So I’m going to give you the rundown of the Classic ‘Who’.
Fourth Doctor was rather unpredictable at times, with the exception of his continual love of an overly large scarf.
Second Doctor - Patrick Troughton Perfectly and eternally described as the “Cosmic Hobo,” the Second Doctor was a lot more childlike than the first incarnation. Troughton tended to play the bumbling fool, was rather fond of hats, and often told
4 VERGE FILM
Despite his liberal use of a coin-flip to make crucial decisions, he did not inherit his predecessor’s eccentricity...with the exception of his outfit: the Fifth Doctor wore an outfit based on Victorian cricket clothes, with a stick of celery sticking out of his shirt
pocket. Davison, upon the advice of Second Doctor Troughton, left the show after three years to, again, avoid being typecast. Sixth Doctor - Colin Baker Oh dear...Colin Baker. The Sixth Doctor is very much the black sheep of the family. The producers of the show decided to make the show a bit darker. So when 5 turned into 6, the Doctor began to strangle his companion, before quickly realising what he was doing. Forever known for his terrible dress sense, the Sixth Doctor is almost universally regarded as the worst incarnation. Baker played the Doctor for just under 3 years, being dismissed by BBC management, who were unhappy with Baker, and wanted to refresh the show. Seventh Doctor - Sylvester McCoy The Seventh Doctor is the last Doctor of the original show-run. McCoy is held in much higher regard than Colin Baker, being one of only two Doctors to best Tom Baker in a fan poll. Initially comical and light-hearted, the Seventh Doctor became increasingly dark and manipulative. McCoy played the role for two years before production on the show was suspended, effectively being cancelled. McCoy returned to the role in 1996 to hand it over to our next Doctor… Eighth Doctor - Paul McGann The Eighth Doctor, to date, has held the shortest term for the role, only appearing in one TV movie. In 1996, the American broadcaster Fox attempted to revive the show, in association with the BBC. They had hoped this would lead to another series, but it was not to be. Paul McGann was a fantastic Doctor, and showed much love and enthusiasm for the role, which makes the fact that him only being in a lacklustre production (ignoring radio plays) incredibly saddening. The film received incredibly poor ratings, and the show was shelved again until the 2005 revival. Those are the eight that make up the Classic Doctors. On November 23rd, more history will be made. A new Doctor will take over the mantle: Peter Capaldi. The show will air on BBC1 on November 23rd at 7:30 pm. Save the date.
GRAVITY Words: Cathal Dennehy
Space - Vast. Uncompromising. Overwhelmingly empty. Such was the tone of Gravity’s monstrous opening sequence: a thrilling 15-minute tracking shot, showing Sandra Bullock and George Clooney’s detachment from mission control following a collision with a debris field. After such an intense opening scene, the mood and atmosphere begin to cool down. The image of Bullock’s character, adrift against the enormous background of outer space, is truly something to behold. In many ways that image sums up the film itself – two people paled into insignificance compared to the greater universe. It’s in these sequences that the film really begins to come into its own, as it becomes a very visual affair. And the visuals are some of the most spectacular put on screen in recent years, as the two characters drift aimlessly miles above the Earth, cloud formations milling about on the planet’s surface. It’s not just photo-realistic CGI either, as director Alfonzo Cuarón plots out every minute detail of the actor’s movements using technology so advanced, that they essentially had to create it for this film itself! Every detail is honed to a tee and pre-programmed. In this respect the film almost becomes like a stage production, with directions and performances rehearsed relentlessly. With this in mind, it’s even more impressive that the two actors didn’t become swallowed up in the process. They do turn out two great performances, which is the only thing the audience can cling to throughout the increasingly catastrophic events. Gravity is reminiscent of The Truman Show at times, as the
cinemas as we know them are dying
Brian Conmy talks about the dying days of the traditional cinema
The death of cinema comes at a price audience almost pleads with the characters themselves to hold on just a little bit longer. It gives a new definition to the term “whiteknuckle cinema!” The film centers on the struggle of the central characters against the vastness of space. The title card presents us with facts about outer space – the violent temperature shifts, the complete lack of oxygen, and the fact that life in space is impossible. The film’s central concept revolves around this, as life struggles against impossible odds. In fact, the majority of the film is simply watching Bullock and Clooney clinging relentlessly to life and musing about the insignificance of human life against the backdrop of the greater universe. The film isn’t shy to tell us that life is precious and beautiful, and that we should never give up hope in our hour of need. It’s an honest message, one that wears its heart on its sleeve. In my opinion, this was a slight let down. Gravity, on the surface, seemed like it was destined to join other science fiction classics like Silent Running and, more recently, Moon, as it dealt with the struggle between humanity and the great unknown. However, it deals with the subject matter in a much more traditional manner. At times it slips into platitudes, and I found it overly sentimental at times. In short, if you go looking for a mind-boggling sci-fi film in the likes of 2001: A Space Odyssey, you may have to look elsewhere. Gravity is, in ways, this year’s Avatar. It’s incredible production and impressive technology precedes it, and it is undoubtedly a one-of-a-kind film experience (and another rare example of a film improved by 3D!).The film is less of a psychological journey and more of an impressively constructed experience. But it shouldn’t be judged for not being the film I expected; the film it turned out to be is still hugely impressive and enjoyable.
ecently I saw two movies that I had been anticipating for a while in the Gate Cinema, Thor 2 and Gravity. Having anticipated Gravity for over a year, for it to finally be in cinemas here was incredibly exciting. I attempted to book tickets online, to ensure I got to it at the first possible screening, only to see the ticket price being €10 each for a 3D showing. Gravity is a movie made for 3D, one of the few, but even knowing this, €10 seems a massively inflated price. Then when the time came to actually watch the movie (in a fairly well packed screening) I was again surprised to realise how incredibly annoying people still act in cinemas. At various points of the screening people took out bright phones to text someone or to answer a call, talked far too loudly to people around them and acted just generally annoying. Seeing Thor 2 wasn’t much better. Although the ticket was cheaper as it was not a 3D screening, the theatre was full of even more annoying people, especially children who insisted on explaining the plot of the movie as it happened. As it happens, both of the movies were quite enjoyable, not quite marred by the price or the theatre experience. However, the more I think on this experience and every time I see Netflix announcing new exclusive TV shows, that another DVD rental store is closing down, or how quickly movies are leaving the cinemas to go to DVD/VideoOn-Demand, I’m reminded of this fact: cinemas as we know them are dying. Recent years have seen some of the highest grossing movies of all time: The Avengers shattered expectations just a few years ago, and every subsequent Marvel movie breaks the bank again and again. With 3D blockbusters becoming the norm, and prestige Oscar flicks still
I was again surprised to realise how incredibly annoying people still act in cinemas
finding audiences, it’s becoming harder and harder for certain kind of movies to find an audience. Whether it’s films films like John Carter, which tanked, or Ender’s Game, which underperformed at the box office. As the gap between the movies that profit and those that don’t increases every year, and it becomes riskier and riskier to invest money into a new project. As a result, it becomes less and less important for the average cinema to pick up new movies, instead just holding the 3D prints, as they can make more money from them. Don’t be mistaken, this is what 99% of 3D movies exist for: to inflate cinema prices. With the increase in ticket prices, the value of the ticket decreases ever further, as home cinema systems get better and relatively cheaper with every passing year, not forgetting to factor in the value of streaming movies instead of buying physical copies, and not discounting piracy. What surprises me here is that theatres don’t seem to be trying to change their fates. Occasionally, a chain will argue on the cut of ticket prices they get versus the studio, and threaten to not show a given movie. Thankfully this is fairly uncommon, but it does happen. How long will it take for big new movies to just go straight to a streaming service, bypassing cinemas altogether? If Netflix could start striking these deals soon as their subscription base only increases, it would be a coup that would put an alarming dent into the cinema industry. It’s happening to TV, how long before it happens to film?
VERGE FILM 5
Sullivan & Gold: For Foes
Ian Twohig tells us why he gladly enjoys listening to For Foes over a cup of cream filled hot chocolate and a packet of double stuffed Oreos.
CELEB PLAYLISt This week’s playlist comes from Union J’s George Shelley
1. Union J – Beautiful Life 2. Demi Lovato –In Case 3. Miley Cyrus – We Can’t Stop 4. Katy Perry, Juicy J – Dark Horse 5. Jason Derulo - Trumpets 6. Evanescence – My Immortal 7. Iggy Azalea - Bounce 8. Jack Johnson – Better Together 9. Ellie Goulding - Burn 10. Florence + The Machine - Rabbit Heart (Raise It Heart) Listen to this playlist at : spoti.fi/I9mE3H
Sullivan & Gold is the pen name of Adam Montgomery (Bass/Guitar/Vocals) and Ben Robinson (Piano/Guitar/Vocals) who both hail from Co. Derry, Northern Ireland. Their debut album For Foes contains ten creatively titled tracks, giving off a mixture of indie/folk style sounds. In contrast to this, the vocals give a sense of a David Bowie or Chris De Burg influence. The comparisons to De Burg and Bowie are a compliment by the way and in conjunction with perfectly timed harmonies Sullivan and Gold execute most of their tracks quite well. Lonely, the title of the opening track on the album is by far their best. After listening to this album more than once or twice Lonely, for me, is the most memorable track. The combination of strings, piano, and clean-cut percussion is a very good framework for a very enjoyable and memorable song. This track is very Snow Patrol-Esque and like most artists today Sullivan & Gold leave the song progress gently and settle softly. Although this track reminds me of now vintage 2006 Snow Patrol, the album as a whole does not reflect a strong Snow Patrol influence.
The Stand In S i n g l e o f t h e We e k The Shoos – Hook Line & Sinker The new single from The Shoosnot only features their traditional bluesy sound, but also features Blues Brother Rob “the honeydripper” Papparozzi and is mixed by Kodaline’s Jay Boland, the single promises a lot and delivers just that. A l b u m o f t h e We e k Lady Gaga – Art Pop Famed for her sense of style and her chart-topping hits, Lady Gaga had a lot to live upto with her long awaited third album. Featuring tracks such as Venus, Applause, Diva and Gypsy, the album provides hit after hit and is well worth a second, third and fourth listen. A r t i s t o f t h e We e k Shane Filan Since Westlife disbanded in 2011, their lead singer has been working with a team trying to shed his “boyband image” to become the new and improved Shane Filan. His first solo album recently debuted at number 6 in the album charts and things can only get bigger and better for him.
6 VERGE MUSIC
Alan Ryan reviews Caitlin Rose’s new album “The Stand In” What Caitlin Rose does in her new album The Stand In is unlike any other album. It spans a number genres and aesthetics without being swept away by their association or falling into participating in their contrivances. My first reaction; Rose has a stunning voice. She’s not a vocal acrobat; she won’t be singing the national anthem at a sporting event any times soon. What makes her such an amazing vocalist is the control she displays. She doesn’t sing a song so much as she emotes it, she’s a vocal actress who can really make you believe she’s devastated, that you’ve broken her heart and that that’s what you wanted to happen all along. She enunciates her words deliberately; no emotion is put out of place. She knows what she feels, knows how the song feels and knows how she’s making the listener feel. None of this is manipulation; it’s just ridiculously well-crafted lyrically, vocally and musically. Her voice is pure as butter. She can make you empathise with her even when she might be the villain of the song. She can be a raw nerve, vulnerable, tired, lonely, angry and furious with her voice without going into any kind of Christina Aguilera style histrionics. Musically, this is a very interesting album. It’ll almost certainly get pigeonholed as an alt-Country or an Americana album in
Like many albums, there are one or two tracks that if you hear them for the first time you might just want to skip to the next quite promptly. The change in arrangement on Run Faster is very distracting and turned me off the track immediately, saying that, I very much dislike songs that do this in general. Odd and unexpected re-arrangements are a pet peeve of mine. Track five, Jigsaw is lyrically amazing but like many midway tracks on an album it lacks substance in the chorus. What substance? Well, it’s like being on Space Mountain and travelling a lot slower pace than normal; a false sense of excitement. I do not by any means want to label For Foes with too much negativity. This album is a very well thought out and cleverly produced album, and it would be unfair of me not to mention the excellent and cleverly arranged melodies. The melodies expose some very creative writing by this duo. From listening to the album it is quite clear that both Ben and Adam have very fine tuned song writing skills. This is can be seen right throughout the album but more notably in the acoustic tracks People Talk and Don’t Stand. For Foes is a very good album if you are one who likes to listen to something while doing… well nothing really. Lying awkwardly but comfortably on the couch For Foes will fit in nicely with a lazy night of unproductivity. If you like something to sing along to whilst pre drinking on a Thursday night, then I would bypass this album if I were you. If you are like me and prefer to do nothing on a Thursday night and enjoy some easy listening indie/folk music then For Foes will be released on the 25th of November. Check it out. sound and the twangy drone of a pedal steel and the sharp licks of a telecaster that you’d come to expect from such labels. There’s more to this album, however. There are hints of influences both old and new throughout. Old Numbers is a song about being both classy and trashy by keeping a little black book these days, with its horn shuffle it could easily be at home in 50s country radio. You can tell that Rose is a huge fan of The National. Everywhere I Go owes much to The National’s ethereal ‘slow build and release’ style. It’s really unlike anything else on the album and it’s great. It’s a sonically versatile album. The opening lick on Only a Clown is what I like to believe would happen if The Replacements lived long enough to go alt-country. Were it not for Rose’s Nashville twang, many of the songs on this album would be called nothing but indie rock, or maybe the coveted “folk rock” descriptor that would get her one of those million dollar Pitchfork reviews. Lyrically, this is country with a capital C. Its loss, heartbreak, fatigue, hope and more heartbreak delivered in a very direct, sometimes poetic style. Rose is direct. There’s no esoterica you must wade through. She’s saying what feels and she’s saying it how she needs to say it. She makes two covers I Was Cruel and Dallas truly her own, in relation to the the latter you’ll never want to hear the Felize Brothers’ version again. This album is honest. And sad. And angry. Mostly, it’s just honest. I can’t think of a better compliment for this album than that.
Music Editor wley Méadhbh Cro er at cov takes a look ere songs that w eir better than th originals.
he music industry today seems to be obsessed with covers, and there are thousands of compilations and albums being released every year. But amongst the masses of unoriginality, some artists come out with songs that blow the originals out of the water and in the immortal words of U2 are “Even Better Than The Real Thing”.
Viral Music Videos: The Good and the Bad Words: David Coen
he last few years have born witness to a rapid increase in the number of viral music videos in circulation. Anyone who has been anywhere near the internet in recent years will be all too familiar with songs such as Gangnam Style appearing from nowhere and enjoying worldwide recognition in a matter of days. These not only present us with a variety of unique and humorous videos to share online but they have also established a firm grip on the music charts. Here are just a few examples of the good, and the not-so-good in today’s culture Viral Music Video’s:
Even Better Than the Real Thing Johnny Cash –Hurt Mr Cash is a man who was known for his covers, but arguably he ended his career with his best. With haunting vocals and that quintessential “Johnny Cash flair”, many people actually forget that this was originally a Nine Inch Nails track. This was the last track ever recorded by Cash and it seems a fitting song to finish a long and fulfilling career.
Sinéad O’Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U Before her infamous run in with Miley Cyrus, Sinéad was actually famous for something else… Her music career. This cover of Prince’s hit made Sinéad a household name worldwide. It’s a song which is synonymous with Sinéad and even just by saying the title you can immediately hear only her version, which proves she has trumped Prince on this song. Bruce Springsteen – Because the Night Not many people know that Bruce Springsteen actually wrote this song for himself but didn’t think it suited him and the E Street Band, so he gave it over to up and coming singer Patti Smith, whose career is often remembered solely for that one song. Although he has never released this track other than on live albums, it’s obvious that there can only be one real winner here, and it is The Boss.
James Arthur – Wrecking Ball This is the most recent cover on the list, Arthur covered this song in the infamous BBC Live Lounge and has become one of the most viewed covers on their YouTube page. Although it is similar to the original, James’ connection with the lyrics really shines through and makes the song 10 times better than Miley’s.
Whitney Houston – I Will Always Love You Dolly Parton originally sung this in her typical Dolly style, but Whitney is the person who made this song a global sensation and one of the most popular karaoke songs in the world. Houston's version of the song was acclaimed by many critics, regarding it as her "signature song" .The track is very raw and not overproduced like many of today’s hits, making it truly an iconic performance.
GO- Here It Goes Again DThis is 1.O.K O O a perfect example of a highly-creative G THE and humorous way to spread your music on a low budget. O.K Go take part in an exaggerated sequence by dancing on treadmills in a single continuous take. Although the video debuted on Youtube in 2006, its most significant landmark was reached in March 2010 when it had been viewed over 50 million times. What I believe most resonated with people here was sheer simplicity; the entire video is viewed through one camera angle and merely depicts a comedic choreography sequence.
2. LANA DEL REY- Video Games
August 2011 saw the arrival of Lana Del Rey with debut video Video Games. The video propelled her to approval from taste-maker publications like Pitchfork and generated a wide internet buzz. The video has an almost nostalgic feel to it; combining a range of clips of skate boarders, paparazzi, old cartoons and home videos to create a blur of times past. What the video actually means is open to interpretation, but is certainly effective in terms of its ability to grab the viewer emotionally.
3. WALK OFF THE EARTH - Somebody That I Used To Know
This creative cover of Gotye's Somebody That I Used to Know involves five musicians sharing a guitar between them. The sheer talent of the musicians on display here, and the innovation of representing the hit song in this way, surged the Canadian rock band to worldwide fame. Renowned for their low-budget covers, their determination finally paid off when rewarded with over 127 million views in four months.
Adele- Make You Feel My Love Back in 2008, 19 year old Adele Adkins recorded her version of Bob Dylan’s hit for her debut album “19” on the recommendation of her manager. Who would have known that this single would have been the beginning of Adele’s career, in all the cover spent a total of 55 weeks on the official UK charts, making it the joint 16th longest runner of all time.
Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah Leaving the best for last, Jeff Buckley’s rendition of Leonard Cohen’s classic is arguably the best cover of all time. Not many people can match the talent of Buckley and this stripped back performance is something that many people have tried to emulate but no one has ever succeeded.
DNot much needs to be said here that hasn't A B E H T been said before. The video of the South 1. PSY- Gangnam Style
Korean artist's 18th single became YouTube's most watched video after being viewed an extraordinary 1.793 billion times. While I fail to see much amusement in the music video (enough to justify it being the most watched video ever, that is) and find the song itself irritable at best, you cannot but respect the bizarre success that this video has enjoyed.
2. REBECCA BLACK- Friday
Once it emerged that Rebecca Black was being completely genuine in her attempts with this video, the amount of negative coverage it gained appeared as exceptionally cruel. Vitriol aimed at her included death threats. Or maybe the music video really was a publicity stunt to begin with. Either way this was never going to be placed anywhere but 'the bad' section.
3. YLVIS- What Does the Fox Say
Ylvis, a Norwegian comedy duo, added to the list of irritating viral music videos with What Does The Fox Say. The song humorously questions the sound, if any, that a fox produces. This video needs to be seen to be believed. Its combination of Norwegians in animal costumes and one of the most annoying choruses in music history is almost nauseating. It reached 100 million views faster than PSY and reached number six on the Billboard top 100. And who am I to argue? Currently 1,725,960 people have liked the video on YouTube, indicating that the world seems heavily interested about what the fox really does say.
VERGE MUSIC 7
S T R A T I L &
INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE: DARREN SHAN
Arts and Literature Editor Eoghan Lyng catches up with “The Master of Horror”
o say that Darren Shan is a popular writer is as much an understatement as stating that Queen Elizabeth II owns a large amount of property. Darren Shan`s books have been published in every continent of the world, selling over twenty million copies in the process. What makes this feat even more impressive is that Shan`s first book was only published in 1999. Since that year, Shan has hardly refrained himself from writing, having churned out nearly forty books in the last fifteen years. Shan himself has noted that such a prolific output can be difficult at times. “It ain`t easy” Shan tells Verge. “You just have to keep your head down and don’t come up for air!”
where I lived, and would have taken inspiration from whatever I found in my surroundings.” Though Shan has maintained an expansive backlog of work, it is The Saga of Darren Shan that he is best known for. Based around an eponymous character forced to leave his existence and move into a vampiric world, the twelve book series dealt with themes and ideas untouched by other authors. The books started off as a gothic reflection of the lives led by social outcasts such as vampires, werewolves and other freaks, before developing into a fantasy of legendary proportions. By the end of the series, the main character in question underwent many great personality transformations, both
to Charles Dickens for its imaginative scope, than to other Vampire based sagas such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Twilight. The books certainly have a Dickensian feel to them not readily found in many adolescent books. Shan himself has openly acknowledged Dickens`s influence on his work. “He [Dickens] was a great story-teller” he admits to Verge. “Even if you haven’t read his books, you’re most likely being influenced by writers who have. He knew how to put a hell of a good story together, and the methods he developed still work today”. Shan has frequently admitted that A Tale of Two Cities is one of his favourite works. With many other influences, it`s not always easy to see the shadow of that book within Shan`s work, although the polarising worlds between humans and vampires in the twelve book cycle may be a nod of the head to the works of the great nineteenth century writer. If The Saga of Darren Shan was a titillating look at vampires in a Dickensian context, then his next collection, The Demonata series, was an opera of Faustian standards. Connecting three differing characters in a series of demonic events spanning over many centuries, worlds and portals, the series is arguably his best work to date, one in which Shan readily admits himself. The Demonata is the series I’m proudest of, because it’s the one I had to stretch myself the furthest to make work. It began as a collection of demon-focused stories that didn’t really connect up smoothly, but I somehow managed to pull all the disparate strands together and weave them into a fluid, carefully interconnected whole”. Lord Loss, the first Demonata book, was
I think I would have been a writer no matter where I lived, and would have taken inspiration from whatever I found in my s u r r ou nd i ng s Breathlessness is right. Darren O` Shaughnessy, or Darren Shan to his fans, has had on average; two books published a year since 2000. Equate that to fantasy writers J.R.R Tolkien (who only published two major works in his lifetime) and Philip Pullman (who has not written anything of note since 2000) and Shan comes out on top as a consistently prolific artist. Arguably, only Stephen King has been as consistently efficient in the world of fantasy! Shan must be the Irish equivalent to Stephen King! On the topic of Irishness, it is interesting to note that Shan himself does not think his Irish surroundings have influenced him in the same way they inspired other great Irish writers like Seamus Heaney or James Joyce. “I’ve lived here most of my life” he says “and what I have experienced here has certainly fed into my work, but I think I would have been a writer no matter
8 VERGE ARTS & LITERATURE
psychologically and sexually, written in a way that J. K. Rowling and Terry Pratchett never quite managed to pull off. Shan attests that the books were always meant to be read as a paean to adolescence. “I realised it was a coming of age tale. The books followed Darren through his teenage years, as he made his way through the world and learnt about growing up. By the time of book 12, he had come of age, and it just didn’t feel right to carry the story on any further.” This coming of age essence must have been universal, as the first book, “Cirque de Freak”, was made into a Universal Pictures film in 2009 starring John C. Reilly and Willem Dafoe. Although the film featured an A-List cast, the film met with critical and commercial derision. What`s most interesting about the books is their allusively literate style. “The Saga of Darren Shan” should be more readily compared
nominated for Children`s Book of The Year in 2005, becoming a UK #1 hit in the process, a success he sustained with the rest of the series. Since then, Shan has often been described by his honorific title The Master of Horror. Unlike many authors who come to dislike the genre they helped propagate, Shan seems readily content with the macabric universe of horror novels. “I think horror is a fascinating genre. It allows you to go off in all sorts of interesting directions. My books are a real mix of genres – I cover all sorts of strange ground – but I find the dark element acts as a catalyst for everything else.” Shan`s writing style has certainly changed over the years. His current series for teenagers, Zom-B, is his most expansive in thematic style yet. “As well as being a grisly zombie apocalypse tale, it’s also my most political series” he explains. “[The books] look at racism, religious extremism, the abuse of power, and so on. There’s plenty of thought-provoking material in amongst all the brain-munching”. Vampires. Demons.And now zombies. There does not seem to be any Hammer Monster that Shan has not written about in length. Shan may not have veered too far away from the realm of fantasy and horror, but his writing style certainly has. He readily accepts new forms and styles, refusing to allow complacency step in his way. As Shan himself says, “I’m always looking to take on new challenges and do new things. I think a writer should look to develop all the time. It’s dangerous to hit a plateau!” Darren Shan lives in Limerick, Ireland. His current release “Zom-B Baby” is available in all bookshops.
UCC Dramat: Foxf inder Foxfinder is UCC Dramat`s first production of term one. Conor Shearman gives the rundown...
ontemporary society is one filled with disillusionment. Debt, cutbacks and unemployment are common factors across the globe and unite people in a common distrust of institutions and Government. Dawn King’s Foxfinder explores these sentiments of disappointment and disillusionment in an unsettling account of a society built on lies and deceit. The world of Foxfinder is one in which foxes are held responsible for a variety of issues; not least the contamination of crops, corrupting the mind and sexual perversion. The institution formed in response to these issues produces “foxfinders”, whose role it is to locate and eliminate the beasts. The play opens as young “foxfinder” William Bloor begins an investigation into a suspected infestation on the farm of the troubled couple Sam and Judith Covey. Conflict quickly arises as the couple already haunted by failing crops and the recent death of their child struggle to deal with the difficult presence of William. Conflict between characters merely scrape the surface of the drama however as the true power lies in the conflicted nature of the characters
The stark minimalist staging fast establishes the dark brooding mood which continues throughout much of the first act whilst the intimacy of the Granary theatre themselves; suspended between belief, or the lack thereof in the fox. This Dramat production, directed by Maria Manning, conjures up a consuming evening of tension and unease. The stark minimalist staging fast establishes the dark brooding mood which continues throughout much of the first act whilst the intimacy of the Granary theatre; at times the actors stand no more than 4 feet from the audience, ensuring that one cannot help but be sucked into the grim rural setting. Innovation is
superbly executed; William’s use of a Dictaphone to convey his thoughts provides a modern twist on the aside whilst eerie combinations of instrument and voice ensure that the audience is immersed in the unsettling nature of the play even between scenes. It would be a mistake however to assume that King’s superb script is simply a dark morose affair. It is keenly aware of the danger of wallowing in its own seriousness and punctuates the darkness with moments of genuine humour. Indeed such is the tension of the production that the audience at times broke into uneasy laughter at scenes which lacked comedy. Performances were solid all round, although Niamh Kavanagh and Laura Gallen were perhaps confined in terms of the rather disappointing female characters which King creates. Judith Covey and her neighbour Sarah Box appear as the stereotypical helpless female, powerless to change their circumstances and manipulated by the men around them. The stand out performance on the night came from John Treacy, playing the intriguing “foxfinder” William Bloor. Institutionalized from a young age the audience cannot help but feel sorry for such a pervasively lonely character. Love is a sensation he has never experienced making the devastating consequences of his search for that love all the more tragic. From the proceedings it is clear that he is the victim of a society which has lied and deceived him. The drama may also provide an interesting reading on the Catholic Church. Themes of indoctrination, institutionalism and repressed sexuality all provide interesting commentaries on the legacy of the church in Ireland today. The central question throughout the play, whether the fox is real or not, could be applied to the existence of God. Belief is based on the characters own needs, particularly evident in the case of Sam Covey. The farmer, played by Alan Mooney, chooses to believe in the fox so that he has the hope of being healed.
Beyond the Brooklyn Sky:Red Kettle Theatre Company Words: Greg Gorman play that takes you no further than the very appropriate setting of a worn pub, located in the small coastal town of Brandon, where a once young clique spent most their days. Now twenty-five years later, they are having a congregation to celebrate the achievement of their friend Jack who had flown solo in a light aircraft across the Atlantic back to Ireland where he had emigrated from over 20 years ago. After Jack pompously conveys his heroic flight, he inadvertently ignites feelings of melancholy upon his friends as the sentiments of being in a small stagnant town which rise to the intense emotions as each character is reminded of their days in 1988, when they all went to America to attempt the big dream. Written by Michael Hillard Mulcahy, the play is a sombre, but enjoyable affair. This return reminds each character of how dreams may shatter and life may often become a reflection of a broken dream. In Brendy we see a man who struggles for a dream and despite his friends’ deprecation of his crazy plan to row from a tiny port in Newfoundland to his home pier in Brandon, he aggressively tries to persuade them that he is more capable than they are willing to believe. Aggressively he tries to earn peoples respect and isolates himself. The two women in the play: Mags and Josie, are pressed by this circumstance to reflect on their life choices, and are both in mutual understanding of each other’s unsatisfying relationships. Josie can no longer
bear to suffer Brendy’s repetitive spiel on his plan. While Mags confronts an old romance that didn’t endure reality – A musician and an old lover named Greg, who is in Ireland on a brief visit to Norway. In what should be a celebration, ultimately comes to be an explosive impact on the already festering wounds carried by the characters which allows for many highly emotive and melodramatic scenarios. While this build-up of middle-aged frustration climaxes, director Peter Sheridan keeps it very modern in its relation to contemporary issues and in its dialogue involving the teenage Shannon who reels laughs from the audience with her cocky yet witty quips.
A remarkable aspect of the production is the seamless use of sound and music to create physical and subjective context. Many times we are reminded of the world outside the pub through the sounds of waves and planes. However, more importantly is the effect of music on the characters and audience. The characters revisit their past, their dreams at the time and their tough lessons when the music of the 80’s they heard in America is replayed and the memories re-experienced. Such a relatable effect on the characters gives the audience the rare opportunity to reconnect with the music of their past, which connects the audience to the characters in a sort of shared experience. Music plays a massive role in defining the characters and in making their past seemingly real and by extension, making the characters themselves real and relatable. The play covers a wide range of themes, such as mortality, love, dreams and reality, which ultimately inquires into the characters relationship with life. The play illustrates the difficulty of dealing with real life, that the path above or in this case beyond our life is much easier and much sought after instead of the grounded experience of going through life. However, which way is contributes more towards our happiness? Beyond the Brooklyn Sky is a rare and successful blend between humorous and poignant, it serves as an incredibly relevant exploration of our culture and a well-executed play that inevitably attaches us to the characters.
VERGE ARTS & LITERATURE 9
Failure to Launch
G N I AM
Words: Brian Conmy
n this, the dawning of the new era of gaming or more realistically a minor advancement in the graphical power of the consoles we’ll be using that are still outshone by the PC - I can admit to not being as excited as I could be. I’ve looked with great interest at the sudden outpouring of information from both Microsoft and Sony about their consoles and pondered at some of their decisions but overall I’m glad I’m not picking up one of these consoles at launch and I advise you, the reader, not to pick one up either. Not right away at least. Each party has released information about the day one patches required for each console, the Xbox One is basically a brick until it gets its day one patch. Each patch is adding in what both parties have previously described as core functionality and yet when the respective patches are done the consoles still won’t have all of the features described over the previous few months. Detailing what will be missing on each console would be too long for one article so if you do intend on picking up an Xbox One or PS4 ensure you’ve looked into what exactly you’re buying at launch. For in effect, you’re buying into a beta. When the Xbox 360 launched it was plagued with problems, I myself had two Red Rings of Death before giving up on the console and switching fully to the PS3 -which then Yellow Lighted of Death on me. I learned a lesson. These home consoles had unprecedented power and their designs simply couldn’t handle what they were trying to do. Now with even more powerful consoles can we really trust that the consoles were tested enough to ensure that the software has no issues, that the heat
Brian Conmy discusses why you shouldn’t buy a console at launch is vented properly, that the PSN and XBL can handle the amount of users they’ll have on launch night? These are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the issues the consoles can have, the problem ultimately goes much deeper than this. Both Xbox One and PS4 are launching with 500GB hard drives and don’t support external hard drive storage support, at launch at least. If you intend on using the console exclusively with digital games a 500GB hard drive will fill up very quickly, especially considering the size of some of the launch games. Killzone Shadow Fall on the PS4 will be an almost 40GB file size for example. Although the PS4 will have changeable hard drives once you get upwards of 1tb SATA hard drives become expensive and perhaps not worth the investment when a much more attractive option is available: just wait. In time better bundles of consoles always become available, whether this be what the console is bundled with, in terms of games or peripherals, or the console itself being iterated on to be slimmer/have less power consumption or any number of other improvements. It’s almost a guarantee that soon enough both consoles will become available with bigger hard drives should you require one. While the launch line ups for both consoles are also underwhelming even if there are certain games you want what will you be playing a month or so later? Just look at the Wii U for how promising a launch can be to be immediately followed by a drought. With all this said, as excited as I am for the consoles’ futures and the possibilities of the next generation, I’m still going to be jealous of the few who pick up the new console and get to play around with them at launch, faults and all.
From Pong to Playstation: A Gaming Heritage
Rob O Sullivan talks about gaming past as we near the new generation e are on the precipice of a new generation of video game consoles. It is at this point that we must look back at gaming’s past. From experience, I’ve noticed that your garden-variety gamer really doesn’t know about anything beyond Super Mario. We must celebrate and commiserate what has happened in the past, and begin to comprehend what lies ahead. Although first invented as a “cathode ray tube amusement device” in 1947, video games did not take off until the release of the arcade game Pong by Atari in 1972. This lead to the popularisation of video game arcades and the beginning of the first home console generation. Many companies came out with home computers and consoles, but when the video game market crashed in 1977, many of them fell. Ironically, it was the popularity of Pong that caused this crash, as there was a flood of Pong clones.
by such iconic games as Asteroids and Galaxian. On May 22nd of 1980, one of the most iconic video game characters was born: Pacman. For anyone who’s seen or read the wonderful Scott Pilgrim, you know that Pacman was not named for his visual similarities to a hockey-puck, that’s just a coincidence. Pacman came out at a time when gaming was dominated by Space Invaders and Asteroids (and, at this point to a lesser extent, Pong), carving out its own niche and becoming one of the iconic symbols of the 80s. Even today, Pacman has the highest brand recognition of any video game character. The Atari 2600 is the seminal retro console, even coming with that almost stereotypically retro wood panel design. Following the crash of ‘77, the Atari 2600 was the first console to have widespread success.
Pacman came out at a time when gaming was dominated by Space Invaders and Asteroids (and, at this point to a lesser extent, Pong), carving out its own niche and becoming one of the iconic symbols of the 80s. As the home consoles fell, the arcades rose in popularity. In 1978, Taito released Space Invaders, a simple game inspired by Star Wars and The War of the Worlds. It’s an often quoted myth that when Space Invaders was released, there was a shortage of 100-yen coins across Japan, but sadly that’s not how economics works. Space Invaders was followed
10 VERGE GAMING
Its biggest games were Adventure, Yar’s Revenge, Pitfall and Breakout However great and iconic those games were, it is one game that arguably had a more lasting impact on the video game industry: E.T. Atari purchased the official licensing rights for Steven Spielberg’s hit family film. However, negotiations for the cost of the license dragged on, in the end giving
lone developer Howard Scott Warshaw only 5 and a half weeks to develop the game in time for the Christmas market. The concept is simple enough: the player controls ET, who must find the parts of a telephone to phone home. These parts are in pits in the ground, which ET must fall into. Once he’s found a part, he must extend his neck and float out of the pit, however he often just falls back in. Oh, but watch out for a detective and a scientist who will take ET away, stealing all of the parts in the process. Atari produced around 7 million copies of ET, despite there only being around 2 million Atari 2600’s in American homes. The game did not sell well, nor did a rather terrible port of our beloved Pac-Man. It is rumoured that Atari dumped all of the excess copies in a landfill in New Mexico, but various sources at Atari have both confirmed and denied that over the years. Having played ET (I actually own a copy for the 2600. No, I am not a hipster) it’s actually rather fun, and quite unique. This year, a fixed version of the game was released online; it’s definitely worth a go, even if just to say you’ve played “the worst game of all time.” Both of these games are considered to have seriously contributed to the major video game crash of 1983. It wasn’t until 1985, when Nintendo released a game featuring a certain plumber that the home video game market returned, and the rest, as they say, is history.
hen I interviewed for the position of Gaming Editor for this fabulous paper I had an idea in mind on how I wanted the section to be. I didn’t and still don’t believe that people look to a college newspaper for their gaming reviews, you have a source for those if you want one and I’m sure some of you just go into games blind. Besides by the time we get to print a review is already a little outdated and that’s out of our control. So instead I wanted these two pages to be more like a forum where anyone could submit a piece with ideas they may not be able to express elsewhere. We’ve had pieces on gender, choice or illusion thereof in game, what we think of the next gen and many more opinion or informative pieces that you may not be seeing equivalents of elsewhere. Some gaming sites don’t tend to run pieces like these, IGN is mostly news and reviews whereas The Penny Arcade Report is mostly more insightful and thought provoking. These are two ends of the spectrum of game journalist outputs and you likely have a number of sources where you get your fix of game journalism. If you really want to find the most divergent opinion on games though you’re not going to look at the mainstream, so here are some recommendations of where to look if you want more variety in your game journalism consumption. First, on the slightly more mainstream side of things: Destructoid, formerly of Jim Sterling fame, has some very interesting writers who will post funny and strange pieces. A recent highlight being a table of a large number of black characters in video games and their categorisation under
Was that worth my effort? Darragh Murphy tells us why he’s addicted to “the Ping!”
such tropes as “criminal, token and grape-y” -if you know what grapey is please tell me. Neogaf is a forum with impossible to explain rules for joining. A number of high profile game journalists or makers haven’t been allowed to join the forums, often for reasons nobody could quite explain. The forum itself is very active and has a very divergent group of regular users who share sometimes very unpopular opinions on popular games. Since this is a forum you can try to join, if you can figure out how exactly. Finally and possibly a rather bad recommendation but definitely one to keep an eye on, is the video game board /v/ on 4chan. While 4chan seems to be known as a den of smut and horrible things, in general the video game specific board is extremely interesting in some ways. The entire board seems to have a hive mind mentality on certain topics such as how bad Fallout 3 is. I’ve never seen an explanation for this opinion, which the board seems to hold as fact, but I’m interested in sticking around long enough to figure out why. Since 4chan is anonymous this may be place most full of troll or hate filled opinions, so beware. And of course if you feel like expressing your opinions you can always write for this section. As always the e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org and I’m always there to act as a sounding board for any ideas you may have or want to develop. My twitter is @aerach71 as another means of contact so feel free to talk to me there… or explain why Fallout 3 sucks. Please. I need to know.
A few days ago, a day full of unattended lectures and much-needed-but-guiltilyavoided study, I sat down for a full day of trophy hunting on GTA V. I made what I believe was an impressive amount of progress; I collected the 50 letter scraps and UFO parts, did the 50 stunt jumps which were scattered throughout the map, and finally completed that dreadful mission in the submarine collecting the nuclear waste containers. If any of you have driven that sluggish submarine, you will know how relieved I was to get out of it after an hour and a half. However, about half way through collecting the various bits and bobs, I asked myself a very important question – is this really worth the time I'm putting in? All I'm going to get is a bronze trophy that not many people will see, an almost-complimentary comment from a friend (something along the lines of "that must have taken a while to do"), and maybe a good ol' pat on the back...from myself. Nevertheless, I still spent hours acquiring those bronze trophies, all for that satisfying “Ping!” sound that gamers love so much, because of the sense of accomplishment it signals. There are mixed feelings about Sony's “Trophies” and Xbox/Steam's “Achievements”. Some say they ruined the gaming experience, as gamers are so fixated on achieving these trophies that the way they play can become calculated in a way that disregards the game’s story, or disrupts the flow of combat (for example, aiming to "kill 25 people with an RPG" even when it’s irrelevant to the situation at hand). I remember playing the first Darksiders and choosing
Brian Conmy analyses the gaming websites that go above the board in gaming discussion
the hardest difficulty on my first playthrough, solely to collect all the trophies in one full swoop – boy, did that ruin the game for me. Because of my repetitive and numerous deaths, my associations with the game are so negative that I hate it now, even though it is generally well received. As well as potentially ruining your gaming experience, some of these trophies/achievements can be absurdly useless. Take, for example, the wholly unimpressive GTA V's "Waste Management" trophy. Have many people got this trophy? Probably not – which arguably could render it impressive that you are one of the few who have – but is it particularly difficult to win? Not in the slightest. Trophies like “Waste Management” aren't herculean feats that you can take pride in and this leaves you with little satisfaction once completed. Perhaps if there was a more motivating end goal (aside from simply increasing your overall trophy level on your profile), these trophies would be worth investing your blood, sweat, and tears in. On that note, next generation consoles would benefit from introducing nextlevel incentives to trophy-hunting gamers. What if achieving a platinum trophy level on a game opened up a secret ending, or if a sky-high trophy level gave you free DLC for certain games? With fan service such as this, the sense of achievement prompted by that beloved “Ping!” would take on additional meaning, and perhaps re-invigorate the concept of trophyhunting gaming.
Now, despite my dissatisfaction with the current status of trophy-hunting gaming, I feel compelled to add that trophies aren't all bad. They can present us with great re-play value, which lets us fully access the most of what the game can offer, and they can lead us to intriguing Easter eggs, or parts of a game we didn't know were available. The Batman: Arkham Series does a fabulous job of this – I probably would have missed experiences such as solving all of Riddler's puzzles, or that touching moment when Bruce pays his respects to his parents, if the trophies hadn’t led me there. Furthermore, there have been some games that have begun to offer fan service to their gamers: the platinum level for God of War III, for example, gives you a name for a website that shows you a sneak peak for Ghost of Sparta on the PSP. More game developers need to take this leap for their gamers, and with the next generation of consoles coming out, now is the perfect time. Stop simply giving us the "collect 50 specks of dust" genre of trophy, because it’s common knowledge that there is a guide that shows us exactly where they are. Give us a trophy that pushes our skill levels – like "Perfect Freeflow" in the Arkham Series games, or those combos in Street Fighter IV – something other gamers can marvel at (much like the old days when we marveled when someone punched in that unknown fatality code in Mortal Kombat!). You can refrain from removing those story-related trophies, though. What can I say, I'm addicted to the Ping!
VERGE GAMING 11
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Volume 2, Issue 6