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Struggle bus

Take back the controller



Money makes the world go round, and it’s a resource of which I have very little. I’m a member of a paycheck-to-paycheck kind of family, which means that every penny, nickel, and dime is assigned a purpose before they’re deposited into a bank account, and then? The ultimate vanishing act. You can line up every second Thursday to see the show. All of this basically means one thing: we have no room for surprise expenditures. So you can only imagine my frustration when school, which is mandated, became that expenditure. I don’t have a car for transportation and neither does my mother. The only person who does in our family is my grandmother, but she uses her car for work in the mornings and afternoons. Over the summer, my family moved further away from West approximately 2.8 miles. The day my mother went to register my brothers I had to work, so she registered for me. She also applied for busing services, which I was sure we’d qualify for. Nope. We weren’t quite far enough away from the school. Which means that when Aug. 21 lurched up I was left to wonder where my bus was. When 8 a.m. rolled around and it still hadn’t arrived, my mother and I were scrounging around the house for what change we could find in order to provide me with bus fare to school and back. Which wasn’t quite as easy as it was last year since bus fare has gone from 75 cents in Coralville and 50 cents in Iowa City to a standard dollar fare in both. Let’s do some quick math: in a school year, that’s about 360 bucks to school and back. I could pay 30 dollars for each month I have even one day of school, which is

every month from August to June. That totals $300 for the ten months school is in session. That may be 60 clams less, but for my family that’s still $300 too many. Of course there’s the option of just walking, after all, it’s only 2.8 miles. Consider the seasons. For any of us who have experienced an Iowan winter, it’s not hard to imagine the chilling wind carving chasms in your face. And the recent heat waves don’t really endorse the idea either. So I had one last hope. I’d speak to the man who had provided me a bus pass last year, after my spout of tardies and periodic absences began to threaten truancy. He’d sort me out with a bus pass; he’d understand. Well, while I can say he understood and even sympathized a bit, that source turned up broke. Apparently this year a new policy for student aid had been implemented and you must now be an at-risk student or homeless in order to qualify for a bus pass. At-risk meaning I had to be threatening to drop out, or ... can you guess? Yep. Truant once more. With no car, no school bus and no bus pass, anger truly began to fester. It’s as if circumstances placed my foot in a bear trap. My options had dwindled from beaucoup to binary. I could stop coming to school and become an at-risk student or continue to be disciplined for trying. Thankfully Mr. Johnson came through with a possible solution. Hopefully this works; if not, there’s a good chance that you’ll see another installment of this about the case C misdemeanor my truancy will cost my mom and me.

I started playing video games when I was very young. I used the WASD keys to walk before I could walk. I typed out “lol” into “Warcraft 3”’s chat window before I even knew what the acronym stood for. I would pronounce it “lawl” and thought it was some strange colloquialism you typed out at the end of a sentence. My favorite game was a computer version of Disney’s “Hercules,” which I pronounced “pork-ales” for no apparent reason. I remember spending days frying the back of my irises with images of “Jack and Daxter,” “Bugdom” and other old classics. But recently, as I delve into my more modern repertoire of computer games like “Call of Duty” and the “Mass Effect” series, I feel as though some magic is missing. For example, the final battle of “Jack and Daxter 3” takes place in a war-torn desert where the player drives a vehicle to shoot down a massive alien. Once the creature is damaged but still moving, the player climbs onto its back and battles huge black tentacles that I guess are alien bachne. In contrast, the final battle of Halo 3 pitted the player against a floating orb-thing that was literally the size of a football. I rolled my eyes so hard during that “boss” battle I saw my frontal lobe (quite green I might add). It is not only final bosses that have decreased in power as processors have gained more. Many modern video games are so linear that they resemble playing two-dimensional snake. They focus on stories with writers that are a strange combination of Stephenie Meyer and that guy who wrote a series of books based on Mega Man. Instead of working on gameplay, developers spend time


crafting a crushing abundance of micro-transactions that slowly bleed the player of money and unlock content tantalizingly slowly (so slowly it’s in its own “Legendary League”). There is definitely something wrong with the gaming industry when “Minecraft,” a game programmed by one person, is more successful than “Aliens Colonial Marines,” a mess of a game created by a studio of a couple-hundred programmers. It is obvious that industry games are now more interested in profit than fun when looking at abominations such as “Serious Sam 3: BFE.” The series was supposed to mimic the fast paced antiquated gameplay of “Doom” and “Quake.” But the third installment of the series rips off “Call of Duty” so hard I’m surprised there hasn’t been a suit. The fast-paced gameplay is gone, and it looks like“Call of Duty” run on a MacBook Air bootcamped with Windows 98. Yet, according to game reviewer IGN, the game is “great.” As with most markets, consumers control the video game industry. But no longer can video game players buy like lemmings and devour micro-transactions, ridiculous stories and repetitive gameplay. Mass-consumer action like the backlash against the Xbox One and the iPhone’s “Candy Crush” is the first step in the process of a more enlightened gaming culture that demands more than $60 downloadable content to give you a hat and a new map which could be created by a 10-year-old with Source SDK. Players need to start controlling not just the games, but the industry - saving the world, and their wallets, lol.

September 27, 2013  
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