Magical Mondays: Sirens and Pandora

There are many, many things I love to see in literature and narrative universes of any form of media. One of the things I’m particularly fond of is taking ancient mythology and giving it a fresh twist. To the detriment of Western media consumers, most of this mythology is largely coming from the Greek/Roman pantheon. While I would really love to see more influence from, say, African and Indian mythos, for example, because knowledge of the Greek and Roman pantheon is so prevalent, this mythology is easier to market. (Again, a flaw of over-saturation in the market.) Due to this, when Borderlands gives me a group of people called “sirens”, I automatically start filling in some of the blanks. But, thinking about it a little more closely, how similar are the sirens in the Borderlands universe to the songstresses from ye olde legends and myths?  Spoiler warning for both Borderlands games under the cut.

--via Giphy

—Via Giphy

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Trailer Tuesdays: Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

You might be saying to yourself, “wait, this isn’t a trailer,” and you’re right. But given my love for the Borderlands series, I wanted to hop on this as soon as I could. So, yeah. A new Borderlands game.

…This is hard for me to get into because feel like I should be excited for this—a new game so soon and with world-expanding elements? It sounds so perfect, like everything I ever wanted. I’m just not excited, though. The only feelings I can muster are ones of acceptance and moderate disapproval—not feelings I want to associate with this series. Looking at the consensus of the fandom, I hate to say it, but I’m far from alone in feeling this way.

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Trailer Tuesdays: Tales From the Borderlands

If there’s one good thing that spawned from the travesty that is the VGAs (Spike’s Video Game Awards), it’s the opportunity for different companies to interact with each other. And while Spike themselves seems like a channel that has absolutely no clue how to handle their demographic, this last year—in between the terrible hosting and the inept jokes—the audience was finally rewarded with a trailer to a game that could be the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

Tales From the Borderlands combines two of my current favorites of the video game industry, Gearbox’s Borderlands IP and Telltale Games, into one delectable game series a la The Walking Dead. Expanding upon the huge, multi-planet universe, the game is focusing on two new characters: Fiona, who’s wanted for fraud, and a mystery dude who’s decked out in Hyperion gear—I don’t know if he’s half robot/loader or what, but he looks cool.

As with the theme of Borderlands, the obvious thing to think is that the pair is after one of the many treasures that’s said to lay hidden in Pandora’s wastelands. However,  I can’t see Telltale taking that route. Especially with the appearance of Handsome Jack, the big bad of Borderlands 2 who is also currently very dead, it seems like there’s much more to this side-project than meets the eye. Continue reading

Rin Plays: T.K. Baha’s Bloody Harvest

I love it when games release content for the holidays, and when the heads behind Borderlands 2 announced the release of a Halloween-themed DLC, I knew I had to get it. Even though Halloween proper is still a week off, I snapped it up on its release date back on Tuesday.

I know I didn't review the Tiny Tina DLC. I'm getting to it

I know I didn’t review the Tiny Tina DLC. I’m getting to it.

In addition to being something special for this time of year, T.K. Baha’s Bloody Harvest also gives way to a new type of DLC: head hunts. As the name implies, the goal of the quest line is to eventually win a special head—it’s what it sounds like: a facial customization for your character that changes most, if not all, parts of the head. Whereas I will agree that releasing so many ‘pay-to-get’ DLC customization options is a bit money grubbing—there have been fifteen in total—what I like about the head hunts is that it gives you an entirely new environment to run around in and new enemies to fend off. At least that’s what it seems like given the contents of this DLC. The question is: is it worth the three dollars? Spoilers under the cut.

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Fanfiction Fridays: Becoming Pandora

[Spoilers for Borderlands 2 Below]

When playing a game, there’s nothing more satisfying to me then when I can start to sympathize with the main antagonist. And there’s no character in the past couple of years that I can think of that has encapsulated this as perfectly as Borderlands’ Handsome Jack. When I began my new journey on Pandora, I hated him. I hated him so much, him and his stupid crystal pony and stupid surveyors. (GAH! Could there even be a more annoying enemy?!) I loved to hate him. Then I made it to the BNK3R and it all went to shit. And after going to the Arid Nexus it went even more to shit and I actually began to like him.

The shift from over-the-top despicable to 3-dimensional character who is still awful, but has motives that one can empathize with was amazing. One aspect that really helped propel Jack’s character was his relationship with his daughter, Angel. Fraught with power struggles on both sides and a general feeling of helplessness, it was something that so strongly motivated the now Hyperion CEO, but in ways that weren’t, and still aren’t fully known to the audience.There just wasn’t enough on their past together for me to be satiated. More. I wanted more. Luckily, Cybertronic Purgatory has taken up the slack with their fic, Becoming Pandora.

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Rin Plays: Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Disappointment

Borderlands 2 Sir Hammerlocks Big Game HuntOoooh, Gearbox. Why this?  I am just so… disappointed. I don’t think there’s any other way to describe my feelings upon finishing the newest DLC, ‘Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt’.  It was supposed to be the brosiest hunting trip in the history of hunting trips—until it was interrupted by a mad scientist trying to destroy my character—but it just felt so rushed. So unloved in comparison to the other two DLCs that were previously released and even the DLCs for the previous game (not counting the Underdome DLC, ‘cause that shit just didn’t have a story). Spoilers below the cut.

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White House Calls for Research on Links Between Video Games and Violence

Yesterday, the White House unveiled “Now is the Time: The President’s plan to protect our children and our communities by reducing gun violence.” Super good! I don’t intend to attack the the President, his plan, or even the fact that he calls for more research into any possible relationships between video games and violence. With the trauma of gun violence being so severe in American culture, encouraging research into what many citizens believe to have a causative relationship with violence, i.e. that violent video games lead to violent crime, is the right call. While it is politically unfortunate that the President seemed unable to find a place for video games in his plan than under the section to “End the Freeze on Gun Violence Research,” (page 8), I don’t think that we have much to worry about regarding any lasting effects on public opinion. We know that all good research into the topic, assuming fair distribution and reporting of research results and data, is going to show that video games and their place in society are nothing to be afraid of.

Here is my point; how do we already know that we have nothing to fear? Hasn’t research already shown that violence in video games has a lasting effect on gamers, causing them to be desensitized to violence and therefore less likely to check impulses toward violent behavior? Since video games are more immersive than other forms of media, doesn’t it stand to reason that they affect a greater ability to impact and change the human psyche? Let’s look into why not. Continue reading