Letterkenny – a Canadian show that pulls a Monogatari

Bakemonogatari, and the Monogatari series as a whole, is a very unique beast.  The anime spends as much time playing word games as it does going through its actual plot, and you may be surprised to learn that this is not just in its adaptation.  The first novel in the series, Kizumonogatari spends the first chapter talking around a vampire instead of about them, making play-on-words and constant asides rather than actually detailing the character the narrator is supposed to, dancing around the subject until they finally give in… The following chapter.

And this is basically the essence of this series.  Well, if you ignore the random outings into very yikes uncomfortable sexual scenarios and bouts with supernatural beasts.

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Spider-Man – How a game about superheroes got super real.

So, in case anyone missed it, the new Spider-Man game on PS4 is just gosh dang fun. Every little detail of pretending to be Spider-Man swinging through the streets of Manhattan Island is one of my favorite experiences I’ve played in a game in a long time, and Insomniac keeps showing me why they continue to be amazing at what they do.  It’s just so much fun to swing around, to beat up gangs of bad guys, or even to hop down onto the city streets and high-five a fan or finger guns a tourist as they snap a picture of you. It’s not only the systems and mechanics but also the atmosphere of the game, with decent portions of the game taking place on bright, sunny days and with wonderful and fully realized characters going about their lives across New York.  So it came as a surprise to me, a person who was just enraptured and thinking about the gameplay, that after a few hours of playing, I found myself crying.

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Let me back up a bit and give some context.

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The Art of Peace in War: Emergent friendship in player versus player games

In just a few weeks, Sea of Thieves releases, a zany and fun pirate game filled with magic, mystery, and majestic ocean views.  The world of Sea of Thieves is a dangerous place with no safe zones for players (full pvp) and tons of incentives to attack other crews with your best buds.  Excitement and action abound!  However, one of my favorite things about this game that has me so excited outside of the amazing ship battles, interesting treasure riddles to solve, beautiful rendering of the ocean waves, and amazing weather simulations… are the musical instruments.

From the start, each player is given in their inventory an accordion and an odd stringed instrument called a hurdy gurdy.  Rare, the developer, is no stranger to fun within games and these instruments are very cleverly implemented.  If someone starts to play a song, anyone can join in, with the game syncing up the playing so that it sounds like anyone else just jumped into the tune, automatically assigning melody, harmony, and bass parts to other players.  Because of this, there’s this sensation of unity and fun as a crew performs together using items that would otherwise be a simple addition to the game and wouldn’t really have another purpose.

But it’s the fact the game designers put music that the players can play together into the game that I find so fascinating and important.  In a world filled with cannonballs and cutlasses, Rare dropped an element into the game that has no aggressive action to it (besides maybe playing Flight of the Valkyries as people charge into battle).  In fact, as the saying of soothing a savage beast would indicate, this element of gameplay is really an antithesis of what most games are about.

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