Tag: opinion

The many types of fanfiction writers

Miranda PrescottArts & Entertainment Correspondent

You would be lying to yourself if you said that you have never heard of a small concept known as fanfiction. Or, rather, you would be a human being who does not geek out over book characters or television shows. So, rather, you would be a normal person with a normal life.

For those who love the previously mentioned activity, fanfiction is a wonderous world where people who call themselves “aspiring authors” write the same plot line that at least 500 other authors have done before, using someone else’s characters from major works. They do this because, normally, they can’t create more than five characters for their given plotline on their own. I should know. I was a fanfiction writer.

The keyword there is “was.”. I finally quit around 2015, after spending four years of my life doing such activities. However, I’ll check in from time to time to see how everything is going in the communities I once wrote under. In my illustrious career as a fanfiction writer, I noticed three main types of writers that I feel sum up the idea of fan fiction quite nicely.

“The Almost Novelist”

This is the type of writer that writes so well that their story could possibly, in some cases, be better than the story they have modeled theirs after. This archetype, surprisingly, has allowed many major authors today to have a platform to create their own works, mostly. Some authors today use their fanfiction to create original works. I’m pointing at you, E.L. James. You are the perfect example of this type of fan fiction writer.

“The ‘Insert Self Here’ writer”

This writer is found mostly in fanfiction written about real-life celebrities. One Direction, BTS, you name it. The reason they are found here is because they like to insert themselves into their own stories. These writers use their work to live the dream of being with Harry Styles. They are also probably the most common type of writer you will see. Mainly because if you ever read fanfiction, you are probably reading stories like these. Some writers will even let you fill in the blank. Like Mad Libs, but slightly more awkward because these scenarios are with real people in fictional settings.

“The… what?”

This is the writer that absolutely makes no sense. Their storyline is all over the place, and their descriptions of things are incoherent and they improperly use the right words in them.  Characters jump in and get killed off at random. When they speak, the characters often cannot even say words properly. And do not get me started on the plotline of these stories. More than likely, this writer is of ages 14 or less and have no idea how the world really works. For laughs, I often investigate these types of stories, and I immediately add at least 10 years to my lifespan while doing so.

Sure, there are more types of fanfiction writers out there, but these three are the ones everyone has probably ran into more than once or twice while scrolling through websites dedicated to this valuable art form. Now, is all fanfiction bad? Not really, but it is slightly illegal in some context. Thankfully, fair use does indeed exist.

Hot Take: Has Kidz Bop ruined popular songs?

Miranda Prescott, Arts & Entertainment Correspondent

Popular music in today’s times play one of the most influential roles in creating the culture and society our generation grows up in. 

This role has gone on for as long as the music in this sense has existed. From Mozart’s classical pieces to modern-day hit songs from artists such as Taylor Swift and many others, music has held power for centuries. 

This week, however, we are only going to focus on the last five years, as I listen and give my opinion on each of the top songs from the past half-decade. Fair note: these songs come from Billboard’s Year-End Top 100 list from each year. Also, this is strictly my opinion, and it is not here for anyone trying to defend these songs, because, let’s be honest, there is no defending them. 

2014: “Happy” by Pharrell Williams 

Oh boy, where do I begin? I honestly believe that not many people are truly happy while listening to this song. Mainly because they hear it during one of two scenarios. The first one is when a five-year old has it on repeat on an iPad. And it’s a six-hour car ride. And it’s not even this version. It’s the one from Kidz Bop. The second one is the same five-year old watching Despicable Me 2 on repeat on the same six-hour car ride. The only upside to this scenario is at least it’s not Kidz Bop. 

2015: “Uptown Funk!” by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars 

While looking this one up, I was praying that this list would get better. As a result, it did get slightly better. Don’t get me wrong, I love Bruno Mars. He is one of my favorites. This song, however, is not one of my favorites. Yes, this is a very catchy song, and yes, the music video for it is very well produced. However, after a while, this song gets old very quickly. Overall, a better song than the year prior, but it is still not one of my favorites. 

2016: “Love Yourself” by Justin Bieber 

I am going to get a lot of heat from saying this, but it needs to be said: I’m not a fan of Justin Bieber. I admit it. I never had “Bieber Fever” or whatever it’s called. Just thinking about this guy makes me cringe most of the time. However, this song is rather good. Is it better than the other two on the list? Probably not. As I’m writing this, it stands in second place amongst the three we have listed. So, hey, good for you Justin. You made me like one of your songs. That’s the biggest achievement you’ll ever have. 

2017: “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran 

And the light at the end of the tunnel has been swiftly put out by this song. For me, it’s a combination of 2014 and 2015: I like Ed, but this song is also in the same boat as the first scenario as “Happy.” I firmly believe Kidz Bop has a strong power of ruining everything it touches. Especially this song. Honestly, this review is a bit shorter than the others because I didn’t expect it to be this song. I thought I was going to review “Despacito.” There’s a whole other article on that one. 

2018: “God’s Plan” by Drake 

Thank you, Drake. Thank you. This song has re-lit the light that Ed Sheeran took out last year. It’s an iconic song overall. The best thing is, Kidz Bop can’t ruin it. Yes, they made it worse, but that’s just their branding. Also, if Kidz Bop has magical powers to ruin music, Drake has the power to keep music from being ruined like this. It’s a song you can never get tired of and earns high marks from me. 

There you have it. Was this a review of songs from the last five years or Kidz Bop? I’ll let you decide. However, the only question we have left to answer is who will join the list this year? More importantly, will it get ruined by other people? Will it be a song that future generations look back upon while doing research similar to this and like it? The only judge for this is time, and time we shall give it. 

Young: Trump’s ‘national emergency’ is artificial and ignores the facts

(AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

Scott Young, Staff Writer

Last Friday, President Trump declared a national emergency to unilaterally grant himself $8 billion to build a wall at the Southern border. The declaration opens up the possibility for future presidents to make more political declarations and abuse the powers granted to them.

The National Emergencies Act was passed in 1976 to allow the President to declare a national emergency in times of crisis and to allocate funds from other sectors of government. The Act is traditionally used for actual crises such as the September 11 attacks or sanctions against countries that pose a security risk to our country.

If Trump’s border wall is such a national emergency, why did he wait two years after his presidency began to start searching for border wall funds? Why wasn’t this a priority from day one? That’s because it’s not an emergency. Only in Trump’s alternate universe is it an emergency.

You’re probably asking me now: “But Scott, immigrants are POURING into this country at an alarming rate and bringing drugs into the United States. Why isn’t that a national emergency?”

Fair question. Let’s take a look at the facts:

1) Illegal border crossings are at an all time low. According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the number of illegal border apprehensions have been on a downward trend for the past 19 years and has reached a whopping 46-year low. A ‘national emergency’ should indicate some sort of crisis that is out of control and getting worse, but the statistics from Trump’s own CBP show that it’s actually been improving for some time.


2) Most drugs come through ports of entry. The Drug Enforcement Agency’s 2018 Drug Threat Assessment found that the primary mode of entry for drug trafficking takes place at LEGAL ports of entry, not the large swaths of land that the proposed border wall would cover. If we want to tackle the issue of drug trafficking, then we need to invest in more drug detection technology at our ports of entry and toughen up searches, not build a wall.

3) Donald Trump himself said he didn’t need to declare an emergency. During Trump’s declaration statement, he said, “I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn’t need to do this.” This completely tears apart his entire argument that this is a national emergency. A real national emergency carries with it a sense of urgency and immediate danger, and in Trump’s own words, this declaration didn’t have to happen.

4) There are more effective ways to secure the border. There’s a reason that border apprehensions are so low. It’s because the border is already well defended. In 2013, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act was signed into law which doubled the amount of fencing, increased the number of border agents, created an employment verification system, and funded more surveillance technology at the border. We are living in the 21st century and I think Trump has missed that memo. There are more technological and modern solutions to the problems we face that we should take advantage of to secure the border.

This national emergency declaration proves that Donald Trump and many in his party are hypocrites. If you remember during Barack Obama’s presidency, the Republicans went after Obama feverishly for what they described as ‘presidential overreach’ when Obama granted legal status to millions of illegal immigrants.

Even Trump criticized Obama for taking unilateral action. This tweet from 2014 hasn’t aged very well:


The ‘national emergency’ is just another example of Trump’s inability to connect with reality and comprehend fact-based evidence. Trump has normalized circus politics and spewing false information, so it’s more important now than ever to never take political issues at face value and if you feel strongly about a political issue, do your civic duty by making sure to do the research to back it up.

Ableism in video games has to stop

Print Edition 2.7
Photo Credit: theodysseyonline.com

James Waller, Staff Writer   

Difficult video games are appealing to a lot of gamers for a variety of reasons, like the joy of a challenge or bragging rights, but, when dialogue about the difficulty in video games shifts to accessibility, many people who enjoy games like Dark Souls or Cuphead become filled with such vitriol. They played these games at this level of difficulty, so why should we include anything like an “easy mode” and water down the experience just for the more casual players?

Much of this about the pride of those who can capably play these sorts of games. If you’re having difficulty in, say, Dark Souls, then maybe it just isn’t for you, or you just need to get better at the game. If you insist that something is wrong with the game, rather than your own ability, then perhaps you’re just protecting a wounded ego. After all, other people have beaten these games, so shouldn’t you be held to the same standard?

London’s Metro newspaper, in a 2012 interview with Hidetaka Miyazaki, the creative mind behind Dark Souls and Bloodborne, hinted at potentially making future games easier, to which the playerbase responded with enormous backlash.

But, what do we say when it comes to the matter of people who can never reach certain peaks of performance? Disabled gamers exist. No amount of skill can make abnormally weak muscles perform, rewire malformed nerves, or make perfect use of defective eyes. With this shift in video game culture towards the love of difficulty and no steps towards accessibility taken for disabled gamers, disabled gamers are inevitably left out in the cold. To simply dismiss any attempt at inclusivity as coddling casual gamers is blatantly ableist.

As an autistic gamer, I frequently experience sensory overload playing games with complex visuals. For example, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s small characters, bright colors, busy stage backgrounds, and far-away camera view make it incredibly difficult for me to keep track of what’s on screen, despite that I enjoy the game. I can’t play first-person shooters at all because my motor skills are poorly developed enough that I can’t hit anything even with console games’ infamous aim assistance. I enjoy and have beaten games like Bloodborne and the Dark Souls trilogy, but if I even minutely less capable of reacting to their stimuli, for example, if I had a disability that affected my joints, they’d be unplayable.

It is not ableist to enjoy difficult games for their difficulty, but it is ableist to insist that enjoyment is impinged upon by the inclusion of accessibility measures for other people. Pillars of Eternity, a computer roleplaying game released in 2015, included an optional colorblind mode; this was just a box that could be ticked in an options menu for those who needed it. Pillars of Eternity is still a beloved modern classic roleplaying game. Optional features do not weaken the enjoyment one can gain from a difficult game; difficulty mode choices have long been prevalent through the lifespan of the video game artform.

Video games, as games and interactive art pieces, should be fun and interactable, not needlessly punishing and gatekept. “Hardcore” gamers are a minority, not the body of the market that the game industry caters to, so I don’t believe they should be able to dictate the terms by which others may enjoy video games.

Role-Playing Games Helped Me Build Collegiate Skills

Courtesy of Easyrollerdice.com

James Waller, Staff Writer

When a person thinks of Dungeons & Dragons, a mental image of a couple of poorly-adjusted shut-ins sitting around a table in a dimly lit basement playing out a Lord of the Rings fan fiction might come to mind. But tabletop role-playing games require successful use of many adult social and problem-solving skills.

Some people might be unaware of what a tabletop role-playing game is. A tabletop role-playing game, Dungeons & Dragons in particular, involves the creation of a fictional persona by several people who then play a part in a fantasy story world crafted and narrated by a person taking the role of the dungeon master, sometimes simply called the game master. The game master determines success and failure of actions taken by players’ personas by rolled dice and statistical values derived from game specific rulebooks added to said dice rolls.

Dungeons & Dragons, despite the immature, escapist reputation, has helped me build skills that I would not have had, had I never played. As a socially awkward, autistic, sheltered teen transitioning into collegiate life in 2015, I was a babe in the woods who lacked many of the essential skills needed to succeed in academics and later in the professional world.

Just planning a game session requires and promotes time management and scheduling skills. Creatures like dragons, orcs, elves, and wizards all have their own character sheets and numerical statistics which need to be studied and kept on hand as notes for when their die rolls need to be made. The game master must also keep an outline of what directions they expect a storyline might take based on the actions of their players. Very few people can invent an engaging story on the spot, and, even with good notes, improvisation becomes necessary as players’ actions deviate from the expected story paths.

When a group meets in play, skills like teamwork, reading comprehension, critical thinking, and creative problem solving become necessary. Rulebooks must be kept track of, and the rules therein understood by the game master.

The game master, as the most important component of the game, without whom a game session cannot even be held, exercises and develops, along with all the previous skills, group leadership. As game master, more than once I’ve found myself needing to arrange events within my fantasy worlds to keep a willful group on task, usually with an imaginary incentive such as gold or experience points dangled in front of the players’ noses and promised to them in case of completion of a goal: “Slay this frightful dragon and you will receive all the gold and magical artifacts within its hoard!”

I recall one interesting session as an example of trying to lead a group and their situation into a more appropriate direction: I was game master to a party of players that were intent on challenging a powerful vampire in combat, but the group’s current level of power was nowhere near great enough to challenge a monster like that. The party would’ve perished swiftly in an attempt face it, and, unknown to the party, this vampire had no wish to do them any harm. I dropped a clue to the power of the monster by having him hypnotize one of the players’ characters, and, finally, had the vampire flee when they removed its coffin from its resting place, endangering it—vampires in Dungeons & Dragons require specific criteria be met for their daytime resting places. I could’ve simply had the vampire destroy the party of adventurers then and there when they threatened it, but there’s little fun in ending a story half way through.

The teamwork skills are the most obviously benefits one gains, especially as a game master. The game master plays as arbiter of the game’s rules, setting boundaries and breaking them, as well as keeping their team of players on task, crafting the world around them, setting story’s pace, and weaving the story into an enjoyable and interactive form. This is incredibly useful in gaining experience leading group projects, both academically and professionally. A game master must appreciate and challenge the skills of their story’s characters by delegating proper tasks to them in such a way that keeps them focused and makes them feel like a part of the group.

In the process of play, the game master most often sets up some sort of obstacle, puzzle, or foe which players must bypass, solve, or defeat. Sometimes this comes in the form of a dangerous trap in a secluded ruin, a person that needs to be convinced to help the players, or a powerful monster, such as a dragon, that needs to be defeated. Sometimes a solution is straightforward, in the case of combatting dangerous monsters, but often players must exercise caution and a perspective that allows them to take in all of their options, or even invent new options creatively with the tools of their imaginary environment. An adventure in Dungeons & Dragons runs much like a complicated heist, wherein everyone has an assigned role they can fulfill. This promotes a goal-oriented mindset, one wherein a person can see an objective, think creatively and realistically how to reach that objective, and mobilize as part of a group to reach it.

Players of the game quickly learn that working together and paying attention to the details of their fantastical environment allows them to succeed. A group of heroes on a quest to slay a dragon or retrieve treasures from a trap filled catacomb are not likely to succeed—or survive—if they refuse to play to their strengths or utilize their environment to gain an advantage.

Role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons get people to make use of what they know to make an enjoyable, unique, cooperative, story experience—all within a consequence free, simulated environment.