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Gaming? In My Classroom? It’s More Likely Than You Think

Tabletop roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons, Monster of the Week, and Dungeon World, have become more popular than ever thanks to podcasts and shows like The Adventure Zone and Critical Role. For many, the appeal of tabletop games is about returning to a local, communal style of play that’s also cooperative, a stark contrast to online competitive games.

One area where gaming has seen a significant increase in attention is academia, where games are found inside the classroom as objects of inquiry and pedagogical tools, as well as outside the classroom, where they serve social and psychological functions for students.

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Moderating the Hacienda: How Not to Run a Convention

I am not capable of liking things a normal amount. Liking things and talking to people about the things I like gives me enormous, almost inhuman energy—I can stay up until 5 AM on a work night reading about something just because I am so incredibly into it that it’s giving me something like the experience of falling suddenly and deeply in love.

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The Shot-on-Video Devolution, Pt. 2

Last week, things got a little out of hand. It all started with the rise of the camcorder trash-auteur—but soon there were woodchipper massacres, black devil dolls from hell, and the carnal delights of an invisible ghost son sexily blowing at his mother’s hair.

You’ll be begging to go back there soon enough.

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You Can’t Go Home Again: The Legacy of the Angry Video Game Nerd

Editor’s Note: This piece originally appeared at ZEAL and is republished here with permission.

Permit me, if you will, to take you back to the past. Way, way back a dozen years ago — before major gaming sites made comedy a key part of their video strategy, before most sites even had a video strategy. Before PewDiePies and Game Grumps and ProJareds and Dunkeys. Before the concept of YouTube stars. Back in the mid-2000s, things were simpler: we had a man. A rant. An Angry Video Game Nerd.

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The Best Heroes Help Us Learn to Lose

When I was 22 years old, I was officially diagnosed with anxiety and depression—finally putting a name to something I never properly realized I had. Throughout my teen years I always thought my experiences were due to teen angst or a result of not knowing how to control my emotions,  or even that I just wasn’t good at being a person.

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Pain Is a Garment: Pornography and Sexuality in Park Chan-Wook’s The Handmaiden

Pornography—notoriously difficult to define, its moral weight and cultural impact bitterly contested not just by prudes and lewds but by opposing factions within movements like feminism—has always been a dicey subject for discussion. Is it art or exploitation? Does it objectify women or empower us? In Park Chan-Wook’s 2016 twisty lesbian thriller The Handmaiden, the complex nature of porn takes center stage, explored with real insight in a story concerned not just with the abuses and ugliness of pornography, but with the beauty and connection it can foster between lovers.

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The Shot-on-Video Devolution, Pt. 1

In the days before the analog extinction, a most prominent purveyor of physical media emerged. Now a fetishized monument, it was at the time considered by many to be a scourge upon the once proud institutions of the drive-in and the grindhouse. Tumbleweeds rolled across vacant lots once lined with cars—their windows steamed, the vans a-rockin’ while the fleapit movie houses of New York’s 42nd Street were on the docket for Disneyfication. Overtaking their spot atop the movie watching world was the video rental shop. Or, as it was known by the ancients, the video store.

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The Videogame Fandom That Wrote the Book on Their Favorite Series

Dark Souls and Bloodborne are titles that tell wonderfully weird stories in a fragmented and ambiguous way. Dark Souls is a series in which humanity attempts to manifest itself in a world that has forgotten it. The player plays as an Undead warrior, tasked with determining the fate of mankind in a world of fire and monstrosity. Bloodborne, on the other hand, combines cosmic horror with a Victorian Gothic aesthetic, in which beasts run rampant in a place called the Nightmare. The player is a hunter who must traverse the realms of the Nightmare in order to put a stop to the Scourge of the Beasts.

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Anime, Video Games, and the Texans Who Love Them: A History of Rooster Teeth

How does a team of college kids go from getting drunk and reviewing video games to producing an animated series with hardcore fanbases in both the United States and Japan? It sounds like an unobtainable geeky American dream, but it’s the true story of entertainment company Rooster Teeth. From Halo machinima videos to magical girls and mecha shows, let’s take a look at a how a team of six fans became a major studio conquering just about every corner of modern media.

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The Gospel of Marge: Fargo and the Fallen World

The tropes that the Fargo TV show shares with the film—the Minnesota accent, the quirky humor, and the “true story” title card—can make the franchise seem as blanketed in sameness as the vast stretches of snow that serve as the movie’s opening shot. But the appearance of uniformity is deceiving: beneath the snow, the terrain varies. Old dirt forms the shoulder for the newly paved road. Cracks and fissures split the hard frozen ground.