Video games are the most artistic form of media

Enrique Castaneda-Pineda – Assistant Graphics Editor

Whether it is a colorful cartoon-style game like “Fortnite,” a wild west dreamscape like “Red Dead Redemption 2” or a dark, Lovecraftian nightmare like “Bloodborne,” video games create a world like no other.

The idea that video games are losing their artistry in a time when “Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” revamped fans love of the “Legend of Zelda” series is ludicrous. Games like the aforementioned are the essence of why video games are so artistic and detail-oriented. With a world as charming as the one in “Breath of the Wild” you are bound to fall in love with the characters you meet on your journey and the beautiful, cell-shaded landscapes you’ll come across.

On a darker side, the extremely deep lore introduced in “Bloodborne” has fans finding new things years after its initial release. As the blood-filled, gruesomely grotesque action role-playing game (RPG) grabs the attention of players with a world suddenly plunged into an beastial apocalypse, one must find a way to wake up from the nightmare. The amount of notes the player can find to eventually piece together what happened is enthralling. In a world filled with beasts that can only be created from the darkest depths of your mind, the expansive world of “Bloodborne” can only be described as an artists’ darkest creations coming to life on a limitless canvas.

Bloodborne, Graphic courtesy of Forbes

Most recently, games like “Red Dead Redemption 2,” “God of War (2018),” and “Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey” have taken games to a new, cinematic level. As cinema itself is an extremely artful medium, video games have now included impressive camerawork and framing as they slowly become more realistic with improved graphics. If anything, video games are on the forefront of pushing its evolution to new heights. As the possibilities to create vast and beautiful worlds, characters and stories only grows, so will the artistic influences that fuel most of the video game industry to provide an incredible experience to players.

Less bureaucracy for RIC

Alison Macbeth – Anchor Contributor

As a diligent student, you regularly check your Rhode Island College email account only to find trivial emails about IT service, an event from a club you never joined or another new member of the RIC administration. While a new Vice President of some department may not seem important, the ramifications are worth considering for the overall function of the college.

While many of the recent hired administrative staff were filling vacant positions, President Sánchez’s approach to his cabinet reveals the tendency to emphasize administration. Meanwhile, contractless faculty worked with a salary 17% lower than peer institutions.

While administrators are vital to the success of a university, their positions should be carefully considered. Currently, according to RI.gov, administrator’s salaries are roughly double that of an associate professor. As RIC’s faculty union continues to fight for an increase in salary, this juxtaposition is startling. It appears as though the President’s office does not hesitate to hire new administrators while professors teach extra classes in order to make ends meet. While the RIC/AFT situation is much larger than the single factor of a growing administration, it is an important piece to consider in the overall success of RIC.

Bureaucracy allows for deliberative processes to occur within a governing organization; however, within a college, bureaucracy must act according to the values of an institution so that the college is run efficiently and affordably. Each piece of RIC’s organization goes hand and hand and must be evaluated in light of the core values of RIC: excellence and innovation, access and opportunity, student-centeredness, diversity and inclusion, state and community leadership, and transparency. The more administrators hired, the less budget there is for professors’ earnings and possibly other student-centered initiatives, which are key parts of RIC’s value system.

However, some might argue that adding more administrators equips the college with strategy and skill to pursue RIC’s values. While each Vice President and administrator plays a vital role in the function of the college, it is important to remain mindful of the ramification these large-salaried positions have on the college as a whole. Large, bureaucratic governing structures tend to be plagued with wastefulness and unable to adapt quickly to new ideas. Perhaps there are more efficient and less expensive ways to run RIC.

Employing the resources on campus of our incredible faculty and involved community members will not only boost the morale of the college, but also mobilize the voice of the college. Currently, a top-down approach to running RIC funnels in hundreds of thousands of dollars to a small group of decision-makers and could be failing to amplify the community’s desires, needs, and dreams. It would be unfair to not mention that the administration has, on occasion, sought to have two-way communication with the RIC community.

The growth of a bureaucratic tone from RIC administration will hinder dialogue and movement from the RIC community. Perhaps it’s worth deliberating whether the college values a large administration over other equally important priorities, such as well-compensated faculty and capable graduates.

Spread the word: “illegal” immigrants are people too

Lauren Enos – Assistant opinions editor

Migrants, or any other people who enter the United States illegally, are often referred to as illegal aliens. Unfortunately, that’s the term that is approved and used by our court of law. I’m doubtful that I could think of a more destructive term. All human beings deserve to be treated with dignity, and using the term “illegal alien” doesn’t support that idea. Language is a powerful tool; the word “alien” is associated with strange-looking beings, a sense of invasion and otherness. The use of the term illegal alien promotes an “us” vs. “them” mentality.

During this holiday season of giving and cheer, we should be giving some thought to the thousands of immigrants searching for cheer and safety here in America. The holidays are a time where people are generally more kind, giving, and happy. And with the holidays approaching, perhaps this is the time to appeal to peoples’ hearts.

The term illegal alien is dehumanizing, which makes it easier to think of and treat these immigrants as sub-human. No human being deserves to be denied asylum. No person should be treated as if they are less important than a person of another nationality. I don’t think people generally disagree with these statements, but it’s a different story when “illegal” or undocumented immigrants are the subject.

We need to do a lot of work on humanizing these immigrants. They are sacrificing everything they have for safety, family and better opportunities. Regardless of what the administration wants you to believe, the vast majority aren’t criminals nor rapists. Read their stories, listen to what they have to say, see their humanity. Repeat their stories and help them be heard. These are just humans who are trying to live the best, safest lives they can. The more we talk about them as human beings, the more we can get others to think about them as such.

The most important skill to gain from college

Catherine Enos – Opinions editor

As an editor for a newspaper and as a senior who has peer-edited plenty of papers, I witness a great deal of good writing– as well as fair amounts of bad writing. Writing is clearly an important skill to have. Additionally, it’s a requirement to pass a writing class for all students at Rhode Island College. So it’s concerning when you read what someone has written and it has no structure or central argument. To become a better writer, there are a few things people can do:

Graphic courtesy of writingcooperative

Know your weaknesses.

Everyone is bad at something when it comes to writing. Some people are bad at spelling, others are bad with structure, and so on. The important thing is that you know what mistakes you make and have made so that you can avoid them in the future.

Swap papers with a friend.

Offer to read your friend’s paper (one you trust and think is a proficient writer) to provide criticism in exchange that they do the same with your paper. This allows you to see how other people, in a similar situation as you, write and format their papers. In addition, maybe they’ll point out an error you missed or offer constructive criticism– which is never a bad thing.

Go to the writing center.

RIC is great in offering students a center where strong writers are employed for the sole purpose of helping you become a strong writer yourself: the writing center. Even if your writing is perfect (which is unlikely), you have nothing to lose by taking advantage of what your tuition pays for.

Read more.

By reading more, you not only learn new things, but you also build a stronger vocabulary. On top of that, you can look at the structure of a good piece for some insight on how you should write. If you’re reading a book, an article or a magazine from a well-known publisher, the writing has probably gone through a rigorous editing process. Therefore, most of these works will show you what strongly-structured writing looks like.

Start with an outline.

Outlines can be annoying, but they help you to make sure that your paper stays structured. What’s important is that you have basic benchmark structures: an introduction, a main argument/thesis, support for that argument, and a conclusion.

Be flexible.

A good writer adapts to change and accepts constructive criticism. For example, the format of many newspapers (AP format) elicits shorter, briefer paragraphs (a paragraph may be one or two sentences)– this is obviously not the case in academic papers. When I first joined the Anchor as a writer, I noticed that professors were commenting on my papers that my paragraphs were too short. Instead of brushing it off with an “I-write-for-a-newspaper” know-everything attitude, I addressed the issue and made sure I wasn’t writing short paragraphs.

Kick plastic water bottles to the curb (just kidding, please recycle them)

Lauren Enos – Assistant opinions editor

Everyone knows how easy and convenient plastic water bottles are. You’re in line after shopping for an hour and there’s a cooler full of ice-cold, refreshing bottled beverages right there for you. You’re in the dining hall and know that a water bottle would be so much more convenient than an open cup. You’re on your way out the door and the pack of water bottles is on your way out. It’s so easy to just grab plastic bottles in these situations. You drink them, toss them, and don’t think about the consequences.

We all know that when you’re done with that plastic bottle, you’re most likely putting it in the next trash receptacle you see, recycling or not. There are some people that will hold onto it until they can recycle it, which is great. But that’s not the majority of people, myself included. Yes, sadly, I’m guilty of this heinous crime.

But there’s a solution! If you know that you’re not going to hold onto your plastic bottles until you can recycle them, then don’t buy them! Reusable water bottles are a lifesaver for the planet and your wallet. They come in every color, size, shape, and material you could ever want. There are even thermal ones that will keep your drink hot or cold for hours. Pro tip: use a Yeti to sneak ice cream into a movie theater or class, I’m not judging.

The point is, it requires almost no extra effort to utilize a reusable bottle to bring drinks with you wherever you go. If you know that you like to have soda after you go shopping, then bring some in a reusable bottle. Take two extra seconds to fill a reusable bottle instead of grabbing a plastic one from the case at the front door or the dining hall. Plus, drinks in plastic bottles are too expensive – both for you and the planet.

I get it though, sometimes it just happens. You didn’t prepare, you’re in a bind, or that Dr. Pepper just looks too good to refuse at that moment. For the times when it does, just make sure to recycle!

The importance of independent study and experiential learning

Catherine Enos – Opinions editor

As a senior in college, the prospect of having a career or going to graduate school (or any other post-undergraduate program) in the near future can be intimidating. How do I know what I’m going to do in the future? Where do I want to start a career? The action I took to achieve these answers was to conduct an independent study in one of my majors.

In the fall of 2016, I switched one major from biology to political science. Academically, this was the best decision I ever made. There’s never a boring day in political science. Since then, however, I’ve been struggling with deciding what I want to do after college. I knew that I didn’t go into this major wanting to be a politician, nor was I interested in working in an administrative position. For me, it’s always been between law school or graduate school. I’ve gone to school tours, read books and copious amounts of student accounts on “what law school is like” or “what graduate school is like,” but these are all subjective. So I decided to work on an independent study.

I’m only a semester into the project (about halfway through), but I’m glad that I made this decision. Although an independent study is probably not very similar to graduate-level studies and won’t show me the exact experience of graduate school, it’s helped me take a closer look at the areas I find interesting.

The experience has also shown me that I really enjoy learning. When you’re doing an honors project, you have an advisor who guides your work but, ultimately, a student has to have enough interest and self-discipline to go forward with the project and get things done. It’s a different experience from a typical lecture.

It’s also an experience that reflects well on the student conducting the project, the department the project comes from, and the college as a whole. Rhode Island College has this great (albeit inescapable) reputation as a college for educators, but has been trying to expand its image as a university for decades. These type of experiential learning projects, such as independent studies and internships, create graduates that go onto careers in which they may be leaders in their fields.

How great would it be if RIC was known as both a great teaching school and a great research school? Perhaps the answer to “rebranding” RIC is in encouraging students to participate in experiential learning.

Video games are losing their artistry

Derek Sherlock – Anchor staff

In my honest opinion, I feel that video games are becoming a dying art. I grew up in the era when videogames changed from being 2D (often side scrolling platformers) to the extremely blocky 3D masterpieces. I witnessed games go from the Sega Genesis/Super Nintendo era of games to the Sony PlayStation, Nintendo 64, as well as the often-forgotten Sega Saturn/Dreamcast. While the graphics are getting better and better as the years go on, they have become a shell of what they were when I was a child.  

I remember when games didn’t rely on flashy graphics but instead put a lot of emphasis into the story. A few such games are: Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil one to three, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, or Star Fox 64. They gave gamers a story that either toyed with their emotions or caused them to marvel at the virtual world in the game. The creators made these worlds for us to live in for a certain amount of time each day to escape our own physical lives.

Today’s games, while they can give us an escape, are not based on any story. They’re usually online multiplayer and there is such an emphasis on the graphics and game play that the sense of escapism.

Photo courtesy of The Motley Fool

As someone who grew up in an uncaring environment, I would escape into video games. I would pretend that I was running for my life in a zombie-infested midwestern town or pretend I was swimming in sub-zero Alaskan waters on my way to take down a group of terrorists who took over a nuclear disposal facility. Some days I was even a hot ace pilot in space defending the galaxy from a scientist who was bent on destroying planets.

I got sucked into these stories. When my house became too much for my young mind, I would escape into these games and find comfort in them. It is safe to say that without video games I don’t know if I would truly be here right now. They really helped me through some dark points in my life. With the games today, I don’t get that same sense of comfort or escape. In games like Fortnite, Black Ops Four and Fallout 76, there is no overarching story to escape to, time and time again. I am able to play with other players and do a bit of player versus player, but without any story I can’t get lost in a fantasy world that is often caring and comforting. Getting lost in a story is what makes video games an art form and these stories are dying, taking video games along with it.

What mass shootings teach us about divisiveness

Angela DaSilva – Assistant Copy Editor

As mass shootings have become normalized in our country, so too have the people who continuously deny politics’ stake in gun violence. They have said that shootings can only be blamed on the shooter, which is true in the sense that no one tells a gunman to go out and murder innocent people in presumably safe places. I am not denying this. However, I am saying that it is convenient to suggest that politics are not responsible for these events.

It is convenient because placing sole blame on the shooter lets us offer up our thoughts and prayers as means of pacifying the shock, because “it’s only the shooter’s fault and there’s nothing we can do about terrible people.”

These thoughts and prayers dismiss our country’s divisiveness. They forget that our daily rhetoric inspired by divisive politics fuels the violence in our culture. They forget that it is political when a man yells “All Jews must die!” before he kills 11 people in a synagogue, and that it is political when a homophobe kills 49 people in a gay nightclub. Even when there is no demographic in mind, these are all political events because they capitalize on the hatred that is boiling in our country.

This country’s weapon of choice is the gun, because the gun itself is political. It is in our constitution under the second amendment and it is used as partisan selling points for campaigns. Removed from these violent acts, the gun still remains political because we talk about it in terms of politics.

The result of our negligent refusals about political involvement is this: 17 in Parkland, 10 in Santa Fe, 11 in Pittsburgh, and 12 in Thousand Oaks. These are just a few of the mass shootings with the greatest casualties that have occurred in the US this year. Thousand Oaks was our country’s latest tragedy, in which 12 people were murdered by a lone gunman at a popular country bar in California. These tragedies have occurred so frequently in the past year––307 times, to be specific––that “latest” is an appropriate term to use because it does not stand out the way it should in our newscycle. Rather, it adds to the scary reality that has become our culture.

I do not distinguish culture from “gun culture,” because at this point there is no difference. As a product of incessant gun violence, our country has become one in which its citizens cannot be sure that they won’t be shot in a school or a church or a bar. This is the culture we have grown into: a culture encased in normalized fear.

We are wrong to think that this does not apply to us; that somehow the confined borders of our tiny little state protects us from what is occurring across the country. But hatred exists in Rhode Island, too.

This past January, my friends and I were at the Providence Place Mall when a man pulled out a gun on another man in Nordstrom. We heard the evacuation announcement on the intercom and we went through the collective motions of confusion, fear, and more confusion when we reached the exit and learned we still had to pay our parking fee at the kiosk. My friends and I had to wait in a line while a man was loose with a gun.

There is violence in this state because there is hatred in this state. This can happen to us because it has happened to me, already.

We are not immune to gun violence, and we are frighteningly not equipped to deal with it. Instead, we wait in lines to pay parking tickets because we believe it can’t happen to us, so we are never prepared. And to distant cities, we send our thoughts and prayers because we forget that blanket statements about peace cannot bandage a country scarred by political hate.

It’s time for America to treat veterans with reverence

Catherine Enos – Opinions editor

Military men and women volunteer knowing that, at the very least, serving our country will take its toll on them physically, emotionally, and financially. What they give us– their life– is not proportionate to what we, as a society, give to them.

Whether you agree with military intervention or you don’t, it is important that we support veterans. We do a particularly bad job at this– in many ways. Arguably one of the most important dimensions of how we treat veterans is respect. Respect determines everything else– if we don’t have respect for them, will we give them the care they need?

A clear example of how we treat veterans is through the way public figures treat veterans. Earlier this month Pete Davidson, during the Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live, mocked GOP-candidate Dan Crenshaw (now representative-elect) for wearing an eye patch. Pete Davidson is obviously a comedian who jokes about controversial things, but this crossed a line. In addition, this joke was not only said by Davidson, but it presumably passed through some script-writing process, implying that others also thought it was okay to say.

Pete Davidson is not the only person to say something controversial about veterans. A man with much more power, Donald Trump, famously said that the late senator John McCain was not a war hero because he was captured and that he “like[s] people that weren’t captured.”

The common thread between Davidson and Trump is that they’re criticizing men that have served based off of the veteran’s personal political ideals. In polarized times, we criticize the “other side”. But there’s no reason as to why either of them had to mock something that happened as a direct result of combat.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t be able to criticize people that happen to be war vets but there’s a civil way to disagree with someone. The 2008 presidential election is a good example of civility. Though Barack Obama and John McCain clearly disagreed on many things, Obama never resorted to petty comments about McCain’s service to the country.

As we become more polarized as a country, it is important that we try not to politicize the military or veterans. And it’s important that we keep in mind the fact that veterans volunteered to keep all Americans safe– even those that disagree with them.

On the eve of an election

Mike Dwyer – Anchor Staff

The sun had already set when I left home and drove up Broadway and out the main road past the humming lights of shopping plazas and car lots. I drove past the cathedral and economy motels, then hooked a left on Brown’s Lane where the road snakes its way down the hill.

At the bottom I pass through the cemetery gates. My friends are already there. We’ve grown apart, but every year we gather here on Nov. 5– to drink, to laugh, and to share with each other the memory of a man buried beneath our feet. This day marks nine years since he was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.

Every time I hook that left and drive down the hill, I remember how emotional and painful it was to bury him and recall certain images that are seared into my memory– the hundreds of people lining the road, the enormous wind-swept flag suspended between two ladder trucks from the local fire department, the backward-facing boots hung in the stirrups of a riderless horse, the meticulous folding of the flag and the way his widow clutched it as her knees buckled during the salute.

I remember: at the bottom of that hill, a man I had never seen before standing outside his truck at the gates of the cemetery. He was holding a flag pole in one hand and at his feet, propped against the side of his pickup, was a hand written sign that read: “I try to be worth dying for”. When I saw this, I burst into tears and felt a mix of sadness and anger– sadness for a life cut short and for the children who would have to grow up without their father, and then anger over the war, at my own country and at the stranger with that sign.

It’s been nine years and those memories are still vivid. I look out over the graveyard and can see the silhouettes of headstones. I join my circle of friends to catch up. We poke fun at each other and laugh and it feels like old times. The conversation is light and amicable. No one brings up the election. No one crosses that line here. Even though my friends and I have gotten older and drifted apart, now wasn’t the time to hash out our differences.

We can’t agree on what it means to be American, the symbolic value of that flag, the meaning or reasons underlying our friend’s death or the righteousness of the war that claimed his life– a war his sons are now almost old enough to serve in. We can’t agree on what he died for, if anything.

No one mentions the elephant in the room. For a time, it feels as though all those differences have melted away. We build a neutral ground from our frustrations, our powerlessness and vulnerability and the nagging feeling of loss and uncertainty. We can all agree on this: that things are not as they should be.