I don’t know about where you live (and please tell me how it is), but here in Maryland, after the strongest cold snap in a number of years, we’re starting to feel spring like temperatures, and it couldn’t come at a better time.
The seasonal affective disorder is on its way out, the sun is shining, shots are getting in arms — there’s real reasons to get excited about the future! Granted, I’m sure there will be something this week to bring the joy down for me, but as I type this, I’m excited for Spring and the potential ahead.
I hope you had a great weekend! As I type this, it’s been a good one, met with a great season (series?) finale for WandaVision. Sure, it wasn’t everything the hardcore fans were predicting, but I thought it was another example of how Marvel Studios is taking the superhero concepts and matching them with unique concepts — in this instance, dealing with loss and the grief which remains.
Was it perfect? No. But I appreciated the attempt to do something unique and bold, and now I’m excited to see what The Falcon and Winter Soldier holds.
Now, onto the things…
This week, Ryan Gilliam at Polygon decided to open up about the unique tech setup he and his wife have in their home…three TVs in their living room: two for gaming (one for each of them) and one for shared viewing experiences.
When we moved to our next apartment, I needed a change. I did some research and soul searching. I didn’t hesitate to make a drastic change, but I didn’t leap at the greatest opportunity either. I mounted two TVs right next to each other on our longest wall, and we situated our couch right in front of them. The effect was transcendent: I could play through Sekiro while Jamie cleaned up her 140th hour of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. But even with our two TVs, it didn’t take long to break out the ottoman laptop so Twin Peaks’ mysteries could unfold in the background.
Something was missing, but I couldn’t put my finger on it …
The answer was another TV. Two weeks before lockdown here in Kansas City, Jamie and I bought and moved into our first house. And in our new home, we found a living room space with a wall just big enough for our dream: the Triforce.
Along a 12 foot wall, nearly 8 feet away from our couch, I replicated our two-TV setup from the previous apartment and slid the entertainment center into place. And just above the two TVs, centered perfectly between them, I placed our laptop replacement — a slightly smaller 40-inch flatscreen.
It’s been nearly a year, and not a day has gone by where all three TVs don’t see some use.
I thought this was absolutely crazy…but apparently it’s not, as many have written in sharing their similar setups. So, I ask you — is this a terrible idea, or have I become an old and need to embrace the future?
Chances are, you’ve heard of Annapurna Pictures, or at least seen their logo in front of movies like The Master and American Hustle. But did you know they have a gaming division, and it’s releasing some of the coolest indie games to consoles and PCs alike?
Ben Lindberg at The Ringer takes us into the studios ascent.
To put Annapurna’s critical repute into perspective: On January 15, Vulture published a list of the 24 most anticipated titles of 2021. Alongside some of the biggest names in gaming—Halo, Hitman, Super Mario, Mass Effect, Resident Evil, God of War—stood four forthcoming Annapurna-published games: Maquette, 12 Minutes, Stray, and Solar Ash (from the makers of Hyper Light Drifter). Four out of 24 is a high hype rate, especially considering Annapurna had announced only seven 2021 titles in total. (An eighth, Neon White, was unveiled in February.)
Three of those seven made a GamesRadar+ list of 20 indie titles to watch in 2021, and two of those (Open Roads and The Artful Escape) were different from the four on the Vulture list. The only one of Annapurna’s seven then-announced titles that didn’t make either of those collections was Last Stop—and that one was on GameSpot’s list of the top 50 anticipated indie titles of 2021, along with four other Annapurna-published games. Essentially, every one of Annapurna’s prospective releases was generating buzz at the beginning of 2021—a year when indie games will play a more prominent role than usual because big studios that depend on large-scale collaboration are more prone to suffering COVID-caused delays.
Last month, Annapurna released a box set of the PS4 editions of eight of its games. The collection of physical releases was something of a flex, but perhaps more impressive is that the company could go another eight games deep without a drastic drop-off in quality. The Annapurna trophy case is crowded: Edith Finch, Gorogoa, Florence, Outer Wilds, and Sayonara Wild Hearts won six BAFTAs between them (including “Best Game” for Edith Finch and Outer Wilds in 2017 and 2019, respectively), and those and other Annapurna releases won or were nominated for other prestigious awards. (In 2018, Florence upset PUBG Mobile and Fortnite when it won Best Mobile Game at the Game Awards.) Felan Parker, an assistant professor of media and culture at the University of Toronto, studies indie games and contributed a chapter on Annapurna Interactive and contemporary indie development to the 2020 book Independent Videogames. The company, he concluded, “is fostering a conception of games as a legitimate cultural form that challenges conventional cultural categories and imagined audiences.”
Among the fan pearl-clutching surrounding the eighth Star Wars installment, The Last Jedi, one of the biggest human casualties was that of Kelly Marie Tran, who starred as Rose.
Faced with a mixture of racism, sexism, and rage because she…I don’t know, starred in a movie?…Tran was unrightfully run off social media by an outspoken group of toxic fans.
Years later, Tran has returned to the spotlight, as she voices the lead in Disney’s gorgeous looking new animated adventure, Raya and the Last Dragon, and she has sat down with Rebecca Sun at The Hollywood Reporter to discuss her post-Star Wars path and the hard lessons learned along the way.
Tran says the whole experience felt like she “fell in love very publicly and then very publicly had an embarrassingly horrible breakup.” She leaned on her tight-knit pre-fame circle of friends, including the members of her all-Asian American female improv troupe Number One Son, and went to therapy, where she learned, “If someone doesn’t understand me or my experience, it shouldn’t be my place to have to internalize their misogyny or racism or all of the above. Maybe they just don’t have the imagination to understand that there are different types of people living in the world.”
Other than an op-ed in The New York Times, in which she penned an assertive, moving declaration of renewed purpose to combat the “lies” that society teaches about women and people of color, Tran also withdrew from the spotlight altogether.
“I left. I said no to a lot of things,” she says. “It felt like I was just hearing the voice of my agents and my publicity team and all of these people telling me what to say and what to do and how to feel. And I realized, I didn’t know how I felt anymore. And I didn’t remember why I was in this in the first place.
“Any time that happens, I have to close up shop and go away for a while and really interact in the real world — read books and journal and go on hikes and look at a tree and remind myself that there was a fire that burned inside of me before Star Wars, before any of this. And I needed to find that again.”
Hey, take in some of that sun, dear friends. It’s been a long, hard winter. You’ve earned it.
Wear your mask. Wash your hands. If you can? Get your vaccine. We’re almost out of this.