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    Apr 7th, 2017 at 17:34:50     -    The Last of Us (PS3)

    Today I reached the capitol building to find the fireflies I was supposed to meet dead. Amid the confusion joel finds that tess got infected along the way. They argue on what should happen next. Tess wants joel to continue the mission in the fireflies' place and deliver Ellie to the lab in the west. Joel Argues that the idea is stupid: They've always been "survivors" and this isn't "them". This gets to the heart of the post apocalyptic philosophy: is there room for altruism in times of survival?

    The society of The Last of Us is one of brutal predators and prey. This ultimate selfishness is justified by the harsh living conditions. However, it is this way of life that creates the inhospitable environment. Joel has a chance at furthering the research of a cure, and yet is skeptical as it requires a great deal of risk for him. The absence of vital resources in the gameplay creates a ludonarrative harmony with this theme.

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    Apr 5th, 2017 at 22:02:50     -    The Last of Us (PS3)

    In this secondary session Joel and Tess seek retribution for a business betrayal by a man named Robert. On the way we're witness to more exposition and world building. We learn of the martial law that they live in on the outskirts of Boston. Paramilitary suppress the population- a necessity to keeping disease down. Yet things seem more grey than that- several times soldiers can be heard killing "stragglers" for less than altruistic reasons. This new world is a harsh one- the quarantine zone is a refuge sought by many, yet rampant with violence and famine.

    Upon reaching (and dispatching) their target, Joel and Tess learn the location of their stolen weapons shipment- the hands of a resistance group. Now, they must smuggle a girl, Ellie, out of the quarantine zone to get their shipment back. On their way, Ellie expresses a surprise for the nonchalant manner in which the two deal in human life.

    I'm starting to see the different philosophies of groups of people represented in the game. There are the Fireflies: somewhat more altruistic, seeking to overthrow an oppressive government and find a cure for the disease. Joel and Tess: who seek order and personal peace. Their violence is only reactionary. Finally we have Robert and his crew- they align only to their own success, and care only when that is threatened.

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    Apr 5th, 2017 at 01:13:09     -    The Last of Us (PS3)

    I started another playthrough today. This is probably my fourth time restarting- though I've never finished the game. The beginning scene starts with Joel- the main character- and his daughter Sarah. This time around, the opening scene seems blatantly obvious with so much charming exposition showcasing how perfect his daughter is. That being said, I still cried when she died. The decision to have the player start from the child's perspective makes the emotional crescendo so raw. I felt powerless and vulnerable as a spectator to the crumbling world around me. This is highlighted by the removal of direct control and nostalgia of being in the backseat of a parent's car. I think this design choice mitigates the problem of "fridging" female characters in order to empower males. It feels more like honest emotion, at least.

    The emotional atmosphere pivots to desperation as we assume control of Joel. Gameplay becomes more active- QTEs and navigational hazards now feature prominently. This culminates until the death of Sarah.

    The remaining gameplay of this session was fairly linear with one deviation: we stumble upon an unfortunate man whose gas mask has broken in a spore infested area. Pinned to the ground by rubble, he is clearly suffering and begs Joel to end his life. The player is then allowed to choose between mercy and saving the bullet (as resource management is a prominent gameplay fixture). I chose the former.

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    Feb 24th, 2017 at 02:12:30     -    Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor (PC)

    In this play session I didn't do much. The main quest is now to kill four Uruk warchiefs in a variety of manner. I killed one pretty easily by brutalizing an orc, thus scaring off most threats, leaving me with a one on one battle. Another one wasn't so easy, as he had two uruk guards with him. I butted heads with him several times before giving up for the night.

    The nemesis system provides an interesting insight into uruk culture. Throughout the course of the game, the player is increasingly intimate with the personalities of many uruks- its the driving motivation as well as the most interesting mechanic of the game. However, I still feel strangely about how such wanton open disdain for an entire race of beings is portrayed. If we assume that uruks are an analogue for black people, the dialogue becomes much more sinister. This is reinforced when one realizes that there are only white humans. Another interesting omission is the lack of female uruks. I guess tolkien wasn't intersectional.

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    1Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor (PC)Playing
    2The Last of Us (PS3)Playing
    3The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (PC)Playing

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