Making a console: Nintendo’s and Nintendon’ts

 

The Nintendo Switch is ready to reach the 2000 game threshold, but where does it go from there? 

It’s such a little piece of hardware, slightly bigger than a phone, smaller than most tablets but it packs a punch. It runs reasonably impressive games such as Zelda, Dark Souls and Fortnite without really any problems and the games library recently hit 1800 games… but there lies the problem.

While it might be impressive that such a compact, portable console can run intensive games, it’s no secret that Nintendo have never been one for keeping up with Joneses of the video game world. Sure, it’s impressive that the Switch can run a game originally released for the PS3 – but the PS3 was last generation, and graphics have moved on. The Switch, performance-wise at least, comes dead last in this console generation race.

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(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Developers make games for PC and with some minor alterations get them working on consoles. The PS4 and the Xbox One are about as powerful as mid market PCs. Modern games are built from the ground up to be extremely beautiful and technically impressive. Red Dead Redemption II for example takes up over 60GB of storage on the Xbox One. The Switch though? It only has 32GB of internal storage, meaning there isn’t even enough space on the hard-drive to store most modern games, never mind run them.

The Wii and the Wii U had the same problem. Developers just don’t want to make games for an awkward, under-powered console. Nintendo’s plan has always been to ignore this and instead make high quality games for their own console focusing on their own IPs that they hope will bring in both loyal fans and newcomers. This didn’t work.

For a while Nintendo was in a little bit of trouble. The Wii U just didn’t have enough high quality games to attract consumers to it, but the switch has found a rather clever solution.

Nintendo have opened the Switch to indie developers meaning anyone with some programming skills could make a game for the console. This has given The Nintendo library a much needed breath of fresh air. This turns the Switch’s weakness on their head. Under-powered becomes accessible and means anyone can develop for the console.

However: now the Switch market seems almost too accessible. Scrolling through new releases is like browsing the App Store, and the games there would be more at home on a mobile phone. This is a shame, as we know that the switch can do so much more.

The Switch is doing a lot right and has undoubtedly revolutionised gaming, and it’s great that it has a more expansive library than it predecessors. All Nintendo needs to make sure of is that it doesn’t over-correct. If it does, the Switch will have a bright future.

Are single-sex schools still relevant?

Do single-sex schools still have a place in our society? (Credit: Luka Kenyon)

Whether single-sex schools still have a place in society today is a much contested issue.

It’s something I’ve thought about a lot since leaving the all-girls secondary school I attended for eight formative years of my life. There’s a valid argument that dividing pupils by gender is an antiquated idea, but I think the system still has merit today.

I honestly believe that I owe all of my self-confidence to being surrounded by kind, wonderful and phenomenally driven women.

Attending an all-girls school meant that I was not impacted by the gender stereotypes I may have been at a mixed school, as all activities and subjects were available to us without question.

I went to an all-girls school for eight years (Credit: Luka Kenyon)

I only realise now how important it was to have this ‘girl power’ rhetoric constantly reinforced. I felt more myself at 18, having been surrounded by the same girls since I was 11, than I perhaps do now after four years at university.

Some research has been done into the benefits of single-sex education, and in exam season there are often articles suggesting that single-sex schools perform better.

Grace Duncan, 21, who attended an all-girls school in London said, “I think going to a girls school made me more confident to follow my own path and helped me recognise that I’m no less competent than a man. It also gave me a strong circle of female friends that I know will weather any storm, because once you’ve survived eight years in an all-girls school together you can survive anything.”

In contrast, some girls feel cheated that they have missed out on a mixed education. Lucy Booth, who was in  a single-sex school from age five says, “I would have liked to experience what school was like with boys. I had problems with girls being cliquey at school and there was no one to go to about it. Girls schools are all about what the girls want and need which is good, but I think we need to learn to be with boys because leaving a girls school when you’ve been there since age five is terrifying.”

Maybe a middle ground needs to be found in single sex education as Rachel Fox, who went to an all-girls boarding school with an all-boys partner school, describes. She said, “We had a diamond structure to our school, where we were mixed for primary, separated for classes from S1 to S5 and then in classes together again in our last year. It was good because we were separated for the most important years when we needed to concentrate on our grades”.

I found my all-girls school a safe and positive environment, but this is not always the case. Major improvements need to be made to how single-sex schools handle their LGBT+ pupils. Single-sex schools will only remain relevant if they learn to handle gender identity appropriately.

Layla Moran MP introduced a bill to the House of Commons on Wednesday arguing that gender neutral school uniforms should be adopted by all schools, something that could definitely stop single-sex schools from gender stereotyping or excluding their LGBT+ pupils. Read more about the bill here.

Soundtracks in, symphonies out?

Wizards, witches and even muggles are invited to watch as the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) bring the music from Harry Potter to life.

The Music of Harry Potter, which will include the scores from all eight movies, will be bringing magic to Edinburgh’s Usher Hall on March 15th.

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The Music of Harry Potter will take place in the Usher Hall on March 15th (Credit: Kevin Rae)

Richard Kaufman, a Grammy award winning Hollywood conductor, will lead the orchestra in exploring John William’s music from the iconic franchise, including Hedwig’s Theme, Hogwarts Forever, and Nimbus 2000.

The audience will be left to imagine Hogwarts, though, as no movie footage will be screened. To encourage a more magical feel to the concert, people attending are encouraged to dress in their House robes or as their favourite character with prizes for the best dressed.

For more information on this event and to purchase tickets, click here.

However, this type of event – an orchestra playing scores of successful movies – is not new, and it’s a trend that doesn’t seem to be disappearing any time soon.

The Usher Hall will also be the setting for the RSNO’s The Music of John Williams and Back to the Future in Concert.

Recently, it was announced that the BBC’s Blue Planet 2 would be brought to the stage, following the success of the BAFTA award winning television series.

The 13 date tour will be accompanied by film sequences from the TV series, which began raising the public’s awareness of the fragility of the planet when the programme was first broadcast in 2001.

On the tour’s page, it states:

“The live concert adaptation is an extension of that striking visual and environmental narrative.”

But why has the orchestra, which was typically entertainment for the upper classes, started to play the soundtracks of much-loved movies?

In a sense, the ensemble might be adapting – or maybe evolving is a better word – to how music is created, listened to, and loved by the public today.

Over the past few years, movie soundtracks have become more of an indicator for how worthwhile the film will be. This might have been similar in the past, but iTunes and Spotify have made listening to scores simple. A quick download, and the soundtrack for Guardian of the Galaxy is on your mobile. A press of a button and Shazam has found your favourite song from The Breakfast ClubThe Greatest Showman soundtrack was so popular that it was released again, with chart-topping artists performing the songs. 

There is no denying it – soundtracks are strong right now, and that seems to have created an opening for the orchestra. But lifestyle-related issues could have also effected this change.

Songs most people listen to now are short – four or five minutes at the most. In comparisons to classical music, this is a minuscule length of time, especially as Beethoven’s Symphony No.9 goes on for over an hour. People do not have the time or patience now to listen to something that length, even if it is one of the most celebrated pieces in music history.

The cost of making the music, as well as how people relate to the music, might even factor into why soundtracks are in and symphonies are out – it appears to be yet another change society has gone through.

To see upcoming events at the Usher Hall, click here.

Painting outside the lines

If pieces of art go against the social norm, do they make us see the world in a new light?

There are few things in the world that allow us to express ourselves the way that the arts do. Art has an uncanny ability to make us feel empowered, accepted and less alone.

Arguably, the best thing about art is that it has the ability to inspire us. It makes us feel something and can help us turn feeling into action. It can drive us, motivate us, spur us on to act.

Mavericks in Literature

Tracy Chevalier‘s collection of short stories is entitled Reader, I Married Him – inspired by the most famous line in Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. The conclusion to the collection reflects on one of history’s first stories to defy social expectations.

Set in 1847, the heroine Jane Eyre is an impoverished orphan with no other family who, by the end of the novel, becomes a governess, the underdog who rises from the dirt. In the 19th century women had little power to determine their own future, so you would expect the line to go “Reader, he married me,” or even “We got married.” But this story sees Jane making the choice to spend her life with Rochester and be the driving force of her own life.

To celebrate and remind people of that self-determination and going against social norms, Chevalier created a collection of short stories from this generation that have the same effect of encouraging people to strive for change (To buy the book, click here).

Reader I Married him by Tracy Chevalier

Tracy Chevalier’s collection of short stories Reader, I Married Him (Credit: The Borough Press)

Illustrated Rebellion

In modern times, new platforms are supporting artists going against society’s expectations. Kidmograph, also known as Gustavo Torres, is an Argentinian video artist, illustrator, and art director who tackles social issues through his art.

He makes Matrix-style GIFs and music videos that sit between both the digital world and reality whilst denying to commit to either. It reflects on modern day society and how people live their lives in part in the ‘real’ world whilst the other half is stuck in the virtual one.

Musical insurgents

Actions speak louder than words, but sometimes lyrics speak even louder. The politically charged anti-Trump anthem Land of the Free by The Killers touches on a variety of important issues currently happening the US.

The second bridge of the song opens with the powerful line “but if you’re the wrong colour skin (I’m standing, crying), you grow up looking over both your shoulders,” referring to the ongoing race issue in America, and reflecting on topics discussed in last year’s Blackkklansman by filmmaker Spike Lee, who created the music video and is an outspoken critic of President Trump.

The song refers to Trump’s plans to build a wall segregating North America and Mexico, and addresses gun violence and school shootings:

“So how many daughters, tell me, how many sons do we have to have to put in the ground before we just break down and face it: we got a problem with guns?”

Has Pride become problematic?

This week Ariana Grande was announced as the headline act for Manchester’s Pride Festival, which will take place in August. 

Controversy over the festival line up has been rife online, as many have criticised the lack of openly LGBT+ acts on the bill. Manchester Pride organisers have already faced criticism over this year’s high ticket prices, as many fear the price of the event will lead it to be less inclusive.

The line up for Manchester’s Pride celebrations has opened a wider debate online surrounding the true purpose of Pride celebrations.

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(Credit: Manchester Pride)

Ariana Grande responded to criticism on Twitter, first addressing the fact that she had no impact or say on the ticket price, and secondly to express her excitement to be headlining the event for a community that has been special to her and supportive of her throughout her career.

Grande made the valid point that straight allies such as Kylie Minogue and Cher have previously performed at Pride events, as a way of showing their personal support for the LGBT+ community.

The problem is surely not that straight artists are performing at Pride events, but that straight artists are often chosen over LGBT+ artists due to popularity and the need to sell tickets. This leads to questions over the purpose of Pride today and what the event has come to mean.

It is a complicated debate as Pride events often aim to raise money for LGBT+ charities, so of course ticket sales are important. But are they more important than giving a platform to LGBT+ artists and performers?

Pride is supposed to be a chance to celebrate equality, inclusiveness and all the progress made against discrimination of the LGBT+ community. It is also a defiant, public sign of solidarity against the prejudice that continues today. It is important to question whether the commercialisation of Pride, as it grows in size in cities across the UK every year, has had an impact on its true purpose.

Olly Alexander, frontman of pop group Years & Years who are also on the bill for this year’s Manchester Pride, took to Twitter to weigh in on the debate. As an openly gay artist, Olly agreed that he would love to see more LGBT+ acts at Pride events, yet he also picks up on how “problematic” Pride has become.

Has celebrating Pride in such a commercial way, with companies and shops stocking and pushing rainbow items for just one month each year, made it less meaningful?

Olly makes the valuable argument that if an effort was made to support LGBT+ artists all year round, it would be more likely that we’d find them at the top of the bill at Pride events, because they would be popular enough to sell the tickets. This argument could definitely be applied to many other aspects of Pride as, in order for Pride to have the meaning it intends to, thought needs to be given to the LGBT+ community all year round.

Arguably, an incredibly famous, straight artist like Ariana Grande performing at Pride is a sign of, and a testament to, the progress that has been made towards equality. No matter how commercialised it has become, Pride is so famous that it cannot be separated from being an LGBT+ event. Therefore, huge stars performing openly and proudly in support of the LGBT+ community, no matter what their own sexual orientation may be, is proof of the huge progress towards equality that has been made since the first Pride celebration in 1972.

Grande’s wish to “celebrate and support this community, regardless of my identity” is exactly the kind of attitude that should be welcomed, and her suggestion that there is “room for us to talk about these issues without equating a performance *for* an LGBTQ audience with an exploitation of the LGBTQ community” is also incredibly valid.

When questioning whether someone is celebrating or exploiting a group they are not part of, it’s necessary to consider the intention or motivation behind their actions. It’s pretty clear that Ariana Grande genuinely wants to perform at Pride in solidarity with the LGBT+ community in Manchester. It’s also worth noting that Ariana’s link to the city,  since 22 people were killed in a terrorist attack at her concert in Manchester Arena in 2017, undoubtedly drives her wish to return and perform at Manchester Pride.

Is it not incredibly beneficial that artists who are well known and have a voice stand up for causes they believe in? Stars like Ariana Grande have a responsibility to actively stand up for causes they support, because they have a platform to. I don’t think that their support should be rejected at any point, because it all adds to the advance towards equality.

Tickets for Manchester’s Pride Festival are available on Ticketmaster.

 

Podcast: Reactions to Liam Neeson’s racist comments

Luka Kenyon, Linnea Lind and Olivia Hill discuss the public’s reaction to Liam Neeson’s racist comments in another EN4 News podcast.

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Liam Neeson was criticised this week for making racist comments (Credit: flickr)

EN4 Newspaper Roundup 8/2/19

EN4 News journalists Ross Hempseed, Bryce Arthur, and John Menzies bring you the headlines and top stories from today’s newspapers.

 

If you want to read the Herald’s Brexit Voices stories, click here.

For more on the upcoming match against Ireland, listen to our podcast.

Find EN4 News’ previous stories on the tourist tax here.

 

Should we introduce a maximum driving age in the UK?

Questions are being raised regarding the safety of elderly drivers and other road users after Prince Philip, 96, found himself involved in a collision on the Sandringham estate this week. 

Currently in the UK, the minimum age for driving is 17, with no maximum guidelines on how long you can drive for. Both the Queen, 92, and Prince Philip, are frequently seen driving their signature Range Rovers.

While people are reluctant to remove rights from elderly citizens, many are concerned that the growing number of accidents, caused by OAP’s, are starting to become unignorable.

For example, in October 2018, 80-year-old John Norton and 87-year-old Olive Howard were killed after Norton took the wrong turn on the M40 in Buckinghamshire, and travelled up the wrong side of the carriageway for eight minutes.

The tragic accident also saw 32-year-old soldier Stuart Richards killed when his Ford Mondeo crashed head-on into the pair.

Another pensioner recently failed a breath test in Lanarkshire, also in October 2018, after crashing his Audi A6 and colliding with a parked car. Francis Broughton admitted to courts that he had been drinking the night before and was eventually banned from driving for 17 months.

As of November 2018, over 5.3 million British drivers are still on the roads, with 110,790 being over the age of 90 and 11,245 incidents recorded for over-70’s in recent years.

It has been reported that 2.8 million drivers are between the age of 17-21, and they are four times more likely to be involved in crashes.

However, people across social media have started to  debate whether there should be tighter regulations in place for OAP drivers.

Currently, there are no reported plans in place from the British government or councils to reassess driving ages after Prince Phillip’s incident.

How would you feel about your Grandparents being told they can no longer drive?  

Maximum driving age

Infographic by Michaella Wheatley for EN4News

Netflix Vs YouTube: The battle for online views

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Netflix Original Bird Box was watched by 80 million households in its first month. Image: Netflix

Netflix released their earnings report last night, and the most interesting part of it is where they say that they have lost most of their viewership to people watching Fortnite on YouTube, rather than HBO or Hulu. 

Netflix’s quarterly earnings report revealed a bright future for the streaming giant, with Netflix having more than 139 million paying subscribers, adding another 8.8 million over the past three months.

Netflix claims it owes its success to Netflix Originals. Bird Box, starring Sandra Bullock,  was watched by 80 million households in its first four weeks after release and Elite, a Spanish drama, was watched in 20 million households within its first four weeks as well. Analysts have estimated that Netflix spent $13 billion on original productions over the past year, and Netflix says that their spending is likely to increase.

In a letter to shareholders, Netflix addressed its competition, saying that it isn’t concerned about rival streaming services such as Disney+ or Amazon Prime, but are trying to win against all entertainment options. They said: “we compete with (and lose to) Fortnite more than HBO.”

Netflix added that “when YouTube went down globally for a few minutes in October, our viewing and signups spiked for that time.”

It is no surprise that Netflix feels threatened by YouTube — the Google-owned website rakes in amazingly high watch times, with over 1 billion hours of YouTube being watched every day. This is more than Netflix and Facebook Video combined.

We know that Netflix creates award-winning original content, so why does YouTube give Netflix so much competition?

YouTube is available in 80 languages, which is 95% of the online population and is free to use. Although there are advertisements on YouTube, it does have a premium service that removes ads. YouTube Premium costs £11.99 a month and the price of Netflix in the UK ranges from £5.99-£9.99 a month. YouTube premium is more costly, and in my opinion, the benefits of a subscription do not come close to what Netflix offers. This, however, does not change the fact that standard YouTube comes free.

Although the premise of YouTube is that anyone can upload essentially any video they want, the quality of these videos has increased dramatically. Expertly made documentaries, groundbreaking journalism and hilarious comedy sketches are becoming more and more frequent on the site. The average length for a YouTube video is only around 10 minutes long so a user can ‘dip in and dip out’ with little to no commitment, while most shows on Netflix have 30-60 minute long episodes.

The video creator, the ‘YouTuber,’ has become a phenomenon in itself. These YouTubers have become celebrities in their own right, some earning way above the average salary. People can identify with them because almost all YouTube channels began from humble beginnings, and they have achieved success from little more than hard work and commitment.

PewDiePie

YouTuber PewDiePie currently has over 81 million subscribers, currently the most-followed creator on the website.

A testament to YouTube’s popularity is the Swedish YouTuber PewDiePie, who has more than 81 million subscribers. Although subscribing to a channel on YouTube is free, it is still worth considering that one man has over half the number of subscribers as Netflix.

Netflix also mentioned Fortnite as a competitor, a video game that has achieved stunning and rapid success in the last year. Fortnite has streamers (people who stream themselves playing games to a live audience) and is increasing in popularity incredibly fast. Tyler Blevins, or ‘Ninja,’ became the first person to achieve five million followers on Twitch, and he also has over 250,000 paid subscribers on his channel. It is no wonder that Fortnite caused Netflix concern, it was a totally unexpected phenomenon.

Although YouTube may be causing Netflix’s numbers to drop, I don’t think there is any cause for concern. They both cater to different entertainment needs, and I can’t see one putting the other out of business. There will always be a place in the market for television shows and films, and nobody can predict how YouTube will continue to grow in popularity – but I am certain that the two can co-exist in a world where online content is essentially endless.

 

 

How dementia friendly is Edinburgh?

Dementia can be a lonely affliction but it doesn’t have to exile sufferers to the confines of their homes. The wider community can help the 90,000 Scottish people who battle the disease too, by making their area less daunting to tackle.

The fast pace of the big city might not seem like the kind of place to accommodate dementia but there are 7,647 people (as of 2017) in the City of Edinburgh area who live with it every day. And it’s not just a health concern for the elderly, it affects more than 40,000 under 65 in the UK. So, how can the city help make Edinburgh a more welcoming place for dementia sufferers? Simple changes can make a real difference to those living with the disease.

Dementia

Infographic designed by Jade du Preez for EN4 news 

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