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.

Discussion: School Children protest climate change

This week EN4 News has been looking at rebels with a cause. Last week school children across the UK skipped lessons to protest the Government’s lack of action in addressing climate change. 

Olivia Hill and Luka Kenyon discuss the government’s response to these protests and what can be done to make sure young activists are taken seriously.

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)

Behind the music: problematic musicians

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The campaign #MuteRKelly wants the singer removed from Spotify. (Credit: Rachel Lee)

Have you ever felt a twinge of shame when scrolling through your Spotify library? Or tilted your screen so your friends couldn’t catch a glimpse of your throwback emo-phase songs or Pop princess playlist?

You wouldn’t be alone. But in the era of #MeToo – perhaps it’s time we feel ashamed of the musicians behind the music we love.

Like the victims, the fact that admired musicians are sexual predators has been largely ignored. From Elvis’s habit of scanning crowds for ‘cherries’ for his entourage to ‘pick’ (14 year-old girls to you and I) to the Rolling Stones selling T-shirts that boasted the band had survived decades of ‘under-age sex’ with ‘baby groupies’– the revelations are disturbing. And yet, their legendary status remains untarnished.

Over a year since the #MeToo movement became cemented in the public consciousness, the entertainment industry is finally looking behind the talent and fortune of its biggest stars and acknowledging what they really are: predators.

The campaign #MuteRKelly has gained traction in the wake of a revealing documentary, Surviving R. Kelly, which aimed to give a voice to the numerous women whom Robert Kelly preyed upon. It covered Kelly’s 20 years in the limelight – during which he was praised for his singing voice, sold over 30 million albums and eventually called ‘the most important R&B artist of the last 25 years’ – whilst knowingly abusing underage girls.

Why, might one ask, if the abuse was so well known, has it taken so long and a worldwide movement to recognise it?

Professor of Feminist Media studies at Strathclyde University Karen Boyle says,

“The women have got to matter enough for it to be a story. A lot of these stories have been stories for a long, long time but they weren’t stories because the women didn’t matter enough. The men mattered more and so the women weren’t believed.”

“We see it with the R. Kelly case – the abuse of black women is the lowest priority of all and especially black women who are sexualised.”

“With R Kelly, if you look at the intersectionality of it being racism as well as sexism – would it have persisted for as long as it had if it had been young white girls he had been abusing?”

credit to Lean-Op, Flickr

R.Kelly. (Credit: Lean-Op, Flickr)

This week, after protests outside Sony’s New York headquarters, the label has dropped R Kelly. Former collaborators, such as Lady Gaga, Chance the Rapper and Celine Dion, have removed their songs with him from streaming sites. But R. Kelly is still touring – and selling out gigs for that matter.

Hannah Daly works for Edinburgh Rape Crisis and visits high schools to teach the definition of consent. She finds that a lot of teenagers believe that, quite simply, being falsely accused of rape is just a side effect of being a celebrity.

“There isn’t actually a lot of evidence that if you are a celebrity and have been proven to have committed sexual violence, that there will be any difference made to your life. Their careers aren’t destroyed by these allegations, and actually, people go on to have very successful careers for decades even when they have convictions.”

“From our experience, there isn’t really a lot to gain by making false allegations of sexual violence. Generally, I think our survivors would think the assumption that the celebrity status or the attention you’ll get in the media is somehow desirable to be very offensive.”

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The #MeToo movement opened up a discussion about problematic musicians. (Credit: Pexels)

Everyone knows that rape is wrong. We abhor rapists in everyday life. So what do you do when you find that your favourite artist has assaulted a woman or child? Do we make a pledge to #Mute all musicians who are sexual predators? Do we separate the rapist from the art and continue listening to their music?

It’s a question actress and presenter Jameela Jamil has offered a solution to. She proposed that we don’t take convicted abuser’s music offline, but instead that all the proceeds from royalties on steaming sites and iTunes should go to rape support charities. This would allow everyone to continue enjoying their favourite problematic artist’s music, innocent songwriters wouldn’t lose money and records companies wouldn’t have to compromise profit for morals. Sounds like a win-win right? Jamil called it ‘recycling without losing the songs’.

In 2019 it’s important we continue the premise of #MeToo by having discussions and asking questions in order to incite change. It’s time we stopped turning up the music to drown out the voices of thousands of young women.

Watch the vlodcast about this issue here.

Review: Can You Ever Forgive Me?

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Melissa McCarthy & Richard E. Grant. (Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures)

As the snow falls heavily on the skyscrapers and streets of New York City, writer Lee Israel suddenly finds herself without any financial security when she is fired from her job. Israel has talent but finds it impossible to make money from it, which pushes her towards the criminal activity of fabricating celebrity letters. The film is based on Israel’s 2008 memoir with the same name, in which she explained more about her path towards literary forgery.

Israel’s arrogance is palpable from the very start of the film, something actress Melissa McCarthy portrays genuinely. She doesn’t like anyone except her cat, who she seems to have great affection for. The love of her life. Although she appears in almost every scene of the film, it never gets boring. Her character is fascinating, even more so as it is based on a real writer. Israel doesn’t care about what others think of her, not in the slightest. She is fully herself. As she meets her extravagant drinking partner Jack Hock, played by Richard E. Grant, they explore the world of fabrication together. Grant is very convincing and entertaining and I specifically like their growing friendship that seems to make Israel find a little bit of joy in a world that she normally despises.

The director, Marielle Heller, managed to demonstrate Israel’s journey well – from the moment the downward spiral began with her money issues, all the way to her criminal career’s downfall. Despite its sadness, the film has many humorous moments. I found myself laughing out loud together with other viewers at the cinema at several parts. It was a very enjoyable watch and made me interested in reading the book. I think I will.

Watch the trailer below.

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 

Fat Cat Thursday: The worst day of the year?

FTSE 100 CEOs aren’t the most popular people in the UK at the best of time but coining the January 4 as Fat Cat Thursday may repulse people further.

It refers to the fact that only four days into the New Year, the majority of top bosses will have earned the average Brits’ yearly income. The average UK annual salary is £28,758 for full-time employees but some CEOs are making roughly £4.99 a minute, which means they make around 120x that of the average UK full-time worker. Although these big wigs have been facing salary cuts on an annual basis, they are still earning millions. By now (18th January 2019) the majority of CEOs will have earned £129,411 – that’s almost the price of a Lamborghini Huracan (£155,400)! To put it into further context, this is what FTSE 100 CEOs can buy roughly every four days on their salary:

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Infographic by Jade du Preez for EN4News

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