Violence in Video Games: A 2018 Look at “The Last of Us”

Let me start by posting this Forbes article that was published last year.

The gist of Erik Kain’s article—and of many other video game reviewers’ articles that have been published since the release of The Last of Us II trailer last year—is that the first trailer for newest instalment of the mega-hit post-apocalyptic video game is much too violent.

First off, I think the author’s worries about the tone of the new game are completely founded. The Last of Us is a game about learning to love and trust those around you after going through a terrible loss. It is emotional and devastating in the best way possible, and The Last of Us II seems like it is going to be much darker than the first.

Neil Druckmann, the game director for The Last of Us, said that the next instalment is a “…story about hate.” This doesn’t instil confidence that the game will have a happy tone. However, I feel that the majority of these articles miss the mark when discussing the violence of this game series.

The Last of Us is a game about parasites that infect humanity and turn them into cannibalistic monsters. Many, MANY main characters die (SPOILER: one of them is the main character’s tween daughter about 15 minutes into the game), and the game has a plethora of extremely violent imagery.

It is by no means a happy game.

So when I read articles condemning the violence in the most recent The Last of Us II trailer, I can’t help but think that the context of this series was simply not taken into consideration.

For instance, Julia Alexander’s recent article for polygon.com (Stop Using Violence To Sell Your Game), is a well written discussion about violence against women in video games. However, I see the newest trailer for The Last of Us as being empowering to women—not another example of misogynistic game play.

The only characters that have any lines in this trailer are women. This trailer, now that most of the characters have been named, passes the Bechdel Test (see Hollywood executives? It’s not that hard).

The main character is ripped. Like completely shredded. She doesn’t exist in this post apocalyptic world to be feminine eye candy for the male protagonists. She is realistically shaped to survive in the world she is in. However, who is she saved by? Not by a man, but by two young women (who are not white, but that deserves a whole other conversation about race in video games).

One is androgynous, another example of what real women can look like, and the other is defiant even in the face of defeat. Yes, her arm being broken is shown in graphic detail, but she gets right back up and kills two of her captors despite this. The women are subjected to violence because the world of The Last of Us is violent.

But are they shown to be victims? Do they cower in the face of violence like so many female movie and video game protagonists do?

No. They show that women, no matter if they are a villain, a pair of badass saviours, or a mysterious anti-hero, can survive an apocalyptic world just as well as any man.

We see the survival instincts of Tess, the fortitude of Ellie, and the spirit that makes The Last of Us such a beloved game. So, no—I am not worried about the tone of the next instalment of this series, because from what has been released so far, I can see what makes The Last of Us unique: the fight all people have—no matter their gender, age, race, or sexuality—to keep their humanity and stay alive in an incredibly violent world.

Keep an eye out for the new Last of Us game coming out in 2019!

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Netflix Flops: Should You Watch “Don’t Watch This”?

What is it with the human brain and the compulsion of doing something when you’ve been specifically told not to? That’s exactly what I did when I saw Don’t Watch This on NetflixI clicked on it almost immediately.

Now, looking back, maybe I should’ve taken it seriously.

Ghouls, psychos and dark obsessions are the protagonists on Netflix’s brand new horror anthology, Don’t Watch This. It was created as a collaboration between Netflix, Crypt TV and Queer Eye’s executive producers. Good combo, right?

I was more than excited when I read the loglines for the episodes, which don’t have anything in commonnot the theme, not the length, nor the atmosphere. Still, I had been proven before that horror anthologies could, in fact, work.

Unfortunately, what I was served wasn’t much more than another XX or ABC’s of Death.

It pains me to say this but Don’t Watch This failed to bring originality, scares and overall entertainment.

Perhaps the lack of common denominator is what caused the anthology to collapseit didn’t have any grounds to stand on. In spite of all the bad, it has its good sides. I really enjoyed two shorts: Incommodum, the third one, and Antoni Psycho, the last one.

Incommodum is an experimental short, with no conventional narrative; therefore all of our need of clear storyline and resolution should be thrown out of the window when watching it. It shows distorted images of “ominous symbols, bodily horrors and other frights [that] converge in a surreal nightmare that’s not for the squeamish”, as one of the producers kindly wrote.

The last one is an homage to Mary Harron’s iconic American Psycho. In this short, Antoni Porowski, one of the fab five from Queer Eye appears as himself in a parody that feeds from American Psycho and the personality’s fame after the success of Queer Eye.

Its style and tone are perfectly copied from Harron’s feature, as it shows a duplicate from the opening scene where Christian Bale’s character gets ready for his day, voicing his day-to-day routines. Both in the feature and in the short, the voice-over is as painfully boring as it is important for the character development. Although the protagonist on the short film is a real person, both versions explore the absurd of human vanity.

As I mentioned before, Don’t Watch This is not Netflix’s best, but it is worth a watchdespite its namefor its novelty. It is Netflix’s first attempt to swim in uncharted waters and even betterit is really, really short!

A Carer’s Perspective on Mental Health

Mental health: there’s been a lot talk, from celebs sharing their battle with depression to an endless selection of self-care books available on Amazon.

The message of mental wellbeing is widespread, and it seems that almost everyone has a story to share. But, the most common ones we come across are generally first-hand accounts.

With stats showing that 72% of family members, friends or loved ones are acting as carers for those with mental health problems in the UK has suffered mental ill health as a result, the question arises: what about those who struggle supporting someone with mental health issues – where’s the discussion on this?

Lauren* is just one of many who feel unable to speak up about their second-hand experience with mental health.

“Psychotic episode, schizophrenia, bipolar–these were just some of the diagnoses she was receiving, but I didn’t know how I could be there for her and be strong for myself,” explained Lauren.

As a carer for a family member, Lauren had to balance her priorities, being her own person with taking care of someone at the same time.

“It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever gone through”, she says. “I always felt an unconscious conflict between my compassion for her health and the guilt of it all coming down really hard on me.”

A student at the time, Lauren explained how looking after a loved-one really took a toll on her studies and social life, which left her feeling anxious.

“I felt too guilty to find help for my own struggles,” Lauren recalls. “I often thought that my own problems seemed minor and selfish in comparison. She needed me, and I wanted to be there for her, but I felt stuck battling between my own mental wellbeing and being a support system.”

The Carers UK annual survey in 2015 revealed that out of 5,000 carers across the UK, 84% of carers feel more stressed, 78% feel more anxious and 55% reported that they suffered from depression because of their caring role.

“Every day was a learning curve for me as I started recognising the small indications of the emotional support she needed,” Lauren added.

She explains that it wasn’t just the psychological effects that became a struggle, but it was also physical barriers that became difficult.

“I think some people see mental illness as an invisible health problem, but it does take effect on someone’s physical state–there were times she didn’t want to get out of bed and I had to stay nearby to support her daily needs,” Lauren said. “I needed to make sure she ate, that she showered, and I really didn’t mind if it meant it helped–but I did forget what it was like to live my own life.

“It was a commitment and it takes a strong person to see a loved one going through a tough time and while I would never point fingers for the way it all happened – I just wish at the time that I hadn’t neglected my own emotional needs,” Lauren added.

Lauren wants others to know that being there for someone is difficult and it’s OK to admit it: “I know from this experience, I have learnt that it’s perfectly fine to feel the way I did.”

If you are struggling with caring for a friend or family member with any disability, Mind UK have a support network specifically designed to support carers’ mental health and Samaritans are always available to talk.

Editor’s Note: Lauren’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.

5 Best Sex Toys on a Student Budget

Exams stressing you out? Worried you’ll be bored over the long Christmas holiday? Don’t worry, because Loudly’s resident sex toy expert has you covered.

Check out this list of the 5 best sex toys to buy on a student-friendly budget from LoveHoney, a company that offers discreet shipping and student discounts (and no, we’re not sponsored, just horny).

  1. BASICS Beginner’s Rabbit Vibrator

With a price point of £20, this is a great entry-level vibrator that offers penetration while stimulating the clitoris. It’s reasonably quiet under a duvet, unless you go full-blast, so keep that in mind if you have flatmates. If you’re new to the sex toy world, this is a fantastic introduction into the wonderful world of vibrators.

  1. BASICS Buzz Tongue Finger Vibrator

It’s discreet, it’s pink and it’s fast. This vibrator is designed to slip onto your finger and stay there, no matter how hot and heavy things get. It’s not the quietest vibrator, but it is very powerful—seeing as it only has one setting. However, this is a toy that can be used with a partner, which makes it versatile and worth picking up.

  1. G-Tickler 7 Function Clitoral and G-Spot Vibrator

This strange-looking vibrator is designed to stimulate the G-spot and the clitoris at the same time! The stubby bristles offer a unique sensation, and for those vagina-holders who swear they don’t have a G-spot, this toy will prove you wrong. It’s moderately loud, but muffled when used under a duvet. Used alone or as foreplay, this is a great addition to any sex toy collection.

  1. BASICS Love Egg Vibrator

Designed with couples in mind, this is a fun addition to foreplay for any couple. The “egg” itself isn’t the most powerful vibrator, but it can be used both internally and externally for some good fun. With a sliding scale of vibration, this toy can be tailored to your body and situation, and is a fun addition to your collection.

  1. BASICS Powerful Mini G-Spot Vibrator

As advertised, this small vibrator is powerful (and, unfortunately, loud). It didn’t help me find my G-spot as advertised, but it did offer a strong one-level vibration that just about made up for it. This shouldn’t be your first choice, but it is a good choice, especially for those who are new to sex toys. If you want to see if vibrators are for you, give this a shot—you might like what you find.

Remember, LoveHoney offers a 20% NUS Extra discount on all orders, so don’t hesitate to treat yourself to a little “me time” this winter.

Slaugherhouse Rulez: But Does It? A Two-Sided Review

Note: this review is not spoiler-free.


Shannon Moyer: Pro

If you’re looking for a fun, slightly-scary romp, then Slaughterhouse Rulez is a good movie for you. With Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as both executive producers and characters in the movie, the film harkens back to the “Cornetto Trilogy” of films featuring the duo.

Slaughterhouse Rulez follows Don Wallace (Finn Cole), a teenage boy sent to the renowned Slaughterhouse boarding school, and his roommate Willoughby (Asa Butterfield) as they navigate the popularity contest that is a UK public school.

Along the way, characters befriend Don and Will, including the brainy Kay (Isabella Laughland) and the stereotypical blonde love-interest Clemsie (Hermione Corfield). While not groundbreaking, this cast of characters are interesting, likeable and push the movie’s plot forward.

The movie touches on important issues, but never stays there too long. Slaughterhouse’s headmaster, played by Michael Sheen, orchestrated for a company to start fracking on the school grounds. That could be the focus, but then a group of protesting hippies appear, and then monsters are introduced—and so on, and so forth.

Some may find this off-putting; on the other hand, I enjoyed the quick pace of the movie. It kept me alert and guessing in a way that many movies don’t.

Slaughterhouse Rulez is also enshrouded in hushed discussion of teenage suicide from the first 10 minutes of the movie. If you want to avoid spoilers, stop here.

Midway through the film, Don stops Will from committing suicide by barging into their dorm room right after Will tried to hang himself. The scene that follows is one of relief, and then this suicide attempt is pretty much ignored for the rest of the movie.

Some might not like how the movie handled this, or call it sloppy writing that the attempt was never circled back to. However, I thought it displayed honesty about how suicide attempts in young adults go—a heartbreaking conversation about life doesn’t always follow. Sometimes, the attempt is foiled and the person just… moves on, like the film does.

Will is alluded to be gay, which isn’t explored in the film—which is okay. I don’t need every film to prove a character’s sexuality to me, especially when it just doesn’t feed into the overall plot. It was just a character point, like him having black hair, and I really liked that.

This movie is fast-paced, a bit chaotic, and full of the clever and subtly humorous writing that is a staple of a Frost/Pegg movie. It made me laugh, kept me on the edge of my seat, and made me genuinely care about whether or not the on-screen cast would survive until the end.

In all honesty, this movie isn’t groundbreaking—and that’s okay. This was 1 hour and 45 minutes of my time that I enjoyed, was glad to see in theatres, and will likely buy when it is released.

It won’t be a blockbuster movie, as indicated by its current 41% on Rotten Tomatoes (as of 7/11/18). But, it’s a campy Pegg and Frost movie that’s entertaining, full of a few laughs and scares, and worth paying the ticket price for.


Cassidy Anthony: Con

If you’re anything like me, then you love Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s “Cornetto Trilogy” of films. So, when you heard that the two were executive producing and starring in their new film, Slaughterhouse Rulez, you probably ran to the theatre with dreams of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz floating in your head.

If you subsequently then left the theatre in disappointment and a slight twinge of cinematic anger, you’d still be just like me—because that’s exactly what I did!

I was so excited to love this movie. I came in with extremely high expectations because I love Pegg and Frost’s work. As the movie started, I had the biggest smile on my face, but as it progressed, I could feel it fading quickly.

This film clearly had lots of ambitious ideas. They wanted to make the film fun and exciting, so they absolutely bombarded it with action. From the beginning of the film, we are introduced to characters, settings, events, motivations, and so much that left my head spinning.

This is one of the elements of the film that proves it didn’t know what it wanted to be—rather than intertwining multiple storylines fluidly, it feels like multiple movies were ungracefully mashed together.

Instead of trying to mislead us that clever way that many scary films do, it ended up just leaving us confused.

Slaughterhouse Rulez tried to be clever with its utilisation of constant tropes: the attractive main character, the suicidal best friend, the hot main female character, and so on.

In other parodic films by Pegg and Frost, tropes are usually executed well. However, this film falls victim to these tropes instead of making a commentary about them.

For example, the main female character, Clemsie, has a run in with a weird alien thing (which, by the way, is never really addressed again) which—of course—ends up in her having to take off her button-down shirt and spend the next several scenes in her bra.

This scene adds absolutely nothing to the plot. The “shirtless female” trope is in countless films, and exists only as a wink to the men in the audience.

Had this film not being promoted as a “Simon Pegg film” and I hadn’t gone in expecting Cornetto Trilogy-level cinema, I might have had a different viewing experience. But when a film rides on the coattails of an already incredibly successful trilogy as a way to fill the seats, that film had better deliver—and it simply didn’t.


Have you seen Slaughterhouse Rulez? Let us know what you thought about the film in the comments!

#YouTubeBlack: A Review

Last week in Washington D.C., the black community on YouTube were left overshadowed beyond algorithms, as the second year of the annual fan fest, #YouTubeBlack, took place.

Supporters of the event and YouTubers alike took to Twitter and their channels to display their excitement—but those who disagreed with the event used social media to prompt a debate on the intentions of #YouTubeBlack.

They accused the event of inciting inequality. However, the event was created to address the racial inequalities that currently exist on the platform. Despite the backlash, #YouTubeBlack is being positively recognised by the majority as a space for celebration of black contributions to the globally recognised platform—and there’s nothing wrong with that!

When individuals claim that #YouTubeBlack is exclusory, it takes away from what the event is trying to do–create visibility for black content-makers.

One Twitter user stated, “It’s segregating content specifically by black people for the enjoyment of black people. That is the opposite of equality.” This was just one of the accusations that divided Twitter users on the issue.

But what’s more is that for years now, black content creators have been battling to be heard amongst YouTube algorithms who don’t display their content as frequently as other well-known creators. This means that many black YouTubers’ content is being lost within their own platform.

Attendees of #YouTubeBlack, such as Kingsley (who has 2.9m million subscribers), De’arra & Ken (5m subscribers) and LaToya Forever (1.4m subscribers) are just some of the well-known black content creators who you are unlikely to see on the trending or recommended pages of YouTube, despite their large following.

This is just evidence of how creators of colour have fallen victim to platforms that use algorithms to promote video-makers, but have lacked in promoting the black community as equally as other races.

The majority of entertainers of colour we see in our trending pages are generally globally known and Grammy award-winning musicians, who don’t reflect all genres that black creators represent within the social platform.

By allowing events like #YouTubeBlack to exist, these voices can be heard. The annual fest not only gives fans the chance to meet their favourite black YouTubers, but also unites the voices of the new and existing generation of black YouTubers.

This allows more creators who believe they couldn’t make it because of their ethnicity to be inspired and grow. It’s significant to see more black people celebrating these front-facing roles as they support and encourage others within the community, spreading a message that their opportunities are just as tangible and equal as any other race.

With a demographic of 50 million creators on YouTube, many agree that #YouTubeBlack is about uplifting an overlooked community amongst the mass shared platform.

By allowing black creatives to thrive by celebrating, supporting and mentoring fellow black creators, they can gain recognition within and beyond their community.

As one Twitter user defends, “#YouTubeBlack was created to acknowledge black creators who are often stuffed under the algorithm. Black YouTubers do not get nearly as much visibility/opportunities as other races, yet are consistently the forefront of every trend. The initiative was created to help balance that.”

The Stress of Being Sober at University

It normally starts with the dreaded question, “Why aren’t you drinking?”

You sit there, clinging onto your pint of Pepsi that you hoped nobody would notice. The realities of explaining your personal life choices can be daunting, to say the least.

The struggle comes from a societal pressure to conform–and the burden of socialising is changing the way non-drinkers experience university. This irrational, generational fear of missing out is causing a struggle for those who don’t want to fit societal pressures and norms.

For some, alcohol abstinence is just part of the dreaded anticipation of peer pressure, potential exclusion and social challenges.

It’s no secret that drinking culture has long been associated with 21st century university life, and alcohol is–in some ways—deemed as the university student’s social beverage of choice.

The initiation of Fresher’s Week starts the school year into an alcohol-fuelled string of social events, from post-lecture pub drinks to clubbing events. Here, being a non-drinker can cause anxiety and apprehension.

As someone who chooses not to drink, I often find it’s one of the first things people notice about me during any social event.

Sometimes, I wonder if it’s just me being paranoid. I’ll unintentionally let the fact that I don’t drink slip, as if it’s a dirty little secret—but do people assume I don’t drink because I drive to classes? It’s a difficult situation that heightens my self-confidence, and I’m sure I’m not the only person to have been in this situation.

For those who choose not to drink, the act of declining an alcoholic beverage from their peers can cause an intense fear of being judged for their choice to stay sober. But, according to the Health Survey for England 2016, the biggest drop in adult alcohol consumption has been among young people between the ages of 16 to 24.

It seems that sober-culture is, somewhat, becoming socially common. However, as the number of non-drinking students goes up, the social pressures put on students to drink still prevail.

It’s safe to say that the perceptions surrounding non-drinking and peer pressure can contribute to some forms of negative stigma around alcohol abstinence.

The suggestion of “not being up for a good time” are just some of the behavioural preconceptions of a non-drinker by their drinking classmates. The association between alcohol and socialising a direct effect of this and—as a result—non-drinkers can find themselves isolated from classmates and friends.

Many non-drinkers can relate to being told, “Just one drink, it won’t hurt.” But, for someone who has made an informed personal, religious or health choice, this can be an uncomfortable scenario.

The easy solution would be to take this with a grain of salt, but for some, it can be far more problematic than this. Consequently, university students are still experiencing the same pressures of social drinking—although it’s no longer as rare.

With statistics showing that the proportion of both men and women drinking more than the recommended 14 units of alcohol a week has decreased between 2011 and 2016 (from 34% to 31% of men, and from 18% to 16% of women), there is generally a decrease of alcohol consumption overall.

With that being said, non-drinkers university should feel free to embrace their sobriety, trust their peers and put these societal pressures aside. Today, turning down a drink does not have to be a big deal.