Courtesy IGDB
Over the last few decades, the rise of a new form of athlete has become commonplace. The esports athlete, a professional video game player who competes on the global stage in their game of specialty, has become the career inspiration for kids all over the world. One of the biggest games in the esports scene is “Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege,” but this game did not always see this level of success. 

Published and developed by Ubisoft Montreal, “Siege” was released on Dec. 1, 2015 and met with extremely mixed reviews. “Siege” is a first-person shooter built around 5-on-5 tactical team-based gameplay. Players take on counterterrorism operations like rescuing a hostage, taking control of key locations or defusing a bomb. At its release, it quickly became apparent that the game had a number of problems: poor lighting quality, a small roster of characters, known as operators, and several game-breaking bugs and weapons that made the game unenjoyable to play at home and impossible to play in a competitive environment. 

Nonetheless, Ubisoft stuck with it. 

When a game published by a AAA developer tanks, they tend to just let it die and make whatever profit they can from the ashes. Though AAA projects are the games with the highest budgets and expectations, developed by the studios that control the games industry, most developers decide that taking the loss is better than putting more time into a game that’s already been written off.  Despite this, Ubisoft, one of the biggest developers in the world, decided to stick with their project, and continue to develop it into a polished, finished product. 

Through a series of updates over the past three years, “Siege” has slowly patched itself into a beautiful, fully-functional game that supports an open and diverse community, both in the competitive scene and otherwise.  I initially thought it would never be the type of game I would enjoy, but “Siege” has kept me hooked since I first got my hands on it in August 2016.  It was the game that motivated me to buy a PC, the game that motivates me to get better and better, the game that I have sunk countless hours into and play competitively in the hopes that one day,  I, too, may make my mark on the competitive esports scene. 

Currently, the pro scene for “Siege” has two leagues — the Pro League and the Challenger League — run by Electronic Sports League, the world’s biggest esports platform. The Pro League is where the best of the best play and the Challenger League is for the second-tier teams, although every team in the Challenger League still has a roster made up of some the best players in the world.  At the end of the season, relegation matches force the bottom two teams from the Pro League and the top two teams from the Challenger League to play each other to determine who gets to play in the following Pro League season. The Pro League is currently in its tenth season. 

As it currently stands, there are two six-month seasons each year for the Pro and Challenger Leagues. Each season, the top two teams in the regions of North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia/Pacific compete for the title of Pro League Champion.  Additionally, there are two other primary competitions during the year, known as the Major and the Invitational, where 16 of the best teams from all over the world, regardless of region and league fight for the trophy and title of world champions.  There are several other official tournaments and leagues hosted throughout the “Siege” world, including several community-run leagues and tournaments, but these are the most important ones. 

Last month, the second-ever Major was hosted in Raleigh, Texas, where five teams from North America, five teams from Europe, three teams from Asia/Pacific and three teams from Latin America battled to claim the better part of the $500,000 prize pool. The competition was won by Team Empire from Russia. 

The 2019 Invitational and it’s $2 million prize pool were won by the European team G2 Esports, the greatest team to ever play the game, taking home the title of world champions and $800,000. The G2 roster — currently composed of the players Fabian, Pengu, UUNO, Kantoraketti and Goga, along with their coaches Shas and Sua) — has earned the reputation of being the best after winning the Paris Major in 2018, the 2018 and 2019 Invitationals, and 4 out of the 9 Pro League seasonal finals.  Other great teams like Evil Geniuses and Liquid have seen great levels of success, but none to the extreme degree that this titan of the “Siege” esports scene has seen. Over time, “Siege” and its competitive scene have evolved into what it is now: a thriving, lively community of people who all share the same passion, “Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege”.
Read more…
Courtesy Sony Animation
Did you ever expect to see a comic book moving on the screen? Well, in “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” the movie brings originality with its animation of the comic book, by bringing speech balloons and emanatas to the screen.
Many Spider-Man movies follow the traditional storyline: a boy named Peter Parker, who works at the Daily Bugle newspaper, gets bitten by a radioactive spider and inherits crazy super powers and uses them to fight crime. But, directors Peter Ramsey, Bob Persichetti and Rodney Rothman bring something special to this new Spider-Man movie, revealing that Peter Parker is not the only Spider-Man. Better yet, he’s in a world that has more than just one spider person.
This film follows Miles Morales, a high school student who acquires spider powers and doesn’t know how to live his new life. In the movie, there is a secret portal that leads to other dimensions, and this causes the death of the original Spider-Man (Peter Parker) but also brings different counterparts from other dimensions. And with the counterparts’ help, Morales tries to accept his new identity and also tries to close this portal so that everyone can go back to their dimensions.
A word that can describe this movie: original. One of the reasons is that this movie brought the 2014 comic book series “Spider-Verse” onto the big screen, a Spider-Man storyline that has never been shown in theater.
The other reason is that the animation used in the movie is really innovative. The halftone, the hatching and the line work clearly demonstrate that it’s a comic book, but it’s a moving comic book. They make the characters from the comic book come out from the paper and onto the screen, do their actions, and sometimes show talking balloons.
The animators did great work.
This movie exceeded my expectations and also overcame the sad part, which happens in all the Spider-Man’s movies — the death of our hero’s favorite uncle. Even with this tragic event, the scenes and the action were really great, and I could forget about the sad part. I highly recommend people watch this amazing movie and be entertained by Miles Morales’s adventure.
Read more…
Artists For Humanity is a nonprofit organization for young creative artists. The minute the elevator doors opened, I was met with the good music and chill vibes. Teens worked on paintings in a well-decorated room, and I was met with diversity from every corner and every form. I see Gary Chen, the recruiter for Artists For Humanity, sitting at his desk surrounded by sketches.
Chen was born right here in Boston in the neighborhood of Roslindale. He began drawing at the age of four. He trained his hand by drawing cartoon characters  designed by other artists. “[Drawing] set the undertone for me to strive to get better as an artist,” he said. Artists like Sneha helped shape Gary when he was a teenager. He wants to give back to the community that raised him but also strives to make projects for the city of Boston in the future.
Gary’s first art piece he was proud of was a solo commission to paint a transportation van. He had to think about what he could paint that represented the organization while also enhancing the community and bringing people together.
“I ended up creating and painting on-demand directly to give us some more life and some more representation to the passengers [at] the event and to give us some more life,” he said. He would like to do a project similar to this one for his community.
Right now Gary is working on a group project in Hyde Park. This was the art project on his desk when I walked in. He showed me the process of creating art for a company. It opened my eyes and showed me that it was a very lengthy process that’s not easy. It requires a lot of sketches and a lot of brainstorming. Interviewing Chen, I noticed that he was very down to earth. I can tell that he loves his job and is a very hardworking person from the projects he has worked on. Chen chose art as a career because he saw how art could unite and change communities and he would like to do the same for his community in Roslindale.
Read more…
It’s a hot summer day. The sun is beating down on the sidewalk where Maria Esdale Farrell walks. She enters the gate of a house and walks up the steps to the front door.
Farrell rings the bell and waits, the air with tension, which soon fades as she comes face-to-face with a person. The resident greets her with a smile. Before she sells herself to the resident, she makes a point to remove her sunglasses and establish eye contact.
Farrell starts explaining who she is and why she is knocking on their door on one of the hottest days of the year.
The position of city councilor is one that many don’t pay much attention to. In Boston, there are nine district councilors and four At-Large councilors. As election season nears, candidates for District 5 are off to campaign. This brings me to Farrell, a lifetime resident of Hyde Park and a mother of six children. Farrell has recently sprung to the stage of local politics, aiming to become the next City Councillor of District 5, succeeding Timothy McCarthy, the current councilor. Farrell’s attention-grabbing tricolor signs are all around Hyde Park and Readville, and she is spreading her message of change, development and pride into the rest of the district.
Farrell has spent most of her life working for the community. She organized youth sports groups and was a staple member of her children’s schools’ Parent Teacher Association. At PTA meetings, Farrell is a prominent voice for active parent involvement in their children’s schools. As Farrell often says, she has a “stake” in how the Boston Public Schools operate. All of her children have been, or are currently enrolled in BPS. Schools are one of the most important pillars in any city, and Farrell is very vocal about this.
Recently, Farrell officially joined McCarthy’s team as an aide. I say “officially” because Farrell has always had a heavy presence. Before she found a position with McCarthy, she was active at community meetings working to better the public school system. Even though it wasn’t her job yet, Farrell chose to take time out of  her day to work for better schools for her kids, and all kids. At a fundraiser, McCarthy said that Farrell isn’t doing this for the money or the title, but that she was running this campaign because she wants to help her community, her home.
“Since I started this journey, I can say, every morning I wake up, I’ve grown exponentially in a place where I wasn’t the day before,” Farrell said.
One of Farrell’s greatest challenges is learning to self-navigate on this new terrain. Aside from her work with McCarthy, Farrell has no political experience. She said that one of her challenges was “learning how to politically and delicately handle situations because not everyone knows how to be ‘political.’”
Farrell told me about a man she approached who asked her stance on abortion. Farrell’s advisors told her to avoid such a controversial topic by informing them that a city councilor has no say in abortion rights. Farrell tried this strategy, but he wouldn’t take that response. This story has had a profound effect on Farrell, who now knows never to pull the “I have no say” card, because that’s not what people want from their councillor.
The people want someone to trust, and Farrell yearns to be that person. She reflected on the words of her mentors, telling her to avoid such questions and decided that the man was right. “He wants to know what kind of person [I am], what kind of morals, what kind of integrity I have,” she said.
Farrell asks herself, “there are eight other candidates running and I’m the only one who feels the way I do. Is that because I’m crazy?”
After McCarthy announced he would not seek reelection, Farrell took a look at the people hoping to grab the seat. Farrell decided that none of the candidates were like her. She decided that none of the candidates wanted the seat in the same way she did.
Farrell said she would feel bad if she lost, not because she lost, but because no one has the same platform as her. She doesn’t have the feeling that “if X wins, it’ll be the same as if I won.”
“I believe so strongly in what I think needs to happen.” For that reason, Farrell believes she is the best candidate for District 5.
Read more…
I look around the cafe trying to find someone with a laptop and notebook. I figured Luke Dittrich would have these things because authors usually have writing materials. After a few minutes of looking around, the man next to me asked if I was Makayla. I was right, he had a notebook and pen right in front of him. 

Dittrich is a nonfiction science author who writes books and articles. He grew up in Cambridge and has traveled to Chicago, New York City and Mexico City. An example is his most recent work, “Patient H.M,” which explored the history of lobotomies and gave him a new view of a family member who was involved. 

To him, writing nonfiction has an added benefit like journalism: once-in-a-lifetime experiences. It’s like a backstage game pass. It’s an adventurous thing to say — not many would be willing to admit that they get enjoyment from these experiences during a job and take advantage of making connections with people completely different from them. 

 He started writing nonfiction after realizing he can use the same strategies as fiction authors use, like cliffhangers at the end of chapters to keep the story interesting. 

Dittrich has a heart, a warm side to him, too. He found himself near Joplin, Missouri after a tornado devastated the town and affected about 100 people. Three terrified people were in a convenience store trying to survive the tornado and were able to weather the storm by hiding in a cooler. One of the survivors recorded the experience and posted it online and it went viral. Luke put his original story aside — writing about a musician who was a big influence on American music — and decided to write about the tornado survivors instead. 

As an aspiring author interviewing a successful author, I asked for advice because every writer offers different advice but you never know what will actually work until you try them yourself. My professor told me that an audience motivates you to write more because since you know someone wants to read your work, it gets you excited. Dittrich disagreed. He says that an audience could work but when it’s a job, he says, “The danger is that you are losing a bit of this...sacred purity or whatever, something of the like, the childlike innocence of doing something just for that element you really like.” 

He also said that before you get an editor you have to be able to take criticism and be able to throw something away when you have to. I agree with that because eventually multiple people will view your work and you have to take that advice to be able to improve and get better at your own work.
Read more…