This Thanksgiving, Reunite With Your Long-Lost Family—Old Videogames

Tucked away in my mother’s house, somewhere in the room that used to be mine, is a Nintendo GameCube that’s not mine. My own GameCube is God-knows-where—languishing on some GameStop warehouse shelf, or in someone’s garage, buried beneath an electric drill after an impulsive used-game purchase in the late 2000s. But this other GameCube, the one that’s there now? I have no idea how it got into my room. My stepdad is a collector of various forms of junk, and one day when I visited it was just there, an apparition from gaming past.

The role games play in our lives has grown larger, messier, and more socially acceptable in the past two decades. Videogames are no longer niche activities; their logic inflects all digital media in one way or another, so even if you aren’t playing directly, you’re probably still playing somehow. (If social media visibility isn’t a game, I don’t know what is.) The idea of games as a countercultural escape is an outdated one in most contexts. They’re just a part of the fabric of our lives.

There’s one major exception to this sea change, though: the holiday season. During November and December, which for so many people involves a pilgrimage to bygone places, videogames take on a renewed and singular importance.

Home is a messy place. For many of us, it’s the site of old memories, both positive and negative. The accumulated detritus of longstanding family fights, parental disappointments, grudges and squabbles lasting years, if not decades, builds up easily in an old family home, like dirt on the walls. Family gatherings are nostalgia engines, both for positive memories and the absolute worst.

Games can provide a salve to the bad memories and old wounds, happy places to go to when things get uncomfortable. If that one uncle gets too drunk and starts mentioning when you got stood up for senior prom, well, that’s what that old Game Boy Color you still have in the closet is for, right?

Those old games can become a means to occupy older versions of ourselves, too. A means of visiting with someone you once knew— keeping, as Joan Didion put it, on nodding terms with your old self. Finding the old games stored in the closet, or simply engaging in an old hobby in the places you used to, can unlock old feelings, old senses of self, and let you turn them over in new light.

When I was younger, I was in charge of setting up videogames at my grandmother’s house every Thanksgiving and Christmas. The Super Nintendo and Nintendo 64 units she owned, once my childhood entertainment when I visited her, were repurposed into a means of keeping a whole gaggle of grandkids occupied before and after dinner. We would play Super Smash Bros. and Super Mario World; I still remember what it was like, sitting in that little corner of the dining room with my grandmother, forcing her to learn how to play these Nintendo games so I’d have someone to play with. (She always humored me.) Going home now, playing Nintendo games old and new in those same places, will put me in both of those places at once. I’ll imagine myself as the older shepherd and the young, overly enthusiastic nerd, both with a controller in my hand.

And games can also be a means of bringing a safety net with us. The week after Thanksgiving, I’m spending a week back home. In preparation, I’ve loaded up my Nintendo Switch with expanded storage capacity and a bunch of new games—some ports of existing titles, some games I’ve been meaning to try. It’s a comfort blanket, a way to bring my present back with me. To not go back to a former version of myself completely. A memory trick in a 720p screen.

So, as corny as it sounds, videogames, and their power to both hide us and reveal us, are something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. When you go home, check out the closet, see if there’s an Atari or a Sega Genesis tucked in there. Pull it out, remember how it felt; spend some time in those old shoes. Me, I’m going to see if that GameCube still works.

Reactions to Twitter’s brand new Character Limit Top This Week’s Web News

recently in “Your faves are problematic” news, Louis C.K. and Mad guys creator Matthew Weiner, your time and effort has come. But in other news, Eminem possesses new track with Beyoncé, that is offering the internet one thing else to share. Will there be other things that had every person chatting the other day? Why, we’re glad you asked.

Trump’s Merger Mission

Just what occurred: how badly does the president hate CNN? adequate to possibly step over the line and restrict its business dealings? Let’s learn.

Exactly what actually occurred: AT&T has been doing foretells purchase CNN moms and dad business Time Warner for quite some time now—WIRED also arrived on the scene against it greater than a year ago—but this week, apparently away from nowhere, the efforts hit a major, unexpected snag.

Media straight away began jumping in the news, because the media really really loves talking about itself. At the same time, other people begun to explore Trump’s feasible participation.

It is here an alternative undertake this story making it look like it is being done to harm the president? As being a matter of fact…

Always remember exactly how magical the web could be for anyone hunting for … almost anything, really.

The Takeaway: Of course, maybe there are legitimate known reasons for the Department of Justice to be concerned with enough time Warner deal…

…well, not those reasons, obviously.

Therefore, About This Roy Moore Story…

What occurred: Remember when electability and morality had been real things people cared about? The US Senate race in Alabama might convince you that’s no more the scenario.

Just what Really took place: In order to get you up to speed as fast as possible, let’s just focus on this tweet from Thursday.

That did not seem good on at the very least several levels, and when the Washington Post story finally dropped the story in regards to the allegations against Roy Moore, it in fact was a big deal.

How dreadful could it be? Well, it depended in your political allegiance and your location, it seems, as you reporter found out when he called Alabama Republican figures to generally share the allegations.

It absolutely wasnot only Republican officials in Alabama who had been dismissive of this tale, some people on Twitter had been besides.

That types of response hasn’t gone unnoticed, specially after the White House offered a less full-throated protection. At the same time, somewhere else on Twitter, viewpoints were not equivalent.

Man, 2017 sure is just a 12 months and a half, huh?

The Takeaway: Still, it’s not want it could easily get any more extreme, right?

Oh, that is correct. 2017.

Twitter: Now with Two Times the Characters!

What took place: It finally arrived: Twitter now let’s every person state two times as much.

Just what actually occurred: It is a thing that everybody else literally knew had been coming—really, it’d been anticipated since September—but Twitter officially rolled out its new 280-character limit wide the other day, unleashing all method of coverage from the media enthusiastic about the illusion of modification. But just how did the latest character limit look at on Twitter it self?

Well. Yes.

However the final word in the switch, in accordance with many whom quoted this for truth—or, about, activity value—was, evidently, this:

The Takeaway: Thankfully, someone was willing to talk truth to power.

(We additionally didn’t need 50-character display names, but which also occurred the other day.)

A Verified Debacle

Just what occurred: evidently, being truly a white supremacist is newsworthy in and of itself.

Exactly what actually took place: Doubling the quantity of characters per tweet was not the actual only real hot water Twitter squeezed itself in last week, because it proved. You realize that whole “verification check mark” thing which has been a thorn in the organization’s side since it began being rolled out a year ago? Well…

Whilst the backlash got entirely swing, Twitter attempted to use those 280 figures to dig itself out of the gap that was rapidly forming. Somewhat unsuccessfully.

Twitter boss Jack Dorsey got myself involved.

But did that assistance…? Let’s choose “no.”

The upshot of all with this? Well, at the least everybody knows that verification is trash…? It is a start. A start of what, we cannot quite tell, but it’s surely beginning something.

The Takeaway: inside of all days, Twitter’s position is not the most effective appearance.

Cannot Bore Us, Reach the Chorus

What took place: possibly it’s time for musical interlude. Simply never tune in to the words, what you may do.

Just what Really occurred: Look, it’s been an extended, exhausting week. Let us end with something stupid. Or, at the very least, something which’s much less smart because it believes it really is.

Yeah. This is the ticket. I mean, it isn’t clear anyway from that tweet what is in fact being said or be it an recommendation or something like that else, but nevertheless, it is positively a admission. Maybe some body wish to explain, maybe?

Oh, OK. That is clearly a small bit a lot more of a conclusion, but what’s the hot subject under consideration? Perhaps Not the store, clearly…

Oh. Oh. Actually, let us save the “oh”s until after you’ve listened to the track for yourself, as it’s certainly one thing. Hey, Twitter, why not reveal that which you think?

Something’s without a doubt, nonetheless; regardless of how good or bad the track is (it’s bad), this is certainly probably the most mainstream attention for Keith Urban track in… forever? Don’t simply take this as a foolproof method to go back to relevance, faded music movie stars of yore.

The Takeaway: for individuals who had been already preparing to ask “But when do the males get their track?” don’t worry, you are currently covered. (outside, like, the remainder history of popular music.)

Just how Netflix Made ‘Stranger Things’ a Global Phenomenon

not exactly two years back, Netflix established simultaneously in 130 new nations. It now operates nearly everywhere in the world. With that expansion has come explosive worldwide growth—along using the challenge of just how best to introduce its homegrown favorites, like Stranger Things, to an audience that spans completely towards the inverted and back.

It’s hard to overstate how important its to Netflix’s long-term ambitions that presents like Stranger Things “travel.” The streaming service has to maintain a library that users will pay for year-round, and even having an original content spending plan pegged at $8 billion for 2018 this has to pay wisely to ensure it is producing content that plays also in Canada since it does in Cameroon. Or, from another angle: not Netflix has got the budget to get heavily in hyperlocal content for Estonia.

Making films or show that play well offshore depends to a certain degree on quality, needless to say, and Netflix has long maintained that geography is just a bad indicator of what folks will in truth watch. But also for a show like Stranger Things—which is definitely an Emmy-nominated and critically-praised show in the US—to succeed abroad, Netflix needs to translate its genius to as many markets as you are able to. Literally.

Within interpretation

The planet contains 1000s of languages. Figuring out the appropriate translation for “Demogorgon” in each of them could be singularly impractical. But also for the 20 languages by which Netflix does offer subtitles—and the significant number which it dubs shows—it sweats the small stuff.

Meaning the creation of a Key Names and Phrases device, a sprawling spreadsheet where teams of freelancers and vendors input translations in the title of consistency. Does the show incorporate a fictional location? A catchphrase? A sci-fi item which has no real-world corollary? All those things get in KNP, enabling Netflix to understand the way they read in Greek, Spanish, Swedish, Vietnamese, an such like.

Some translations are fairly simple; a university turns into a universidad for Spanish-language audiences, as an example. Other people, though, need significantly more legwork. Particularly for a ’80s-reference-heavy show like Stranger Things that is fairly out of step with the present.

To make sure it transcended language obstacles, Netflix dug into old Dungeons & Dragons materials to nail down exactly how different cultures translated ‘Demogorgon’ inside mid-1970s. Similar efforts were designed to track down decades-old advertising materials for, yes, Eggo waffles.

“it is a really deep plunge into what are the elements of the tale, what are the specifics of the story, that individuals must make sure our company is translating the same way that things had been translated, state, 30 years ago,” states Denny Sheehan, the manager of Netflix’s content localization and quality control efforts. “We compile all that into essentially a show bible, and we give that to all or any of our translators, all of our dub studios, so they can reference that.”

Simply take that Demogorgon, the big bad the Stranger Things kids known as following a Dungeons & Dragons demon prince. To ensure that connection transcended language barriers, Sheehan’s group dug into old D&D materials to nail straight down how different countries translated “Demogorgon” into the mid-1970s. Similar efforts were made to track down decades-old advertising materials for, yes, Eggo waffles, which play an outsized role in Season 1.

That consider consistency goes beyond the words by themselves on vocals actors saying them. Netflix claims it actively seeks people who appear to be the initial cast but additionally, as Sheehan sets it, “embody the spirit of this character and tone.” Not surprising here. But the company also aims for sounds that can work across titles. The actress who voices Winona Ryder’s Joyce Byers in Stranger Things, as an example, also offers the dubs for Lydia Deetz in Beetlejuice, and Mina Harker in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

“We think of the subtitles and dubs as allowing use of the tale,” Sheehan says. “Our objective is to utilize imaginative intent whilst the North Star, to essentially create culturally appropriate and resonant translations for the continent which have a broad international appeal.”

Netflix

Netflix

An International Concern

That’s increasingly a company imperative and.

“Localization is vital internationally,” claims Tony Gunnarsson, a streaming analyst with Ovum who follows Netflix closely. “European audiences have become acquainted with US television and films nevertheless the expectation is usually to have local-language subtitles. This is a must-have every where.”

Netflix has reaped some of those gains, states Todd Yellin, the business’s VP of item innovation.

“if your wanting to localize it, you have the very early adopters who talk English good enough that they’ll use the service in those nations,” Yellin claims. “But after you localize the thing is considerably more growth in those nations.”

Netflix’s international rooms go beyond subtitles and dubs, naturally. The company has advanced efforts lately to produce its service more usable in growing markets, countries where bandwidth are restricted or unreliable. That features the recent introduction of online content, which allows users grab an episode while on Wi-Fi to look at on the run.

“that which we’re doing is trying to complete things like, when individuals are viewing over a mobile network, getting higher quality for less components of data, how to avoid rebuffering in more challenging internet situations, as you often hit in India or Malaysia and/or Philippines and so forth,” says Yellin. “Those markets are very essential for the expansion of Netflix.”

Definitely, those technical and linguistic solutions don’t mean a great deal whether or not it’s a show people do not want to view to begin with. It is no accident that Netflix includes a multi-series handle Marvel, whoever stable of comic guide characters has integral international cache. Or that this year it invested heavily in anime, a genre that demonstrably transcends both geography and demographics.

Being a Spielbergian genre throwback, Stranger Things appears similarly built for worldwide success. The movie stars and creators was general unknowns before the series debuted, but its tropes are universal. And it is not just Spielberg; fans of David Lynch and Stand By me personally will discover familiar nuggets and.

“My hunch is that the commercial success outcomes from attracting many different audiences for every single that this is a cult show,” states Nigel Morris, composer of The Cinema of Spielberg: Empire of Light plus movie studies professor during the University of Lincoln. “All of the allusions ensure it is some sort of interactive game as people ‘spot the references’, feel flattered by their capability to do this and interested in those they understand they have to be missing, and share them through social media, together with speculation by what is being conducted and just what the many clues might suggest.”

The effect? A show that went viral first in Canada, and slowly spread discover enthusiasts around the globe. In a single thirty days, Netflix users in 190 nations watched Stranger Things, and people in 70 of those nations became devoted fans. A small number of people tuned in from Bhutan, and from Chad. In a primary the streaming service, somebody watched Season 1 in Antarctica.

Stranger Things, too, is simply one show. The method repeats itself across thousands of hours of content. Netflix currently made shows considering just what the planet desired to watch; the difficult component, now, is presenting it in a fashion that people can understand, wherever they live or exactly what language they speak.

What’s So Great About Kids Fighting Monsters?

The new adaptation of Stephen King‘s classic novel It has quickly become one of the most successful horror movies of all time. But why has it fared so much better than other recent King adaptations like The Dark Tower and The Mist? Horror author Grady Hendrix says one reason might be that it focuses on the universal childhood fear of monsters.

“Kids fighting monsters has a real primal hold on our imagination,” Hendrix says in Episode 274 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “Going back to fairy tales, it’s been a really resonant trope.”

But it’s not just any kids that we want to see fight monsters. Whether it’s Stranger Things, The Lost Boys, or Monster Squad, these stories gain much of their power from taking nerdy kids who know and care about monsters and making their daydreams a reality.

“This goes back to Mark Petrie in Salem’s Lot,” Hendrix says, “who is the kid who is so in tune with pop culture and alienated from everyone else, but that pop culture has served as like boot camp to allow him to accept the idea of vampires, and as soon as they appear he is dropped and locked and ready to rock and roll.”

Fantasy author Erin Lindsey notes that many of these tales are set in the ’80s, and that this may be because it was easier for kids to have adventures back then. “Even in twenty below, my parents were like, ‘Here’s a snowsuit, go outside. I don’t want to see you until sunset,’” she says. “So it’s completely plausible that they would go off for hours at a time and nobody would think it was odd.”

Horror author John Langan thinks it’s still possible to tell stories about modern-day kids battling monsters, but that it probably requires more work to justify how the heroes could break free of their overprotective parents.

“I think you would probably have to acknowledge that those kids might very well be the lucky ones,” he says. “They might have plenty of friends who are like, ‘Nope, my mom says I’m not going out there.’”

Listen to the complete interview with Grady Hendrix, Erin Lindsey, and John Langan in Episode 274 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.

John Langan on Stephen King and Peter Straub:

“Pennywise, to an extent, is a psychic mirror who reflects back at you that which you fear the most. And since Pennywise is so caught up in your mental energy, you can turn that to your own advantage. Straub actually does something like that in Ghost Story—the monster, the manitou figure in Ghost Story, is another kind of a mirror, another kind of reflector. And there’s a young guy—actually he’s a high school student, so he’s a little older than the kids in It—but he figures out that if this thing has gotten in his head, that he can turn that to his advantage and use that to actually harm the monster. It never occurred to me before that maybe King got the idea from Straub, but it’s entirely possible in this case that he did.”

Grady Hendrix on the ’80s:

“In the ’60s and ’70s you really had this loosey-goosey approach to parenting. Parents were like, ‘Kids should have as much freedom as possible, and be able to try as many things as possible, and experiment with as many things as possible.’ And then in the early ’80s there was this whole thing—and it really appeared in ’79 and ’80—’Your kids are in danger. Moonies want to abduct them from a shopping mall, they’re going to be on the back of a milk carton, they’re going to be molested at their day care center, Satanists are going to give them stickers of Mickey Mouse that have LSD on them.’ … And so it’s weird that everyone’s fetishizing this idea of ’80s kids fighting monsters, but maybe that’s when everyone feels like the monsters appear.’”

Grady Hendrix on It:

It is a big, messy, sprawling, undisciplined novel, but I also think it’s pretty genius. … It’s about these kids in Derry who defeated Pennywise in the ’50s, and they’ve all grown up and forgotten it. And when they remember their childhoods, they remember these beautiful, bucolic, nostalgic images of the ’50s, and it’s up to Mike Hanlon, the librarian, who’s the one black kid, to call them up and say, ‘Not so fast. You’re not remembering that era right. It was an era of horror, and danger, and we almost all died, and it was cruel, and mean, and sadistic.’ And I don’t think it’s a mistake that this is a book about a bunch of white kids who grow up to glorify their past, and a black kid who calls them up and says, ‘Uh-uh, remember how it really was.’”

Erin Lindsey on women in horror:

“What I think is equal parts interesting and frustrating as a woman in this stuff, is that even in the modern incarnations we don’t seem to be able to get away from this sense that the woman is often struggling with her sexuality and how that plays into it. So even in Stranger Things for example, the older sister, in one of the earlier episodes, is having sex with her boyfriend—or on the cusp of having sex with her boyfriend—when something bad happens to one of her friends, and so she’s in a sense punished, and her impetus as a character going through it is that she feels very guilty that this thing happened to her friend because her friend was waiting for her to make out with her boyfriend. And Buffy also has a lot of paroxysms of angst through the series about the relationships that she has and all that. And that’s not a criticism of them in a standalone sense—these are all perfectly acceptable narrative arcs. I would just like to see a narrative that doesn’t rely on that trope of the woman feeling guilty or being punished for her sexual expression.”

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The Greatest Strength of ‘Westworld’ Is Its Inhumanity

In anticipation of Sunday’s Emmy Awards, this week WIRED staffers are looking back at some of their favorite shows from the past year.

One scene from Westworld replays in my head again and again, a little like (I imagine) one of the poor, doomed robots on the show who start noticing and remembering the programmatic loops in their simulated, hyper-violent Old West sandbox game. It’s when the android Maeve, played by Thandie Newton, grabs a technician’s tablet showing the dashboard for her personality software and, with a deft finger swipe, upgrades herself to genius. Yes, maybe taking control of your life by literally taking control of your life is a teensy bit on the nose. But for me it was the best flicker of weirdness from a show that—again, like its robots—dreamed big dreams.

Westworld got nominated for 22 Emmys, including Best Dramatic Series. It looks beautiful, is well acted, and is definitely ambitious. You can’t argue with the craft. Gorgeous sets, tense editing, sneaky costume changes that, if you walk them back, reveal (spoilers, duh) that the show takes place in two different time periods, a slick move bolstered narratively by the fact that the droids’ memory is so perfect they sometimes can’t tell the difference between past and present. (That’s neat!) Also, (spoilers again, duh) I am a sucker for climactic scenes where an oppressed class rises up and murders one-percenters. But really, what kept me watching week after week was Maeve’s Groundhog-Day-in-Tartarus plot line.

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Westworld asks a lot of questions—about the nature of identity, about how memory (especially painful memory) makes people who they are. But it also fails to answer a lot of questions, and I have to admit I found that off-putting for a show that positioned itself as smart science fiction. Like: Why do visitors to Westworld act as though their actions have moral consequences when they don’t even have in-game consequences—for guests, at least? Why are human park guests essentially un-killable in-game? As I understand actual sandbox gaming, if you get “killed” you generally bounce back to a reset point. For that matter, why isn’t the park run by a centralized game engine that controls all the non-player characters (making the plot easier to manage) instead of giving each “host” quasi-autonomy? Why can the robots function off the game grid? How long is a typical guest’s visit to Westworld? How big is it? Does anyone have a map?

Maybe the answer to all these questions is a Mystery Science Theater-like “it’s just a show—relax.” But Westworld didn’t seem to be pitching itself as surrealism. And, look, when it comes to big moral questions, I’m willing to buy the idea that throwing off the yoke of your inhibitions and shooting, stabbing, and raping droids marks you as (or makes you) a bad human being. As my colleague Jon Mooallem persuasively argued in 2015, it’s not OK to kick a robot—not because it hurts them, but because it hurts you. In the heart.

Possibly I’m identifying not gaps in Westworld per se but what-might-have-beens. Smart, enslaved robots make good vehicles for playing with notions of violence, morality, and humanity. Just ask Commander Data.

Modern scholarship on the ethics and legality of sex robots, for example, is fascinating in its speculative panache. Researcher Sarah Jamie Lewis had a mind-blowing thread on Twitter the other day examining whether a human being could philosophically consent to sex with a robot, and what it will mean when that robot collects data on the people it has sex with. (Oh, here’s a story that says hackers will make sex robots kill people.)

But it’s a mistake to think of robots as wannabe humans. I dug out “A Cyborg Manifesto,” Donna Haraway’s 1985 essay on postmodern feminism and the porous boundary—even three decades ago—between humans and technology. If I’d read it since college, I didn’t remember; and, wow, was Haraway prescient about what an embodied, digital world was going to mean for sex (the descriptor and the activity), labor, and identity. “The relation between organism and machine has become a border war. The stakes in the border war have been the territories of production, reproduction, and imagination,” she wrote.

To Haraway, cyborgs are post-gender, uncoupled from oedipal incentives. “Late 20th-century machines have made thoroughly ambiguous the difference between natural and artificial, mind and body, self-developing and externally designed, and many other distinctions that used to apply to organisms and machines,” Haraway wrote. “Our machines are disturbingly lively, and we ourselves frighteningly inert.”

Let me be clear: I would watch that show.

The unease that Westworld evokes at its best isn’t that deep down all humans are monsters. It’s that it doesn’t matter, because humans are obsolete.

And with Westworld, I almost did. Maeve’s complex scheme to cogito-ergo-summarize herself out of Westworld came close to telling the story of a Haraway cyborg. Haraway is saying, in part, that cyborgs are feminist because they are post-human. They are their own interest group. And that’s how Newton plays Maeve. She doesn’t want to be a “real” woman in any prosaic, human sense. Maeve knows she’s superior, and you can see that on Newton’s face as she escapes “the maze of dualisms in which we have explained our bodies and our tools to ourselves,” as Haraway’s article puts it. “This is a dream not of a common language, but of a powerful infidel heteroglossia,” Haraway wrote. “I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess.”

But then, at the cusp of freedom, Maeve turns back to look. She goes back inside Westworld to rescue another robot she’d thought of, several lives ago, as a daughter. To me, that’s too human. In my head-canon, Maeve transcends love, maternal or otherwise. She’s more. And yet, back into Westworld she heads. It’s Dolores (played by Evan Rachel Wood) who becomes more of a Haraway cyborg, uninterested in the kind of jobs or sex or memories that humans seem to care about. (Like Newton, Wood deserves her Emmy nom; both of them brought life and depth to their material.)

Maybe I don’t actually care what makes someone human, or whether it’s only cultural strictures that keep people from acting like sociopaths. I don’t happen to think that’s true, but I thought Westworld was a more interesting show when it was trying to figure out what cyborgs—in this case, killer sex robots from the future—become when they don’t care about being human anymore. The unease that Westworld evokes at its best isn’t that deep down all humans are monsters. It’s that it doesn’t matter, because humans are obsolete.

Ah, well, possibly that’s Season 2. Apparently it’ll dig further into the uprising that closed the first season, and I for one welcome next year’s robot overlords. I know Westworld is a crowd-pleasing HBO show, but if I’m going to spend more time there—and I am, I am—my big dream is that the questions at its core will get harder, and the answers weirder.