A Fresh Take on Riot Games’ New World’s Theme: “Phoenix”

A Fresh Take on Riot Games’ New World’s Theme: “Phoenix”

As season 9 of League of Legends comes to a close, the best of the best League players from each region to compete for a chance at the Summoner’s Cup and a prize of $2,225,000 as a new World theme song sets the tone.

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World of Warcraft Battle for Azeroth - Sylvanas Windrunner is the Leader Horde Has Needed for a Long Time

Cinematic still from World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth

Cinematic still from World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth

People just don’t understand what war actually is. They think war is all about treaties, peace, and being honorable. It’s not. It’s about much more.

The way Sylvanas Windrunner has been written in the Battle for Azeroth expansion has been murky at best. But the evidence of her greatness, whether people want to see it or not, is there for all to see. How Sylvanas has been treated, her past experiences shape her controversial decision-making in war today. Let’s explore.

The Many Tastes of Betrayal

Ever since she regained her freedom from Ner’Zhul, she has been betrayed by those she trusted.

  • Betrayal by Humans and subsequently, The Alliance. Though the Undead, under Sylvanas’ leadership, did not attempt to join the join the Alliance, they were met with much hostility after they were freed from The Lich King’s control. They were seen as abominations and “untrustworthy” and their lands constantly being encroached on. They were “foresaken” by the living.

Lady Sylvanas Windrunner says: So, it is done.
Lady Sylvanas Windrunner says: I had not dared to trust my senses - too many times has the Lich King made me to be a fool.
Lady Sylvanas Windrunner says: Finally, he has been made to pay for the atrocities he imposed upon my people.
Lady Sylvanas Windrunner says: May Azeroth never fail to remember the terrible price we paid for our weakness... for our pride.
Lady Sylvanas Windrunner says: But what now, hero? What of those freed from his grasp, but still shackled to their mortal coils?
Lady Sylvanas Windrunner says: Leave me.
Lady Sylvanas Windrunner says: I have much to ponder.
world of warcraft wrath of the lich king.gif
Lady Sylvanas Windrunner says: Now the Lich King is dead and we have returned.
Lady Sylvanas Windrunner says: The people who called this land their home in life, do so in death as well.
Lady Sylvanas Windrunner says: But the Alliance does not recognize our rights. They claim this land as their own while attempting to invalidate the claims of the founders of this kingdom.
  • Betrayal by Varimathras and Putress. Though Sylvanas and Varimathras were begrudgingly allies, Varimathras recruited Foresaken in Undercity, driving a wedge between Sylvanas and those loyal to her. And at Wrathgate, likely acting on Varimathras’ orders, Apothecary Putress unleashes the blight onto both Horde and Alliance, killing Bolvar Fordragon in the process.

  • Betrayal by her sister, Vereesa Windrunner. During the trial of Garrosh Hellscream at The Temple of the White Tiger, Vereesa noticed how much her sister, Sylvanas, loathed Garrosh. She set up a meeting with Sylvanas and they plotted to poison Garrosh. But at the last minute, Vereesa chickened out and confessed their plans to Prince Anduin Wrynn.

  • Betrayal by Godfrey. After committing suicide because he’d rather die than have a worgen for a king (Genn Greymane), Sylvanas had her valkyr resurrect him as one of her Foresaken. Sylvanas commanded him to kidnap Lorna Crowley to hold her for ransom in hopes for a cease fire between the Gilneas Liberation Front and the Forsaken. But Godfrey wanted to kill Lorna and bring her back as a Forsaken to exact revenge on her father, Darius Crowley, one of King Genn Greymane’s right-hand men and leader of the Gilneas Liberation Front. When Darius surrendered to Sylvannas, Godfrey shot and killed her (Sylvanas). Her valkyr were quick to resurrect her.

Reasoning Behind Questionable Actions

While it many will argue that Sylvanas is self-serving, one thing that has remained constant throughout the lore is that Sylvanas is a protector—the protector of the Forsaken. And now, the Horde.

In Edge of Night, Sylvanas threw herself off of the icy cliffs of Icecrown Citadel after the defeat of The Lich King. Lingering in purgatory, she saw a vision of her peoples' future. Without her, then Warchief Garrosh Hellscream would sacrifice the Forsaken, Sylvanas’ people, in a failed assault on Gilneas.

“But you can’t just send them right into the central breach in the wall,” Lydon continued. “It’s a… a chokepoint. Well fortified, closely watched. Heavy armored troops on horseback couldn’t maneuver through the breach: they’d be mown down by musketfire from the debris. Surely you can see—“

”Of course I see!” Garrosh answered. “The door is wedged open; now it must be kicked down. This is what your kind is good for.”

Where is the Dark Lady, Sylvanas? [Lydon] wondered, turning his empty eye sockets toward the gray heavens. Why isn’t she here to counter this beast?
— Edge of Night

She stood up to Garrosh Hellscream when others couldn’t. And she put fear in him.

At that moment, nobody dared look Sylvanas Windrunner in the eye. Nobody but Garrosh Hellscream.

…there was fear in those eyes, but also something else. Something that terrified even the great warchief. His wolf began to edge away instinctively.

Warchief Sylvanas.jpg

Sylvanas is a brilliant and patient war tactician.

She knows that peace between the Horde and Alliance is always short-lived. Her exchange with High Overlord, Varok Saurfang in A Good War offers the explanation of why she burned The World Tree. People like to think that she threw a tantrum, but this was part of her plan that she mapped out with Saurfang.

“If I dedicated myself to peace with the Alliance, would it last a year?”

“Yes,” Saurfang said curtly.

“How about two years? Five? Ten? Fifty?”

Saurfang felt the trap closing in on him, and he did not like it. “We fought side‐by‐side against the Burning Legion. That creates bonds that are not easily broken.”

“Time breaks every bond.” Sylvanas leaned across the table. Her words flew like arrows. “What do you believe? Will peace last five years or fifty?

Both the Horde and Alliance navies were at minimum capacity. Sylvanas effectively divided the Alliance forces and Horde now controls all of Kalimdor, something that has never been achieved. With the razing of Teldrasil, the Alliance is in a political crisis, orchestrated by Sylvanas.

What happens when Genn Greymane, Malfurion Stormrage, and Tyrande Whisperwind all demand differing actions? He is not a high king like his father. The respect the others give him is a courtesy, not an obligation. Anduin Wrynn will rapidly become a leader who cannot act. If the Alliance will not march as one, each nation will act in its own interest. Each army will return home to protect their lands from us.”

“And that is how you defeat Stormwind.” Saurfang was in awe. It was brilliant.”

“We need to frighten them before we arrive here. If they decide to fight instead of run, the final step of this battle will be messier than all the rest,” she said. “What can we do to make the civilians of Teldrassil so afraid they can think of nothing but running?”
— A Good War

Sylvanas has never been naive about what the Horde and others think about her, ever since she was turned into the Undead Banshee Queen, no one has trusted her and that’s largely due in part to those who have betrayed her. She has sacrificed herself time and time again for her people, but critics cannot grasp the complexity of her character or decisions. They don’t understand that Warchief Sylvanas is playing the long game to secure the future of the Horde and peace will be on her terms, not Alliance because peace on the Alliance’s terms has always been flimsy and fragile. Horde has needed a leader who will let the Alliance know that Horde isn’t playing the same game they’ve been playing for hundreds of years.

What if…

Since Sylvanas predicted the behaviors of the Alliance leaders, what if Saurfang, Baine Bloodhoof, and Lore’thmar’s betrayal were also calculated? What if their betrayals were planned for? It’s not that far-fetched. Remember, Sylvanas and Saurfang had already planted the seeds of "Horde dissent" among the Alliance spies. We know she’s using Mathias Shaw and his spies to play Anduin. What if they played King Anduin, allowing Saurfang to be captured, knowing Anduin would release Saurfang? While it’s highly unlikely that Saurfang was in on it, it’s incredibly likely that Sylvanas planned for their betrayal.

Whatever your thoughts on Sylvanas Windrunner — love her, hate her, or you’re on the fence — the story surrounding her in Battle for Azeroth is far from over. We don’t know what Blizzard has planned for her, but we’re excited nonetheless.

Special shout out to my favorite World of Warcraft historian and queen of WarcraftMemes, Katalyst Evrmeme for always being up for talking World of Warcraft lore with me.

Mortal Kombat Female Characters Have Better Costumes in XI

Unlockable costumes in Mortal  Kombat 11.

Unlockable costumes in Mortal Kombat 11.

We are loving the new Mortal Kombat 11. From the storyline to the difficult as f*ck Tower. There’s just one thing some players are not all that crazy about—the female costumes that don’t show excessive cleavage.

There are a lot of complaints about the new Mortal Kombat female costumes not showing as much fictional breasts and jiggle as they did in previous Mortal Kombat games. While some of the costumes are pretty bland, most of them are cute, modern and shows an evolution of the game.

We don’t need to have overly sexualized female costumes to be considered sexy, do we? For the dudes complaining, yeah. But the same guys who are complaining about the lack of “sexy babes” are the same ones crying about Jax’s alternate ending.

While many female gamers who play Mortal Kombat games don’t quite mind the super sexualized versions of female costumes, they expressed relief and applauded Mortal Kombat art director, Steve Beran for desexualizing the female Kombatants. Many male gamers, however, are super agitated about the female characters being covered up.

One guy, Brian Hughes, even started an online petition to change the skins back to, the “iconic skins” that fans of the games had come to know and love. In his petition, he asks the question, “Why do the male characters in Mortal Kombat 11 run around shirtless and even half-naked while female characters are decked out head-to-toe?” obviously not understanding that male bodies are not sexualized in MK and are not geared toward female players.

It’s been proven that advertisements displaying the male body as muscular and masculine are based on men’s ideals of physical masculinity and not female sexual gratification.

But I digress. Hughes goes on to say,

The reason we are petitioning for this is not for gratification, but because many of us are beginning to feel that NetherRealm studios has caved in to political correctness and the neutering of the Mortal Kombat franchise …”

And after saying it’s not about gratification, he says, “bring back the babes in thongs to MK11 .” People complaining about the lack of thongs and titties jumping don’t understand that Mortal Kombat, its characters have evolved. They’ve grown. And so, too, have their costumes.

That fact that Hughes used the phrase “neutering the Mortal Kombat franchise” suggests that he feels his masculinity is being threatened because of the more covered up costumes, which is pretty sad.

Then Hughes closes his plea to NetherRealms Studios by asking “Will MK continue to be hollowed out content-wise and become a shell of its former self?” As if the amazing storyline was somehow rendered nonexistent because he couldn’t see tits. Did he even play through? How could anyone who has played MK 11 think that the content was hollow?

People are defending their need for female game characters to have jiggly tits and thongs by trying to invoke the “women want to be oppressed with these outfits” and “women don’t know how to handle their freedoms” misogynist mentality— as if freedom equates to showing tits and ass. It doesn’t. We can if we WANT, but it’s not a requisite for equality. Choice, nerds. That’s what feminism is about—choice, not this or that.

But maturity does not mean that the costumes have to be bland. And bland many of these costumes are. While I do like the new costumes better than the old, the old costumes should be unlockable in the Krypt or through the Tower.

There is no political pandering here. Like it or not, this is 2019 and the game has evolved. And let’s not pretend that the costumes for the female kombatants in Mortal Kombat 9 were actually fantastic and creative. Most of the costumes of the female fighters were the same, just different colors. That was one of the main reasons I wanted to unlock all of the skins—to change it up!

The Mortal Kombat female fighters in the latest installment, or any game, do not have show tits and ass just to be sexy. When Cassie Cage has does her fatality, it is brutal, but sexy af. Even Jacqui Briggs has a high-tech fatality with the side-face shot was hot. Look, it’s okay to have a preference for the outfits that show tits. But that’s not what this fighting game series is about. And let’s be clear, nerds: tits and ass, whether in video games, cosplay, or just everyday life does not equal equality. Equality is about women’s choice, not men’s need for unrealistic jiggly tits in video games.

How are you liking the new costumes in this Mortal Kombat series? Join the conversation on Facebook.

Game of Thrones Fans Are Weirded Out By Arya's Scene With Gendry

Game of Thrones Fans Are Weirded Out By Arya's Scene With Gendry

Arya is a fan favorite on Game of Thrones. We’re emotionally invested in her story. And during season one of GoT, we even ‘shipped her with Gendry, the late King Robert Baratheon’s eldest bastard son. Their back and forth banter was just so adorable.

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How Close Are We to Becoming a Gilead in The Handmaid’s Tale?

“Nothing changes instantaneously: in a gradually heating bathtub you’d be boiled to death before you knew it.”

The Handmaid's Tale is a Hulu original thriller series based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian novel of the same name. It explores what can happen when extreme, fundamentalist Christians take over the United States. Fiction though it may be, is it even remotely possible to happen for real? The short answer: Yes. It's very possible.

The premise of the show is, in the very near future, an extremist Christian group within the United States attacks the Northeast coast and overthrows the government, replacing the United States government in New England with a totalitarian, theonomy--governance based on the strict adherence of the divine law of the Old Testament.

The democracy that was the United States was replaced by the militaristic, totalitarian, theonomy of The Republic of Gilead. Gay and lesbian men and women were murdered, with the exception of women who were able to conceive. Fertile women were forced to become surrogates or “handmaids” - baby-making factories - for those in power who could not reproduce. These women were forced to bear children they did not want - forced to have sex in order to procreate. Raped.

Gilead is a nation where women’s bodies are governed—every inch of their bodies policed. Women wear uniforms, each class having a designated uniform according to their relationship to men: the aunts, wife, handmaid, martha, and unwomen.

How did the the United States become the Republic of Gilead in The Handmaid’s Tale? The never-ending belief in male dominance, women’s complicity in those beliefs, and people not wanting to be bothered with anything that did not immediately affect their lives—that’s how. Offred, the protagonist was guilty of the latter, just as many are guilty of that today.

While policing women’s bodies is not a new concept (Napoleon Bonaparte famously once said, “Women were nothing but machines for producing children”) it is not acceptable, especially in 2019. Why, then, do politicians continue to police women’s bodies according to their religious interpretation or morality when the U.S. Constitution expressly calls for a separation of church and state? They do it for the same reasons boys in gaming spaces like to tell femme gamers to go back in the kitchen or make them a sandwich. There’s a perceived superiority of men over women and an unwillingness to believe women should be the gatekeepers of our own bodies and our own happiness.

Legislators are creating laws that make getting a safe abortion legal based on legislators’ cherry-picked religious beliefs but no laws regulating the male body. Legislators pass laws that would make allow employers to not allow birth control to be covered by insurers, but Viagra and other male libido enhancement medications remain untouched. The governors of both Kentucky and Mississippi recently signed six-week abortion bans and Georigia’s new governor is awaiting Georgia’s 6-week abortion ban to hit his desk so that he can sign it.

Politicians brush off with sexual assault like it’s okay, openly admitting to sexual assault—boys and men threaten women and girls with rape and assault for disagreeing with their opinion or daring to voice their opinion. And when we speak out on it, try to correct their behavior or say “I don’t like this” we’re called sensitive, snowflakes, PC! When we simply say “No, I’m not interested,” we’re harassed. How far is too far?

Anjali Sareen Nowakowski perfectly summed up how similar our reality is to that of the Republic of Gilead. “All it took to build Gilead, though, was the silence of those that would resist and the vast expansion of government power.” While there are similarities between US and Gilead, can we all work together so that “Under his eye” and “Blessed be the fruit” are not the only things we’re allowed to say to each other?

Season 3 of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale premiere’s June 5, 2019.

Has World of Warcraft Lost Its "Wow" Factor?

Has World of Warcraft Lost Its "Wow" Factor?

After playing World of Warcraft for 14 years, Battle for Azeroth is the first expansion where I took a break from the game for more than two weeks. Did “Battle for Azeroth” kill World of Warcraft?

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@BlizzardDevs Where the Black Girls At in Overwatch?

@BlizzardDevs Where the Black Girls At in Overwatch?

Representation matters. And Blizzard Entertainment has made genuine effort to recognize various cultures and ethnicities throughout their games in recent years. But…Black women are still underrepresented.

At Blizzcon 2018, Blizzard unveiled a new Overwatch hero that no one knew they were even working on. Ashe, who leads the Deadlock Gang, is typical of the Western cowgirl villain. Ashe looks to be a fun hero to play who will likely be able to counter Pharah, Widow and Genji. Cool.

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Ready Player One: Can A Girl Get Some Respect?

I've been dwelling on my view of Ready Player One since I saw it in theaters. I cried when I left the theater, impassioned by my own memories and nostalgia. I felt cause to celebrate the gaming community aspects of the film because, as a lifelong gamer, I completely connected with the intention of the heartfelt relationships the characters built in their virtual world. Witnessing the bond and friendships between the gamers that have never met hit me right in the feels.

To Spielberg’s credit, the movie was action packed, entertaining as hell and full of stunning digital creations and effects. But the effects of the source material could not be undone, and the female character problem remains unresolved. Ready Player One, based on the 2011 Ernest Cline novel of the same name, at surface level is a love letter to pop culture and gaming centered around a boy named Wade Watts. But upon closer inspection, it reveals itself to have female characters that are instruments of the protagonist at worst or shallow at best. 

Source: Warner Bros via Wikia

Source: Warner Bros via Wikia

5.  F'Nale Zandor is one of the antagonists in the film. F’nale works for IOI and seems to be in charge of doing the dirty work for her boss, Nolan Sorrento. She exists solely for him to achieve power and complete control over the Oasis. Nolan has her do the dirty work because he's trash. She willingly agrees and actually hunts Wade and his friends in the real world. Chaotic evil? Yes. But even bad girls deserve to be treated with respect! 

4. Wade Watt’s Aunt Alice is blown up for the sake of character development. Like comic book superheroes, Wade’s parents are dead, so his aunt takes him in. Alice seems to have a very trope-y history of dating abusive men. In the film she is in a relationship with a man who abuses her and Wade. In an attempt to destroy Wade Nolan Sorrento blows up the stacks where his Aunt lives. POOF! BOOM! BANG! RIP Wades Aunt; you deserved better.

Source: Warner Bros via Insider

Source: Warner Bros via Insider

3. Aech is Parzivel’s best friend in the Oasis. In the Oasis, her character is male and she often reminds Parzivel that you can’t trust people in the Oasis. People hide their real identities for a multitude of reasons. She ends up saving Wade time and time again in both artificial and actual reality. Aech is clearly the wiser, more skeptical of the two, a capable engineer, mechanic and warrior. She possesses  a self-awareness that Wade does not. So much more could have been done with this character, but instead she was used as just another rung on the ladder to Wade’s goal of being the savior of the Oasis. The fact that the story also “hid” her identity from us robbed us of an opportunity to actually get to know her.

Photo: Jaap Buitendijk/Warner Bros via Vulture

2. Artemis is a famous egg hunter (Gunter) in the Oasis. She’s smart, she's quick and she’s powerful. She seems to be doing fine on her own until the story begins, at which point she becomes completely dependent on Wade’s help every step of the way. The film even seems to go out of its way to show her get a clue completely wrong, which leads to a risky fight and chase. Wade becomes obsessed with her in a MPDG-crush fantasy world way, still treating the Egg hunt like a game. By the end of the movie she’s revealed herself entirely to Wade in a pretty bland “I have typical motivations” type way and let’s Wade do the heavy lifting.

1. Kira - the “key to it all.” James Halliday the Oasis creator had a one true love, her name was Kira. We find out that Kira is the trophy, she is the unifying key to hunting down the hidden easter eggs and winning the Oasis. James was always in love with Kira and because of his extreme anxiety, insecurities and light incel (involuntary celibate) nature he failed to kiss her when he had the chance. Since he failed at love, it’s only... obvious…? that he would make her the center of his Easter Egg hunt. Ya know, a puzzle for everyone else to overcome, belitted to a kiss not taken. We don't know anything about her aside from a few men’s perspectives. Maybe if he chose to shoot his shot the Oasis wouldn't exist? If he had would this movie still exist??

There is already so much in nerd and geek culture that excludes the female perspective. Ready Player One is a beautiful spectacle of nostalgia that, unfortunately, refuses to include women in that narrative as anything more than pawns.

Have you seen Ready Player One? Tell us what you think in the comments.