Tips for Getting Started in The Monster Hunter World Beta!

What is it?

Monster Hunter is a 4 player co-operative action game centered around fighting monsters to make extremely over the top weapons and armor. This weekend from December 9th-12th you have the chance to try out a Beta version of the latest iteration of Monster Hunter: Monster Hunter World!

 

How to get it

The Beta requires a Playstation 4, and a subscription to the Playstation Plus service. This service allows you to play online games with other as well as get free games and demos like the Monster Hunter World Beta.

CHOOSE YOUR FRIGGING CAT!

 I’m not even kidding, check it out!

 

(Customization options are not available in the Beta)

Choose Your Weapon!

After selecting your gender and Palico the next big choice you will have to make is choosing which weapon you will use. There are a total of 14 weapons for you to choose from. Ranging from 6 foot great swords to nimble bows and arrows there is a weapon for every kind of play style, each with its strengths and weaknesses. The most important aspect of Monster Hunter World is teamwork, talk with your teammates and come up with devastating combinations of weapons. Will two of you take the vanguard with a lance and long sword, while the rest hail gunbow rounds on the monster from far away? Or will you all bounce around like grasshoppers with the insect glaive? The choice is yours!

 

Choose Your Monster!

  The Monster Hunter World Beta features 3 monsters ranging from easy to hard in their difficulty. The Great Jagras is a fairly easy lizard monster that has the ability to swallow other monsters whole. The second monster is called the Barroth, a large bipedal dinosaur that covers itself with a layer of mud armor. Watch out! This guy can take a hit! The last monster available in the beta is the Anjanath, a new monster to the series, keeping even veterans like me on our toes!

 

Experiment!

            With only 3 monsters covering 3 areas, you may think that this is a rather small beta to spread over 3 days. Fortunately, Monster Hunter has always been about experimentation and discovery through play. While there are a fun and substantial story campaigns in every Monster Hunter game, you will be fighting many of the same monsters a few times before the end. This gives you a unique opportunity to learn the mechanics of both your weapons and the monsters you fight inside and out. Furthermore, monsters have incredibly sophisticated AI and animation patterns that reveal new moves as well as behaviors even after hours of play.

Have Fun!

            Monster Hunter World can sometimes be a frustrating game at higher difficulties or when playing alone, so make sure to keep trying new strategies and find new ways to develop your character!


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Gabriel Planas is a writer from Ottawa, Ontario Canada who is passionate about video games, movies, punk rock and fantasy fiction. With over 20 years of experience playing video games, he is dedicated to spreading the word on the fledgling medium’s endless narrative potential.

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Gabriel Planas

Gabriel Planas is a writer from Ottawa, Ontario Canada who is passionate about video games, movies, punk rock and fantasy fiction. With over 20 years of experience playing video games, he is dedicated to spreading the word on the fledgling medium’s endless narrative potential.

A Jump Start to Competitive Gaming

Are you a serious player who has dreamed of standing in the spotlight? Or maybe, you’re just a beginner who really likes playing a specific game. The competitive gaming field is available to anyone. Whether you’re aiming for world champion or casual goer, you all have to start somewhere.

Choosing a Game

Though there are many games to choose from, it is best to single one out. I would recommend choosing the one you enjoy the most, as you will have to play a lot of it. Other considerations could include, the popularity of the game, if the game has any competitive directions, and how far you’d like to go competitively with the game. Most games have the potential to be played competitively, such as speed running, but lack an established community or team; this makes it much harder to get into the competitive field.

In my experience, games like Hearthstone, League of Legends, and Smash Bros. are great places to start when looking for competitivley succesful games. 

Putting in the Time

Most professional players spend a minimum of 6 hours a day practicing their game. If you fail to practice continually your skill will suffer, and you may lose your competitive edge. Think of the game as a full-time job, in order to get payed or be successful, you need to contribute your hours. The process could take months, even years, but it’s important to stay vigilant.

The Importance of a Community

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The next step is finding, or developing, your game’s community. Follow teams, Facebook groups, websites, and friends that share an interest in your game. These groups can be a great resource for information: The groups often share, tips and tricks to preforming better, discussion on changes and updates, information on local events, and upcoming tournaments, which brings us to the next step.

Getting Your Foot in the Door

Local events and tournaments are an increasing occurrence in cities and towns. The tournaments provide prizes and experience for both new and established players. If you are hoping to become a professional player, this is the place to start. Local tournaments give players a chance to experience a competitive field on a smaller scale, providing you with some confidence when you hit the big stage. Some events require you to obtain competitive points before you are eligible to enter, local tournaments and events are a great resource for accumulating status, and points towards the larger scenes.

Establishing a Reputation

Once you’ve achieved the necessary experience or points to enter larger scale events, it’s important for you to preform well. Not only do these events provide some publicity for fans, but could qualify you for championship events. Enter tournaments prepared and often. Put in the time to research your opponents and develop strategies to counter them, if possible watch other professional players to see how they play, these are all important steps in preparing for a tournament in order to get results.

Achievement Unlocked

Once you’ve achieved a reputation, sponsorships will become easier to obtain, and your career as a professional player will start. The best option at this point is to continue entering championship tournaments, and to start streaming. Streaming not only provides you with another source of income, but makes tournament invites and event opportunities more likely, while also boosting sponsorship interest.

Best of luck in your journey to becoming a professional gamer.   


Shawn Bosnjak is a student in the Professional Writing program at Algonquin College. He is an avid writer, reader, gamer, and drummer, with a passion for anything fantasy or rock.

Shawn Bosnjak is a student in the Professional Writing program at Algonquin College. He is an avid writer, reader, gamer, and drummer, with a passion for anything fantasy or rock.

Shawn Bosnjak is a student in the Professional Writing program at Algonquin College. He is an avid writer, reader, gamer, and drummer, with a passion for anything fantasy or rock.

The hero that we need... but don't deserve

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When it comes to any kind of sport, it’s very easy for the viewers to see the players as the root of the team. All of points they score or game winning plays is done through their individual teamwork and skill, and the same thing goes for their mistakes and losses. It’s very easy to finger point at anyone, may it be sports or esports, based on their results, their attitude or the people they play with.

But when it comes to any competitive sport, one role is often times undervalued or unspoken. That one person who works the extra hours at the office because he’s just that passionate and wants to do everything he can to help his company. That one friend who’s always willing to talk to you if you’ve got an issue at three in the morning. Of course, I’m talking about the coaches.

Coaches are far more known about in the sports scene, as in most sports like hockey and basketball, they are actively participating in any given match. Although they aren’t skating on the ice and shooting pucks into a net, or dribbling the ball and going for a slam dunk, they sit on the sidelines, screaming at their players on what formation to take, the weakness in the enemies’ own formation, as well as deciding who is brought onto the ice or field at any given moment. They’re the ones who motivate their team, plan strategies and overall gameplan. Most coaches were players in their younger age, and as their age got the better of their reflexes and body, they moved to a coaching role to not only follow their passion, but to keep their legacy going.

In esports, coaching is not that far from what we see in traditional sports although having their own differences depending on the game. In most cases though, coaches allow individual players or teams to have a different perspective on the game or on their opponents, on what might be good, what might be bad, optimal play styles and what’s in the meta ( the optimal way to play the game in its current state ). Depending on the game, coaches may have other responsibilities, but in all games they serve the same purpose: to keep players focused and prepared.

For instance, in most single-player fighting games such as Streetfighter, Super Smash Brothers and Tekken, some players will have their own dedicated coach, often carrying out the role of an analyst, a advisor and even just a friend. Coaches for players in this game genre will help the player study on their opponents. They’ll take note of their playstyles, what characters they play the most and in what situation they might switch to these characters. They also study the player they’re coaching, pointing out flaws in some of their own playstyle, keeping them in a positive mental state and lifting a bit of the anxiety that these players might face. While the player focuses on improving on their individual skill and practice, the coach can focus on the extra studying and homework on the players they often meet up against in tournaments. It is beneficial to have a coach in almost every aspect because of this.

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In terms of multiplayer games, being first-person shooters like Counter Strike and Overwatch, or mobas like Dota 2 or League of Legends, coaches work differently depending on what the competitive scene of the game allows. Though this is the same for single-player games mentioned above, it isn’t as drastic.

For instance, Counter-Strike being a team-based shooter game, coaches of the teams are more similar to traditional sport coaches as they are allowed to be behind their players during actual tournament matches, telling their players what they should do in any given moment, giving out the opponent’s location and telling them what strategy or formation to take. It’s as if the is an extra pair of eyes and voice to the players, which allows them to focus more on their own game, while keeping an ear out for important info from both their teammates and the coach.

However, in large-scale games like Dota 2 and League of Legends, games can last between twenty minutes and an hour on average, and having a coach in the booth with the players as they play could be an incredibly huge advantage, what with being able to look at the captain’s notepads on the enemy team’s movements around the map at certain parts of the game or other important objectives. The player’s focus and individual ability to analyse the game is what should make them be able to play at such a high level, and not the person behind them telling them everything.

That, and not every team has the resources to have a coach. Already enough a team without a coach is at a disadvantage both time and resource wise, and having to face an opposing team of essentially six players, it can be seen as unfair. Instead, coaches, serving as the study-bot and life coach for the team, have only recently been given the option to go into the drafting phase inside of the player booth during professional games at events. It allows for an extra perspective and insight during probably the most vital five to ten minutes of a match: what you’ll be choosing to go up against your opponents. This is a rule that’s been added just in this competitive season, and Dota 2 has been an esport for about seven years now. Esports rules for different games are still evolving, as it is still in its infancy.

This Youtube like shows a half-hour documentary of two teams playing in the finals of a 3 Million dollar tournament, and although has a focus on the players, also gives us a unique perspective on the coaches of these two teams, the different on how they talk to their players and what they offer.

Yet here we are, with a viewership so huge and growing faster than all other sports due to the technology that we have today, esports continues to adapt and evolve based on current situations. Drama, just like in any media, is very prevalent and esports, and some of it can be a lot more positive than people might think when they see the word Drama go through their ears.... Till next time!


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When he’s not desperately trying to climb the Dota 2 MMR leaderboards, Francis can usually be seen playing on his Nintendo 3DS or Switch, or writing long and short fiction on his limited spare time. Oh, and he’s on Youtube 24/7.

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Francis Rochon

When he’s not desperately trying to climb the Dota 2 MMR leaderboards, Francis can usually be seen playing on his Nintendo 3DS or Switch, or writing long and short fiction on his limited spare time. Oh, and he’s on Youtube 24/7.

What is an RPG?

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Imagine an unfamiliar world that is open for you to explore, but you don’t know where to start? Maybe you find the closest town and have them guide you through tasks, maybe you find a cavern and delve into its depths seeking treasures, or maybe you just want to wander the world marking new locations on your map. Choice is what defines an RPG (Role Playing Game), but choices are not limited by exploration. RPGs also include questlines that involve choosing between options that flip stories in multiple directions as you progress. You could choose to show mercy and have the favour returned later. It could even involve dialogue options that change whether or not you get the information you need. Overall, the choices are what determine your outcome in the game.

 An RPG is broken down into multiple parts, Story, Setting, Exploration, Quests, Experience, and Combat.

The story acts as the main progression point, guiding the character to an ending. The story is almost always character driven, leading to multiple endings based on the choices the player made throughout the game. In my experience, it feels as though you’ve stumbled into a story book and have become the lead character.

 The setting is usually fantasy or sci-fi. This allows for creativity and surrealism in both the world and the character. It could take shape as a cat-person, or a magic world, the possibilities are endless. With a surreal setting, it also allows for exploration, made more enjoyable by the unfamiliarity.

 Exploration is a key element that makes RPGs unlike other genres. It could involve exploring buildings for loot, or caves for monsters. The ability to explore gives the player freedom in the game, not tying them down in a point A to B progression.

 Quests act as a guideline for players to follow, though it doesn’t always lead to main story progression. I like to think of it as an anchor for the player when they’re unsure of where to go next. Quests usually involve the completion of a task assigned by one of the NPC’s (Non-player character). It could be as simple as retrieving a spoon, to as complicated as removing a king from reign.

 The combat in RPGs varies from game to game, but generally involves slaying beast, or foes.  In combat, the player is usually gifted with special abilities that let them excel. Maybe you can cast fireballs, or have inhuman reflexes. The abilities assigned to character are unique and can often be developed as you progress.

 Experience is basically a reward system for completing quests, or slaying monsters. You often get experience for each quest completed, or monster slain, that tallies into levels once you collected enough. Levels act as a development system for your character such as, hitting level 5 rewards you with a new ability, or item. It lets your character develop and become stronger, often in a way you choose.

 Overall, in an RPG you make the choices that change your game experience and development. Without a doubt, it is my favourite genre.  


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Shawn Bosnjak is a student in the Professional Writing program at Algonquin College. He is an avid writer, reader, gamer, and drummer, with a passion for anything fantasy or rock.

Games That Pushed The Boundaries of Storytelling

Story is something that is simultaneously overrated and underrated by video game developers. Almost all games in the modern market have one, even sports games feel the need to give players a narrative reason to keep playing. Unfortunately, many of these games strive to replicate a style that was developed for books, TV, and movies which are all passive mediums that do not account for the audience’s participation in the story. Thus, as games have evolved, developers have slowly figured out how to include the audience in their stories and push the boundaries of storytelling within all mediums. These games, in my opinion, embody this evolution of video games from copying other forms of media to developing their own narrative techniques to become the unique medium that it is today.

Planescape: Torment (PC, Linux, IOS)

Planescape: Torment helps to close off the first generations of games grasping at how to tell a story within a basic structure. Up until this point, bar a few exceptions, game stories have always served as convenient excuse to make you kill things or participate in whatever shenanigans that drive the core gameplay.

Released in 1999, it is the culmination of now-defunct Black Ilse Studios works within the RPG genre at the time. Well versed in the tropes and expectations of the genre, the studio made the decision bring the story of the game to the forefront with combat taking a back seat for much of the game, depending on the choice of the player. Through the eyes of “The Nameless One” players assumed the role of a man who cannot die. Since your last death, your memory had been wiped, forcing you to confront decisions and actions you took in previous lives to an often gut-wrenching effect. This device also allowed players to explore, experience and define themselves in the strange world of Planescape on their own terms. On top of this depth of player choice and plot, Planescape: Torment has been wildly acclaimed for its quality of writing, being cited as one of the few games to possess the literary weight and depth of a novel.

Silent Hill 2 (PS2, PS3)

 Silent Hill is often cited as one of the scariest games of all time. Unfortunately, what is not normally mentioned in the same breath is that its sequel has one of the best stories told in the horror genre (aside from some very questionable dialogue and voice acting). Silent Hill 2 is a disturbing examination of human relationships and how we deal with the trauma we cause one another within them. This thematically rich plot is supported by a game world and characters that all feed directly back into the main character’s struggle with guilt and desire.

The developers use everything at their disposal to explore the themes brought up throughout the game, from enemies such as the iconic Pyramid-Head to portray the main character’s violent sexual desires and fears, to puzzles such as the hangman puzzle used to explore the ideas of guilt, judgment and justice. The game even features multiple endings based on how often and in which way the player interacts with certain characters and items. Unlike many current horror movies and games, everything in Silent Hill 2 has been done with a purpose. It understands that to be truly terrifying, to really get into someone’s head, you have to explore very real and very disturbing aspects of the human condition.

 

The Last of Us (Ps3, PS4)

The Last of Us is arguably one of the most successful video games of the last generation of consoles, and for good reason. While everything from the gameplay to major plot elements has been explored in games and other media before, what makes The Last of Us different, much like the developer’s Naughty Dog’s past work, is simply the level of quality the developers managed to achieve. Everything from the heart pumping, grounded gameplay to the heavily nuanced performances has a polish that few other media manages to accomplish. Though, it is worth noting that this is the game where the developers at Naughty Dog have become more experimental.

For example, while there are many cut-scenes in the game, most of the events that begin to form a bond between the two main characters of Joel and Ellie were done directly through gameplay allowing the player to form a bond with the characters as well. Naughty Dog also started experimenting with player choice, allowing the player to engage in conversations and actions with the non-playable character Ellie on their own terms. While this may not be the most ground-breaking experimentation in terms of design, the idea that player choice is seeping into games that many argue are of a higher quality than most novels and movies, it is certainly an exciting prospect.

 

Hellblade (PC, PS4)

On the surface, Hellblade shares many qualities of cinematic, story-driven games such as The Last of Us or Uncharted, with its weighty, intimate combat and camera perspective as well as a heavy focus on storytelling. What sets Hellblade apart is its themes and how it chooses to tell its story. Hellblade is a story of a Celtic Pict warrior named Senua who suffers from Psychosis. Through rigorous research, help from those who suffer from the condition and experts in the subject of psychosis developer; Ninja Theory manipulated the conventions of gameplay to place the player directly in the mind of someone who suffers from this condition. The game features haunting voices called The Furies that follow you throughout the game, accurately simulating auditory hallucinations reacting to almost everything you do. Other symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, mental blindness and increased pattern recognition are worked into the game as mechanics for the player to directly interact with. Which puts Hellblade in a unique position to allow players to form empathy for those who suffer from psychosis by simulating its symptoms. Hellblade isn’t necessarily what one would call a “fun” game because mental illness is not fun. More than anything Hellblade helps show what sets video games apart from other media. Through its interactive elements, a game can transcend story and narrative to become a tool to build empathy for subjects that are extremely nebulous and hard to discuss, such as mental illness.

All that being said, These are just my picks for games demonstrating the evolution of story in video games, what are your picks for the games that pushed games as a medium for storytelling? Let us know in the comments below!    


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Gabriel Planas is a writer from Ottawa, Ontario Canada who is passionate about video games, movies, punk rock and fantasy fiction. With over 20 years of experience playing video games, he is dedicated to spreading the word on the fledgling medium’s endless narrative potential.

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Gabriel Planas

Gabriel Planas is a writer from Ottawa, Ontario Canada who is passionate about video games, movies, punk rock and fantasy fiction. With over 20 years of experience playing video games, he is dedicated to spreading the word on the fledgling medium’s endless narrative potential.

Introduction to Esports: how gaming went pro

Photo Courtesy of flickr.com

Photo Courtesy of flickr.com

Sports are something that are covered widely around the world through television, internet, social media. Professional sports players typically grow a passion for their sport early in their life as a child, and that passion and their dedication and skill with the sport leads them to make it their actual career. But what if I told you that such a thing were true with video games?

That’s what esports is: professional gaming. And much like regular sports, the gamers that lead a career in esports as players often have a passion for gaming that can be traced back to when they were first introduced to video games at an early age. Professional gaming is not something that can be achieved with any game, though, and do meet some criteria. The games must be a player versus player game, where one or more players go up against one or more players respectively, bring a scope of competition and teamwork, and/or individual skill.

Many games fall into this genre. You have traditional fighting games, like Street Fighter and Super Smash Bros., along with strategy games like Starcraft, but Esports’ growth has definitely been affected the most by MOBA games (Multiplayer-Online-Battle-Arena), which are games that incentivise's teamwork and coordination above all else, much like traditional sports. The most popular esports in this genre are Dota 2 and League Of Legends.

So how do esports work? Where does the money come from? And do people really watch other people play video games for a living?

Well, esports works in much the same way as regular sports on the business side. When matches are played, there are casters who do play-by-play commentary of the game, people in the backlines doing all of the production for the media, either it be streamed online or broadcasted on television (which has/does happen). There are also coaches that help a player/teams and whose job is to study for the players, so that they can focus more on practicing strategies and communication, while the coach can play many roles. Maybe they help in the team’s chemistry, or sometimes they play more of researcher, making sure the players are prepared for the next tournament or planning and scheduling practice matches.

As for the money, it comes from sponsors and organizations funding money into a tournament prize pool. Big name companies like Monster Energy, SteelSeries and Razor, all of which are very well versed in the gaming and esports communities, sponsor a lot of individual players and teams. This money is then brought into the esports economy, paying for the casters, the talent that work at these events and so-on. Certain games allow their casual viewer base to support the tournaments through the purchase of in-game items and tickets.

And yes, in the same way that people watch others run around with a ball or what not on a large grassy field, playing a game that they may or may not play, people who spectate esports are in the same seat: watching someone play a game that they are passionate about. Routing for their favorite and most relatable personalities or players, supporting these people and the game that they enjoy. In recent years, esports has escalated to a level of mainstream media and appreciation, and the scene doesn’t seem to be in any rush to slow down anytime soon.

Visit http://www.espn.com/esports/ for regular esports news coverage. 

 


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When he’s not desperately trying to climb the Dota 2 MMR leaderboards, Francis can usually be seen playing on his Nintendo 3DS or Switch, or writing long and short fiction on his limited spare time. Oh, and he’s on Youtube 24/7.

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Francis Rochon

When he’s not desperately trying to climb the Dota 2 MMR leaderboards, Francis can usually be seen playing on his Nintendo 3DS or Switch, or writing long and short fiction on his limited spare time. Oh, and he’s on Youtube 24/7.

A Return to Form

Since the inception of video games in the early 70s, giant steps forward have been made in terms of technology. From higher resolution graphics and advanced physics engines to massive multiplayer capabilities developers are always trying to push the boundaries of what’s possible. Some developers, however, decide to take a step back and create a new gameplay experience using tried and true methods that have been around for decades.

This is easier said than done, however, and it’s a lot more than just copying old ideas. Without enough innovation, developers risk being labeled as lazy unoriginal creators. When yacht club games first launched their Kickstarter back in early 2013, Shovel Knight’s art style alone was enough to excite fans. Hoping to raise 75,000 over the course of a month Yacht Club instead amassed over 300,000. This is a common trend in the modern day of indie gaming. Through crowdsourcing, many devs end up with a far larger budget for their game than expected, and this can pose challenges of its own. If a developer’s expectations for their game differ too much from gamers’, then the audience can feel betrayed. This requirement for innovation seems only amplified by having to adapt a 75,000 dollar idea to 300,000 dollar expectations.

Using mechanics from successful retro games allows for big innovative ideas to be applied to a formula that’s established as fun and successful, even if it hasn’t been revisited in a while. Although Super Mario Bros. 2 seemed to have perfected the side-scrolling/overworld map formula decades ago, Shovel Knight’s usage of similar mechanics feels fresh and without compromise. Developers have the opportunity to create games today that deliver the type of anticipation that hasn’t been felt since someone’s childhood. The nostalgia that this generates means a game can not only target the gamers that remember similar retro games from their childhood but the younger audience of today as well. Dennaton Games’ Hotline Miami is a whole different story. Using the visual style and sound design of retro classics, but a mature, intense, unrelenting gameplay style, unlike anything that came before it. 

This is a great example of an uncommon type of game. A game that is unique and original, but created from an outdated starting point. The design of older games lent themselves well to the intuitive controls and the game’s visual style. Dennaton Games knew however that the top down twin-stick shooting mechanics could be turned up to 11, creating a high-octane shooter with a punishing, yet never unfair difficulty level. While the developer could have focused solely on mechanics and created a 3D top-down shooter with extremely impressive graphics, they instead took a look at what mechanics from the past could establish a unique experience. The result was a game that feels both new and inspires a strong sense of nostalgia.


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Mitch is an avid player of role playing games, first person shooters, and retro classics. Running NES to PC and everything in between Mitch loves looking into what makes games great, and how that has and will change from the past to the future. Console, handheld, puzzle, or adventure, it’s all about the game.


Game Boys

For those of you familiar with video games, Hello! For those of you who may not be in the loop, welcome! Video games have had a huge impact in people’s lives, either because you play a lot of them, or because it’s increasingly been introduced to regular media. Nearly everybody has played a video game these days, and whether you’re a veteran button masher, or happen to be friends with one, we hope to make your experience an amazing one regardless, as we explore Retro Games, RPGs, Esports and more.

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Francis Rochon

When he’s not desperately trying to climb the Dota 2 MMR leaderboards, Francis can usually be seen playing on his Nintendo 3DS or Switch, or writing long and short fiction on his limited spare time. Oh, and he’s on Youtube 24/7.