February’s best video game bargains and values

Although the modern video game industry is perceived by mass markets as a platform exhibiting violence, destruction, drugs and suggestive themes – there remains something very special lurking beyond this popular perspective.

Spirited individuals have long struggled in finding a conduit for communicating their passions, dreams and emotions to others. In fact, this is a struggle some claim still exists in today’s world. In an attempt to bridge this distance existing between artist and viewer, a few poetic souls have shifted their attention away from many traditional forms of art, to the fledgling platform of video game development.

It is from this newfound connection that fresh examples of fellowship and understanding have been growing progressively over the last two decades. As the expense of technology and licenses necessary for software development have lessened, so too have the barriers keeping aspiring artists and consumers away from the medium – widening the veritably of experiences available to this platform considerably. Each month of the year, online marketplaces strive to take these ideas to heart, and introduce a bevy of highly discounted titles. It seems that as costs shrink, so too do the retail prices for these games!

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Okami 

Priding itself as a project faithful to reanimating early Japanese calligraphy and oil-based painting; this title brings the wonders of a rich culture back into the modern world. With visible brush strokes and fading tapestries, the detail of Okami gives the player control of what feels to be an authentic masterpiece.

This month, the prices for the downloadable version of this title on most online marketplaces are 50% off, bringing Okami’s price down to a tasty $6.99 price point.

Wikimedia Commons – Okami

 

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Limbo

Following the voyage of a young boy’s soul as it passes into the great beyond, players accompany the spirit of this child and his trek through a mysterious land that is both haunting and peaceful. This simple art direction of black silhouettes is especially striking in its ability to keep an atmosphere of uncertainty surrounding the player’s actions. This also gives practical context to the 2D nature of Limbo’s traditional platforming mechanics.

Due to Limbo’s identity as a download only title, the price of this gem can be picked up online for a killer $5.99 – making it a must buy for February’s deals.

Deviant Art – Limbo

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Cuphead

The days of hand drawn animation have faded away with the advent of powerful computerized animation programs. Try telling that to Studio MDHR, the developer responsible for constructing an entirely hand drawn interactive experience.

Despite the long hours of toiling over how to get something as simple as a walking animation to not look terrible, these ambitious folks are taking on a task that is as unique as it is challenging to create.

Development on this title is quickly wrapping up, with a likely release in the last week of this month for a $29.99 price point – easily one of February’s biggest contenders.

Studio MDHR – Flickr

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Neverending Nightmares

Sometimes when a perfect combination of style and genre pair with each other, they create something entirely separate than what either component would have done individually. Neverending Nightmares is a 2D side-scrolling horror game that takes advantage of what would otherwise be an elegant approach to illustration. Although similar to Limbo in that the title manages to make the most out of its small pool of  resources, the two differ in that this game manages to capture a visually disturbing feeling. This is likely accomplished in the way the game constructs these line based drawings to display familiar everyday objects to the viewer, then they are slightly tweaked in a way that feels out of the ordinary. This odd displacement method is extremely unique and effective in progressively breaking down the player’s psyche over time.

During the week of February 20-27, all registered platforms hosting this title have given full access to consumers for free, making this a must try for February. Although, you may as well purchase this beauty, as it is only a whopping $8.00.

Infinitap Games – Neverending Nightmares

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Journey

Journey is a game that reminds players of how beautiful the experience of first meeting someone can actually be. The player assumes the role of a cloaked wanderer traveling across a vast desert landscape in search of whatever the desert might have to offer them. Along your journey, players will come in contact with other anonymous players and establish non-verbal relationships that are formed around helping one another past obstacles and challenges. What makes Journey an especially gripping work is the inevitable goodbye that players will inevitably be forced to accept with their newfound friends, as anonymity is a hallmark of the experience. This means that establishing contact outside of the game isn’t possible. In other words, when you and your new friend finally part ways in Journey, chances are you will never interact with that person again, neither in game, nor in life.

For February, this title has a special promotional event for the Valentine’s Day holiday week. From February 14-21, a trial version of the game is bring offered to those who wish to test the waters as to whether or not this is the game for them. On a regular basis, Journey is often sold around $13.00 in most online marketplaces.

That Game Company – Creative Commons

Fans of Journey’s art direction love giving credence to the way in which the game has inspired them, exemplifying the emotional impact that this video game is capable of.

 

Katan! is a daily newsletter that reaches deeply within the video game industry, bringing attention toward works and subjects that deserve to be acknowledged. Follow Katan! now for more wholesome game development stories and editorials.

What happens to our favorite Bobcat bands after graduation?

College is a chance to discover the real person that’s been cultivating under the parental units for the last 18 or so years. For some it’s exploring the vices their parents attempted to curtail, others it’s the chance to think differently how they were raised, but in general it’s a time for self-discovery.

A few braves souls chose to do this in front of crowds atop one of the many stages in Athens. The music scene in Athens is unique as the influx of new blood from the university allows for a large diversity of musical acts to form and flourish.

The constant flow of new musicians is sadly accompanied by the older generation leaving Athens as they graduate or decide to move on. While the desire to play may linger on, it can be extremely difficult to continue when members may be scattered across the country. As their time in Athens comes closer to the end Wes Gilbert of Smizmar and Evan Amerio of Apemode spoke of their personal experiences.

Building community through art with Honey for the Heart

For the last month local artists, both townie and student have collaborated making puppets for the annual Honey for the Heart parade. This year the various projects had to work around the central theme of birds, with each project taking on a different interpretation. Each puppet is unique not only in look, but how it operates, what it’s materials, and overall theme itself. Honey for the Heart is done on a volunteer basis where even the artistically challenged can help. This week anyone can stop by to help finish the puppets from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. this week before the parade at 6 p.m. this Saturday at Central Venue on Carpenter Street.

Women of Appalachia event aims to change stereotypes

There are a number of stereotypes that exist about women within Appalachia; however, a small group is working to change those views.

For the seventh straight year the Women of Appalachia Project has events on the campus of Ohio University that focus on the work of female artists from the region.

There are three components to the Women of Appalachia Project, said Kari Gunter-Seymour, founder and curator of the project.

One part of the project currently occupies a quiet spot on the second floor of Baker Center. The Women of Appalachia Exhibit continues through April 30 at Ohio University’s Multicultural Center Art Gallery.

The goal is to showcase the art of women from the Appalachian region. This year’s exhibit includes the work of 20 artists from Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky.

The art show has developed a reputation as being a place artists can submit their work without getting a response that is overly critical, Gunter-Seymour said.

Each of the women is able to represent the women of Appalachia in her own way, she said.

The art show has already been displayed in Parkersburg and after finishing its run in Athens will then be displayed in Chillicothe in May.

This piece is part of the Women of Appalachia exhibit currently being shown at the Multicultural Center Art Gallery in Baker Center at Ohio University.
This piece is part of the Women of Appalachia exhibit currently being shown at the Multicultural Center Art Gallery in Baker Center at Ohio University.

“Each year I say I can’t believe the quality of the artists,” Gunter-Seymour said. “But each year it keeps getting better.”

The idea for the project came when Gunter-Seymour became frustrated with having to look all over for places to display her artwork, she said.

“I had always heard it’s easier to create a job than to find a job. I thought it might be the same way with events,” she said. “I thought it might be easier to create an event than to find one.”

The project started seven years ago. Since then the effort has gotten bigger and bigger each year, Gunter-Seymour said.

Each of the seven years has been based in Athens and at Ohio University. Gunter-Seymour said when she was putting together the show she contacted Winsome Chunnu-Brayda, strategic director for diversity and inclusion and multicultural programs and initiatives, to ask about space and has worked with Chunnu-Brayda ever since.

“The Muticultural Center is proud to have hosted the Women of Appalachia Project every year since its inception in 2009,” said Chunnu-Brayda in a statement. “This project is distinctive in that it brings together a combination of seasoned and emerging artists that never fails to please. Ohio University is unique in that it serves a very large population — students, faculty and staff as well as Athens and contiguous county communities. This event serves as one of Ohio University’s outstanding town/gown events. Approximately 3,000 guests visit the WOAP exhibit in our gallery each year.”

In addition to the exhibit, there are other events that surround the Women of Appalachia Project. Friday (Feb. 10) is the opening reception for the exhibit from 5 to 8 p.m.

At the event local activist Sandra Sleight-Brennan will be presented the inaugural WOAP “Appalachian Advocate Award.”

“There are so many women who want to help, but aren’t artists,” Gunter-Seymour said.

This award helps to recognize all the other women who help with the events and make things better for women in Appalachia.

The other portion of the project is the Women Speak events, which include poetry, songs and stories. These events take place all over the area, Gunter-Seymour said. However, they have an event planned on April 22 at 6 p.m. at the Multicultural Center Art Gallery in Baker Center.

For more information about the Women of Appalachia Project or to see a full schedule of the events you can visit their website or Facebook page.

To paint the wall, or not to paint the wall?

On a slow day, I like to pick up the pace and talk a nice jog around the town. I have learned during these jogs that for such a, “small town,” Athens has many places that I need to discover. Good, bad or ugly.

A few weeks ago, I jogged across Walker Street and noticed a plain, gray, ugly and deteriorating wall that stretched along the sidewalk. What is ironic about this wall is the fact that ARTS/West, an art facility that serves the citizens of Athens as part of the City of Athens’ Arts, Parks and Recreation Department, is located nearby. I look at these walls and I can only think that they beg for some kind of transformation that only Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb can perform on The Today Show.

On Monday night the City and Safety Services Committee listened to proposals on issues ranging from snow removal to an art project. I did not know that the art project in particular would affect the same wall that I came in contact with a few weeks ago.

That wall that is considered an eyesore may get its makeover, or at least a fresh coat of paint.

The Athens City Council listened to a proposal from local artist and Ohio University student Jolena Hansbarger to transform the wall for Athens Beautification Day in the form of a mural.

Hansbarger wants to paint Greek mythological figures such as Poseidon along with multiple constellations in her current plans for the mural.

Councilman Kent Butler, D-1st Ward, is a member of the City and Safety Services Committee and supports the proposal.

The Athens City Council discusses matters relating to the ARTS/West mural on February 8th, 2016.
The Athens City Council discusses matters relating to the ARTS/West mural on February 8th, 2016.

“I embrace art outside of an art complex,” said Butler, who also stated that the proposal is privately funded and would not require city money.

The mural would allow residents of Athens to take part in its creation by being the artists themselves and painting the design that Hansbarger put forth in her proposal. Yes, this includes children, and Hansbarger knows that she may need to add some extra hours fixing the potential mistakes those novice painters could make.

“I don’t expect them (children) to paint inside the lines of my design, so I plan on working to fix those problems,” said Hansbarger.

Now children who aspire to be the next Picasso may not be the only problem with the mural, but elderly citizens who see the project as a distraction for the neighbors of the wall brought up objections to the committee.

Multiple residents brought up the potentially controversial subject material, the glow-in-the-dark paint (proposed to be used), and the location of the mural as potential headaches for neighbors.

At the same time, Councilwoman Michele Papai, D-3rd Ward, does not think the wall serves the best interests of Athens residents due to its mythological subject matter and the question of ownership of the artwork once the mural is finished. Papai expressed concern that the city would have to use public funding to keep the wall maintained after the mural begins to wear out or the wall experiences damages.

Athens Mayor Steve Patterson brings up a point during the Athens City Council meeting on February 8th, 2016
Athens Mayor Steve Patterson brings up a point during the Athens City Council meeting on February 8th, 2016

Councilman Patrick McGee, I-At Large, proposed an alternative to the Walker Street wall for Hansbarger to paint the mural.

“I wish there was a portable wall that can display this art for not just the west side, but the entire city,” said McGee.

McGee thinks that the art would best serve Athens if it travels around the city for all residents to see and not just the residents that live near the permanent wall.

Tensions were never high in the room, and each member of the council treated each other with respect. There was never an instance when I thought the council meeting would turn into an episode of The Jerry Springer Show, which is what I would expect from an Athens City Council meeting. They were talking about art tonight, not war.

I learned a lot about the city I live in during the hour that I sat in on the meeting, making it clear to me that these meetings mean a lot to me. Will I sit in on every meeting from this point on? Probably not, but I will surely make an effort to go to more council meetings, or at least appreciate the work these government figures do for their citizens.

As to the proposal itself, the Committee will revisit the matter next week. Until then, I will still be walking by that ugly hunk of concrete on Walker Street when I take a jog around Athens.

Intimate view of ‘For the Love of Athens County’

I forced my friend Melany to come along with me on my adventure to the opening of the art exhibit “For the Love of Athens County.” The exhibit’s grand opening housed 50 people, but, during our visit, we were the only ones in the gallery.

Getting to ARTS/West: Athens Community Gateway to the Arts wasn’t difficult, but it was out of the way, so I can imagine why the majority of students don’t venture that far down West State Street. I mean, I’m a junior here, and I had never even heard of the place.

External View of the ARTS Building
External View of the ARTS Building


After arriving to the building, we realized the front door is not always open. Following our creep around the building, we came to an unlocked door. Apparently, this is the one that students and community members are supposed to use on days with less traffic frequenting the center.

Walking through the door, we were met with three women sitting at desks in an office probably wondering what in the world we were doing there. It was a cold and rainy Monday when I told them we were there to see the art exhibit. Excitement suddenly appeared on their faces.

Walking into the large gallery room, I could immediately understand why they were so excited to have us there. We were, quite literally, the only people in the space. Spooky at first, it was a nice experience to see artwork that community members had so carefully chosen to showcase.

A panorama of the gallery with no one in it.
A panorama of the gallery with no one in it.

“For the Love of Athens County” is an annual art exhibit that features 19 photographers’ smartphone photographs of what they love about Athens. The photographers range from students to community members, young and old— the youngest is 12 years old.

Example of community work at the exhibit
Example of community work at the exhibit

The photographs are for sale, and include a quick snippet of what the photograph is about, or where it is located. We stumbled into some really beautiful images from places I’ve never heard of, such as the Moonville Tunnel. Adding these to my mental notepad, we meandered around.

Kelly Lawrence, the curator of the gallery, turned off the lights for us because she said it makes the photography stand out more. In the light coming from the hanging lights above, we appreciated the gallery in all of its small glory, enjoying our two person VIP gallery viewing.

My friend Melany looking at the art.
My friend Melany looking at the art.

“It makes me really sad that I didn’t even know this place existed,” Melany said, “I wish there was a better way to know about things going on like this.”

It’s really a shame more students don’t make it past North Court Street. Athens is full of secret gems, such as this center, that are just waiting to be discovered. This exhibit continues through the month of February, and has free admission. Take a look at what community members see in Athens, and consider submitting work for next year.

A Guardian Alien

A Field of Dreams: Peden Stadium

When I first came to Ohio University in 2008, I was just taking a weekend trip with my family to visit my parent’s alma mater for the first time. The brick roads, the smell of the Burrito Buggy, the exhausting hills, the trees. Everything in Athens to me was picture perfect.

But then I stepped foot inside a football stadium, but this was not just a football field with some bleachers. This football stadium had a spirit like I have never seen at any sporting venue. There was a hill that stretched behind one of the endzones, there was a view of the rolling hills just over the Hocking River, but there also was history written since 1929 stored inside every brick.

My first trip to OU in 2008 included my first trip to Peden Stadium.
My first trip to OU in 2008 included my first trip to Peden Stadium.

This was Peden Stadium.

I stepped foot on the field (though I was not supposed to), and felt a chill down my spine. If that chill was the spirit of Athens hitting me like a ton of bricks or just a cool breeze I will never know. But I realized at that moment that I too will become a Bobcat, just like my parents were 20 years earlier.

This may be considered the moment when I realized that I would become a Bobcat,
This may be considered the moment when I realized that I would become a Bobcat.

Fast forward five years, and it was my first week on campus as a student at Ohio University. I was overwhelmed by all the activity on campus, and I had a hard time becoming friends with my roommate. I decided to go to a football game with my learning community to celebrate my first week surviving college. Was it awkward? At first, yes, but as the night went on I bonded with my new friends about football, art, Billy Joel, Stephen Colbert and Big Mamma’s. By the end of the night, we all decided to go to games on a weekly basis and maybe hang out a time or two at James Hall.

 

This was during my first OU football game, where I met most of my best friends that I've kept at OU.
This was during my first OU football game, where I met most of my best friends that I’ve kept at OU.

Today, two of those guys are my roommates in our apartment on Court Street, and a few others from that night are still some of my best friends.

I still go to games on a weekly basis, even if it means sitting in freezing temperatures just to get a two-second cameo on ESPN. I have sang the national anthem with the Singing Men of Ohio on homecoming, and watched my friends play with the Marching 110. Every week in the fall is a new chance to make another memory at Peden Stadium.

I don’t love Peden because our football team plays well enough to go to a bowl game or because the Marching 110 is the most exciting band in the land when they play halftime (which is true). I love Peden because I felt that chill almost eight years ago to join OU, and because I met some people that would change my life all inside the brick walls of Peden Stadium.

Once I graduate from OU, I hope I can go back on the field and feel that chill one more time.

Black, White and the Meaning In-Between: The Ӕthelred Eldridge Mural

Part of the Eldridge muralBlack and white figures dance around the ceiling, telling me to come join them. They are almost taunting me, with their distorted limbs and smiling faces. Small sentence-like structures fence in the different humans, telling tales of writers past, greek mythology and music from different times. The wall that they live on stands so tall that I have to crane my neck to see the top, where the black paint ends and the plain ceiling starts. The air is crisp and runs through the opening to the psychedelic mural, whispering secrets to me from the artist, Ӕthelred Eldridge.

Athens is full of mysteries and places unseen by a lot of the student population. My favorite mystery resides on the side of the old Seigfred art building in a cove hidden from plain view. In 1966, the avant-garde artist and professor Ӕthelred Eldridge was commissioned to paint a mural on the side of the building in his famous style. His style is reminiscent of Mayan hieroglyphs mixed with Picasso-like figures, but he has his own twist that makes it uniquely his. Since then, some form of his work has been present on the side of the building, from almost all words to circular pieces to the now boxy figures that lie against the wall.

Æthelred Eldridge poses on scaffolding with his mural under the connecting bridge between two parts of Ohio University's art building, Siegfred Hall in 1966.
Æthelred Eldridge poses on scaffolding with his mural. Image: University Archives, Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections, Ohio University Libraries

When I first saw the mural, I had no idea what I was looking it. To me, it looked like a jumble of lines and nonsense words with no actual meaning. But after being assigned to write a story about the rededication of the mural for The Post, I found a new, deeper meaning for the hidden, sacred portrait of the thoughts of Ӕthelred Eldridge. Eldridge, who is a deeply complex, innovative and ethereal thinker, shares his thoughts on the morality and experiences of the world on the wall in a beautifully simple, yet complex way. If you were to know nothing about the man, the mural would be just another piece of art to you. But after studying him and his life, I found the meaning of the mural, which makes it ever more beautiful.

So if you find yourself meandering around campus one day, stop, sit and look at the mural of the tortured genius Ӕthelred Eldridge on the back wall of Seigfred Hall. You may just find your new favorite spot in Athens.

 

Maya Lin and OU’s Bicentennial Park

Many remarkable people have passed through the small town of Athens. Perhaps one of the greatest is artist and architect Maya Lin. Lin, whose parents were professors at Ohio University, was born and raised in Athens. Lin became a household name when she won the contest to design the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C. when she was still an undergraduate student at Yale.

She has gone on to create many stunning pieces of art and other beautiful memorials. But Lin didn’t forget her Athens roots. In 2004, the university’s bicentennial year, Lin designed an earthwork installation called “Input” for Bicentennial Park, which is located directly in front of Walter Hall on West Green. The installation consists of 21 rectangles, some are raised and some sink into the ground. The shapes resemble early computer punch cards that were used in programming courses. While she was in high school, Lin took a basic computer programming course at OU, which inspired her design.

Lin said, “Hopefully, it will touch anyone who has spent much time in Ohio University or Athens. I wanted to draw a map of memories.”

bpark04

Students walking by may notice the inscriptions on many of the rectangles in the piece. Lin worked with her poet brother, Tan Lin, to create a “landscape of words” in order to show “their shared memories of Athens and Ohio University.” The words cause many to pause and reflect on their own experiences of their time at OU. There are also plaques in the grass along the sidewalk that leads to Walter Hall that display the name of previous university presidents, and current president Roderick McDavis, as well as other remarkable previous OU faculty members.

Nowadays, Bicentennial Park is often used to host tailgates before home football games. Students sit among the depressed parts of the “Input” installation eating, drinking and talking with friends. Even more than a decade after its dedication, the outdoor art space still brings students, faculty and the people of Athens together.

Featured image and the image in the text came from Ohio University’s website.