Student Life

Is it a smart move to pre-order a video game?

Hype is built around games so much that we want buy them before they even release

All gamers have done it at some point. In a moment of weakness, when our friends weren’t looking. We got excited and turned over our hard-earned money before we saw the finished product.

We pre-ordered.

Gaming companies have pre-orders to ensure sales, but for the gamer, sometimes it’s a gimmick. Photo by Marie-Pierre Savard.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, pre-ordering is the practice of buying a video game before it’s released. Usually there is some small benefit for the consumer to entice this behaviour such as an exclusive piece of downloadable content or an alternate character for gameplay.

It should be noted that very few retailers allow full refunds on opened copies of games. Likewise, few digital retailers allow refunds, making pre-orders a pseudo-final sale.

For years, websites such as Rock Paper Shotgun, Polygon, Kotaku and Forbes have been warning consumers of the danger of pre-ordering video games. Late last month news broke that suggested that some gamers may be listening.

The latest instalment in the Assassin’s Creed series, Syndicate, launched on Oct. 23. By Oct. 26, Playstation Universe revealed the game had had the lowest first week sales in the entire history of the series . Sales increased in its second week.

Players were waiting for game reviews before trusting the franchise’s latest offering.

Could this be the beginning of the end of the pre-order phenomenon?

Maybe, but probably not.

Instead, this can be viewed as customers saying that game publishers need to re-earn their trust after being burned so many times by broken and mediocre games.

Ubisoft executive Alain Martinez stated in a teleconference on Nov. 5, “clearly, in our first week, we were impacted by what happened with Assassin’s Creed Unity.” The previous entry in the series, Unity, launched in 2014 as a broken game which took months for the company to fix.

It will be interesting to see in the future if this becomes a trend for some companies.

For example, will PC gamers similarly stop pre-ordering Warner Bros titles? As of Oct. 31, according to the game’s Steam page, Batman: Arkham Knight has still not been fixed and may never see completion. The publisher is planning to keep customers updated.

It seems as if gamers may be realizing that there is very little reason to buy games on or before launch day. Most perks offered by publishers are cosmetic additions or content that will be eventually included in the season pass or game of the year edition.

Those who benefit most from pre-orders are the publishers as they promote game sales before any reviews have come out.

As stated in article by gaming writer Dave Thier for Forbes on Oct. 12, companies like pre-order games because they’re safe. It’s how “EA considered SimCity a ‘success,’ even after one of the worst launches in recent memory.”

There once was a time in our childhood where scarcity demanded that we reserve a copy of the latest SEGA or Nintendo game, but it’s no longer like this.

Players need to think what they are getting out of by buying games before release and if it’s worth it.

As Jim Walker from Rock Paper Shotgun wrote, it’s like “paying for your meal at a restaurant before the kitchens are built, and months before the food critics have been in, let alone before you’ve been able to even read a proper menu.”

Student Life

Fallout 4 blends past and future into war madness

With a few downfalls in the game publisher’s marketing plan, will the new installment be a success?

With Fallout 4 set to release on Nov. 10, there is one question gamers should be asking: although a new addition to the series is long anticipated, will it live up to the hype?

Fallout 4 will be available on Xbox One, PS4 and PC as of Nov. 10.

Fallout 4 is mainly set in post-apocalyptic Boston, with a retro-future style, where the 1950s culture collides with 21st century futuristic elements. The game features advanced robots and technology alongside 1950s décor because the Cold War mentality never resolved and resulted in a full-scale nuclear war. Luckily, bunkers and vaults allowed humans to be prepared for such a situation.

All of the games in this franchise take place after a nuclear war, where the protagonist emerges from a vault. Gameplay unfolds in an action RPG-style, as the player navigates an irradiated world and finds horrors therein. In this installment, players can alternate between first-person and third-person views.

Looking at Bethesda Softworks’ recent history, it’s hard to determine whether a new project that is released will truly be a success or if it will flop. Let’s find out why.

The official announcement of Fallout 4 came with a successful response. Prior to the press conference at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) 2015, the announcement was heavily speculated. What was not foreseen was that the game would be released within six months.

Along with the game’s first trailer, though, Bethesda Softworks unveiled two more gamer goodies at E3. Truly, Christmas had come early for the series fans, until the truth set in.

Fallout 4 takes place in post-apocalyptic Boston, where the future meets the past.

First, they had created a free-to-play app, Fallout Shelter, for iOS which was launched just after the presentations.

Fallout Shelter allowed the player to manage their own vault during the nuclear war. If one made sure that vault dwellers were working, fed, armed, and generally happy, their vault would thrive. The app debuted at number one on the App Store charts.

After a few weeks, however, players realized that there was a simple formula to obtain optimal results. The main problem with the game, as pointed out on the website of IGN, a leading games and entertainment media company, was that “oddly, once you succeed the fun fades away.” The game turns into a FarmVille style simulator that you visit for a few minutes here and there to check in on vault dwellers but nothing more.

Similar disappointment happened concerning the second goodie, the limited Pip-Boy edition of the game.

The Pip-Boy is an iconic item within the franchise itself. Various versions of the Pip-Boy are worn by the player-controlled character throughout the series. It functions as a game menu displaying the character’s status, skills, perks, items, and general data. The limited-edition of the game would come with physical version of Pip-Boy, in other words, a computerized wristwatch that replicates the one seen in the game. On the Bethesda Softworks official store website, it was said to function using a compatible smartphone and the accompanying app.

Right after its press conference, Bethesda Softworks revealed that the Pip-Boy wouldn’t be compatible on phones with screens that measured 5.5 inches, or more diagonally such as the iPhone 6 Plus or Galaxy Note 4. Although not entirely unexpected, it was a disappointment to some consumers as they would not be able to use a Pip-Boy.

The shock came on July 1 when Bethesda Softworks announced through its official blog that limited-edition stocks had run out in North America. Later that month, Pete Hines of Bethesda Softworks revealed on GameSpot that “the company has hit its limit on the number of Pip-Boys it can manufacture.” The company had simply not been ready for the large demand around its own hype.

Although Bethesda Softworks has come up with great marketing ideas surrounding its new game, none of them have panned out as well as the company expected.

Will Fallout 4 be the defining game of 2015 or fall like the Fallout Shelter app?

Only time will tell.

Student Life

Taking your gaming habits to new spooky heights

Scary games that incorporate the best elements of horror

In the dwindling days before All Hallows’ Eve, what better time to sit back and relax with a video game suited for the season? Instead of the jump scares of Scott Cawthon’s latest entry to the Five Nights at Freddy’s series, or the Capcom’s latest action packed Resident Evil, dare to take a journey to an even darker side.

Graphic by Charlotte Bracho.

True horror stays with the player long after the controller is put down. Horror is something that makes one hesitate for a moment before walking down an alley or turning off the light.

In order to look into what makes a horror game memorable, minor spoilers will be discussed about games that fit this description. Bonus! These video games can often be found on sale.

Horror that lingers and truly has an effect on a player tends to have certain core elements: the confined, the uncanny, and the unknown.

The Confined

Open world experiences are unsuited to horror games, as a player would have the ability to escape an uncomfortable situation quickly. This turns a potentially scary experience into an inconvenience for the player.

Good horror games, on the other hand, restrict the player greatly in terms of the area they are exploring. For example, in Sega’s Alien: Isolation the player is trapped aboard a space station with the monster of the 1979 movie Alien. In Outlast, by Red Barrels, the main character is trapped inside a dilapidated psychiatric hospital with former patients who have murderous intentions.

There is no way to escape the threat immediately, so the player is forced to sit with the imminent threat, a position that we tend to avoid in real life. Spooky!

The Uncanny

This is the feeling that one gets when walking into a room where a light is flickering. Although there is nothing threatening, something doesn’t quite feel right.

A horror example of this is every single conversation in Konami’s Silent Hill 2.  Throughout the game, the protagonist speaks to several characters who all deliver their lines in a way that humans typically don’t. The rhythm of their speech is wrong, especially when put in the context of a spooky town.

Much like the flickering light, this serves to create a sense of uneasiness and makes the player more sensitive to what else might be amiss.

The Unknown

Perhaps the most important part of any good horror game is to keep the main threat unknown for as long as possible.

Tension builds as a game progresses and the monster’s habits and appearance are slowly revealed. For example, in Amnesia: The Dark Descent by Frictional Games, for most of the game the monster who is hunting the main character is unknown. Every sound and movement on the edge of the frame is a potential threat and contributes to what the enemy could be.

Similarly, in Playdead’s LIMBO, the dangers are unknown often until they are unwittingly discovered by the player. Due to its stark film noir style, details must be filled in by the player. Everything in the environment, lacking detail, is a potential threat as filled in by the player’s mind.

In the end, the specialist who knows what makes us most afraid is ourselves. Scare yourself with some real horror this Halloween.

Student Life

What’s Darth Vader doing on my PS4?

Gamers are going crazy over limited-edition themed consoles for many different games

The console war has just become more exclusive. On top of the customary Playstation, Xbox, Microsoft, Nintendo, or computer contenders, a new challenger has entered the fray: the limited edition console.

Graphic by Charlotte Bracho.

An increasing trend in the past year has been the Big Three (Nintendo, PlayStation, Xbox) release of limited-edition systems for a variety of trendy new-release video games. With the rate of releases on the rise, a few questions come up. What are these? Why are they being produced? Should I buy one?

For those living under a soundproof rock, the limited-edition system offers gamers a different spin on their boring black brick. Retailing for approximately $10 to $100 more than the standard console, these offer a unique design to set your unit apart from everyone else’s. As they are produced in limited quantity, the chances that your friend will also have one are low, unless you bought them together.

Some features on these systems are largely aesthetic. Commonly, the system looks relatively the same, although it may be offered in different colours. The differences are the games’ emblems associated with the limited release, printed or etched onto the faceplate of the device and the controller. These may be as subtle as a racing stripe added to the Forza 6 Xbox One, or as elaborate as the Darth Vader edition of the PS4.

Generally, these consoles come bundled with a copy of the new game. It should be noted that this may not always be the case, as seen with the Zelda DS consoles last year.

So, why now?

Like so many things developed by the gaming industry, it comes down to money. It’s done specifically to increase console-adoption well into its life cycle and to boost pre-order sales of the latest video-game release.

It’s hard to believe but this console generation has already been around for roughly two to four years, depending on the console. We have long since passed the point where ‘fans’ of system producers rushed out to buy the new technology. Excitement for the new generation never happened. With a lacklustre launch line-up, there were no games to push the average consumer to pick Sony over Microsoft or vice versa.

This is also the time when console sales tend to decline. Although statistics are unavailable concerning the expected units sold versus what the number actually sold is, there are signs that they are on the decline.

For example, last year, Microsoft lowered the retail price of its console considerably. Last week at the Tokyo Game Show, it was announced that it would drop again this holiday season. Industry analysts, most notably, Forbes, have speculated that Playstation will soon be forced to do the same to remain competitive. As of yet, the retail price has remained stable but the number of limited-edition consoles has soared.

In addition, limited-edition systems are used to boost pre-orders for the latest games. Video-game developers want to push these sales as they get the product into the hands of consumers before much is known about the game itself. As stated by news outlets such as Kotaku, Cnet, and Rockpapershotgun, this tactic is used to promote the sale of poor-quality games, this practice has bled into how business is done for all games. As such, the initial sales-numbers are what manufacturers care about the most. Limited-edition consoles act as a way to ensure one more copy is sold.

Do they look cool? Yes

Should you buy one? Maybe.

For the die-hard franchise fan, a limited-edition console may be just the thing to add to their collection. The average gamer, on the other hand, may want to pass on this and save their money for another game.

For those who want to have a special console without spending more, Playstation may have the thing for you. At the Tokyo Game Show, it was announced that coloured controllers and faceplates will be entering the Japanese market in November of this year. Presumably they will come to North America at a later date.


Legacies and ghosts haunt Canada’s political stage

Every party leader is campaigning in someone’s shadow—sometimes, even their own

With election season in full swing, there is one thing on every Canadian’s mind: what will Donald Trump say next? Some Canadians are talking more about the American Republican primaries than who will be chosen to lead our country next month.

Jack Layton casts a long shadow. Photo taken from Flickr user Bruce Hyer.

In an election being viewed by many as a “Get Out the Vote, Get Harper Out” campaign, voters are missing the best part of the election. This election may best be described as the legacy race. All of the major party leaders are struggling to run from, or striving to run with the weight of their pedigree. Let us look at the party leaders.

Gilles Duceppe and the Bloc Québécois. Duceppe is an odd position: he has inherited the history of a political party with no interest in ruling Canada, or even becoming the official opposition party. His party’s concern is bringing the concerns of the Quebec population to the national stage, or making Quebec a nation itself. His years of leadership have taken their toll and in this election cycle, Duceppe has come across as being run down by his party’s history.

Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party. Harper is the seasoned veteran of the group, being Prime Minister since 2004. Perhaps the best way to understand Harper’s legacy is that of the prime minister who would be king. Throughout his tenure as leader of our country he has proven that he will go to great lengths to run things as he wishes. This election cycle, Harper comes across as a man who plays by no one’s rules but his own.

Elizabeth May and the Green Party. May is the second most seasoned leader, having taken over as federal leader of the party in 2006. The party has struggled as a second-tier party, often not being taken as seriously as the others. This view of the Green Party comes, in part, from their focus on environmental issues. Although May has proven herself in the debates, the image of her party bogs her down.

Thomas Mulcair and the New Democratic Party. Mulcair is perhaps the leader whose legacy is heaviest. His predecessor, Jack Layton, won over the hearts of many Canadian voters in the last federal election. His death in 2011—at the height of his popularity—made sure that the public would never forget him. As a result, since taking the leadership, Mulcair has spent time trying to prove by7hyhhh how much like Layton he can be.

Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party. Trudeau, the youngest candidate for Prime Minister, is perhaps the most charismatic of the leaders. Although he has put forth great efforts to differentiate himself from his father, the legacy of the late Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau can still be felt. During this campaign, he has worked to demonstrate himself as the man the Liberals want and that the young middle class Canadian citizens need.

All the party leaders are being dragged down by the legacies of their parties and predecessors. But who will exit the shadows of the past to become our prime minister? That’s something only you can decide on Oct. 19. Remember to go out and vote!


Mulcair and Harper don’t play nice; women pay the price

When leaders refuse to debate women’s issues, will the problems be addressed at all?

Women: they exist. Legend has it that they comprise roughly 50 per cent of the population and face different social and economic issues than their male counterparts—a fact that has proven difficult for some Canadian political leaders to understand.

Tom Mulcair and Linda McQuaig speak to reporters in Toronto, November 2013. Photo by Joseph Morris on Flickr.

In the run up to the 2015 Federal Election, Up for Debate (a coalition of over 175 women’s groups) organized a leaders’ debate around the issues faced by women in Canada. This would have been the first such debate since 1984. Last month, both Prime Minister Stephen Harper and opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair declined to participate in this event. As a result, the debate—originally scheduled for Sept. 21—was cancelled, and one-on-one interviews with all the party leaders will be presented in its stead.

Harper’s Conservative Party has issued no statement on the turn of events. It has come to be a given that when it comes to such ‘liberal’ issues, the prime minister will not be involved. He does not seem to care about any marginalized community that will not directly win him seats. It speaks to something profound that now, women everywhere are not worth it to our prime minister.

Whereas no questions were asked of Harper concerning his un-involvement, the press has made up for it in spades with Mulcair, demanding why he will not take part in the event. According to a National Post report from Aug. 25, the NDP has stated that “[Mulcair] won’t take part in any leaders’ debates without Harper.”

The message being sent is that the Prime Minister is the only threat to an NDP victory. Aside from being insulting to the Liberals, the Bloc, and the Green Party, the decision comes off as extremely short-sighted. Instead of taking the opportunity to further portray himself as an individual who cares about all Canadians, Mulcair has shown that his aim is simply to beat Stephen Harper.

The leader of the opposition’s actions run directly opposed to the needs of his country.

An internal report by Status of Women Canada dated Feb. 10 details the reality of women in Canada. The report, not intended for public circulation, was recently obtained by CBC and released on Sept. 9. According to said report, women still earn 20 per cent less than their male counterparts for equal work. Poverty rates have been climbing for elderly single women and single parent households headed by a woman. Perhaps most shockingly, “Canada has no comprehensive national strategy to address violence against women, lagging behind several comparable countries, including the U.K., Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.”

This is the country in which Mulcair did not find a need to participate in a leaders debate on women’s issues.

According to their website the NDP is set to “create an action plan to end violence against women in Canada” and “ensure that no woman or child in need will be turned away from a women’s shelter.” It is strange then that Mulcair does not wish to debate such lofty goals with his peers.

Although the debate has been cancelled, all parties have begun talking about women’s issues and planning for upcoming interviews by Up for Debate. Each candidate will be recorded responding to the same set of questions.

Although it has been hoped that some discussion will come of the final videos, it is likely that, instead, the viewer will be treated to a scripted advertising slogan from each party.

The videos will be released Sept. 21 from Toronto. It’s unknown at time of writing if the prime minister will appear in any capacity.

Student Life

You can still be a gamer during school

Here’s how you can balance homework and your gaming habits

With the first classes over and class obligations revealed, one big question remains: is it possible to continue video-gaming into the new semester or—like summer—is it something to be left behind?

Photo by Cristina Sanza.

Common wisdom states that there is simply no time to game and engage in all the responsibilities of life as a student. This view is generated through the understanding of gaming as something that takes up all of the player’s time and energy.

Common wisdom is wrong, for the most part.

Video games are a great way to disconnect from the high-pressure environment present in higher education. Through engaging in a different, non-academic activity, players are given a much-needed break to clear their heads. As a result, once the game session is over, they return to their studies with new enthusiasm for the tasks at hand. This is especially important near the end of a semester when students’ stress levels rise in proportion to finals.

Here are three simple tricks for gamers juggling university studies.

1) Avoid massively multiplayer online (MMO) or role playing games (RPG)

Although there is a huge allure to play the latest big name game—resist that urge. Many games being released are of the RPG variety with rich stories that promise hours of enjoyment. Unless someone is able to take a few days off to play such a title, the results may be disastrous.

Attempt to steer clear of any game in which will prove difficult to put down after a set period of time. The last thing any player wants is to realize that they have lost an entire day to a video game when an assignment is due in the morning.

In the same vein, this may not be the optimal time to renew a World of Warcraft subscription, or any other MMO. These games are designed to take up as much of the player’s time as possible.

There will be time for these types of games during the session break.

2) Aim for shooter platforms and casual games

Multiplayer shooters tend to be a good choice as all matches are timed. From Call of Duty to Splatoon, these games allow the player to blow-off steam without losing track of the clock. A word of warning about this type of game: players tend to have an easier time ending the play session after a win so consider taking a shorter play session if on a hot streak.

Platformers similarly have good exit points; after every level the player has the choice of putting it away or continuing on to a new challenge. Levels tend to be short and the player can have a sense of accomplishment after every session. These games tend to be lighter on story—such as  in the Super Mario games, it doesn’t matter if the princess is in another castle.

Finally, as casual games are designed for players who are not used to gaming, they tend to try and fit in with everyday life. Games such as Bejeweled can be played on almost any device, and are made to be played on the way to work.

3) Revisit old classics

University is a great time to revisit classic games played years ago. As the story is already known, there is no problem putting it down before a story arc concludes. Putting down Final Fantasy VII isn’t as intimidating when you know what the twists are beforehand, for example.

As always it is very important to be aware of your needs and tendencies when gaming. Some find games to be a great way to take a break from writing essays, while others use them as a reward after completing an assignment. No matter how you game, you can still enjoy it during the school semester!

Have you played a video game recently that everyone should pick up or ignore? Let us know! We are looking for game reviews to be featured in a later issue.


Gambling with Quebec artists: a dangerous game

Loto-Quebec’s cuts to art risks putting artists in the red

What does Loto-Quebec and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts have in common? Not very much anymore.

For the past 35 years however, these two organizations both had an interest in local art. This will change on April 1 when Loto-Quebec will suspend all spending in this area.

The March 5 announcement detailed how the company could no longer afford to support the arts, citing a 5 per cent decrease in last year’s profits. The change in budgetary priorities represents a saving of roughly $350,000 per year, or 0.01 per cent of their profits.

Graphic by Marie-Pier LaRose.

This spending cut is anticipated to affect two main groups of the Quebec population.
First, local artists will be losing a significant patronage. According to a Radio-Canada report on March 10, over the last 35 years, Loto-Quebec has bought over 4,900 works of art from more than 1,200 artists to the province. These figures are in addition to their support of the Musée D’art Contemporain and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

Second, this decision will affect the rest of the Quebec population, especially in Montreal. With less art being commissioned, society as a whole will have less art to enjoy. Aside from the more traditional, museum art style, Montreal is home to many avant-garde presentations. These include outdoor statues, painted murals, permanent installations, and festival displays. (Though at this time, it is not known how many of these works are thanks to funding from Loto-Quebec.)

Usually a budget change such as this would not enter the news cycle. What makes this different is that it serves to highlight the questionable way in which Loto-Quebec makes money.

Unlike other monopolies such as Hydro-Quebec, Loto-Quebec is morally problematic. It markets itself on the dream of winning millions. Such a fantasy is not a motivator for the richest in society, but for those in the middle- and low-economic classes.

As their profits often come from the most impoverished, would it not be fitting to give a very little bit of it back to artists? After all, artists tend to be undervalued and—unfortunately—under-employed in our society.

Past the concerns of the individual artists, should it not be the job of Loto-Quebec to give something back to the society that it profits from? One should hope that the next generation will have the joy of discovering new artistic offerings in festivals, at museums, or on the street.

Whether these works please, shock, or confuse their audience, they are important. Pulling this funding is silencing the voices of our local artists, voices whose very function is to get the public to question and discuss every element of society.

Regardless of the stated reason, Loto-Quebec’s decision to pull art funding is troubling. As a group that profits off of the lower classes, they should be required to give something back to the community, even if it’s only 0.01 per cent of what they have.


Masochism vs murder: a morally ‘Grey’ dilemma

Are violent characters more acceptable than sexual ones?


Stripping students of their privacy

School administrators should police halls, not students

It used to happen annually in my high school.

Once a year the police would pull up outside of the building. We all knew this meant locker searches and sniffer dogs. Someone was suspected of dealing drugs. About half the time they would be given a free ride to the police station afterwards.

Graphic by Marie Pier-Larose

Many years have passed since then, but it would seem that things have changed.

On Feb. 16, news broke that a 15 year-old girl was stripped searched at Neufchâtel High School in Quebec City on suspicion of drug trafficking. Her confiscated cell phone allegedly revealed an offer to sell drugs later that day. Usually, this would have resulted in a visit from the drug dogs. What made this case different was that, instead of the police intervening, it was the school’s principal and another staff member who conducted the search. The student wasn’t asked to empty her pockets—she was required to strip.

More surprisingly, this was in line with current school board policies. In their report on Feb. 17, CBC noted that according to “a 2010 [Quebec] government policy document, the board said staff can search students’ personal effects if they have reason to believe a school rule has been broken and evidence could be located … on a student’s person.”

The justification for this policy is grounded in a Supreme Court of Canada ruling from 1998. In that specific case a principle required a student to remove their socks, under suspicion the individual was hiding marijuana.

Interestingly, the Court stated that asking a student to remove their socks was allowed was because “the search was not excessively intrusive.”

Removing one’s socks is quite a bit less intrusive, embarrassing, and violating than being forced to remove all of one’s clothes.

In this case, two principle elements are very problematic.

First, how is law enforcement the responsibility of school authorities? The austerity measures have required teachers to take on many tasks outside of their job description, but this goes too far. Quebec pays specialized people to enforce the law for a reason.

Secondly, there is the issue of potential sexual abuse. Not long ago, parents were concerned if a student was left in a room alone with a member of the opposite sex. Why are we suddenly okay with a student being forced to remove their clothing? Although two authorities are required to be present and be of the same sex as the student, that’s not a guarantee against sexual abuse.

It should be noted that this is the first time such a case has been reported since the 1998 ruling. Although this could be because no parents have come forward, it is more likely due to the fact that schools are not resorting to this drastic measure.

Initial public outcry was immense. As noted by Global News on Feb. 18, “Quebec’s education minister Yves Bolduc, who initially stood by the school’s decision … moderated his stance after harsh public criticism, calling for a change to the law.”

Mr. Bolduc has since resigned from his position, and announced his retirement from politics. Although not the reason mentioned directly in his public announcement, it’s difficult to not assume some correlation.

In addition to Bolduc’s actions, the parents of the student in question are currently exploring the possibility of bringing the school board to court.

Remember a time when the police and teachers had separate jobs?

I do.

Student Life

How to make anybody fall in love with you: an experiment

One brave singleton experiments in the name of investigating an allegedly foolproof formula

Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays I tend to avoid. Having worked for a gift card retailer, I know firsthand that there is nothing especially special about February 14. Regardless of this fact, every year I feel a little guilty for being single on a day reserved for couples.

This year, something odd happened: a psychological study led by Dr. Arthur Aron caught my eye. According to an article in The Telegraph on Jan. 20, there exists a set of 36 questions which will supposedly make any two people fall in love.

Questions range from describing your perfect type of day, to revealing which family member’s death would be the most jarring.

According to Dr. Aron, as reported by The Telegraph, the love quiz was designed to test if “it’s possible to make two people fall in love by getting them to share intimate thoughts and memories.”

With my intellectual curiosity piqued, I downloaded the questions and set out to see if it was too good to be true.

But who to do this with?

Two weeks ago I sat down with Stephanie and Patrick*, individually, to take the test. Both individuals were single acquaintances I met through friends. We knew enough of each other to be comfortable talking to one another but not enough to say we knew the other.

Since this quiz would supposedly make anyone fall in love, I decided to add another element: sexual orientation. Stephanie identifies as a bisexual woman, Patrick as a heterosexual man, and I am a lesbian. Should the quiz be successful I would be attracted to Pat, or at least feel significantly closer to him.

Once everyone was brought up to speed with exactly what the quiz was and what could happen, all we had to do was set a date. With both Steph and Pat, I was able to find quiet relaxed venues where we could chat and drink, if needed.

The Dates:

I spent an evening with each partner separately, with no technology allowed. Everyone was relaxed and seemed to be having a good time. The low point of the evenings, ironically, was the quiz itself.

In both cases, the act of going back to the questions felt very awkward and broke the flow of conversation.  Many times we would find ourselves wandering away from the quiz only for one of us to remember what we were supposed to be doing.

Patrick was very good at this, and often stopped us when we spent too long answering a single question. As a result, we were able to go through all 36 questions in about two hours.

On the other hand, neither Stephanie nor I was able to reroute our conversation for very long. Although we only answered 10 questions together, what was memorable from that evening were the conversations that we were not supposed to be having.

In both conversations the questions around death and family became really awkward.  There seems to be no good way to ask someone, “do you have a hunch about how you will die?” in a quiet tea house or restaurant. Maybe it would be better received in a pub or bar atmosphere where more alcohol is involved.

Don’t take this quiz if you have ANY problems with your genetic family. Near the end of the quiz  it feels like every second question has to do with your family. I am estranged from my family, and having to constantly refer to this when answering questions became quite heavy over time. Luckily my partners were very accepting of this fact.

After the dates were done, we chatted about what worked and what didn’t about the whole experience.

What was the take away?

Although everyone reported having fun, none of us felt like it was because of the quiz itself. Both Stephanie and Patrick mentioned that they had fun hanging out more than forcing our conversation into a question-and-answer format. As Pat said, “the test was not for us.”

The test functions by asking very general questions at first and then gradually asking more intimate ones over time. Stephanie noted that this is what people naturally do when they first meet.

“People start by asking simple questions, as an icebreaker, ‘what’s your favorite color?’ then slowly going deeper and deeper. Then you slowly ease them into more personal questions,” she said. This may be a useful model for people who are socially challenged and do not know how to engage in this type of gradually more intimate conversation.

It is also made for those who want to fall in love. Upon reflection, I can’t say I know more about either of my partners than before we began.

According to Patrick, “we now have a lot of theory and knowledge and not much experience.”  I agree with his sentiment—I know more information thanks to the quiz, but do not know how Patrick or Stephanie would act in a situation.

Whether friends or romantic partners, these types of close relationships are built over time and through shared experiences.

In the end

I spoke with both Stephanie and Patrick (who preferred to have their family names omitted) late last week for their final thoughts on the subject. All of us agreed that we were closer now than when we first sat down, but not necessarily because of the test.

We would probably have all been friends given the chance to chat casually at a friend’s house or party, too.

And I’m still single, but I do have a date for Valentine’s Day.

On Saturday, I plan to buy wine, make a fancy dinner, and curl up on the couch to watch a cute movie with the most important person in my life—me.

To find out more about the questionnaire, or to see how to take the test yourself go to:


Don’t look now: library porn is totally a thing

For once, there might be more to see offline than online

Walking around Concordia, it’s hard to deny that mid-terms are almost upon us. The signs couldn’t be clearer, especially when watching the undergrad students.

In all my years as a student and T.A., I have never seen a more dedicated group. They barely answer when called on in class, do not raise their heads when walking the halls, and keep a pathological focus in the library. Students always seem to be studying on whatever electronic device they find themselves in front of—be it a laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

Curious one day, I peered over someone’s shoulder to see what subject they were studying with such intensity.  They were looking at a news report about a former student of Oregon State University (OSU), Kendra Sunderland, who made a popular video in the school’s library.

Sunderland’s work was not published on the school’s website, or even YouTube—rather, PornHub. As its name implies, the 17-minute video was uploaded to a free pornographic website, and features exactly what one would expect.

What makes this different is that it was filmed, in its entirety, in the OSU library. To make matters worse, it is clear within the film that students were using the library at the time, all unaware of what was happening. They pass in the background, not looking up, as she masturbates on a desk.

After the story broke, students were in disbelief.  In an interview with Kezi 9 News on Jan. 30, current OSU student Shelby Wilson said that she was “surprised someone was in our library doing that. I feel like it’s always packed. I don’t know how anyone could get away with it.”

This is sentiment shared by OSU, who stated the same day in a press release that the library services approximately 30,000 people every week. To their knowledge this is the first instance in which something like this has happened.

Somehow, Sunderland was able to record this and not have anyone in a busy library look up from their things long enough to realize what was happening.

The video has since been removed by PornHub. Sunderland has since left the school, saying to The New York Daily News on Feb. 6 that it would be too awkward to return.  This is probably for the best, as OSU has banned her from campus, stating her behavior “does not represent the values of the university.”

Sunderland will now appear before a judge on charges of public indecency. If charged she may face a $6000 fine and up to a year in prison.

Makes you wonder what would have happened if one student wasn’t so studious. How much are we missing by not looking up?

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