Imagine a world where babies are stored in life-support jars, humans are stalked by oily ghosts, and the American president is played by Lindsay Wagner, the helter-skelter-haired star of 1970s cult TV show The Bionic Woman. This is the dystopian milieu of Death Stranding, which will hit shops soon, just in time for the hectic Christmas period. In this epic video game, by far the most controversial of 2019, players must traverse a future America to reconnect its “chiral network” (a posh internet), while dodging mysterious BTs (beached things). For reasons unknown, the living and dead coexist, with the protagonist able to connect to the “other side” via a “jar baby” in an artificial womb. One recent demo focused on such gimmicks as urinating to create mushrooms. Wagner is not the only star to feature. Acclaimed video game director Hideo Kojima and his team have also created incredible likenesses of The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus, who takes on … [Read more...] about Death Stranding: will Hideo Kojima’s mystery project redefine gaming?
Alternative reality games
In June 2006, a 16-year-old girl began a video blog on YouTube. Her name was Bree, she’d been lurking in the burgeoning community for a while. She was a self-described dork, she thought her hometown was really boring – “Maybe that’s why I spend so much time on my computer …” She was funny, friendly, had great eyebrows. Her first few videos were relatable and cute, introducing her friend Daniel and complaining about being home-schooled and having to do homework in June. It soon became clear she was pretty lonely, which was probably why her username was Lonelygirl15. Bree was one of a slowly-growing community on YouTube of confessional video bloggers. They poured their lives into their webcams, not yet an automatic feature on laptops as they are today. Their follower bases grew slowly but steadily, with regular, and often grainy, videos about their day-to-day lives. They were largely ignored by the mainstream media, who at the time dismissed YouTube as … [Read more...] about Lonelygirl15: how one mysterious vlogger changed the internet
Catch ’em when they’re young, the old saying goes, and never has it felt more true. Today’s youngsters are exposed to a stream of seductive marketing, from pop music to video games. Arguably, however, none of these is as detrimental as the lure of junk food. Wherever there’s a school, fast food is not far off — at least one outlet selling high-calorie, low-nutrient fried chicken, burgers, chips and pizzas, plus corner shops stuffed full of sugary treats. The problem has caught the eye of Unicef, which has coined a new phrase (brilliant, if it weren’t so tragic) to describe these wastelands of empty calories: food swamps. Today’s youngsters are exposed to a stream of seductive marketing, from pop music to video games. Arguably, however, none of these is as detrimental as the lure of junk food (stock photo) In a new report, the organisation points out that our poorest streets are littered with these fast-food child-magnets, drawing a direct … [Read more...] about SARAH VINE: Save our young from sinking in fast-food swamps which pose greater harm than the seductive marketing of music and video games
The torrent of lies that flows from the mouths of populists feels relentless: from Donald Trump’s routine lying about everything from Iran to the weather, to Boris Johnson’s fictitious £350m for the NHS, Turkey on the cusp of joining the EU or most sensationally misleading the Queen about why the UK parliament should be shut down. My research on populism elsewhere in Europe confirms that lying is a constant feature of populist politics. In France, Marine Le Pen lies about how her party spends public money and her (fake) Twitter accounts. Viktor Orbán, the Hungarian prime minister, lies gigantically and systematically about the migration to his country. As for Italy’s Matteo Salvini – from migration to sanctions against Russia – as the song goes, if his lips are moving, he’s lying. The defiant line, found nestling in most populist party manifestos, used to be: “We’re only saying what everyone is thinking.” Which for the … [Read more...] about Why Europe’s new populists tell so many lies – and do it so shamelessly
The British Royal Family is the original Coronation Street – a long-running soap opera with the occasional real coronation thrown in. Its members have become celebrities, like upmarket film stars, attracting often fawning coverage. So it’s easy to feel that we know the Windsors and that, in some ways, they are just like us. Yet the truth is that the disconnect between the Royals and the public is vast, not least in terms of the extraordinary fortunes they have quietly amassed for themselves. Some Royal wealth is conspicuous. Take Balmoral Castle and Sandringham House, for example: both were bought with public funds and qualify for taxpayer support when they are used for official business. They remain the Queen’s private property, all the same. Less obvious are the breathtaking tax breaks, the lavish state subsidies and an all-encompassing secrecy that hides the Windsors’ gluttonous excesses. Regular attempts to nail down the private wealth of the Queen … [Read more...] about Where did Princess Margaret get £20m and how about the Queen mother’s £70m legacy? In his controversial new book, MP Norman Baker examines the family’s finances as he accuses the Windsors of Right Royal Robbery