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Feature

The loneliness of the professional gamer

If you haven’t heard of Jonathan Sutak, producer and director of The Foreigner, a new documentary about professional StarCraft II (2010), you can take solace in knowing that you’ve probably seen some of his work. Not, mind you, the two independent dramas—Up The River (2015), a romance, and Don’t Worry Baby (2015), a comedy—he’s produced; you haven’t seen those. What you have seen are the many trailers and TV spots he’s edited, for films as far afield as Everest (2015) and Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015). If not exactly a Hollywood insider, Sutak nevertheless approaches filmmaking from the perspective of…

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Tinder matchmaking is more like Warcraft than you might think

“Don’t hate the player, hate the game,” says the pick-up artist. “I’ve just got more game than you,” says your roommate who wears too much cologne. Comparisons between dating and gaming are commonplace in our web-obsessed culture, and thanks to a recent profile on Tinder from Fast Company, it turns out this connection is less superficial than you might think. We’ve all been there. You spend hours in matchmaking waiting to get picked for a quick game of Halo, but see no results. You’re swiping right all day on Tinder, but nobody swipes back. In this context, browsing for dates…

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Florida Republican nerd-shamed for LARPing as a vampire

Among the qualities I look for in a candidate, live action role-playing as a vampire straight out of a White Wolf game doesn’t make the list. But maybe it should. On second thought, it probably shouldn’t. But that’s the hobby of a conservative GOP candidate in Florida. Jake Rush’s political opposition has dug up some dirt about his LARPing history, when he ran with a group called Covenant of the Poisoned Absinthe, who hosts games such as Vampire: The Masquerade. Yes, this is another prominent example of games being treated as something to be embarrassed of. No one should have…

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World of Warcraft helped someone come out as transgender

The Guardian recently ran a piece by Laura Kate Dale, who, after playing as a female in World of Warcraft, gained the confidence to come out and tell her friends and family that she was transgender. It’s a fascinating piece about the transformative power of online personas, and worth a read in its entirety, but here’s a taste: While socialising, I had begun to act in a stereotypically male way, as though I wanted to prove to the world that I wasn’t different. I was making an active rejection of everything female in an attempt to deny something that was…

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The best quotes from the NSA World of Warcraft surveillance papers

The Guardian has published a document from the Edward Snowden leak that shows that the NSA has been playing a lot of WoW to fight terrorism. Yes, you read that right. They’ve been doing some elven espionage in hopes of catching international scumbags. Apparently, someone at DOJ has been reading Neal Stephenson.  It seems that national security agencies became aware of online games a few years ago and decided that they posed a risk to the nation’s safety. So they had agents infiltrate Second Life, World of Warcraft, and Xbox Live, despite having no evidence that the bad guys were…

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How one WOW player changed the war in Syria

We we’re catching up on our magazine backlog over the holiday, and came across this amazing story in the New Yorker from a few weeks back. The yearly technology issue had a profile on Eliot Higgins, a tenacious blogger who used his internet savvy to prove that Syria had indeed used chemical weapons. From the comfy of his home in Leicester, he scoured the internet for footage of the offense, turning up mountains of evidence of war crimes. This is where the story becomes relevant to a site with an eye on videogames like Kill Screen. It turns out that…