How video game companies are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic

I have a new story up at Gamecrate, excerpted and linked below:

Twitch TV raised money for the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund on March 28 via Twitch Stream Aid. The 12-hour event featured artists, such as Diplo and Kaskade, and athletes such as Richard Sherman and Darius Slay, playing alongside pro gamers to raise funds for the program that supports the World Health Organization’s efforts in slowing the spread of the virus and in developing a vaccine against it.

League of Legends competitor Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok donated $25,000 to South Korea’s efforts against the virus. In a statement released in early March, Faker explained that he “felt devastated for those that are working day and night to battle the COVID-19. I really wanted to aid those battling the outbreak and felt that donating to the Community Chest of Korea was the optimal choice.”

Read the rest at Gamecrate: https://www.gamecrate.com/how-video-game-companies-are-responding-covid-19-pandemic/25653

Spring 2020 Music Roundup

One of the things keeping my sanity intact during the COVID-19 pandemic is music. There is, thankfully, still plenty of new music being released on a regular, normal basis. That sense of normalcy is appreciated. That being said, I present some artists & tunes I’ve been listening to for the past month or so while dealing with short bursts of existential dread. Enjoy!

Barzo & Un Rojo Reggae Band – “Electrified”

DJ/producer Barzo of Costa Rica teams up with Un Rojo Reggae Band on this track, which Barzo also published via his label, Lacteo Cosmico.

Carré – “This is not a band”

Carré is a French trio based in Los Angeles. The track above is the group’s debut single and reminds me of the types of bangers prevalent during the early and mid-2000s when Soulwax, Ed Banger, Justice, and Digitalism ruled dance floors worldwide.

CheoSorpresa

Jose Luis Pardo makes his solo debut. Well, technically, it’s his debut without using a stage name. He originally went solo as DJ Afro in 2007 with the EP-1 four-track album. followed by the 2011 full-length album, Free. He was still a member of Los Amigos Invisibles, which he founded, during then. In 2014, he dabbled with a nu-disco project under the name Orquesta Discotheque and released an album of disco-fied covers titled Musica Moderna.

On Sorpresa, Cheo expresses himself fully, completely, and honestly as a singer, songwriter, musician, and producer. Says Cheo:

It took me some time time to write my own music again and re-invent myself after years of writing for a “sex-infused party band.” Who was I now?

In June 2019, I had a break from producing and decided to check all the song ideas to make a selection and produce them, maybe as someone else’s album, the same way I produced as my job.

The result is Sorpresa. What came out was a surprise to me in every way. I didn’t know I had all that music inside me. I didn’t know I was going to be an artist again…these songs feel like a book I needed to write after living so much, after I thought my career as an artist was done.

Esteman – “Hasta Que Tú Me Quieras”

The Colombian artist provides a peek and the soundtrack to what will hopefully be pandemic-free summer nights ahead. Here’s hoping the beaches and piers on the west coast can be reopened by late June.

LASTMONDAY – “Audemars”

Bronx-Dominican artist LASTMONDAY got stuck in Miami, FL when the COVID-19 lockdown went into effect. He and director Modern Day Auteur made the most of the situation and shot a video for his track “Audemars,” off his upcoming mixtape Yo! Tigerito.

N.Y.P.D. 南洋派對 – 南洋派對

Google Translate tells me that the name of this band is N.Y.P.D. Nanyang Party. I don’t know much else about these guys other than their lyrics/vocals are in Cantonese and that their album was released via Yeti Out’s HK label Silk Road Sounds. Oh, and it’s damn good garage/punk rock n’ roll.

SuperpositionForm//Less

Superposition is the “meditative antidote to a world of digital overwhelm” created by the duo Justin Boreta and Matthew Davis. The five-track EP makes a great soundtrack for rest, relaxation, and soothing your anxiety, which is exactly what many of us need these days.

Death Stranding in the time of social distancing

Good news! I’m contributing to Gamecrate once again! Here’s my first article after a two-year hiatus:

“From Sapiens to Ludens” is a phrase plastered across the online homepage of Kojima’s company, Kojima Productions. Ludens refers to Homo Ludens, aka “man who plays,” and is an idea that is at the heart of his company’s mission. The company statement includes a phrase explaining that “playing is not simply a pastime. It’s the primordial basis of imagination and creation.”

There are a number of references to Homo Ludens within Death Stranding itself. The most direct is found in a letter from the character Heartman titled “Bridges Needs Homo Ludens.” In it, he writes: “Homo ludens – they who play. Be it deliberate or unintentional, Homo ludens unite people – creating culture, shaping the very world around them – not through violence, not through laws or proscriptions, but rather through metaphorical acts of play.”

Cultural theorist Johan Huizinga coined the phrase Homo Ludens in 1938 when he published Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play Element in Culture. In it, Huizinga writes about the necessity of play for humans and its central role within human cultures.

Read more at: https://www.gamecrate.com/death-stranding-covid-19-coronavirus-social-distancing-delivery/25611

Streets of Barcelona (Photos)

First, an admission: today marks nearly a year to the day that I left for a week-long trip to Barcelona and I still haven’t fully edited the photos and videos I took during that trip. OOPS!

I have more free time now due to reasons related to that-one-virus. I hope to finish editing, uploading, and sharing the rest of the photos/videos from that trip beginning with this post of photos I took while walking the various streets of the city. Enjoy!

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More photos can be found in the album here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/afroxander/albums/72157713502940888

‘The System Failed Him:’ For The Last Remaining Sibling Of The Zaragoza Family, Measure R Is A Matter Of Life And Death

Annette Zaragoza-Bilow didn’t have a role in crafting Measure R, but her support for the measure is deeply personal. If it passes, the measure will not only give the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission stronger oversight power, but will also restructure the infrastructure in how Los Angeles county incarcerates people and, more importantly, treats people with mental health issues. 

She hopes that the ordinance will help people like her brother, Gerry Dean Zaragoza, before it’s too late.

“My brother tried to get help for many years before the incident,” she recalls in an interview with LA Taco.

Read more at LA Taco: https://www.lataco.com/zaragoza-measure-r/