By Michael Palacios
Oklahoma City has diverse culinary experiences sprawled throughout the metro. From brunch food to Japanese, the food options within the city are nearly endless. Here are six must-try local restaurants offering delicious food and welcoming dining atmospheres
Keep an eye on esports
By Michael Palacios
Traditional sports have been a staple in entertainment media for decades, but the recent rise of esports is unmistakable.
For many young kids growing up, they dreamt about playing video games for a living. Now with the popularization of competitive gaming known as “esports,” the dream has become a realistic possibility with players around the world fighting for a chance to play on stage.
Since the early 2000s, esports has gained momentum because of the small gaming communities passionately supporting their favorite game.
Esports is a relatively new term referring to the competitive video game setting in which players compete.
The industry has grown exponentially since the early 21st century. Various video games have harbored niche competitive gaming scenes that held consistent player and viewer engagement.
Robert Morris University in Illinois was the first university to recognize esports as an academic degree. The program launched in 2014 and offered scholarships to students that competed at a professional level.
After noticeable success in the student retention rate in the esports program and increased enrollment rate, more colleges around the country began developing programs of their own.
By 2020, there were more than 125 varsity programs accredited by ESPN.
The National Association of Collegiate Esports is the main home for these programs to collaborate with their players and teams for competition and ranking. NACE offers scholarships yearly for students accepted into the program.
Growth continued into the latter half of 2010, and two of the biggest governing entities in college athletics decided to create esport associations to help nurture the esports collegiate scene. The Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference and the National Junior College Athletic Association have invested into the esports associations. With full support aiding in player programs allowing for talent to develop, students have begun to compete at an elite level.
The final piece for esports development at the collegiate level was the creation of the Collegiate Esports National Championship, which hosts yearly championships for all esport programs. With these associations backing the programs, students have the ability to play in an organized regular season, followed by a conference and a national championship.
Given this structure for esports, programs around the country have exploded with student interest. The talent pool has significantly increased due to college programs allowing students to prosper, creating fiercer competition.
Many Oklahoma universities have built centers just for their esport players, such as the Innovation Hub at the University of Oklahoma and the CO-OP Esports and Gaming Arena at the University of Central Oklahoma.
Smaller colleges also offer gaming and pop culture clubs giving students an opportunity to connect with one another. The realm of esports is constantly expanding, and careers propelled by these programs are being recognized and respected as time goes on.
Marvel Vs. DC
By: Nathan Fox
Superhero movies are titans today. They regularly gross in the millions and, in some cases, billions of dollars. Their popularity is undeniable. The juggernauts behind these films are the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Extended Universe.
There could be many “first steps” in how each of these entities were created, but Marvel’s acquisition of ToyBiz in 1993 was a crucial building block. The company wanted to profit from the sale of action figures. This acquisition was a no-brainer and led to Avi Arad becoming the CEO and president of Marvel Entertainment.
Around this time, Marvel sold the rights of many iconic characters to interested buyers. They did, however, venture into filmmaking with the release of “Blade” in 1998. With a budget of roughly $45 million, the movie made $131 million worldwide.
The next pivotal moment for Marvel came in 2007, when they promoted a promising junior executive to president of Marvel Studios, the one and only Kevin Feige.
Feige got right to work and released “Iron Man” in 2008. The importance of this release cannot be overstated. With a budget of $140 million, Iron Man more than tripled this by grossing $585 million worldwide.
This set the stage for the current iteration of Marvel Studios and their massive success. This is clearly evident with “Avengers: Endgame,” which premiered in 2019 and grossed $2.7 billion worldwide. With their impressive storytelling and worldbuilding, the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to expand and the profits roll in like clockwork.
On the other side of the superhero movie genre stands DC Studios, the purveyor of the DC Extended Universe.
One of its first key accomplishments came with the release of “Superman” in 1978. The film had a budget of $55 million and grossed $300 million worldwide. The production resonated with audiences, and its impressive soundtrack stands out even to this day.
Their next success came in 1989 with the release of “Batman.” Although this movie doesn’t jump out with flashy numbers, it grossed $251 million at the box office against a budget of $35 million. This movie transformed the landscape and future of DC Films and led to the creation of the much-beloved “Batman: The Animated Series.”
The pinnacle for DC Films is, of course, none other than the Dark Knight Trilogy directed by Christopher Nolan. These films, which seemed like an extreme risk at the time, proved that DC Studios could produce quality content, not to mention the haunting performance of the Joker by the late great Heath Ledger. His performance netted him an Oscar, marking the one and only time an actor from a superhero movie has won the award. These films are truly iconic.
However, DC Studios have made critical missteps as of late. These mistakes are largely the result of disorganization. For example, take 2016’s “Suicide Squad” and 2017’s “Justice League.” These films experienced similar problems, studio overhandling. The story for “Suicide Squad” morphed and transformed numerous times, and the script went through countless iterations. Directors came and went. Justice League was marred by a personal tragedy in the life of the director, Zack Snyder. He ultimately had to step away from the film, and the key to the city was handed to writer Joss Whedon.
This is the distinct difference between how these two companies operate. Marvel Studios creates an environment that provides incredible structure and direction while DC Studios, on the other hand, experiences instability and inconsistency more often than not.
Nevertheless, there is a yellow sun on the horizon for DC Studios. The release of “Justice League: The Snyder Cut” premiered on HBO Max in 2021 and gave fans the release envisioned by the director. While reviews contained a mix of positive and negative reactions, the overwhelming reception was warm, and the release was welcomed by DC fans.
Furthermore, “The Batman,” which was released in 2022, provided another ray of optimistic light for the DC fandom.
Superhero movies are an incredibly important piece of American culture. There is something exhilarating about seeing good triumph over evil. Viewing these films is an emotional experience, and when the product is bad, it can leave a bad taste in the audience’s mouth. It should come as no surprise that the massive audiences who enjoy these films and TV shows have high standards. When a great superhero movie is seen, it makes the bad ones stand out and disappoint even more.
Creating these on-screen spectacles is about more than just money. They engender courage, strength and resilience in the hearts and minds of the many generations who have enjoyed these films and will for years to come.
BY NATHAN FOX
Microtransactions have ruined video games.
There was a time when you could purchase a game from the store, come home, insert it into your gaming console and play. Simply play. No extra hoops. No downloading. No extra money. That is not the case these days.
While it’s true that not every game offers or intends microtransactions, these money-eating monsters lurk in the shadows (or sometimes on the surface) of many games released today.
Sports games are some of the biggest offenders. Both Madden and NBA2K cost around $60. Sounds reasonable enough. However, lurking beneath the surface are game modes that will quickly drain your bank account.
Both of these games offer modes which allow you to build a fantasy roster of past and present players. There are certain tasks you can perform to unlock these “cards” as they’re called in the game, or you can spend money to obtain them. The more money you spend, the better cards you have.
Yet, spending this money doesn’t guarantee you anything. On the contrary, spending this money allows you the opportunity to purchase a box of cards, which has the “chance” of containing certain rare, unique or valuable cards.
Many would label this gambling—spending money to receive a reward you may or may not obtain. For those spending this money, it is their way to get ahead of the competition. They are incentivized to spend more and more of their money to receive rewards that will offer them in-game advantages.
Specific to NBA2K, MyPlayer is a game mode that allows you to create a custom character and play out an NBA season, but to improve your character’s attributes, you must spend virtual currency.
Conveniently enough, NBA2K has made the option available to spend real world money to purchase virtual currency. Though you don’t have to spend money to increase your player’s skills, it’s virtually imperative to spend money to remain competitive. Once again offering an “opportunity” for an in-game advantage.
There’s the rub. Spending money to obtain in-game advantages over other players makes for an unbalanced game. To those with disposable income, they meet few rivals. To those with less money, the game isn’t fun anymore. Either way, the game companies are taking a comfortable stroll all the way to the bank and paying their overworked employees.
This raises another wrinkle in the ethicality of microtransactions.
Many games released today are simply unfinished. Game developers run their design teams into the ground to meet release deadlines. More often than not, the game is full of bugs, doesn’t run properly or is blatantly incomplete.
To make matters worse, certain sections of the game may be guarded by a “paywall” meaning players would have to spend even more money to access additional content. “Just how much did the purchase price buy?” is a question many gamers ask themselves when met with this decision.
Console games are not the only offenders here. In fact, they’re not even the biggest offenders. No, the real culprit behind this money-grubbing scheme are mobile apps that offer in-app purchases. Of course, there are utility apps that offer more features if you purchase more content within the app. Those are not the focus of this article.
The apps in question are games that offer in-game rewards or even the ability to continue playing the game by spending money. Yes, there are some games that require you to spend money to continue playing the game. You could wait an extended period of time and return to it with one more try, or you could spend $1.99 to continue now.
With the release of dopamine you just got from beating the previous level, this measly $1.99 purchase seems like a drop in the bucket. But what if you don’t beat it this time? “Am I willing to pay $1.99 again?” you’ll ask yourself. Before you know it, you’ve spent roughly $10 just to pass the next level.
This scheme is disgusting. I’m not talking about the act itself. It’s understandable that we convince ourselves to pay money to continue gaming. When we play games and are successful, dopamine is released into our brains, and it makes us feel good. The option to continue is a no-brainer. We want to continue feeling good, and the only hindrance to that is $1.99 and, in some cases, even more.
There doesn’t seem to be a way to escape this system. You have to be aware of what games do and don’t have microtransactions. There are games that release with none of these microtransactions included.
However, until we stop paying for these in-game purchases, companies will keep using this money-making tactic. Until then … to continue reading this article, simply pay me $4.99. This has to stop. Game developers, please give us the full game or price it appropriately at launch.
Sincerely, disappointed (and now-broke) gamers everywhere.