Mass Effect: Andromeda – What Are The Best Powers and Abilities?

I’m sure I’m not the only one, but for the last couple of weeks I’ve been living in the Andromeda Galaxy, helping the Pathfinder Initiative establish a new home for humanity.  Or at least, my version of Scott Ryder in Mass Effect: Andromeda has, exploring new and exotic worlds, completing difficult and harrowing quests, and “befriending” vibrant alien life, in true Mass Effect style.

Along the way, though, I’ve also been trying at the various powers and abilities available to players in this new iteration of Bioware’s celebrated saga, and I’ve put together a few YouTube videos on my channel about the Combat, Biotic, and Tech skill groups.  This post is essentially a follow up from that, bringing you a little more detail about my three personal favourite powers from each of the groups.

Continue reading “Mass Effect: Andromeda – What Are The Best Powers and Abilities?”


So you want a cliché free Dungeons and Dragons campaign…

Every good Dungeons and Dragons campaign starts in a tavern.  No wait!  Every good D&D campaign starts in a tavern, and requires you to fight goblins.  No sorry, hang on.  Every good D&D campaign starts in a tavern, and has goblins who have kidnapped a princess.  Wait, I’ve got it!  Tavern, goblins, princess, seemingly trustworthy non-player character with a goatee who turns out to be the real villain.  And he’s secretly a demon.  Demon/vampire.

Every good Dungeons and Dragons campaign contains myriad clichés and tropes; it’s inevitable, and as a Dungeon Master, I’ve been known to liberally lace my campaigns with clichés, if not outright base the campaign on one.  By and large, these tropes are so classic that to not include them would be a shame – starting your campaign in a tavern serves a practical purpose, that of an environment to introduce yourself, as well as almost being a tradition.  Other tropes, though, are so outdated that whenever I come across them I have to quickly have a lie down in a darkened room, before rewriting the campaign to no longer include a useless, distressed damsel in a tower.

So at what point, then, does a trope go from “classic and campaign enhancing” to “tired and campaign ruining”?

Continue reading “So you want a cliché free Dungeons and Dragons campaign…”

Nerds, Dragons, and Culture: Have Geeks Finally Found Acceptance in Society?

The Dragonborn ranger lops off the heads of the goblins, as he and his companions – a half-elf, a barbarian, and a dwarf – enter the forgotten castle.  As strange otherworldly lights flicker, an evil cackle echoes down the halls, but the brave adventurers press onward in search of treasure.  This actually happened.  Sort of.  It took place in the wonderful world of Dungeons and Dragons, a world I’ve been part of for a few years, but have largely kept secret.  Growing up, being a “geek” or “nerd” would get you beaten up – and there are few things more ‘geeky’ than rolling dice to explore an imaginary world.

A Dragonborn Warrior (copyright: Wizards of the Coast)

Fortunately, times are changing.  The growing trend of ‘geek-chic’ has seen the very things that made geeks outsiders – love of comic books, fantasy, and computers for example – become mainstream.  As the tagline for the 1984 American comedy ‘Revenge of the Nerds’ says: “They’ve been laughed at, picked on and put down.  But now it’s time for the odd to get even!”

The funny thing about Revenge of the Nerds, though, is that it was a comedy; the idea of geeks and nerds rising up and becoming popular at the expense of the jocks was supposed to be ridiculous, but in the thirty years since the film was released, that “joke” has become a reality.  That said, it’s not all smiles and cheerleaders – there’s still a lot of debate around why geek culture is on the rise, and whether it’s actually a good thing for ‘real’ geeks.

Continue reading “Nerds, Dragons, and Culture: Have Geeks Finally Found Acceptance in Society?”

How Can Journalism Best Work in Support of Democracy?

Throughout history, virtually every country around the globe has seen media inexorably develop as communications systems improve.  However, the unique and varied cultures, traditions and economies of states mean that even neighbouring countries can develop different forms of media system, highlighting and upholding different values and ideologies with the same vigour.  This essay will explore how media can best operate in support of democracy by discussing the differing media systems of Italy and the United States of America.  In particular, this essay will utilise the works of Daniel Hallin and Paolo Mancini to examine the differences between each country’s media system; the “Mediterranean or Polarised Pluralist Model” and the “North Atlantic or Liberal Model” respectively.

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Is Journalism an ‘Anglo-American Invention’?

In his article “Journalism as an Anglo-American Invention”, published in the European Journal of Communication (11:3), Jean Chalaby argues that it was in Britain and the United States of America during the 19th century that the “discursive practices and strategies which characterize journalism were invented” (1996, p. 304).  This essay examines the specific “discursive practices and strategies” Chalaby refers to, in particular the idea of ‘objectivity’, the practice of interviewing, and the prominence of the factual and accurate news report, as well as the historical and cultural contexts in the US and Britain which encouraged the emergence of journalism.  It assesses the impact of ‘Anglo-American’, or ‘liberal’, journalism and its overall impact on the field of journalism as a whole.  This essay evaluates alternative models of journalism in comparison to the Anglo-American, before concluding that the Anglo-American’s introduced revolutionary practices and ideals to journalism, but far from “invented” it. Continue reading “Is Journalism an ‘Anglo-American Invention’?”

“Hello World!” – About the Page

As a recent Masters graduate looking for a job, I happen to have a decent amount of free time on my hands.

My friends and family do not always appreciate this fact.

I’ve always been pretty passionate about a few topics, namely journalism (which my Masters was about), politics and international affairs (which my Undergrad was about), and video gaming (which my life is about).

For too long, I’ve been talking the ears off of those around me with inane chatter and occasionally some critical analysis.  Now, the time has come to give those I love a bit of relief, and instead post those pearl and stones of wisdom here, in the loving-and-never-cruel arms of the internet.

So, if you’re interested in some of the subjects I’ve mentioned, have a read and feel free to comment.  It a free country (or world/internet?), and as John Stuart Mill wrote:

…the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race… If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error” (On Liberty 1869).

You can also occasionally catch me on Slipper’s Youtube channel: