Posts tagged with "nerds"

For The Love of Comic Con 

By: Rodney Ramlochan × Elle Grant × Vaughn Lowery

New York City’s Comic Con is a key annual fan event dedicated to Western comics, graphic novels, anime, manga, video games, movies, television and more. First held in 2006, this classic event was canceled last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, devastating fans who look forward to this mainstay of popular culture. Yet this year, Comic Con made its triumphant return, though it looked a little different in the attendance of both its exhibitors and fans. 360 MAGAZINE got the full scoop from well-versed fan Rodney Ramlochan on how this event has changed. He offers comments on the good, the bad, the Covid, and the in between for 360 readers. Read Ramlochan’s full testimony below:

To say that I love New York Comic Con is an understatement. For over a decade, as a pop-culture geek, I’ve enjoyed the fantastic guests, panels, original art, unique exhibitors, industry merchants, and one-of-kind exclusives. It has always been one of my favorite events to cover, and as a die-hard fan, I was deeply disappointed that the pandemic caused last year’s convention to go virtual. However, I was thrilled to hear that the event was coming back in person this year. Since much had changed over the past eighteen months, I thought it would be cool to experience the event as a fan rather than cover it as press. I also wanted to test-drive ReedPop’s Metaverse membership for ordering in-person tickets and focus on the overall fan experience, including Covid safety precautions and notable differences between this year and cons from yesteryear. Here are my post-Comic Con impressions. 

I purchased tickets a few months ago in July using the MetaVerse presale process. Of course, this was before the uptick caused by the Delta variant strain. I didn’t expect any issues with purchasing online as I’ve never really had a problem buying 4-day or single-day passes in the past. Still, I was interested in trying out the new Metaverse Membership that gives you first access to NYCC badges, photo ops & autographing tickets. My mission this year was to get both an autograph and photograph with William Shatner, epic space captain of the Starship Enterprise and now a real-life astronaut. In addition to getting first dibs on NYCC in-person tickets, the Superfan membership allows you to buy MCM Comic Con, Emerald City Comic Con, and C2E2 tickets. You can also get paid digital experiences, exclusive access to video content and celebrity panels, access to exclusive NYCC merchandise online. 

The Superfan Membership process was relatively seamless. I signed up at the end of June using the Metaverse Membership email and bought tickets using a dedicated link on my profile page within a few days. I purchased single day passes for each day of the convention, and I was contacted for the opportunity to purchase photo ops and autographs in addition at the end of September. Overall, I’d say the membership was worth it. It’s perfect for the fan who would rather have a more significant window of time to purchase tickets. Outside of remembering to click on the notification reminder emails and follow the presale, photo ops, and autographs links, ordering is straightforward.  There are no worries about getting tickets for the exact days you want to attend. If you are good with the allotted time frame afforded by the standard ordering process, then paying for the Superfan membership may not be beneficial at this time. However, I do wonder what the future holds for purchasing tickets in the future. Suppose the Superfan method of buying in-person tickets becomes more popular. Will it impact the standard order process and make it more challenging to obtain single-day passes post-pandemic?  Only time will tell. 

As far as Covid safety protocols, enforcement, and logistics, the ReedPop and the Javitz Center team did a great job managing this. Before attending, I was uncertain why New York Comic Con needed a partnership with CLEAR Health Pass. Especially since vaccination proof was a requirement for attending and could be validated using vaccine cards and existing apps like the NY Excelsior Pass. In hindsight, standardizing the application that everyone uses for admission was a smart move. At the very least, it streamlined the process and expedited entry for most. I picked up my green ReedPop vaccine wristband at the Javitz Crystal Palace a few nights before opening. It took me less than 5 minutes to show the CLEAR app and retrieve the band, and in many ways, this process foreshadowed the overall feel and attendance for the convention. NYC began requiring proof of vaccinations in early September, and the event was following suit. The mandate may have impacted attendance, as I read many social media comments from individuals that stated they wanted to return or sell their tickets because they didn’t know the vaccine would be mandated before purchasing. But, as a whole, most people in attendance complied with the requirements. I was there all four days and only encountered two individuals not wearing masks on the main floor. I didn’t notice security enforcing the mask mandate, but I did hear that a vendor and few individuals had been removed from the showroom floor for not following the rules.  At my William Shatner autograph and photo ops sessions, plexiglass partitions protected Shatner and the fans. Partitions were used at all reserved signings and photo op sessions. According to ReedPop, 150,000 paid in-person attendees were at the event this past weekend compared to 250,000 in previous years. Even with 100,00 fewer people, this was the largest indoor in-person event held in New York since 2019, showing a great evolution from where things were at the start of the pandemic. It was good to see that all of the proper safety protocols were in place. 

One of the most significant differences between this year’s Comic Con and past shows was the notable absence of large exhibitors like Disney, Marvel, DC, Image, Sony, Amazon, SYFY, and distributors like Funko and Midtown Comics. Of course, it didn’t come as a surprise, as we had been receiving no-show notices practically every week leading up to the event. I’m sure it deterred some folks from attending, but I think it helped provide a unique experience for those who did. It minimized the crowd and offered other smaller exhibitors an opportunity to showcase their properties and spend more time with fans. As a result, I spent a lot more time than I would typically have at smaller booths. For example, I met the great folks at Plunderlings, a boutique toy line presenting a fresh take on fantasy universes from a Caribbean perspective. Although some of the major players weren’t present, there was an excellent turnout for anime fans from Toei Animation, Funimation, VIZ Media, and Tamashii Nations. Without having to compete for floor space, it seemed as if their exhibits doubled in size. If you were a fan of these companies, it was probably the first time in years that you could casually stroll through their exhibits without waiting in line. Although it was less crowded, the show floor did not feel empty. As expected, Saturday and Sunday saw an increase in volume of attendees, but nothing compared to the previous years. 

One of the most extraordinary changes this year was the unveiling of the new Javits Center expansion project. It took a few minutes to figure out exactly where floors 4 and 5 were, but once you found them in the building adjacent to the old center, you were treated to the fantastic skyline and river views on the way up to the panel rooms and the new Empire Stage. There were a few blockbuster live panels, including Ghostbuster and The Boys; however, many panels like Sandman Act II and Wheel of Time were pre-recorded videos. I did sit in on the Sandman panel, but post-viewing, I felt a bit underwhelmed – watching a video of writer Neil Gaiman, audiobook director Dirk Maggs, actor James McCoy (who voices the title character), and actor/filmmaker Kevin Smith (who voices Merv Pumpkinhead) was not the same as seeing them in person. In addition, ReedPop introduced a new reservation system for the larger panels instead of the “badge tap-in” process used in the past. I have mixed feelings about this, as it didn’t appear that anyone’s reservations for the panels were being checked. It may have been because there was excess capacity remaining at the events I attended. However, I will note that the folks at the Tamashii Nations booth to purchase their exclusive Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan Son Goku figure did check for reservations. 

Overall, expanding the panels to the new venue resulted in two significant outcomes. First, it allowed more space to return to smaller fan-focused panels, which featured creators interacting with their fandom instead of pitching major studio events.  Second, moving the panels out of the main building allowed for Artist Alley to take back a prominent role I felt it had lost over the past few years. This year, the Alley was front and center, featuring principal mainstays like Fabian Nicieza, Chris Claremont, Rob Leifeld, and Scott Synder amongst many others. I especially enjoyed chatting with Ben Bishop, one of the key artists on TMNT’s The Last Ronin. 

Undoubtedly, many of this year’s Comic Con changes resulted from how best to host an event during a pandemic, but many of the changes also focused on improving the fan experience. As a result, NYCC 2021 felt more like the NYCC of 2011, but with a few notable improvements. Creators were able to connect more with their fandoms, fans were able to stop and appreciate exhibitors and artists more, and ReedPop unveiled a few new processes to streamline crowd control and help fans maximize their time at the event. It wasn’t perfect, but as a fan, it exceeded my expectations, and I’m even more looking forward to a pandemic-free NYCC next year. 

360 MAGAZINE covers NYCC
360 MAGAZINE covers NYCC
360 MAGAZINE covers NYCC.
Rodney Ramlochan attends NYCC on behalf of 360 MAGAZINE and meets William Shatner.
360 MAGAZINE illustration for online gaming by Symara Briel Wilson

Forgotten Vintage Gaming Consoles

The video game console scene these days is quite settled, boring even. Sony and Microsoft have a stranglehold on the market, with the PlayStation enjoying a healthy lead on the Xbox. And then you have Nintendo doing their own thing with the Switch on the handheld segment, despite the rise of mobile gaming. 

All this is a far cry from the early decades of video game consoles. Consoles had some crazy innovations in the 1970s, ‘80s, and ‘90s, as the designers were experimenting quite a lot. Naturally, the technology was also quite primitive in terms of computing power, graphics, and display, resulting in some extra weirdness. 

These are some of the vintage gaming consoles that never made it to the big leagues in the cut-throat video games market. Some were from small brands while others are from the big names we still see churning out consoles and games today.

Fairchild Channel F 

Despite being the first home console to use cartridges and a microprocessor, the Fairchild Channel F failed in the console market. Pitted against the legendary Atari 2600 (home of Pacman), the Channel F ended up decidedly second-best. 

Before the Fairchild, other consoles like the Magnavox Odyssey came with games built-in, which severely limited choice as well as graphics quality. The Channel F came with two built-in games and a library that eventually expanded to include over 26 games. 

The cartridges for these games were called “videocarts” and had games like Tic Tac Toe, Space War, Spitfire, and Shooting Gallery. Though it had a decent list of games, the Fairchild Console could not match Atari’s popular arcade games. 

And the controllers were also decidedly poor quality, breaking rather quickly. The F in Channel F stood for “Fun.” The fun stopped for Fairchild in 1983 as sales declined and they ended production after a six-year run that started in 1976. 

Radica Games Consoles

The modern handheld consoles like PSP, GameBoy, and Switch are designed to play many different games. But in the past, we had consoles that were basically one-trick ponies – they only came with one or a few handfuls of in-built titles. 

Radica Ltd is a name that many who were kids in the 1980s and 90s may not remember. Though not as famous as Sega or Nintendo, the US manufacturer was quite prolific in the handheld consoles market, mass-producing devices between 1983 and 2006. 

Though they became famous for consoles that carried titles from the biggest brands like Sega and Taito, Radica actually started in the gambling business. The company initially launched collectible game consoles for casinos. 

These had classic games like Blackjack 21, Poker, and Solitaire. Though thoroughly outdated by modern standards, the vintage feel of the games does make Radica consoles great from a nostalgic POV. Online variations have been designed to model modern blackjack tables as found in top land-based casinos.

Radica did not do anything innovative in the design department. Their consoles largely copied the design set by others. The company was eventually acquired and fully absorbed by toy giant Mattel in 2006. 

The Vectrex

We take screens for granted these days – be it on handheld consoles or mobile phones. But there was a time when consoles had to depend entirely on an outside video output source (and they still do for PS5 and Xbox Series X). 

The Vectrex was an idea that came far too soon – in an era when screens were still bulky, monochrome, and highly pixelated. Launched in the early ’80s, the Vectrex came bundled with its display, which was like a mini-TV. 

The display was black and white, with a series of plastic color overlays that you could place on the screen to make the objects look red, green, or blue. Though it had way better graphics than contemporary consoles, thanks to vector graphics instead of bitmaps (smooth lines), the console was ultimately a failure. 

For one, it was incredibly expensive. And the allure of not needing a TV for gaming was not huge in those days, especially as this was not a portable device. It was one of the major casualties in the great market crash of the video game industry in 1983.

Virtual Boy

Virtual Reality is a cutting edge technology that holds a lot of promise in gaming. Yet in 2021, it is still a niche in the video games landscape – a fast-growing one at that, but still in need of evolution. So you can imagine how primitive a VR-based console must have been way back in the 1990s. 

Launched by Nintendo in 1995, Virtual Boy was a good 20 years ahead of the technology. The 3D game system came with a cool VR headset and a connected controller, and games in full monochrome glory. 

Yes, Virtual Boy games had to be enjoyed in red, as the hardware was not capable of outputting in any other colors. It had a real “Terminator vision” vibe to it, which was probably intentional given how popular those movies were back then. 

The hardware was quite bulky, with the headset being quite cumbersome. And it was also quite notorious for causing headaches and eye strain to users. The one major game available on the Virtual Boy was Mario’s Tennis. 

Though the stereoscopic 3D was quite impressive for its time, the console was widely panned by critics and users. It was a commercial failure as well, due to insane pricing. Nintendo did try to make it more appealing by dropping the prices but to no avail. The Virtual Boy sank without a trace. 

King in Black: Return of the Valkyries

Jan. 2021 is hitting hard with the return of the Marvel Universe’s finest warriors, the Valkyries, in the brand new King in Black: Return of the Valkyries.

The story is written by Jason Aaron and Torunn Grønbekk with Nina Vakueva providing the art. The stars of the series will be Jane Foster, Dani Moonstar and Hildegarde, and a brand new Valkyrie will be introduced and given an origin story.

The Asgardians will face off against Knull, who seeks to overtake the Nine Realms with his unrelenting darkness. As Knull moves throughout the galaxy, it becomes evident that only the Valkyries and their new secret weapon are equipped to deal with him. What is their weapon, and is it enough to help them fend off Knull and save the universe?

It all comes to a head Jan. 6, but you can see never-before-seen art in the stunning trailer for King in Black: Return of the Valkyries by clicking right here.

Grønbekk called the Valkyries “powerful women who navigate both the spaces of the living and the dead,” adding that they are just inherently interesting to her.

“The role demands a perspective on life and battle that is quite unique; they see the whole picture, always, and when you combine that with the great humanity you find in characters like Jane Foster and Dani Moonstar, you get something really special,” Grønbekk said. “It takes courage to see the world through the eyes of a Valkyrie (especially when that world is under attack by Knull!), and that makes for complex and exciting stories of the kind I want to tell.”

This is the Valkyries greatest era, and it’s available for purchase on comic book shop shelves everywhere Jan. 6.

To find a comic book shop near you, you can click right here.

You can follow Torunn Grønbekk on Twitter and Instagram, Jason Aaron on Twitter and Instagram and Nina Vakueva on Twitter and Instagram

You can learn more about Marvel by clicking right here, and you can follow them on Twitter and Instagram.

Vitalik Buterin illustration by Kaelen Felix for 360 magazine

Vitalik Buterin × Ethereum

Vitalik Buterin, the 26-year-old Russian-Canadian and inventor of Ethereum, has amassed both wealth and fame as one of the most influential figures in the world of cryptocurrency.

A blockchain is a series of transactions that is based off of the other. A record of cryptocurrency transactions takes form, made up of code. This allows for decentralized governance and more secure transactions, because a third, intermediary party is not involved in the transaction. The transfer went from point A to point B (with many microscopic jumps in between). Thus, no data mined. This is what the blockchain platform, Ethereum, is made out of.

This disrupts the way we think about the internet, and the idea was coined by a 19-year-old. 

Buterin co-founded Bitcoin Magazine in 2011, which he wrote for until 2014. A noted fan of Bitcoin, Buterin set out to improve the cryptocurrency. According to Nathanial Popper of the New York Times, “the most basic aim of Ethereum was to make it possible to program binding agreements into the blockchain—the smart contract concept. Two people, for instance, could program a bet on a sports game directly into the Ethereum blockchain.” Once an official winner is declared, the money would automatically be allocated to the winner. 

In 2013, Buterin published a white paper advocating for what was just his idea at the time, the blockchain platform known as Ethereum. Venture capitalist Peter Thirl then granted him a $100,000 fellowship, which allowed him to drop out of the University of Waterloo in Toronto, and devote his time completely to his idea, which is now worth more than $43 billion.

It is obvious that Ethereum and Buterin have a bright future ahead of them—and blockchain technology, even more so.

According to Matthew Braga of Canadian Business, “major financial institutions are already showing interest in blockchains.” If companies were to commit to Ethereum, they would become much more democratic. Executives would no longer call the shots, but rather, pieces of secure, man-made code would behave transparently in accordance with the consumer’s wishes.

And they have. In 2017, Popper reported that approximately 30 companies would form the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance. Now, the EEA functions with a global developer community of more than 3,000 contributors. Their mission is, according to the EEA, is to “enable organizations to adopt and use Ethereum technology in their day-to-day business operations.”

Nipping at Bitcoin’s heals, Ethereum holds immense promise.

Instagram | Twitter

M.O.D.O.K. HEAD GAMES

Showrunners for the upcoming Hulu series about the popular Marvel villain M.O.D.O.K. will also spearhead a brand new comic series with the character as the lead.

M.O.D.O.K. HEAD GAMES comes from Patton Oswalt and Jordan Blum, who will showcase the leader of the terroristic organization AIM.

M.O.D.O.K. will be outsmarting the rest of the Marvel universe on his way to victory and domination, but this story is a bit more personal. He is haunted by memories of a family he doesn’t know, putting his power, and his brain, at risk.

You can see everything Oswalt and Blum had to say about the supervillain story in an exclusive interview from Marvel by clicking right here. You can also see brand new, never-before-seen pages of the interior of the books from Scott Hepburn, the artist of the upcoming run.

Oswalt said the writers of the show created such an amazing world for M.O.D.O.K. that they had to go further.

“We had so much creativity to burn that Jordan just said we should fill this in in a four-issue comic series as a background. I always love that, to be able to go even deeper into that world,” Oswalt said.

Blum added that he was excited to write the 616 version, or our world’s version, of M.O.D.O.K. specifically.

“We leapt at the chance to write the M.O.D.O.K. who had been there since Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and put our spin on him and pull from a lot of the other versions of M.O.D.O.K. in the past. The character is very flexible and I think you can do a lot with him,” Blum said.

The premiere issue of the series will hit shelves of comic book shops everywhere Dec. 2, and you can keep an eye out for the series starring the historic villain streaming on Hulu in 2021.

To find a comic book shop near you, you can click right here.

You can also follow Patton Oswalt on Twitter and Instagram, and you can follow Jordan Blum on Twitter.

Has eSports Become a Part of Pop Culture?

A couple of decades ago, when video games burst into the mainstream audience for good, everyone could have guessed that gaming would soon become an important part of the entertainment industry. But what no one could have predicted is just how popular it would become not to play video games yourself, but to watch other people play. So popular in fact, that competitive video gaming, i.e. eSports, has slowly but steadily grown to become an important part of pop culture. But how and why did eSports gain so much momentum?

eSports expand their reach into the mainstream audience

When the first organized competitive gaming tournaments emerged where professional players vie for a prize, analysts very aptly dubbed the new practice “eSports”. And research reported by the Influencer Marketing Hub reveals that this new industry has quickly expanded its appeal and gained unprecedented growth. In 2017, eSports reached an audience of 335 million viewers, which climbed to 380 million in 2018. It is now estimated that until 2021 that number will reach roughly 557 million, exhibiting an annual growth rate of 14%. Out of those, 250 million will be regular viewers but another 307 million will be casual spectators. This means that casual viewers will constitute the majority of the eSports audience.

Furthermore, according to the same source, even people who do not watch eSports have still heard of them. In 2015, an impressive 800,000 people were aware of the industry. But a year later, over a billion people have reportedly heard of eSports – a jaw-dropping growth. In 2019 alone, eSports awareness was estimated to have reached 1.57 billion people around the world. The combination of these two facts, i.e. the number of casual viewers and the tremendous growth in awareness, lead us to the conclusion that eSports has now become an important part of pop culture.

How eSports became a part of pop culture

But if you want even more proof, just take a closer look at eSports betting. That’s right: betting sites now consider eSports as a sub-category of the traditional realm of sports betting, and punters can place wagers on the biggest eSports tournament just like they would on the NBA finals or the Super Bowl. It is no surprise, when you consider the hype surrounding the biggest eSports competitions. In 2019, the League of Legends World Championship gathered an audience of almost 4 million viewers, and the Fortnite World Cup Finals amassed an impressive 2.3 million. Speaking of Fortnite, it is perhaps the game that best encapsulates how video gaming and eSports are now part of pop culture in their own right.

Who could forget the iconic and hilarious scene in Avengers: Endgame that saw Thor compete against “Noobmaster69” on Fortnite? Just like people are still not over the live concert series that now takes place within the Fortnite game. Travis Scott was the first to take the leap of faith and performed virtually to raving reviews. Now, the digital concerts continue, with J Balvin reportedly set to headline the Fortnite Halloween Concert series, in a perfect blend of these divergent strands of pop culture that has had audiences going wild. Much like the music industry, other sectors have realized the potential of eSports and gaming that allows them to reach to a wider audience and are jumping at the chance. For example, Oakley has already announced that they would launch a new type of lenses specifically designed for gaming.

If we want to understand better how eSports have so quickly become a part of pop culture, we also need to look at the channels that enabled them to connect with their audience. Millennials are now in their 20s and 30s, and they have grown up in an increasingly digital world. Watching their favorite gamers play live on Twitch or YouTube, and interacting with them on chat or social media was an organic way for them to connect. Steven Spielberg’s recent blockbuster Ready Player One took the concept one step further. In a dystopian future, taking place in a VR gaming tournament has become the one shot its protagonist has at fixing everything wrong with the world – competitive gaming has somehow turned into something more real than real life itself.

For the young adults that are right now the driving force behind market trends, and are shaping pop culture, eSports are an integral part of life and culture.

Rita Azar Illustrates a Video Games Article for 360 MAGAZINE

Colin Kaepernick x Madden 21

by Justin Lyons

Colin Kaepernick is officially back in Madden.

For the first time since 2017, football fans and Colin Kaepernick fans will have the chance to use the ex-49ers quarterback in the signature football game from EA SPORTS.

The announcement came from EA SPORTS themselves, saying, “Colin Kaepernick is one of the top free agents in football and a starting-caliber quarterback. The team at EA SPORTS, along with millions of Madden NFL fans, want to see him back in our game.”

Though Kaepernick is not signed to a team in real life or in Madden, he is available to sign to any team in Franchise mode. He’s also available in Play Now mode.

His jersey is also available in The Yard, a mode new to Madden this year that allows users to express themselves creatively. His signature celebration, which is available upon scoring with Kaepernick, depicts the quarterback raising his fist in the air to signify Black Power.

Kaepernick has been rated 81 overall, which is good for the 15th best quarterback in the league, tied with Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

According to EA SPORTS, that number was determined using data-driven simulations. They did take into account the fact that Kaepernick has not played since 2016, but his mobility and big play ability earned him the 81 overall rating.

EA SPORTS also said players looking to have complete control over their Franchise mode can change his rating however they see fit, including bringing him up to 99 overall. Adjusting his stats to 99 overall would make his only company the likes of Aaron Donald, Christian McCaffrey, Michael Thomas, Stephon Gilmore and the only 99 rated quarterback in the game, Patrick Mahomes.

Kaepernick was among the first in professional sports to kneel during the American National Anthem in protest of police brutality. Kaepernick opted out of his contract after the 2016 season, and not one of the 32 NFL teams has made a move to acquire him.

Largely suspected of being a victim of blackballing, Kaepernick has since worked as an activist in the community, especially with children. He has led rights campaigns and camps and was the face of a Nike campaign in 2018 that carried the slogan “Believe in something. Even if means sacrificing everything.”

Roger Goodell encouraged teams to sign Kaepernick in a conversation on ESPN in June, just weeks after George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis.

The killing of George Floyd seemed to awaken large corporations throughout the United States, leading many to make statements, including the NFL.

Though criticized for not speaking out sooner, the NFL and Commissioner Goodell released a statement via Twitter on June 5 saying, “We, the NFL, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black People. We, the NFL, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the NFL, believe Black Lives Matter.”

NFL teams cancelled practices and scrimmages in the past month after the shooting of Jacob Blake by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Action taken after these events could remove the stigma NFL owners appeared to have when it came to signing Kaepernick, and fans who believe in his message and talent would love to see him on the field again soon.

“The Mandalorian” – Season 2 Release Date

The Mandalorian” and Baby Yoda are on their way back to our homes.

The official Twitter account for the show announced Wednesday that the second season would premiere on Disney+ Oct. 30.

After premiering its first season in 2019, “The Mandalorian” became the most popular show to stream in the world. It stole the hearts of “Star Wars” fans who were hoping for something more grounded after the mixed reception of the new theatrical trilogy.

Since its release it has topped 60.5 million streams. Season one currently holds a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, both among critics and audience members. It also picked up 15 Primetime Emmy nominations, including ones for Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for Giancarlo Esposito and Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance for Taika Waititi.

Those eagerly awaiting the second season can expect to see Giancarlo Esposito and the Darksaber after Baby Yoda and his mysterious gift. We’ll also be treated to Rosario Dawson as the classic “Clone Wars” character, Ahsoka Tano and Temuera Morrison as Boba Fett.

In April, Variety reported that “The Mandalorian” had already been renewed for a third season. The “Star Wars” fandom never rests, but without a theatrically released film on Disney’s release calendar right now, “The Mandalorian” will have to scratch that itch.

Marvel's Indigenous Voices

Marvel’s Indigenous Voices

Marvel announced a new, special series of variant covers written and drawn by the comic book industry’s biggest indigenous artists for MARVEL’S VOICES: INDIGENOUS VOICES #1.

One of the artists included in the project is Jeffrey Veregge, who recently finished an exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.

Veregge will provide the art for covers featuring characters like Black Panther, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Black Widow, Captain America, Hulk and Thor.

Veregge said his own people, the S’Klallam Tribe, have used an art style known as Formline to tell their stories for generations. He added that his style is an extension of the art he has seen used by Native artists from his region.

“As a lifelong comic fan, artist and Native American, I am truly honored to work with Marvel Comics today. Not only to create pieces that represent a voice for Indigenous People in honor of Native American Heritage month, but also for the opportunity to share the same storytelling spirit of my ancestors by sharing the tales of some of today’s heroes,” Veregge said.

These variant covers will be available in comic book shops in November, and you can see each and every one of them right here.

Rita Azar illustrates a video game article for 360 MAGAZINE

Video Games x Standardized Testing

Standardized testing in schools is one of the most hotly contested subjects in academics. Does it actually measure academic skills and learning progress? Is there a better, more definitive way to measure those skills? Is standardized testing punishing hard workers and high achievers who also happen to be anxiety-ridden or bad test-takers?

In an interview with CMRubinWorld, video gaming industry veteran and founder of Breakaway Games Doug Whatley said the next step for these pesky measuring sticks is in the video game world.

“We already have simulation games that are capable of being used as a standardized test, so I think there is real promise for many types of tests to be replaced by games,” Whatley said, adding that games are often better, more secure and more affordable tests.

Whatley also predicted that free-to-play games and large market games would close the gap between the two.

“Mobile apps will get bigger and AAA games will get smaller using multiple season type distribution,” he said.

Whatley used that premise to make five more predictions. First, he said video games will cover a wider variety of content. Next, he said phones will become more powerful, thus driving more gamers to mobile devices as a gaming platform. Third, he expects to see games use new media platforms like Zoom and Google Classroom. Fourth, he expects to see more distribution in rolled out packages, like the already popular DLC model, and finally, he anticipates student-created content to be judged and used by peers.

The pandemic has forced education to adapt on its feet, and it appears technology and video games will be beneficiaries of its modern adjustments and pivots.