“Tone Tags” and how to use them

By: Caroline Crosby

I will preface by saying that this article may be a bit opinion-heavy in some places. The goal is to be as clear and concise as possible with this information, but personal bias can be hard to exclude regarding social accommodations such as tone indicators

But what exactly are tone indicators, and why are they used?

The short answer is as the name suggests. They are indications or “tags” that are used to convey tone. Specifically, they clarify the meaning of messages or written posts that could be interpreted in more ways than one. Tags are intended for casual interactions (social networks, SMS, emails, etc.) and were first made popular on text-dependent social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Tumblr, and Reddit.

Now that the “what” has been briefly established, we examine the “why” and the common application. 

Tone can drastically influence the meaning of a sentence. For example, let’s say that you and a friend were communicating via a standard messaging system. You send them an uproariously witty comment (in your own humble opinion), and they respond with “I hate you.” 

But what did your friend mean by that? Do they really hate you? Were they joking?

For those who struggle to perceive tone through text, these types of situations can be challenging to navigate. Many people (myself included) struggle to pick up on the intention of a message in written form. For neurodivergent individuals, the lack of indications outside of the words themselves (e.g., physical body language, voice inflection, facial expressions) can make it hard to decode the meaning of a text or post.

That’s where the tags come in!

A few of the more commonly used tags. Image taken from: https://tonetags.carrd.co/

For example, if your friend wanted to convey that their comment was a joke in response to your own, it would read as: “I hate you. /j”.

Alternatively, if your message made them seriously despise you, they would say, “I hate you. /srs”.

Indicators are easy to use and prevent distress from missed social cues. When applied correctly, miscommunication and misunderstandings caused by ambiguous tone in text can always be avoided.

In a day and age where this particular medium of conversation is commonplace, clarity is essential. As non-face-to-face communication, in general, has grown and changed, our syntax, grammar, and sentence structure has adapted as well. 

Likely, you’ve never heard of these fabled “tone tags” before, but they were conceptualized long, long ago. An informative carrd.co site explains:

The tone indicator ‘/s’ has a well-precedented use, spanning years on Reddit. As early on as the 1580s, there have been tone indicators; Henry Dunham, an English printer, created a backwards question mark, ‘⸮’, which he dubbed the ‘percontation point*. It was meant to indicate rhetorical questions”.

In the modern context, they’ve evolved into a form of accommodation.

However, some believe that these devices are “stupid” and/or a form of “babying neurodivergent people”. Pushback also stems from those who think that the indicators are inconvenient or ruin punchlines. If I had a nickel for every time I heard the phrase “but /j ruins the joke”, I would be a formidable customer at the dollar store. But that’s neither here nor there.

Lastly, it’s essential to recognize that not all neurodivergent individuals need these accommodations. Cognitive disabilities come in all shapes and forms, and just because some struggle with identifying tone does not mean that all struggle with it. I’d advise not to push or assume that every neurodivergent person needs to use these. Ask!

As a disclaimer, choosing not to use them on social media or in other contexts does not make you a bad person. It’s up to you whether you want to employ tone indicators or not, but if someone asks you to clarify a message or use the tags when conversing with them, give it a try! 

For more information, please visit:

The Water Sandwich: My personal 15 minutes of fame

So, I was halfway done writing an article about kids growing up in the age of the internet and all that, and how misinformation and (Mr. Information – that’s not funny I’m sorry) could shape the world as we know it now, but it made me remember a way in which I, Zach Zachowitz, made my mark on humanity as a whole, by creating the ultimate lie, of the Water Sandwich.

I have literally NO way of proving I was the person who created this because of how much it’s been reposted, but I made this fake screenshot of a fake wikipedia article when I was in 8th grade, using some image of holding some bread under running water

So, in 8th grade, during the beginning of 2018, I made this fake screenshot using Inspect Element, and posted it to the internet machine because… I dunno I was bored or whatever, and within a few days, it sorta accidentally became a meme, because people thought it was real and all, and the concept of a “Water Sandwich” being a cuisine is so stupid, it just worked.

Here’s just a handful of posts I found online just by google searching it

I made it from New Zealand, just because nobody really knows anything about New Zealand, and I guess the entire internet just ran with it. Again, I have no way of proving this was me, but then, there’s literally no reason anybody would fake something this mundane, so let me have this.

Not only that, but Google search results even come up for “New Zealand” when you even search for “Water Sandwich,” basically tarnishing the entire nation’s good name from the actions of 13-year-old me a few years ago. So honestly, I don’t know how I sleep at night.

screenshot from google, you can try this yourself and it’ll come up

I also found that the official Subreddit for the country of New Zealand had a particular discussion about it from a foreigner questioning whether or not it’s real. And due to either peer pressure, or I don’t even know, people acted like it was real, and I’m like “Wait, they’re literally talking about something I made up,” like, if that isn’t the funniest thing of all time to you, I dunno what is.

Comments from this https://www.reddit.com/r/newzealand/comments/f247iq/til/ reddit post. Really shows you how much people lie on the internet,

I mean, this dude literally made up an entire history of it, “Yeah people don’t eat it much now because of the fluoride scare.” Like, CMON DUDE!

“Yeah my buddy showed me this when I moved here,” NO HE DID NOT, YOU ARE LYING!

I am, (until now) the only person who 100% knows for sure this guy’s pulling this stuff outta nowhere, and I just find it absolutely hilarious. Especially with how pretentious he’s being as well like, “Yeah we have better water than you stupid Americans.” Like yeah, I know, Flint, Michigan and places have some gross tap water and all that, but the fact he used a made up thing to one-up Americans, I dunno, it’s just so hilarious that people just make stuff up and roll with it like that on the internet so blatantly.

I’ve actually seen a lot of this on places where it’s posted, and people lie like this, but this is just the best example of what I’m trying to say here. If a dumb kid like me can make all these people CONVINCE themselves that New Zealanders commonly eat something called a “Water Sandwich,” then think about all kinds of misinformation that can be out there. Like honestly, it’s kinda scary. I genuinely feel like I’m about 5% more skeptical of things I read online from this experience alone.

Also, another strangely goofy thing that’s come from this is some company, or AI, picked up the fact that my “Water Sandwich” image was getting so popular, so it automatically put it on a ton of T-shirts and other merchandise (which I haven’t made a CENT off of, like I’m gonna sue those guys for real – actually I’m not, but still, it’s a thought).

Image from Redbubble.com
image from google where it shows a lotta the “merch” of it. I dunno who’d ever buy this, but the fact it’s for sale is crazy to me.

So yeah, I dunno, this sorta was, and still continues to be my 15 minutes of “fame” in a way, but literally nobody knows I did it until now. Again, I have no way of proving it was me, you’re just gonna have to take my word for it, but you’ve gotta admit, this would be a really odd thing to lie about.

Why this article is ACTUALLY BAD!?!?

Image a compilation of images taken from YouTube

Late at night, you’re scrolling through your Youtube page, having a nice cup of sandwich on your lap, and you just can’t seem to find anything that interests you at the moment. You scroll further past your usual recommendations of Mr Beast building a house out of coffee filters, or whatever people watch nowadays, and you scroll so far you see something… disturbing. Something unusual. Something that makes you angry, upset, and confused. Something that so profoundly shatters your own comfortable conception of reality, that you just have to click.

The video in question: “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Was Actually A Bad Show, And Everyone Who Likes It Is Stupid” by mrcoolguy2009. Now you say, “But… I like The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, is this person saying I’m stupid? Well I sure don’t wanna be stupid, so I’ll let this guy, who’s clearly smarter than me explain to me why this show I like is bad, so I wont be stupid anymore!” 

I mean, I know that’s not the exact thought process in regards to the psychology behind why people click these videos, But I feel like sometimes it’s supposed to be that way. It’s somewhat commonplace to use the ability of making someone feel as though they are missing out on something, by doing something wrong, or liking “the wrong thing”, just to either make people click over fear of missing out on the “correct” way of looking at things, or to garner controversy from those who disagree. Either way, it’s a pretty straightforward way to get somebody interested in what you have to say, by letting them know they’re “wrong” for liking something

But once people actually do click these videos after seeing the thumbnail and title, why are some so inclined to take this one lil person’s opinion as fact, and subconsciously give it a higher standard of credibility as opposed to when you hear a conversation in everyday life? Well, I feel like it’s more or less just the disconnect between being told an opinion via a real conversation, via flashy Youtube edits with big red letters and a graphic that has an arrow pointing at something, alongside its 300k views, so if a lot of people also read the same thing as you, sometimes people are just like, “Yeah, I guess it’s gotta be true, I mean why else did so many people watch it?”

In other words:

When you hear me say something stupid like “Drinking water is probably really bad for you, because eventually you’ll get water poisoning and die and your eyeballs will roll outta your head” or whatever, most people can easily go: “Yeah this guys an idiot, and I disagree with him because of this, this, this, and this,” and that’s a perfectly balanced system because you are the one deciding how you intake this other person’s viewpoint. But in the regards of an opinionated commentary video, there isn’t really too much back and forth between the creator who’s telling you his take, and “you”, who’s hearing it. You can’t just pause the video and say to the guy “Hey, maybe ‘Forrest Gump’, isn’t a bad movie just cause he walks past the same extra twice in the scene where he gives the speech”, you can only do that in your head and while using something known as your own common sense.

World famous professional Youtube personality known as “The Nostalgia Critic” who talks about how Disney’s “Hercules” is a bad movie because Greece doesn’t look how it does in real life

But with something being presented in such an official, and highly promoted format, with somebody who is only producing their argument through a lens in which no disagreements or personal criticisms can pass through for the entirety of said video, it seems slightly more futile to consider challenging this person on their take. I’m not saying it makes everybody seem objectively right all the time, I’m just saying with all these cards stacked in their favor, it makes people a just a little bit more inclined to believe what they say, even if it is based on some nonsensical nothingness.

So, I guess this article is pretty much just stating the obvious of “If you say something with enough confidence, and have a large enough audience, more people will take you seriously”, but with everyone (including my own)’s bias in everything they say, especially online, I’m just saying how I feel like it’s a little too easy to get caught up in believing/agreeing with words on a screen because of who’s saying it. So, I dunno, all I’m saying is; just take stuff with a handful of salt before giving into the worldview of “UncleFungus1941” over your actual peers and friends you know in real life. 

What is it with logos becoming more and more simple?

So, recently, the obscure indie tech startup known as Google, decided to change the icons of all their apps (sheets, docs, etc) to basically the same design except with different shapes. 

I mean it’s not really earth shattering to me, like, I’m not gonna be hopelessly lost and confused in my treacherous journey to decipher which icon’s Google Sheets or not, but it still makes me go “well that’s sorta dumb I guess”, and that’s what this article’s all about!

A lotta other brands have been going this direction too, of sorta simplifying their logos and other corporate symbols to be more flat and less iconically memorable. Some good examples are like, WB, Intel, Petco, and Pringles all just being basically more corporate and flat shells of their former selves, that don’t really devastate me, but just make me go: Why’d they do that? 

Logos are just sorta a small commodity, a nice lil icon on your packaged product, so honestly there’s more I could be worried about in my life. But if one thing’s true about humans for all of history, is that we like to complain about useless nothingness which doesn’t affect our lives in the slightest. But anyway, they probably do this just to make it easier to draw and incorporate into stuff in a way that doesn’t take too much risks, and are easier to animate with less individual assets to keyframe or whatever, but there’s just something about say, the 2000’s era Pepsi logo, or Windows Xp logo, that just stand out to me I guess.

Making an icon, or design that’s memorable and iconic as a brand or otherwise that’ll stick, is definitely not an easy thing to do, especially when you probably have 20 different executives and management teams that your design’ll have to go through before they can even consider using it. But it is important when you wanna get your brand out there, to be something remembered by people so they can, y’know, keep buying it.

So, I guess when you’re a company as big as Pringles or whatever, striking iconography isn’t really that important when everybody already knows who you are, like people aren’t going “Woaa Burger King? Their logo’s like…a burger or somethin…thats wild man I gotta tell someone about this stuff”.

New Firefox logo next to new Snapple bottles

But still, the worst offenders of this are definitely Snapple and Firefox. While the browser icon’s still there, the Firefox company logo’s sorta just a fire uhh, circle now?

But then again, it’s not as bad as the Snapple redesign. I mean like I’m legit mad about this one, I mean my face is definitely turning red as I spit up white froth on my kitchen counter like a fat baby with a big ol’ vein popping outta my eyeball cause a billion dollar ice tea brand changed how their bottle looks, but really though, IT SUCKS!

I mean art’s all subjective and whatnot, BUT IT SUCKS!

80% of the whole appeal of Snapple was those glass bottles right? And like, ok ok, they changed the material to plastic, that’s alright I guess… but now seriously?? It looks like a bottle of coffee creamer or somethin, like alongside that insanely flat corporate logo, it’s almost like a different drink now.

But here’s a lil beacon of hope so that you can end your reading of this terrible article what some consider a high note: The new Popeye’s logo’s pretty cool.

It ain’t too bad.

The viral Tiktok trend “Reality Shifting”- Fact or fiction?

By Caroline Crosby

If you’ve been anywhere near TikTok, or other similar social media platforms, you may have been exposed to the strange concept of “reality shifting”. It was first popularized by avid fans of the Harry Potter franchize in early fall of this year, and spread like wildfire across the internet in the months following. 

Essentially, reality shifting (or just “shifting”) is loosely described as a shift in consciousness from one reality to the next. Now, this may sound like an improbable conspiracy theory promoted by a mob of fictional wizard obsessed teenagers, but there’s more to this trend than meets the eye. 

As a disclaimer, the science behind shifting is mostly theoretical and difficult to grasp; to attempt to understand the complex quantum mechanics of human consciousness is a daunting task indeed. 

First, we address the multiverse theory. 

For those who aren’t in the know, this theory proposes that the realm of space and time that we exist in right now, or our universe, isn’t a singular body of matter. It states that there simply isn’t one universe, but rather an infinite number of dimensions of existence.

Infinite realities means infinite possibilities – and this is where the process of shifting comes into play. The idea is that through a plethora of different mediums, that allows the user to manipulate their state of mind, you can transfer your consciousness from this reality to the next. 

In truth, the concept of reality shifting existed long before Harry Potter fans discovered it. A document from the CIA – “Analysis and Assessment of the Gateway Process” was written in 1983, but only recently approved for release in the summer of 2003. The report explains the science behind “Gateway training”, a process employed by the U.S. military that was used to improve the cognitive function and other aspects of it’s subjects. It’s author, Wayne M. McDonnell, explains that “Fundamentally, the Gateway Experience is a training system designed to bring enhanced strength, focus and coherence to the amplitude and frequency of brainwave output between the left and right hemispheres so as to alter consciousness, moving it outside the physical sphere so as to ultimately escape even the restrictions of time and space”.

This is a difficult concept to understand without appropriate background knowledge, and before we delve further, it’s important to establish that everything is made of energy and energy fields.

In the report, McDonnell states that “Science now knows that both the electrons which spin in the energy field located around the nucleus of the atom and the nucleus itself are made up of nothing more than oscillating energy grids. Solid matter, in the strict construction of the term, simply does not exist. Rather, atomic structure is composed of oscillating energy grids surrounded by other oscillating energy grids which orbit at extraordinarily high speeds… …The point to be made is that the entire human being, brain, consciousness and all is, like the universe which surrounds [it], nothing more or less than an extraordinarily complex system of energy fields.”

After acknowledging the complex concepts behind human consciousness, and it’s physics, reality shifting may seem like less (even if only slightly) of an enigmatic experience. 

The aforementioned Harry Potter fans, as well as other members of the “shifting community”,  have taken these conceptual ideas and turned them into structured processes, including “the Alice in Wonderland method”, “the Raven method”, the “I Am method”, and many more. 

The I Am method, like most others, has a very specific procedure. An anonymous acquaintance of mine, with adverse shifting experience, describes the step by step process of this method:

“Close your eyes and breathe in and out continuously until your mind is clear and there are no longer distractions. If you prefer, meditate before starting this method. Repeat the phrase ‘I am pure conscious not attached to any reality.’ After a while you might feel your body vibrate and get tingly, (if not that’s totally okay!). You might feel like your brain zoomed off, like it turned off or like it’s expanding. You might feel like you’re floating, like you’re in a void. When that happens repeat affirmations over and over until you feel lighter and lighter. Repeat the affirmations ‘I am in my ideal reality permanently’ over and over until you feel lighter and lighter. You could possibly see images from your desired reality, and when you hear, smell, or feel like you’re there just open your eyes!”

This method relies heavily on the use of affirmations and biofeedback. McDonnell explains this occurrence:

“Biofeedback teaches the left hemisphere first to visualize the desired result and then to recognize the feelings associated with the experience of successful right hemisphere access to the specific lower cerebral, cortex, pain or pleasure or other areas in the manner needed to produce the desired result.” 

This can be heavily utilized for other consciousness altering techniques as well, such as manifestation. It promotes the self-cognitive powers of the left hemisphere in gaining access to areas of the “right brain”, such as the lower cerebral, motor and sensory cortices and assorted pain or pleasure centers. Basically, by convincing their brain that it’s somewhere else, shifters can transfer their consciousness to an altered state or plane of existence. It’s a liminal experience that depends on the will of the individual, and according to “ShiftTok”, you’re in full control. 

It’s all highly relative, and when addressing the conceptuality of the universe itself, it’s important to remember that there’s no right or wrong answers. Scientifically, we may eventually find a concrete answer to what theorists now deem hypothetical, but what better way to find out than experiencing it yourself?

For more information, I recommend reading Wayne M. McDonnell’s analysis mentioned above: https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/CIA-RDP96-00788R001700210016-5.pdf 

‘Outlast’ game review

By: Olivia Knafla

Ever since it’s release in 2013, it’s safe to say that ‘Outlast’, published by Red Barrel Studios, has received pretty positive feedback. With a 7.8 on IGN.com and a 10/10 on Steam, it appears that the game has been well received.

But exactly what is it?

‘Outlast’ is a first-person survival horror game where you, playing as investigative journalist Miles Upshur, enter Mount Massive Asylum armed with nothing but your camcorder. With over 15 million copies sold in 2018, there have been many people who have tried out the game for themselves. I joined the group when I recently saw it was on sale on Steam and decided to try it out for myself.

After having played through it a few times, I feel confident enough in my knowledge about the game, and its accompanying franchise, to write a review about it. This is, of course, is my perception of the game from playing its PC version, so it’s perfectly reasonable if my experience is not the same as that of others who have played ‘Outlast’.

Lastly, before getting into the review itself, I would like to point out that this article contains heavy ‘Outlast’ spoilers. If you haven’t played it yet, I would highly suggest that you go about doing that first. If you would like to read this review without worrying about spoilers, you can do so by not reading sections or paragraphs that have a spoiler warning next to or proceeding them.

Now, onto the review!

Gameplay

Playing the game for the first time was an experience that I can’t quite replicate when I replay it time and time again. From the start you are informed that you don’t get to fight the enemies that you’re sure to encounter – instead, you’ll have to hide, run, or die.

You are also introduced to your camcorder pretty early on, which is an essential part of the game. Not only do you use the camcorder to record events and write notes about what you encounter, but you use it to navigate the darkness of the asylum using the night vision feature.

Naturally, a creepy asylum, post-massacre, isn’t going to be well lit everywhere, so being able to use the night-vision on your camera is important – but don’t use it too much. By using your night vision, you drain your camcorder’s batteries and then need to find replacements. If you’re playing on normal mode you can collect up to 10 batteries at a time, however, the number of batteries you are allowed to carry, as well as the lifespan of those batteries, decreases when you choose a more difficult mode. You can collect batteries throughout the asylum, oftentimes near radios or computers, and their placements depend on both the mode in which you are playing and your need for additional batteries.

You’ll find that a common event is needing to complete some sort of multi-step process while avoiding an enemy patrolling the area. Examples of this include, but are not limited to: turning on pumps to start a circuit breaker, turning valves to drain sewer water, and collecting fuses to turn on a laundry chute. While these can begin to feel repetitive throughout the game, they usually carry some feeling of suspense, trying to listen to footsteps and avoid detection from your enemy.

At some points throughout the game, you don’t get the luxury of sneaking around and being thoughtful about your actions. For example, shortly after entering the male ward of the asylum, the music picks up and you realize that a group of three Mount Massive residents (more commonly referred to as “variants”) are after you, and you don’t get a lot of time to think or explore. It doesn’t help that you need to push objects out from in front of doors to get away, but you need to barricade them after entering a new room to slow and block your pursuers. The quick running away and vaulting over objects in your path is very smooth to play through (if you can think clearly enough to actually hit the right keys – something I had a bit of trouble with my first time through) and provides a parkour-style element to the game. This is not only apparent in this chase, though. You’ll find yourself jumping into vents to escape enemies who are chasing you and hanging over ledges to evade the view of others.

The game is good about responding to your controls and the characters are pretty well done in regards to how they can detect you and follow you around. I personally really liked how there is a clear difference in the personalities of different variants. Some can form full sentences and speak to you while others don’t have their thoughts put together that way. Some variants make their appearance very apparent to you (i.e. Chris Walker) and some that hide in the shadows and follow you before you can even realize that they’re there (i.e. The Twins). Characters play a huge role in not only this game but many others, and ‘Outlast’ seems to have done a great job making them work.

It’s easy to get completely immersed into the game once you start playing and getting into it, fearing what’s lurking ahead as you hear the soundtrack start to pick up and waiting for the next jumpscare to freak you out. You quickly become aware of who your enemies are and how to do what you can to defend yourself – sometimes by learning it the hard way. Don’t worry too much about it, though – when playing on normal, difficult, or nightmare mode, there are checkpoints where you can pick up from if you do end up in the hands of a not-so-happy variant.

Graphics

Considering that ‘Outlast’ came out in 2013, I was amazed by how high quality the graphics were. The graphics are AAA-quality, creating a beautiful and intricate world for the player to roam around in. The game did a fantastic job of having different textures and elements incorporated into itself while not looking out of place or unrealistic. On several occasions, rain and fire were incorporated into the game, and their overall appearance combined with the sound that accompanied them was impressive. 

I also appreciated the way that vision with, and without, the camcorder is different yet still realistic, especially as your camcorder’s batteries begin to drain. Water, reflections, and footprints are some good examples of the game’s capability to create a realistic scenario that in certain situations, looks more like a scene from a movie than a video game.

Overall, the graphics are high quality and provide an aesthetically pleasing and highly cinematic experience for the player.

Sound

An incredibly notable aspect of ‘Outlast’ is its soundtrack, which was composed by Samuel Laflamme. The music being played perfectly encapsulated the events that occur as you progress through the game. Chase music was high intensity and made your heart race, while as you walked through the asylum halls or witnessed something new (and likely harrowing) it was accompanied by a piece of music that was just the right amount of suspenseful to keep you on edge.

‘Outlast’ did a good job of timing events to fitting music, and I ended up liking the soundtrack so much that I found myself listening to it on Spotify after I was finished playing the game itself.

However, sound in a game is not all about the background music. 

The sounds effects in ‘Outlast’ are well-timed and fit into the game seamlessly. The sound quality is high and matches the realistic graphics that it accompanies. The sounds are realistic and the voice actors for the characters are able to play the part so well that at times, it’s hard to believe that they’re actors. In fact, because of his performance in ‘Outlast’, the voice actor for Dr. Trager (Alex Ivanovici) was nominated for the “Outstanding Performance in a Video Game” award at the 2015 ACTRA Montreal awards.

Miles Upshur, the character you’re playing as, does not speak. However, his breathings and yelling match the situation quite well. You can hear his breathing and heart rate speed up when he’s hiding in a locker or under a bed and an enemy is nearby. He reacts to the situations he gets into, and it is done in a way that is realistic and not too over-the-top.

Storyline *SPOILER WARNING for the following section*

I believe the storyline is the most overlooked aspect of ‘Outlast’ as a whole. It’s a pretty simple concept at first: Miles receives a letter from an insider at Mount Massive that the Murkoff Corporation, currently running the asylum, needs to be exposed for the horrible things they are doing there. He enters the asylum, things go south, and he needs to escape. However, when you pay attention to not only the characters you encounter, but other elements hidden throughout the asylum, things start to make a lot more sense – and seem a lot more put together.

As revealed in the first note (accomplished by raising your camcorder to record the exterior of the asylum), Mount Massive was shut down amid scandal and government secrecy in 1971 only to be re-opened by Murkoff Psychiatric Systems in 2009 under the guise of a charitable organization. However, as you can probably assume, their intentions were not so righteous.

What was going on was something called Project Walrider. Project Walrider was an experiment to create some sort of ideal creature out of a swarm of nanocomputers. The Walrider requires a human host in order to function, and the prerequisite for being this host is the following: to have experienced a huge trauma, and then seeing the trigger image video.

An old and suspected Nazi scientist, Dr. Wernicke, along with the Murkoff Corporation, were trying to bring this technology to life and control it. Their main test subject, and first known host of the Walrider, was a man named William “Billy” Hope. However, this doesn’t mean that countless other patients weren’t traumatized and exposed to what is called “Morphogenic Engine Therapy” in order to further progress Project Walrider. Because of the experiments, many of the variants that are seen throughout the game have parts of their body that have been permanently deformed.

Eventually, what is known as the “Mount Massive Asylum Incident” took place. This incident is described on the ‘Outlast’ page on Fandom as “a massacre of the staff of Mount Massive Asylum that took place a few hours prior to the start of the original story…  resulting in the establishment being overrun by the Variants.” The original story being referred to is the game itself, meaning that this massacre happened only hours before Miles arrived at the asylum. To go more in-depth, what happened was that Bill took control of the Walrider and used it in order to incite this violence against not only Murkoff personnel but patients as well.

This led to variants roaming the asylum for whatever reasons they would like. Some variants began to worship the Walrider as their God, and the most recognizable from this bunch would be a variant by the name of Father Martin. Father Martin intended on releasing the Walrider into the world. However, other variants were against this. For example, Chris Walker is a variant who stalks you throughout nearly the entire game and is known for decapitating people. His actions may seem unclear, but when you look into the storyline, his motives make more sense – he is trying to kill any possible hosts for the Walrider in order to prevent it from being releasing into the outside world as Father Martin intends.

Finally, Miles makes it to the lab underground, where he discovers what Murkoff was really about (and what the documents he’s been collecting mean). He meets Dr. Wernicke and learns how to kill Billy to then hopefully stop the Walrider, and after being chased through nearly the entire basement by it, he is able to successfully do so. However, Miles gets attacked by the Walrider and it fuses itself into his body, possessing him. After he makes his way to the exit – and does so very slowly as he can barely walk anymore – he is repeatedly shot at by a group of Murkoff tactical officers. However, they didn’t realize their mistake, as Miles had become the new host of the Walrider, he took down Dr. Wernicke and the military personnel with him; and thus concludes the game.

All in all, the storyline plays a major part in ‘Outlast’ as it should in any videogame. I really liked how through character dialogue, documents collected, and what remained of the asylum, you were able to get an idea of what was happening before the encounter in the lab even took place.

The story was thoughtfully applied to the game itself, and it adds another layer of interest and complexity, at least for me. You not only understand the extremity of what Miles is going through, but also the variants. I know I found myself starting to feel bad even for Chris Walker, which is strange considering he is Miles’s main enemy as he travels throughout the asylum.

Outlast has so much background knowledge to be learned about that I didn’t even mention at all in my summary, and by looking into it you really get to know the characters and why they are the way they are. It’s chaos, it’s gross, and it looks violent, but there’s reason behind it. It makes sense why there are heads on bookshelves and why there’s blood dripping from the vents.

All things considered, I think the ‘Outlast’ storyline is wildly interesting and well planned out. It definitely adds to the game in a positive way. It makes it go from some random game about a journalist and blood to something with meaning, something to get you invested. You are able to find clues along the way by picking up documents and observing the behaviors and dialogue of NPC’s. Overall, I think the storyline may be what I  love so much about ‘Outlast’ – and what keeps me and so many others hooked.

Replay Value

The replay value of ‘Outlast’ is likely highly dependent on the player’s interest in the lore, storyline, or simply game itself. If you don’t find yourself passionately interested in those things, I’d say the probability of you immediately wanting to start over and play again isn’t very high. Maybe after a few months to feel the scare again, but not instantly.

I found myself wanting to play through again once I found out all of the information revealed near the game’s end (and after researching the storyline and characters for myself) and I appreciated everything even more than when I first played it. Even after that, I played it again a couple of times to collect all of the achievements for it on Steam, as well as to try out the different modes.

My Overall Opinion

My main critique of ‘Outlast’ is that sometimes it got slightly repetitive, but at the same time I can see how everything fits into the game. It makes sense that Miles would need to put some work in to make it out of Mount Massive, and I feel like a huge element of ‘Outlast’ would be lost without the challenge of sneaking around different variants. However, sometimes it gets tiring running away from people and hiding in lockers.

*SPOILER WARNING for the following paragraph*

A huge critique that I have seen a lot of people have of the game is in regards to its ending. I have seen countless posts talking about how sudden or unexplained the ending was, however, I think that the ending to ‘Outlast’ was pretty solid. It makes complete sense that Miles would make a more than excellent host for the Walrider, and it makes even more sense that Dr. Wernicke would want to have Miles killed after having found out some of Murkoff’s biggest secrets. It was shown in the game’s documents “Request for Reassignment” and “Persecutorial Delusions” that Murkoff took one of their own employees, David Annapurna, and transmitted him as a patient of the asylum (which they indisputably mistreated) after he threatened to contact the press about his suspicions that Murkoff was abusing their patients. While it was Dr. Trager who sent in for David to be admitted as a patient, it is not unlikely that nearly all of the Murkoff administration, who knew a considerable amount about Project Walrider, wouldn’t want anybody to know about it. Not only could it damage Murkoff’s image, but the experiments they were conducting were highly illegal. For those and several other reasons, I believe that ‘Outlast’s’ ending not only makes sense but wraps the game up in a clean and concise way.

All things considered, I think ‘Outlast’ is an amazing game that everybody should give a try at least once. I will say that I would tread with caution for either younger teenagers or people who are easily scared, grossed out, have nightmares, etc. The game is rated Mature, with the game’s content describes as the following: “frequent violence or gore and general mature content”. All that being said, I’ve played several different games in the same or similar genres, but ‘Outlast’ stood out to me from the beginning and has ranked as my current favorite horror game.

So, what are you waiting for? A Steam sale? Not a bad idea, honestly.

In all seriousness though – I think ‘Outlast’ is worth the purchase and undoubtedly worth your time. 

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Mental effects of social media on teens

By: Aisha Dirie

Even though social media is a fairly new thing, it has increased in popularity over the years with many marketing techniques. Social media has many benefits, like keeping in touch with relatives, having quick access to people’s profiles, etc.

But there are many long term effects of it too. Excessive social media usage can lead to mental disorders like anxiety and depression, it can harm relationships, etc. We’ll dig into some of these mental, and emotional affects of social media within teenagers. 

Social media has been proved to increase anxiety and depression within teens. According to the Mayo Clinic, using social media more than three times a day can predict poor mental health and well being in teens.

Social media can sometimes provide an escape, as well as change how you perceive others. It makes others lives seem perfect. FOMO (fear of missing out) is also common for teens while using social media excessively.

Social media also disrupts sleeping patterns, unhealthy sleeping habits can lead to poor performance in school, depression, anxiety, loss of interest in daily activities, poor hygiene, etc.

Over usage of social media can lead to feeling envious, imperfect, useless, etc. Excessive use of social media can lead to all these things that can eventually affect you in the long run.

Regulating or supervising social media at specific times during the day is the best way to fight these bad habits. Social media can affect the external feelings, but also internal feelings and functions we have. It can affect your brain’s decision making and logical thinking aspect as well.

All of these, with countless studies, have shown to disturb teens in an amount of ways physically, mentally, and emotionally. Little usage along with close supervision of social media can help promote responsible behavior and overall better mental health.

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How likely are you to make a living off of TikTok

By: Olivia Miller

Image taken from: https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pittsburghparent.com%2Ftiktok-what-parents-need-to-know-about-online-safety%2F&psi g=AOvVaw1BNbKUW-iPsLT8K3mOqpk2&ust=1608258837854000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=0CAMQjB1qFwoTCNDVuZj90-0CFQAAAAAdAAAA ABAU

TikTok is an app that has blown up over the past year. Formally known as Musically, TikTok is a social media app that allows you to connect with others around the world through short videos. These videos can be anything from funny skits, dances, lip sync videos, and many many more.”

Although TikTok is mainly targeted to kids and teens, people of all ages are using it. No matter what your age, and where you’re from, TikTok is probably one of your most used apps; if not your missing out!

By submitting a video to TikTok you’d be sharing it with your followers on the app. These followers are usually your friends and family, but TikTok is an app where, when you submit a video, it goes on the Foryou page. The Foryou page is a place where, when you submit a video, people from all over the world, who have the app, can see it and interact with it. If your video gets on enough peoples Foryou pages… it can go viral.

“How can I go viral?” you may be asking.

Well, if you create a video that you think people will like, it will show up on their Foryou page and they can comment, share, and give it a heart. If you get enough hearts your video is considered viral. Viral videos can have from 10,000 likes all the way up to 10,000,000 likes. Crazy, I know!

Creators who have many viral videos start to get followed by people who like their content and want to see more of it. These creators are called influencers, and influencers can make money. How much money? Well, lets find out.

According to ​influencermarketinghub.com t​here are many ways to make money off of TikTok. These include gifts from livestreams, selling merchandise, and doing sponsored videos.

You have to gain a following before you can actually start making money off of TikTok though. This can be hard; you have to make videos daily that get enough views and likes. Most people who have the app can agree that even having one viral video can be super hard to accomplish, so having TikTok be your only job is not a dream most people chase. But how likely are you to make a living off of TikTok?

Although there isn’t an exact percentage on how likely you are to be lucky enough to make a living off of TikTok, most people could tell you it’s very very slim. Under the very rare circumstances that it does happen, boy are you lucky.

The most successful people on TikTok have net worths from 1-5 million dollars. TikTok also open doors for creators to start their own music career, makeup line, or even acting career.

So, even if your chances are slim, don’t shy away from posting that video you may think has potential, you never know what’s going to happen.

Xbox X Series overview

By: Jalalaisa Geleto

The Xbox X Series is the latest Xbox to be released by Microsoft. The Xbox X Series will join the PlayStation 5 in being the first consoles of the 9th generation.

The Xbox X Series and PlayStation 5 are going to be competing this holiday season. I’ll give you an overview of the Xbox to help you make an informed purchase of either console.

The Xbox X Series has better specs than the PlayStation 5 and It’s the most computer-like gaming console yet.

According to the official Microsoft site, these are the specs of the Xbox X Series:

  • Processor:
    • CPU – 8X Cores, 3.8GHz, Custom Zen 2 CPU
    • GPU – 12 TFlops, 52 CUs, 1.825GHz Custom RDNA 2 GPU
  • Memory and Storage:
    • Memory – 16GB GDDR6 Memory Bandwidth – 10GB@ 560GB/s, 6GB@336 GB/s
    • Storage – 1TB Custom NVME SSD

Microsoft claims that their console can run all games at 4K 60fps. They also claim that the console could run games up to 120 fps. These claims have been tested by early reviews, by testers like Austin Evansand, have been proven true.

Though the real question is: Can the Xbox X Series keep this up with future games, or can it only do this with 8 gen games?

The Xbox X Series is also a multimedia platform that allows for the highest quality streaming and video play. The Xbox X Series can play videos in 8K. 8K screens aren’t even available for the general public.

The Xbox has a lot of consumer friendly programs like, Smart Delivery and Game Pass, that allow people to spend a lot less money playing video games on any platform and on Xbox.

The Xbox X Series is coming on November 10, 2020. Hopefully, this quick overview can help you make your decision on whether you want and Xbox or a PlayStation.

The effects of social media on its users

By Irene Cohen and Ellie Mulvaney

In this day and age, it’s no secret that social media takes up most of our time. People of all ages are devoting so much of their lives to scrolling and posting that it has become second nature to the majority of the population. However, now that entertainment is just the click of a button away, what happens to our patience to be interested in real life situations? Technology may be very detrimental to our attention spans, especially as its use becomes more and more ingrained into society.

To put this effect into perspective, let’s look at just how big social media is. ‘Statista’ reports that, in America alone, 244 million people used social media as of 2018. That’s approximately 79% of our total population helping to rake in roughly a $6.7 billion dollar revenue for last year. This industry is obviously thriving, which means that more and more users are affected by it.

A California University study, conducted by Larry D. Rosen, l. Mark Carrier, and Nancy A. Cheever, exemplified the obstruction of attention by social media in a group of students. They were reported to study, on average, for only 6 minutes before switching to technology, and, further, the students on Facebook were even recorded to have lower GPAs than their counterparts.

With the addition of social media for mainstream consumption, it’s become a staple distraction for people performing tasks like homework, as exemplified in the aforementioned research. People have become used to quickly moving visuals and easily changed subjects at their fingertips, leaving a need for breaks and distractions during longer and more tedious activities.

Students who need to complete their studies are finding it harder and harder to concentrate, as they are so used to social media, and therefore, a generation with lower attention spans and work ethic is being made.

The sheer amount of information that social media can provide for one single person is more than any piece of media has been able to in the past. Since there is so much information packed into small frames of people’s time, those who consume a lot of social media have trained themselves to focus on things for a shorter amount of time so that they can ingest more content. In fact, according to ‘Griffin Webstudios’ the average attention span of someone in the year 2000, was 12 seconds, compared to now where it has dropped all the way down to 8 seconds.

That’s not the only place we can acutely measure this decrease in attention span among social media users. Studies have shown that those who use different social media for short bursts of time, alternating between them, have actually been shown to have less grey matter in the brain in areas associated with attention and concentration.

Social media platforms and influencers are fighting hard to maintain viewer retention when their viewers have gotten used to such a quick delivery of information. Many people suspect this factor has been a great help in popularizing the social media app, TikTok. These bite sized videos are easy for someone to watch quickly and in huge volumes.

Social media’s influence has shortened the attention span of its users, and this can be shown in many different scientific studies. This decrease in attention span has affected many areas of people’s everyday lives. However, this relationship is not a one way street. This decrease in attention span has forced social media platforms to alter their formats so they can maintain viewership for a longer amount of time.