The Last Jedi - Poster and Wallpaper

The Last Jedi Poster

The Last Jedi Poster

My phone wallpaper version

My phone wallpaper version

On Friday the poster and teaser trailer for The Last Jedi were released. I love the trailer, but I keep coming back to the poster. 

Star Wars posters are famous for their Drew Struzan designs, where he fit all of the characters into one epic mural. No knock on those works, but I love how little there is on this poster.

There is so little, but so much to read into. We know the story will center around the conflict between Luke, Rey and Kylo Ren. Or, since his helmet is missing should we really call him Ben Solo? Will we be exploring his turn away from Luke? What about Rey's lightsaber? Is it significant that it goes from blue to red?! Is it important that it separates Luke and Ben?!?!?!

I wanted to be reminded of these questions at all times, so I decided to make it my phone lockscreen wallpaper. I simplified the design by removing the title and positioning the characters better for iOS. I love the white border and tried to keep it, but it was too jarring on my eyes at night. I switched the white to black and we're done! Grab a copy below and spend the next 8 months agonizing over the questions it raises.

Favorite Games of 2016

This post is criminally late, but I had other things on my mind in January.

My favorite games typically fall into one of two categories. First, I love games that drop me in the middle of a fully fleshed out world filled with great characters. This creates an opportunity for empathy I don't think you get in any other medium. Second, I love games that focus on giving me some tools and then asking increasingly difficult things from me. Tough platformers, tricky puzzle games, and twitchy FPS all fall into that second category. It's a rare game that combines both, but it does happen.

Firewatch

Firewatch made the list because of empathy and world building. You're made to experience this story as Henry, not as yourself. It succeeded in that because of the voice acting, dialog, and fully realized world.

It's not hard gameplay and your choices are basically limited to dialog options. But, it shows how awesome interactive storytelling can be.

Read my full review here.

The Witness

It's easy to be skeptical of The Witness. It reminds me most of those cheap puzzle books that feature a thousand Sudoku puzzles or word searches or cryptograms etc. In this game you take a simple puzzle made up of lines and dots and get to know it very well.

But, The Witness grabs you because of how it teaches you. Eventually it teaches you a whole language that is so complicated it's hard to explain to the person sitting next to you. The way concepts are introduced and built upon reminds me of the best math teachers I had in school. 

Unfortunately, I got distracted 60% of the way through the game and I don't know how to get back in. I'm at a point where things are very complicated and I don't know how to relearn the rules without just starting over.

Dishonored 2

The Dishonored series puts you in the shoes of an assassin but offers you the choice to never kill anyone. That premise is what got me interested in the first game. But what kept me was the excellent world building and gameplay.

Sneaking around this new part of the world in Dishonored 2 is just as satisfying as in the first game. I'm doing a non-lethal ghost run, just like with Dishonored 1, which is harder but really rewarding.

I haven't finished it yet, but I can say I spent more time playing the Clockwork Mansion level than I did entire games in 2016. It wasn't that it was hard and frustrating, it was that I liked it so much I wanted to perfect it.

Hearthstone: Whispers of the Old Gods

Hearthstone didn't come out in 2016 and it wasn't the first year I played it. But, I had stopped playing and the Whispers of the Old Gods expansion got me back in. 

Whispers of the Old Gods introduced a new mode (standard format) that limited the available cards to the subset of recent releases. This limit meant that as a new player you didn't have to spend a long time collecting a ton of old cards, you could be competitive a lot sooner. This really did work. I rarely bought card packs before because the huge number of possible cards meant I'd get a lot of stuff I didn't want, it wasn't worth the cost. But with this expansion I spent around $30 right away, the most I ever have on a free to play game, because I got more value for it than before.

The expansion also introduced the titular Old Gods which had complex card effects that you could build whole decks around. That novelty was plenty to get me interested again. 

Honorable Mention: INSIDE

INSIDE was originally on my main list. But, as I started to write about each game I realized that it didn't quite hit me as deeply as the other games. However, INSIDE was a game that pulled me in right away and kept me interested the entire time. It takes unexpected twists and turns and is very very creepy when played with all of the lights off. It's not very difficult or very long, so it's perfect if you're looking for something to play over a weekend.

Resistance

The Trump victory doesn't mean the resistance to a xenophobic, racist and authoritarian America comes to an end. It means it's time to work harder and I know I certainly could.

Here are some of the resources I'm starting with. Let me know on Twitter if you have other suggestions.

The Resistance Manual is a wiki that tries to track the current issues and offer suggestions for how to resist them. As a wiki its quality is really determined by the quality of the community. I've submitted my first edit already.

I'm concerned about the spread of exaggerated and false information that seems to be getting worse on social media. Bashing Trump for things that aren't real isn't helpful. I'm not sure a wiki is the answer, but it's worth a shot.

Swing Left

https://swingleft.org

In their own words: 

Control of the House in 2018 will be decided by a handful of Swing Districts, places where the last election was decided by a thin margin. Find your closest Swing District and join its team to learn about actionable opportunities to support progressives—and defeat Republicans—in that district, no matter where you live. We can stop Trump and the GOP agenda by working together NOW.

This is a really interesting way to allocate resources. But, my closest swing district is four hours away in another state. 

5 Calls

https://5calls.org

Calling your representatives is one of the most effective ways to influence them. 5 Calls aims to give you the resources to make five calls a day to your representatives on issues like the border wall, Muslim ban and supporting Standing Rock. They research the issue and give you your representative's phone number so you can make your voice heard.

The upside is that this takes a lot of the upfront work away and makes it really easy. The downside is that you're trusting this group of volunteers to present the issues that are most important and also present accurate research on those issues. I still really like the concept.

Donate Money

Slate: Outraged About Trump’s Executive Order? Donate to These Nine Organizations.

Donate to the ACLU 

Finally, donating to organizations is also really important. Slate had a nice round up of organizations to donate to if you want to specifically oppose the Muslim ban, for instance. 

The ACLU won the first legal battle against Trump and his immigration ban within 24 hours of it going into effect. They will no doubt be working hard in the coming months.