Intro to Writing by Evan Hirsh

The three posts I have decided to showcase below on my newly indoctrinated 'Writing' page, are stories that I wrote while taking a Reporting and Writing course. At a first glance it might be hard to find a commonality between them, a video game review might have little in common with a statistical analysis of student voters in the 2016 election, or a profile Q&A with a competitive gamer. However the common thread they all share, is my passion for the subject that I am covering. Whenever I write a story, or conduct an interview, I always try to find a subject that I am passionate about, whether it is the game Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, demographic analysis of student voters, or the new breed of competition that is eSports, I always try my best to find a subject I love so much, that writing never feels like work to me. With that, I leave you to the stories I selected from my previous semester. Feel free to comment on them with any feedback!

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Review by Evan Hirsh

Released in August of this year for Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is the sequel to 2011’s Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and is the fourth major release in the Deus Ex franchise. The series is known for its social stealth mechanics, futuristic setting, and stories that touch on global conspiracy and espionage. A science fiction series, the setting and tone of Deus Ex is in the same cyberpunk vein as Blade Runner, using the lens of technology to explore issues that modern society faces. The series continues these themes throughout each game, slightly molding to the political climate each time. This is more apparent than usual in Mankind Divided, with ‘coincidental’ references to real world movements.

The game takes place 2 years after Human Revolution, when people with mechanical augmentations were sent into a violent frenzy due to a broadcasted signal. The game’s primary location of Prague is separated into multiple districts, with a district specifically for the augmented, which is also the home of the returning main character, Adam Jensen. Playing as an augmented character means that you will be periodically stopped by police while walking through the small but detailed overworld.

A city divided: The faces and people of Deus Ex's Prague.

The game should have gone more into these themes of division and segregation, but ultimately it did not. Organizations such as ARC (the Augmented Rights Coalition), connect the main story with the themes of the game, but the story is never necessarily driven by those themes. It never goes deeper than a surface level look at the problems in their world, and by extension, ours.

As for the overall mechanics, I have little to touch on, because it is almost unchanged from Human Revolution, outside of providing more combat options for non-lethal playthroughs. However, I have no complaints about the lack of changes, as Human Revolution had excellent mechanics. I did find the level design to be an improvement over Human Revolution. Missions were highly varied in terms of layout, and facilitated many different strategies to complete.

However, the social system felt way less impactful than it did in other games, with only one impactful conversation. There was also only one boss fight as compared to Human Revolution’s three. In fact, Mankind Divided felt much shorter than Human Revolution, even though I completed all side missions in the former, and skipped some in the latter.

Overall Mankind Divided is a game that tries to differentiate itself from its predecessor but ultimately falls short of the same level of excellence and originality. However, if you are a big fan of the previous game, and are looking for more, I recommend giving Mankind Divided a shot, just maybe not at full price.

Sources:

http://www.polygon.com/2016/8/3/12368210/deus-ex-mankind-divided-augs-lives-matter-controversy

 

We're the kids in America by Evan Hirsh

In the 2016 election, it is rather likely that younger voters will continue to be the least represented age demographic at the polls. U.S. Citizens from ages 18 to 24 (known by some as the “Youth Vote”) have consistently had the lowest voting turnout out of any demographic since the year 1964 per the United States Census Bureau. In order understand why the youth turnout is so consistently low, one must understand the history of the youth vote in its most influential election.

Arguably no election was more influential for youth voters than 2008, when Barack Obama was elected president to the highest youth turnout in decades. While the youth vote certainly helped him become president, it is generally misattributed to helping him defeat his general contender, John McCain. According to the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake  his real success was mobilizing the youth vote in his primary victory over Clinton.

According to Pew Research Organization, Obama managed to secure 66% of the youth vote in the general election, the largest share of the youth vote the democrats have had since at least 1980. This included a large share of independent voters in the 18-29 age group at 66%. However, while Obama managed to swing the youth vote in his favor, he did not increase youth voter turnout. The same study cites NBC exit polls which show the youth vote increasing by only one percentage point from 2004 to 2008.

What could a larger youth voter turnout accomplish in this year’s election? Well for one, it would generally help Clinton more than it would Trump. Another study conducted by the Pew Research Center in August 2016 shows that out of all voters aged 18 to 29, 38% of them would vote for Clinton, and 27% of them for Trump. This might be of little surprise to most; the Democrats have long held the youth vote, but this year something unprecedented has happened. The same Pew Research Center study showed that 28% of the youth vote will be voting for 3rd party candidates, 19% for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and 9% for Green party candidate Jill Stein. Per

The obvious suspects for this are both the major nominees, which if the primaries are anything to go by, did not necessarily excite youth voters. While the Republican primary didn’t necessarily have a clear victor in terms of youth vote, Democrat primary candidate Bernie Sanders was the favorite by a longshot. In fact, per a report published by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning, more youth voted for democratic primary candidate Bernie Sanders than Clinton and Trump combined (in their respective primaries).

 While the candidates are vastly unpopular this election, history has told us that this is a larger problem. Even in 2008, the youth voter increase over the 2004 and 2012 elections was a small one, per the Census Bureau’s report. Kerry Foxx, the director of RIT’s Leadership Institute, believes that one of the causes of consistently low youth turnout is due to their non-habituation of the voting process, stating “more you vote, the more likely you are to vote in the future.”

Kerry also suggested that there is more recognition of the impact a policy has as one gets older, stating that “when you buy a house, tax law becomes pretty important to you” and that young people have not necessarily made that level of investment in their local communities. He concluded with a point about civics classes, and how education about our government has been less of a focus in high schools recently than it has in the past, and

However, talk to some students at RIT who aren’t voting, and they might say that the largest barrier was simply registering for an absentee ballot. Students such as Aidan McInerny and Rocky Quinn are out of state students who are not voting due to just that. When asked how this could be prevented in the future, Aidan said “it would be great if applying online was something that you could do at any time, up until the day of the election”, with Rocky stating that information on how to vote should be more readily available to students.

The youth vote has always been an enigmatic one to many pollsters and political activist groups, and after reading all this information, one might start to see why. It is the result of a multitude of issues, ranging from lack of engagement in schools, to the accessibility of voting for a generation raised by technology. The 2016 election already is in its twilight, reaching the end of a grueling two years of negative campaigning. When looking towards the 2020 election, and asking how we can improve youth turnout in the future, one mustn’t ask what we need to do, but where we need to start. 

 

Sources:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/post/president-obama-and-the-misunderstood-youth-vote/2012/04/23/gIQAuGIQdT_blog.html

http://www.people-press.org/2016/08/18/1-voters-general-election-preferences/

https://www.census.gov/prod/2014pubs/p20-573.pdf

http://www.pewresearch.org/2008/11/13/young-voters-in-the-2008-election/

http://www.pewresearch.org/2008/02/11/young-voters-in-the-2008-presidential-primaries/

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/06/10/turnout-was-high-in-the-2016-primary-season-but-just-short-of-2008-record/

http://civicyouth.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Youth-Voting-in-2016-Primaries.pdf

http://civicyouth.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Trump-and-Youth-Vote.pdf

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/06/20/more-young-people-voted-for-bernie-sanders-than-trump-and-clinton-combined-by-a-lot/

The Competitive Edge by Evan Hirsh

Thomas Malooly has always been a competitor. Throughout his high school career, he played sports such as Baseball and Football, with a fierce no excuses attitude that push him through his athletic career. Back in June of this year, Tom was recruited to a professional team, but instead for a video game, Halo. Tom is on the forefront of a new competition known as e-sports. I had the pleasure of knowing Tom throughout high school, and he eagerly accepted my offer to interview over Skype.

Q: What made you want to get involved with e-sports?

A: So I started out, just basically as an athlete, and I’ve always had that drive for competition. I hate losing I’ve always been an extreme competitor. I’ve always been into sports, such as Baseball and Football, when I was younger I played Basketball. I guess it stemmed from sports. I would play games, but I never really knew there was a competitive scene to games. Now that I’m older, and I understand that, It’s made it hard to resist playing anything that’s competitive.

Q: So overall, you have School, play Baseball, and have a lot of activities outside of e-sports, how do you balance that?

A: I would say the best way to balance it would be to make a schedule. The more so that you can plan ahead and know that you’re willing to play the easier it’s going to be on yourself, in order to actually compete, play, and practice. Because I mean you have to do all those things. You can’t just solely compete and not play the game yourself, and expect it to keep getting better. I have baseball practice right now three times a week, and then we’re having fall games on weekends. The hardest thing is time management for sure.

Q: Which of your skills from traditional sports would you say transitioned best into e-sports?

A: The competitive edge definitely comes with you. You can’t really control it, that’s something that falls into place. On top of that, as a baseball player, you have to have pretty quick reaction time. Say someone hits a hard line drive at you, you have to be able to react quick. E-sports is the same way. It doesn’t matter if it’s a “Real Time Strategy” game, or an FPS game, you have to have that quick reaction, being able to react on the fly.

Q: Where do you see your future when it comes to e-sports?

As far as my future, it’s untold. I picked up a new teammate, we have this team of 4, we compete every Saturday in the open cup events and we [skirmish] several times a week. I’d say in the future, best case scenario, attend Las Vegas event, and I’m not going to say place top 16, but I can see us really making a statement as far as a game of Halo goes.

You can find Tom on Twitter as @EMP_SavageHCS