There’s Nothing Wrong with Video Games

By Erica Riccio-Polletta

Over in recent months, doctor’s and society have dubbed that video games can cause mental illness.  As someone who plays video games, I find this very interesting and annoying at the same time. With the current events from the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, video games are viewed in a negative way, and being said to cause these tragedies. However, video games are not as evil as society have deemed them. On the contrary, they bring a whole new level of literary imagination and storytelling. There are strong literary qualities in video games that have its audiences hooked.

Video games are basically an interactive movie. Players are in a new environment, a completely different person that could never happen. The player is encouraged to make their own story and become a hero. Also, depending on the storyline for the game, the player could spend hours playing because the story is that exciting.

Take Minecraft for example. Minecraft is a sandbox game, meaning it’s an open world and players are free to manipulate the game’s environment, and players can create their own lives from their imagination. This game has servers for players to participate in and are able to interact with other players. It’s a new way of meeting new potential friends and a new way for socializing. Players are easily lost in time from playing because there is so much to do. With myself for example, I can easily play a session of Minecraft for twelve hours because of how much there is to do. The objective of the game is to survive, and gather enough materials to defeat the Ender Dragon. However, players just get together and make a town with a farm and a garden to survive, and explore the map. There are also mods to enhance the gaming experience for players. This means that there are different downloadable content for players to have a more in-depth experience. However, there are games that go a greater distance that society has deemed inappropriate but is still a fan favorite, and that game is Grand Theft Auto.

GTA is another sandbox game where players can manipulate and control their environment. In recent games, players are able to play online with friends and socialize, similar to Minecraft. However, GTA brings the literary side to a different experience for players to become the “bad guy” instead of the hero. GTA has the player be three different characters from different classes in society and partake in illegal activities. This goes from speeding, stealing, and gun violence.

In current events, society as deemed video games with gun violence and mental illness when there really isn’t a connection at all. Just like movie ratings, there are game rating, such as E, for everyone, and M for mature. Parents do not look at these rating or explain to their children that most of GTA is fake and meant for fantasy play.

           GTA is meant for play and not to be taken seriously. It is meant to explore the story and literary elements of storytelling to open eyes of how the negative part of society could work, just like any other game.

The Power of Sylvia Plath

By Stevie Knight

I had just turned 19, and I was looking for a new book to buy with my new Barnes & Noble gift card. I looked around and saw a giant poster on the back wall that caught my attention. It was a dark, dusty blue with a woman’s feet, but you could only see up to her knees. In pink letters it read, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. I had recently seen that title on a list of must read literature. I made my way to the customer service desk to find the book, and thus began my infatuation with Sylvia Plath.

Everything about Esther Green, the main character, I saw in myself. She was 20 years old, in the midst of a mental breakdown. And so was I. The Bell Jar is a semi-autobiographical account of Plath’s own life. At 20, she attempted suicide for the first time, which is something I also dealt with as a young woman. I learned everything I could about Plath after this. I saw so much of myself in her, and she became my literary idol.

Plath was diagnosed with Manic Depression, which is now known as Bipolar Disorder. I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder about a year after I discovered The Bell Jar. Seeing the struggles that Plath went through, and still managed to be successful, gave me hope that I could do that too, despite my mental illness.

A few months after my diagnosis, I was having a tough time dealing with my mental illness and felt like I was never going to get better. One night, I had a dream that Plath came to visit me, and she said to me, “Do not let this disease take you like it took me. You have so much talent, you have to stay alive in order to keep writing and make a difference.” That’s when I decided I wanted my third tattoo to be dedicated to the woman who inspired me to become the writer I am today. In a way, Plath saved my life.

My tattoo is a flower that Plath drew in one of her journals, inside of a bell jar, with a quote from the novel in her handwriting. The quote is “And I listen to the old brag of my heart. I am. I am. I am.” These words help me remember that I am still alive, my heart is still beating, and I am okay. The flower reminds me that even though I feel confined by my mental illness at times, I still have the power to bloom.

My Top Four Literary Heroes

By Tiffany Coelho

Ernest Hemingway. Mark Twain. F. Scott Fitzgerald. Charles Dickens. When you google ‘Famous Authors,’ these are the first few names that appear. While these authors are indeed famous and have penned some of the important canonical works in the last few centuries, they also have another characteristic in common: their gender. I did not search ‘Famous Male Authors’ but that is what I was given. In fact, in the top 10 of this google search, only two were women.

Male authors are often celebrated more than female authors due to the historical oppression of women and overall societal lack of opportunities for women. Today, it is important to celebrate female writers for their accomplishments and creativity because they are the some of the heroes that women look up at to find their own strength.

So who are my favorite literary heroes? No surprise, they’re all female. Yes, they are all famous female authors, so I took the idea from google not to title it ‘My Female Literary Heroes’ but ‘My Literary Heroes’ because they are authors, just like any other author.

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  1. Harper Lee

In high school English classes, reading classics was a given and I slogged through all of them without really enjoying many of the books. But then we were assigned To Kill A Mockingbird. Harper Lee’s iconic novel struck me unlike any other classic I had ever read before. Lee’s take on race relations and inequalities in the South as witnessed by a child created some of the best story telling I have ever read to this day.

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  1. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

My first exposure to contemporary author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was not even through her writing, but through her TED talk titled “We should all be feminists.” I watched it at the beginning of my college career in my first ever Women’s Studies class and her words impacted so much that I think about her speech still today. Her idea of modern feminism is both enlightening to current feminists and important for other people to finally understand what feminism is all about. Her novels We Should All Be Feminists and Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions expand on her feminist ideas further.

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  1. Gertrude Stein

While Gertrude Stein has always been on my radar as a revolutionary lesbian author, only recently have I discovered how truly important she is to literary history. Authors like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway would visit Gertrude Stein in her home in Paris and she would advise them in their writing. Her short story “Miss Furr and Miss Skeene” plays with sexuality and form that I have never seen before. She, herself a modernist, helped to shape Modernism through her own work and helping other famous literary heroes.

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  1. Zora Neale Hurston

As one of the most famous Florida writers, Zora Neale Hurston has inspired since I first learned about her in high school. Her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God was revolutionary for my love of literature because the emotional response I had was extraordinary (read: I cried). Her portrayal of the female African American experience is both beautiful and sad but, ultimately, she changed my idea of what truly powerful literature looks and feels like.

The Rewarding Task of Emotional Writing

By Caitlin Costello

In order to write something great you must feel deeply about it. That is how I write and it is how I have always written. Joan Didion once said, “Something about a situation will bother me, so I will write a piece to find out what it is.” In other words, one writes to seek the answers to the questions they never thought you would ask. Writing is a process, an experience, an emotional release, and a rocky road to self-discovery. Much like one lives to find out, one also writes to find out.

As a writer, I find myself like Didion, always seeking to discover something new about myself and other people. If I am upset or fascinated by something, like Didion says, I can write about it and discover why I am upset or why it matters, because there is nothing healthy about spending an entire lifetime locking up one’s emotions in a psychic vault. When writers unlock these safes for a living.

Emotions are pivotal to my own writing process. I use them as a catharsis so that I can process and cope with my own feelings. They say that writers have a certain sensibility, and I like to think that it comes from having both highly emotional and yet highly intelligent traits. In fact, many writers have what is called emotional intelligence, which is the ability to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions. Emotions are a universal part of the human condition, and a writer uses their emotions almost like a shovel to get to the center of it. A writers words are like layers of dirt, flowers, and fauna, as their deeper emotions become unearthed.

Emotions can be really abstract, therefore, it may be difficult to find the right words to for how you are feeling. But don’t be discouraged if you think it won’t make the slightest bit of sense because the process is the most important part. It is about releasing those emotions through the act of writing. The benefits of this is that you tend to understand things better than before, you also work through your own thoughts and feelings by expressing them. You may even do this through the use of metaphor or simile.

If you want to try this on your own, I would suggest that you start thinking like Didion, and find something that is really bothering you or upsetting you, or bringing you bliss, or provoking your thought, or making you feel strange. Then, try to convey those thoughts and feelings into words of your own creation. Soon you will be turning your feelings into flowing vocabulary that comes straight from your core.

Finding the Inspiration to Write

By Cali Getson

Writing is art. There are many rules and valuable techniques for how authors should go about creating their literary art. However, I believe the biggest part of the writing process is finding inspiration. This should be numero one on every writers list on how to create literary masterpieces.

What is inspiration? Inspiration is a feeling one gets when they see or hear something that moves them. Usually, it sticks to the inside of your brain like a sticky note and you find yourself coming back to the thing giving you the same weird feeling inside. It can be descried as an itch you want to remove from your mind and get it down on paper. Or sometimes, it feels like a warmth spreading throughout your mind, warming up your imagination.

 

 

Where does one find inspiration? Inspiration can be found in locations, books, art, music, social media, and everything in between. People can be inspired by going to, or just seeing a picture of a location. Whether it’s a cute small town or the Grand Canyon. Architecture of a town or a single building can inspire a story that takes place in that location, i.e. The Haunted Mansion. Nature can also inspire people with its vivid colors and changing of the seasons.

Anytime I see a picture of Wonder Woman I am inspired to want to write about fierce women taking control of their lives and exceeding others expectations. She also makes me want to become a better person and exceed my own expectations of myself. She is already a literary masterpiece created by someone else but that’s okay. Books, movies, and characters that have already been created can inspire you too. Fan-fiction is proof of this. People become part of fandoms and create more stories with the characters, putting their own spin of them. Quotes can also inspire people. Any people have quotes as tattoos on their body or put them in front of their chapters because the quote inspires them or makes them feel something when they hear/see it.

Music can also inspire literary masterpieces. A girl in my creative writing class took Queen’s song Bohemian Rhapsody and turned it into a novel idea about a girl and a guy running away from their past. Right now, Kesha and Macklemore’s song “Good Old Days” inspires me to live every second to the fullest and try to capture the memories as they happen so I can look back on them. Jon Bellion’s album “The Human Condition” inspires me with its music but I am even more inspired to write a story about the album art he had commissioned by David Lojaya. This is a great example of getting inspiration from others inspiration because Jon was inspired to write the songs, David was inspired by the songs to create the art, and now I am inspired by them to create a story based on their art. By sharing our ideas and letting them evolve past what we alone could imagine is also a big part of how social media can inspire us. Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine, Facebook, Twitter, etc. I mostly get inspired by Tumblr posts that have been screenshotted and put on Pinterest. On Pinterest you can see writing topic ideas, fan-fiction, quotes, art, and just people’s random ideas that they float out into the world and people add on to them making them better. It is one big workshop of ideas and stories. All of the inspiration is in one place making it easier for me to gather the images that inspire me and go back to them when I am ready to write about them.

Without inspiration there would be no advancement of society because we would be unimaginative and unable to change and grow. Take advantage of the things around you to become inspired and add your own art to the ever-inspiring masterpieces that others are creating.