Lessons in Morality from Madden 18 and Longshot

(I don’t know if any of you play Madden, but if you do, this piece contains spoilers for the story mode, Longshot, particularly the ending. You’ve been warned!)

Madden is not a video game that is supposed to make you cry.

To be fair, there are some who would probably say that no video game should make you cry. But those people have probably never hit the road as Lee and Clementine in The Walking Dead, or shouted for their lost child in the middle of a shopping mall in Heavy Rain, or ridden through the old west as John Marston, desperately trying to get back to his family, in Red Dead Redemption.

A well-constructed video game narrative, in the best case, transports the player into the world of the game, creating a level of immersion where the choices the characters are making aren’t just part of a dialogue tree: they represent who you are, or perhaps, who you want to be. And there are times when those choices are truly awful. When you have to choose between two characters you love, knowing that the one you don’t choose will die. Even in a virtual world, those choices can be deeply personal, and deeply affecting.

This brings me back to Madden, which this year includes a story mode titled Longshot, where you play as Devin Wade, a small town Texas kid and one-time top football prospect who, after a personal tragedy led him to walk away from the game, gets one last chance at making it to the NFL.

(Yes, that was Mahershala Ali playing your father, and Scott Porter playing your best friend.)

The story is vintage sports movie (and TV) stuff: fathers and sons, the bonds of friendship on and off the field, improbable last-minute comebacks, and that naïve, childlike pursuit of a nearly impossible dream: to get a chance to do what you love for a living, alongside the best in the world. If you’ve seen Friday Night Lights or Pitch or any number of other sports movies or shows, you’ve seen versions of this story. The difference here, of course, is that it’s a game, and you’re the one making choices that eventually affect the outcome.

The central relationship in Longshot is the one between the players, Devin Wade, and his childhood best friend, Colt Cruise. The two grew up together, played football together all the way through high school (with Wade as the star quarterback, Cruise as his trusty wide receiver) and up to their freshman year at Texas, which is when Wade walks away from football. Although we learn (and play through) these memories over the course of the game, most of the story is set in the present, as Wade and Cruise prepare for the NFL Draft.

Cruise is the wisecracking sidekick, the best friend who is there to give advice and prop up the hero of the story. You know the type. But he has his own dreams of making it in the NFL, even though he’s too short and too slow and is just as much of a longshot as our hero. Playing as Wade, it’s obvious that the «right» way to play, from a video game standpoint, is to be humble, strong, and make smart decisions in the game.

The problem with this approach is that the smart decisions often come at the expense of Cruise.

Throughout the story, Cruise proves time and again that he’ll do anything for his best friend, even when they’re personally detrimental, like skipping his combine (i.e. bailing on his own tryout for NFL scouts and coaches) to help Wade as he tries to work his way toward being drafted. And within a number of the scenarios the player is forced to confront, there are times where the correct decision in-game, the one that proves Wade is a good quarterback, don’t necessarily help Cruise.

The end result of making the «right» choices is that Wade gets drafted, and fulfills his dream… but Cruise doesn’t. This was surprising and heartbreaking, knowing that I did everything right, everything that the game expected of me, and yet, it ultimately didn’t lead to the happy ending.

Like other narrative-driven games, this one has alternate endings, and so I started over, in search of a more satisfying outcome. The second time through, I made sure that Wade made Cruise look good at every opportunity. But in doing this, Cruise ends up as the one who gets drafted by an NFL team, not Wade. And as happy a moment this is for Cruise, Wade is just as devastated.

As the player controlling Devin Wade, I have failed him. As Devin Wade, I have failed myself.

But then the phone rings. Wade is given the opportunity to sign as an undrafted free agent (while this is narratively convenient, it does happen a fair amount in real life). What’s more, the offer is coming from the same team that drafted Cruise — meaning that he can go into the NFL and compete for a job alongside his best friend.

When I got this outcome, I was floored. Because this, the most emotionally satisfying ending, the one that gets both Wade and Cruise to the NFL, wasn’t the one where I excelled the most on the field. It wasn’t the one where I did everything I was supposed to as a football player.

It was the one where I took care of the guy who took care of me. Where I also looked out for my best friend, instead of just looking out for myself.

Video games teach us to win. To get to the other side of the map, to kill all the bad guys, to save the world. It’s easy to understand, it’s black and white, and it’s a natural way to play.

But every once in a while, a game comes along that’s built on shades of gray, that suggests you play the game a particular way, but to test you, to see how you’ll respond. Longshot is one of those games, and in doing this, provides a rare moment in gaming, one that suggests that doing the right thing is more important than doing things the right way.

Not bad, for a video game about football.

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Serena Williams Welcomes a Baby Girl, Who Likely Already Has an Amazing Serve

Serena Williams is a mom! The powerhouse tennis pro gave birth to a baby girl at St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, FL, a source confirmed to Us Weekly on Friday. It’s the first child for Serena and her fiancé, Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian, who got engaged in December 2016. In a recent interview, Alexis told Jimmy Kimmel that the pair were not planning to find out the baby’s sex until it arrived, though Serena was convinced they were having a girl because «only a woman could be strong enough» to handle winning the Australian Open in utero.

Serena (accidentally) revealed her pregnancy via Snapchat in April. In July, she posed nude for the cover of Vanity Fair, and she threw a star-studded, retro-themed baby shower in early August that brought out celebrity pals Ciara, Kelly Rowland, and Eva Longoria.

Congrats to Serena and Alexis on their growing family!

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Drink DuJour: Patrón Mini Pineapple Piña Colada

Say farewell to summer with the ultimate beach cocktail: the Patrón Mini Pineapple Piña Colada.

The drink is currently available at The Fat Monk, an Upper West Side gastropub offering modern spins on classic American dishes like glass crackled pork knuckles, raw oysters with Pernod parsley crust, and the mouth-watering and massive Monk Burger. The eatery boasts a creative cocktail menu with Instagrammable drinks like the Basic Beach and Say A Dirty Word. The My Lisa Frank Notebook cocktail even comes with unicorn dust (!). Concocted by bartender Cody Goldstein, the Patrón Mini Pineapple Piña Colada is no exception. The extra-large drink comes in a hollowed-out pineapple, garnished with mini pineapples.

Try your hand at making the cute cocktail with the recipe below.

Patrón Mini Pineapple Piña Colada
2 oz. Patrón Reposado
2 oz. Pineapple Juice
1 oz. Passionfruit Juice
1 oz.  Cinnamon Cream of Coconut
.5 oz. Lime Juice
2 dashes Pecan Bitters

Preparation: Add all ingredients into a shaker and fill halfway with ice. Shake for 5 seconds and double strain into a hollowed out pineapple with ice. Stack mini pineapples as garnish.

The post Drink DuJour: Patrón Mini Pineapple Piña Colada appeared first on DuJour.

DuJour

The Night King Is Terrifying, but He Can Probably Be Killed One of These Ways

A huge threat is suddenly pouring into Westeros now that the Night King, his army of White Walkers and the undead, and his ice dragon Viserion have brought the Wall down on the Game of Thrones season seven finale. We’ve all seen how it’s (relatively) easy to kill White Walkers and wights, but what about the Night King? And what about his undead flying steed, Viserion?

White Walkers and wights are killed by only a couple things: Dragonglass and Valyrian steel. Both of those materials will kill either White Walkers or wights. Fire also appears to kill wights. They are extremely flammable and go up like kindling at the slightest bit of flame.

White Walkers, however, do not appear to be susceptible to fire. In the season six episode «Hardhome,» they are shown to snuff out fire due to their extremely cold bodies. But that was just regular fire — it is unknown if they can be killed by dragon’s fire or wildfire.

Finally, we learned in season seven, episode six that if a White Walker is struck down, all the wights that particular walker created will also fall, so a popular theory about defeating the army of the dead is to get the Night King, because then presumably everything else dies with him. But that may be harder than it seems.

We don’t yet know exactly what weaknesses the Night King has. He has to have at least one, or else what is the point of watching the show anymore? But fans have wondered if since the Night King was stabbed with dragonglass all those centuries ago and that is what turned him from human into creature we now see, maybe he can’t be killed by dragonglass.

https://www.popsugar.com/entertainment/What-Does-Night-King-Want-43943244

That would leave Valyrian steel, which makes sense. Valyrian steel swords are even harder to come by in Westeros than dragonglass, so it would make sense that one of the few of those left floating around would be needed to defeat him.

And perhaps take it one step further — maybe it isn’t any old Valyrian steel sword, maybe the only thing that can defeat the Night King is Lightbringer, the flaming Valyrian steel sword of Azor Ahai, aka the Prince That Was Promised, aka possibly Jon Snow (who is now Aegon Targaryen).

It would certainly be fitting if the only person who can kill the Night King is Jon Snow and his prophetical flaming sword.

As for Viserion, while he is an animal wight like any other animal wight, he’s also still a dragon, so simply stabbing him with a dragonglass dagger probably won’t get the job done. How would it even penetrate his thick hide?

We predict something like Qyburn’s scorpion will come back into play in season eight, this time armed with a bolt of dragonglass. That, or one of Daenerys’s other dragons is going to have to bring his brother down with fire, which sounds pretty epic. We just hope we don’t lose Rhaegal or Drogon in the process.

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We Didn’t Need This «LWYMMD» and «Toxic» Mashup, but We’re Loving It Anyway

Remember when Britney Spears said she’d never met Taylor Swift even though there was photo evidence of her meeting Taylor? That was funny. Anyway, this mashup of Britney’s 2004 hit «Toxic» with Taylor’s new headline-making single «Look What You Made Me Do» was definitely not something we asked for, but it actually sounds pretty sick. Check out the video above to see for yourself.

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Meet Hillary From Florida State

It’s only right I brought back FSU Friday the day before the biggest opening weekend college football game maybe in history. We’re talking a playoff/national championship level matchup in week 1. Thank you college football Gods.

[IG – Hillary]

Know a college girl BC readers need to meet? Let us know: mail@bustedcoverage.com or IG/@bustedcoverage.


Sports Gossip, Sexy WAGs, NFL and Hot Cheerleaders: BustedCoverage

This Is Why Daenerys May Be the Last Mother of Dragons

More than any other season, this seventh season of Game of Thrones illustrated just how powerful dragons can be in this universe. Daenerys’s «children» are instrumental in the Loot Train Battle and in the rescue mission beyond the Wall. And there’s no denying that the fallen Viserion is proving to be an invaluable asset to the Night King as he marches South. These remarkable creatures can win wars, bring down the Wall, and, perhaps even return the Targaryens to power. But are Daenerys’s dragons the last great beasts that will ever fly over Westeros? Upon their birth, the Mother of Dragons bestows her children with male names, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that none of them are female.

There is much debate about dragons and how they reproduce, particularly in the books. In A Feast For Crows, Sam says, «Dragons are neither male nor female, Barth saw the truth of that, but now one and now the other, as changeable as flame.» However, some dragons in the past did seem to have a fixed sex and were referred to by male and female names. Even if one of Daenerys’s children has the capacity to become female, the nuances of dragon reproduction aren’t well known.

Many believe the only way to hatch a dragon is through fire and blood magic — which is exactly how Daenerys returns dragons to the world at the end of season one. The hatching of Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion comes at a great expense. Both the body of Khal Drogo and the witch Mirri Maz Duur are burned upon the pyre, and Daenerys herself goes into the flames as well.

The khaleesi’s dragon eggs were not the last ones in the world. In fact, dragon eggs are considered to be a valuable form of currency, with people in Westeros and beyond willing to pay large sums to get their hands on even the most ancient of eggs. In the books, there’s even rumored to be a cache of eggs hidden beneath Dragonstone. Having a dragon egg doesn’t guarantee a dragon, though.

Even with other eggs in existence, the chances of more dragons hatching are slim. Magic seems to have returned to Westeros thanks in part to Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion, but just because there’s more magic in the world doesn’t mean more dragons will follow. The ritual sacrifice is a high price to pay to birth the beautiful creatures, and it may be something only Targaryens can do. (If it’s not, then you can bet Cersei’s mad scientist, Qyburn, will try to figure out how to give his queen some dragons of her own.)

On the upside, now that Jon is confirmed to be a Targaryen, the former ruling dynasty has the potential to grow, and with Drogon and Rhaegal still alive and eggs scattered around the known world, the potential for more dragons is always there. But even if Jon and Daenerys have children, unless someone figures out a less tragic way to hatch dragon eggs, Jon and Dany’s offspring aren’t guaranteed to spend their childhoods learning how to train their very own massive pets. At this late stage of the game, Daenerys’s «children» will likely be the only dragons we ever see take flight over Westeros.
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Sophie Turner Reveals Why Her Friendship With Maisie Williams Is So Special

Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner play the Stark sisters on Game of Thrones, but they also act like siblings in real life. The ladies first met while auditioning for the hit HBO show and instantly formed a bond. In addition to their adorable red carpet outings and matching tattoos, Maisie and Sophie say the sweetest things about each other. Trust us, you’ll have a hard time not obsessing over them.

Maisie on Sophie

  • On the first time she met Sophie: «I had gotten along really, really well with Sophie and I just remember her being super tall. I came out of the audition and said to my mum, ‘Even if I don’t get the part, I really want that girl to. She’s really cool.'»
  • On their unique bond: «It’s nice to have her going through this industry and someone who just completely gets it. It’s really lovely to have someone hold my hand through all of it.»
  • On what it’s like working with Sophie on Game of Thrones: «It’s funny because she’s so not like Sansa in real life. She’s a great lass, and we both like the same things. And then on screen, we have our little arguments and things, so you get to see a different side of each other. In real life, I’ve never seen the side of Sophie where she says, ‘Oh, you’re an idiot.’ But I didn’t find it difficult to hate Sophie on screen — I mean, I love her to pieces — but I didn’t find it a challenge, really, as an actress.»

Sophie on Maisie

  • On their matching tattoos: «She’s one of my best friends in the whole world. We got matching tattoos. That’s the date that we both heard we got Game of Thrones on.»
  • On why their bond is so special: «Our other friends don’t 100 percent get it. Sometimes it’s nice to just be with the one person who does.»
  • On their close friendship: «Maisie and I have the purest form of true, true friendship. She’s been my rock. We are kind of the only two people who know what it feels like to go through this very scenario from pretty much the same background and ending up where we are and kind of finding ourselves as we go.»
  • On what it was like shooting their first Game of Thrones scene together: «We couldn’t keep a straight face! Our relationship is so close, but it’s only that fun side, never the business side. I was nervous. It just terrified me. It’s like performing for your mom. When somebody is watching, you don’t do it quite as well. But in the long run I think it benefits us because we can be free with each other in our acting. We’re not afraid to go there with each other because we feel so comfortable around each other.»
  • On why she and Maisie click: «I’ve always seen Maisie as this rebellious, cool kid, while I’m more passive-aggressive, or else just passive. I hate that about myself, and I love that Maisie is just who she is. We spent the past five years basically sharing a hotel room (even though we each had our own), having endless sleepovers, lots of line rehearsals, and lots of food and messing about, too.»

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Guilty Pleasures: What Junk Food Is Your Ultimate Obsession?

The season is about to change, and those of us in the Northern Hemisphere can finally put away our swimsuits and get back to stuffing our faces with abandon. Whether your vice is salty or sweet, I’m sure there is some snack out there that calls to you like a siren. I know, because I have, like, several.

The biggest problem I have is my unhealthy relationship with brownies, and in particular those Little Debbie Fudge Brownies. And I don’t mean «haha, it’s unhealthy because I’m a woman who likes chocolate!» I mean that I have literally HOARDED boxes of them. Squirreled them away in a bookshelf in my room so no one else would find them and GASP! Eat them. I had to have them all to myself.

It started when I was 7 or 8, and my mom would pack one in my lunch for school. There was a careful ritual I’d developed for eating them: First I’d wipe all the nuts off the top into the trash, because fuck that shit. Then I’d sort of peel up the fudgy part and roll it into a ball. I’d eat the cakey brownie layer on its own, then finish it off with that fudge ball. The process was greasy and tedious, but it made the enjoyment of each brownie last.

Somewhere along the line (probably when I stopped taking lunch to school) I stopped eating those Little Debbie wonders. And soon enough I was an adult, who cooked food! With vegetables! And did her own grocery shopping! It was in the supermarket that I started phase two of my love affair with those fudge brownies. I locked eyes with the Little Debbie display, but I wasn’t looking to relive the emotional turmoil of my youth, so I continued to walk on by… and then I stopped in my tracks. Because next to the normal fudge brownies were a new type I’d never seen before. A type with rainbow chocolate chips in place of the nuts on top.

I’m talking about motherfuckin COSMIC BROWNIES.

cosmicbrownies.jpg

Look, I was in my mid-twenties. I could make my own choices. And I chose to buy a box, then take it home and hide it in my room like a shameful secret. A secret I could enjoy in increments. In bed. And then I proceeded to buy a box every week for months, despite the fact that they tasted a bit too sugary to my more mature palate.

I’ve since kicked that habit, though it’s always there in the back of my mind. The siren call of Little Debbie trying to reel me back in with promises of cosmic rainbow chocolate magic.

And then there’s pickle chips. I don’t mean pickles cut into round disks rather than spears. I mean potato chips that taste like pickles. I am constantly on the hunt for new brands to taste test, looking for the MOST PICKLE OF CHIP out there. So far, there is one brand that is the hands-down winner in my book: McClure’s. Probably because they primarily make actual goddamn pickles, and the chips thing is a sideline. They only have three flavors: Garlic Dill Pickle, Spicy Pickle, and Bloody Mary (oh, they also make a killer Bloody Mary mix, hence this chip). They aren’t widely available, but I could always find them in Brooklyn. When I was feeling healthy, I’d only buy one bag as a treat. When I was in the mood to go full-on addict, I’d buy a bag of each.

And I could finish a bag in one sitting. Normally I’d stretch it out to two, just to prove I had restraint, but I didn’t have to. «Hungry» or «Full» have no meaning when there is an open bag of McClure’s in my face. There is only «More.» There is only the salty, tart powder on my fingers and the weight of the bag, like a promise in my hand. Which is why it’s a good thing I can’t find them, now that I’ve fucked off out of the city and up a damn mountain.

How about you? What foods turn you into a ravenous beast with no self control? Or… am I alone with this? No, that’s cool, I get it.

I’m gonna go eat my feelings.

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