In the Borderlands, 2.

I can’t tell you the last time a video game touched me the way Borderlands 2 has. For the past few months, I have played with a great group of gamers. Through Borderlands 2, we have become better friends – if not family. I wanted to write a great blog about our epic friendship in correlation with our gaming but, I decided to do a podcast on it.

Side Note: The reason why I haven’t updated my blog as much because I have been putting my efforts in getting my new podcast, AltBrown Podcast started. You can search us on iTunes (AltBrown Podcast) https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/altbrown-podcast/id985221083?mt=2

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So instead of writing a detailed blog about my Borderlands journey, Listen to our audio podcast which features most of my Borderland Gamer Group, which is a two-part podcast!

Part 1- https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/we-love-borderlands-2-part-1/id985221083?i=340372493&mt=2

Part 2 – https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/we-love-borderlands-2-comics/id985221083?i=340454243&mt=2

You can also watch us play on Youtube here: https://www.youtube.com/user/shahryarrakeen/videos

Let me know your thoughts!

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My friend sent me this link on “Why Harley Quinn Is Batman’s Most Tragic Character

http://io9.com/why-harley-quinn-is-batmans-most-tragic-character-1680476875?utm_campaign=socialflow_io9_facebook&utm_source=io9_facebook&utm_medium=socialflow

He asked me my thoughts. Therein, I responded in a quick blurb….

She is a very complex character. Unfortunately, she’s been oversexualized because she is obviously attractive and, easy on the eyes with the red & black combination; especially when people cosplay as her. You know I met a woman that hardcore cosplayed Harley and didn’t even know SHE HAS A PhD IN PSYCHIATRY/PSYCHOLOGY* and other amazing things (which I filled her in)! Harley is more than a two-toned sexy clown lady. The same goes for all the women in Batman. All highly educated and immensely amazing. We live in a current “nerd-culture” that sexualizes everything and so the fact that these individuals are not only attractive to look like, they forget quickly that these women are comic book heroines/role models that girls like me (growing up) aspired to be… BRAINS and Beauty.

Rogue and Gambit’s Symbiotic Relationship

Rogue and Gambit’s relationship excite my curiosity. In the superhero world they may be, for me, the embodiment of a symbiotic, romantic relationship – rivaling Harley Quinn and Joker [But I’ll focus on Rogue and Gambit for this piece].

A quick synopsis about Rogue and Gambit; both characters started out misunderstood, gray-area characters (not really good/evil). Rogue, the adopted daughter of Mystique, was abandoned due to the nature of her super powers. Rogue has the ability to usurp other people’s powers, and be able to use them for a while. Also, she can absorb memories and such as well. Unfortunately, upon touching mere humans with no X-Gene, her touch sucks the life-force out of them leading to harm and even death. She learns later on how to control her absorption powers, which I refer to as “energy vampire” since she literally sucks the life-force out of people; and also does the same to mutants. Since mutants are stronger, she usurps their superpower(s), upon continuously touching them, she can kill them and keep the said powers; which is seen when she gains her flying abilities from a superhero mixture of Ms. Marvel and Kree (also has been debated from Magneto). Rogue always felt that her powers were a curse and wore gloves to make sure she didn’t touch and harm another person.

Gambit, whose powers consist of being able to touch intimate objects and creating combustion. According to the X-men Wiki “has the ability to take the potential energy stored in an object and convert it to pure light pink-colored kinetic energy thus charging that item with highly explosive results”. Because of his energy conversion, he can also create static which allows him to be shielded from telepaths.

When Rogue joins the X-Men and [later on] meeting Gambit, they fall in love. I felt that they did because of all their similarities. Both He and Rogue are quaint Southerners, from small towns, including, like Rogue, Gambit had a rough upbringing. Gambit however, was stolen from his birthparents, abandoned and betrayed by many of those who claim to care for him. He finds this affection and love from Rogue. They become closer and she realizes she can touch him without completely harming him because of his ability. In a way, their powers counteract each other causing neutrality. The conversion of energy is absorbed and passed through both of them. I always pictured their kisses at a subatomic particle level, where their energy changes work like neutrons, protons and electrons. And, including little sparks in between with Gambits’ static.

It seems that Rogue and Gambit were made for each other. Not only did they seek comfort within their similar emotional struggles, their powers were able to neutralize so they can also be intimate. Psychologically, Rogue and Gambit would be drawn together. To feel understood, finally by another being so similar to you, not only with being abandoned but also not being able to touch and be intimate with others because of your natural powers. Their symbiosis reaches their emotional, mental and physical needs.

 

Z-Girl and the 4 Tigers

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A few weeks ago, hopping around the Special Edition Con (NY), I came across some interesting people promoting their new graphic novel, Z-Girl and the 4 Tigers. She’s blue and badass so of course, I was completely sold! In speaking with Kirk Manley (one of the creators), I asked him about Z-Girl and what was her story. Which he of course, urged me to read… and i’m glad I did! I don’t want to ruin the entire storyline…

Z-Girl is an ancient Chinese warrior that is undead. It seems (from reading so far), she is indestructible but she can be injured, which she would need to hibernate (in a sense) in healing fluid. I find this idea intriguing. Any character that seems to be immortal but can be hurt always fascinates me because it reminds me of the human psyche.

We can all agree that people’s personalities seem to be solid and in their core, indestructible but it can definitely be hurt by being self-concious or loosing faith in one self. Recently, in my personal life, I have been doubting myself due to external stressors. It is easy to fake a smile or “fake it ’till you make it”. In reading comic books, always was cathartic to me. It has even been proven by neuroscience, when an individual sees an action, their neurons are satiated by the wanted action. In this case, reading how badass Z-Girl is; how she is able to continue when in fighting evil no matter how severely injured she is, she is definitely an admirable character that satiates my neurological need to be better.

Thanks Kirk for tuning me into your new graphic novel. I wish you all the best and thanks for taking the time out to talk to this nerdy brown girl and even making a personalized sketch! 

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Alex + Ada

 

I’ve recently gotten into this new graphic novel series, Alex & Ada. This series is set in a futuristic world where androids (artificial intelligence) have been tweaked to pass for human beings. Because of a historical battle prior, all androids are made to wear a tattoo-like mark on their wrist and must show it at all times, to be recognized.

 

Alex, a recently single young man who is still battling emotions from his prior relationship, is birthday-gifted a humanoid android, state of the art, by his grandmother. His grandmother currently uses the companionship of her android that she feels it’s a great idea. Alex, who is very hesitant at first to keep his new companion, because of prior history with androids going rogue and killing humans; after a hard thought, he decides upon keeping her and calling her Ada.

 

Ada, at first wants to please Alex in any way. It frustrates Alex when Ada is unsure and is unable to think for herself. Alex finds an underground group that can hack Ada’s mind and agrees to start the process of Ada being sentient. It’s a long winded process and has huge side effects, which are still being worked with. After the hack is done, Ada seems to have her own thoughts. Alex is aware of all the trouble he can get in with the authorities but Alex wants to give Ada a chance to be a normal being, than just a household item.  One can say that in terms of social learning theory, Baron-Cohen’s Model of Theory of Mind, discussing visual attraction, human’s first learn like a robot. As we grow older, we adapt a more sophisticated way of learning by implementing gaze following, mixed with didactic gestures, different aspects of spatial abilities and other extensions of specific learning.  In a symbolic sense, Ada is going through the stages of humanoid thought/social learning. It is interesting when Alex makes her all the food he knows how to, she eats it all and likes everything but oranges.

 

Ada is continuing to learn, which it seems exciting to even me, the reader. I’m curious on how she interprets her new emotions and how she evaluates her thought patterns. 

The lone female wolf (Bitten)

I ran across the TV series, based on novel series, Bitten (on scyfy), which is a primarily about the world of werewolves. The show is about new aged werewolves that can change into wolves at any time, their changes can happen when they choose to unlike majority of wolf lore – changing only during the full moon. In this werewolf world, women are not able to be werewolves because they aren’t strong enough during the changes and usually die after being infected; except for Elena Michaels, who is the only known female wolf.

Elena grew up an orphan and when scratched and deliberately infected with the werewolf contact, she became a part of the Danvers wolf family. Little by little her history is revealed throughout the series. In one of the latest episodes, another female who the paramour to a mutt wolf (one that doesn’t belong to a pack), she tries so hard to convince him to turn her. He is in dismay since he really loves her but, he doesn’t want to infect her because he is sure it will kill her. Although the pack and mutt wolves are aware that Elena is a wolf, for them she is special and it is unknown why she is able to be a she-wolf and survives her changes. Interesting enough, Elena is a strong she-wolf and is able to smell and sense things in a longer range than the males in her pack. Each wolf has dynamic skills and heightened senses but it appears that her senses are hyper sensitive. It is perceived that this is possible because of her resilience in changing forms and again, being the only female wolf known.

There are a few things that tickle my curiosity, if Elena were to mate with another wolf; would that make her offspring a wolf? Is she able to have human children while she changes back and forth?  More interestingly, what makes her special to be the only she-wolf? Have there been other she-wolves that we may learn about later on?

While Elena’s backstory unravels, we learn that she has dealt with many psychological obstacles. Obviously she is a strong person mentally and with being a wolf, physically as well. I feel that because she has endured so many disheartening and tough situations, it has made her a very strong person and increased her ability of dealing with pain – whether it is physical or mental. In being, maybe this is the reason she is able to be the lone she-wolf. She has been battling with adversities all her life so to her, pain and adversity is second nature to her which makes her a great candidate to continue to handle her wolf changes so eloquently, although these wolves scream in pain whilst changing. In this werewolf world, is it the woman who is infallible mentally – on one note, being so strong of a female you can be a wolf and the ability to do so, makes your senses so heightened – even better than male werewolves! It is a great idea that women are strong and if capable of undergoing adversities, making them rock solid, able to adapt and have heightened senses of the world. 

Do We Compute?

Human-Computer Interaction, HCI, is the idea that technologies such as computer design and software & etc., have a synergistic relationship with social sciences, specifically psychology, helping scientists understand human behaviors with the interaction with technological tools. John M. Carroll (1997) explains that “psychology is a science of design” where the engineering behind software development has significantly increased over a few years tremendously because of what humans feel what is needed to help increase daily activities, and of course leisure. How many of us use social networking sites and even blogs such as this one to interact with another? Well the interaction is constantly being in question to see what is most valuable as well as what is able to be improved based on user friendly methods as well as what people feel they want and need in their technological tools whether it be a phone or website.

 

Exploring thoughts, so a person wants to create a website. Why is the website made? It’s because someone feels that there is a need for it as well as it being useful in any way to other human beings. Social sciences record ideas as such as the context of behavior and experience, melded with the interaction between the person and the technological tool whether a website or even a simple one-touch click button (which is very common in many shopping websites). Why would such a thing exist – because there is a larger need, we are aware that people want quicker ways to buy things, maybe even persuade impulse buyers to buy more things. Living in a country where it is as simple as turning on your device and having one click to buy something (because you already set up an account) and it is delivered to you in a few days, maybe even the same day! We see this as a motivation to create more technological tools such as these because of human interaction. People’s behavior are changing due to the technology at hand as well as technology is being created and produced based on consumption by the mass.

 

Here come the thoughts on science fiction (because this blog would not be called psyficology, lol). Science fiction has many ideas on technology and one of the many huge ideas, is the notion that human beings will use so much of technology to the point that it becomes a part of us. Whether you call the symbiotic relationship cyborg or android technology, it seems that technology is growing rapidly due to the use of it, the interaction between people, how technology makes our lives easier by being able to attain things, including knowledge at a higher speed than before (which is constantly being upgraded). With the high usage, it impacts our behavior and society may seem already a cyborg entity. How many things do you do a day that includes technology? How many items have you purchased using sites, as well as how many ideas have you searched to attain this new knowledge, not to mention utilizing social networks to keep in contact with friends or even using it as a pastime? Yes, it seems tech is such an imperative tool to us in everyday aspects. Psychology and science (real and fiction) both deduce the reasons why and how we use tech as well as how tech impacts the mass. There’s a constant whirlwind of new ideas of tech (like Google glass) that will impact human behavior. Is it a positive or negative change, what are your ideas?

Haven’s Troubles with the troubles

 Haven, the ScyFy series that eludes that people in a small town have a secret. The citizens of Haven deal with a phenomenon called “the Troubles”, which one can compare superpowers, in a sense. A person’s troubles are different from one another. Also, a person said trouble carries from one generation to the other so, if your grandparent had a trouble, you would have a predisposition to have the same trouble.  Troubles are active when a relative who has the trouble, dies. The new generation of the trouble now contracts these abilities. Over the series, the audience is introduced more rules that each trouble has a counter trouble i.e., someone with a loudness ability would be counteracted with another Haven native’s ability to mute others.

The troubles affect people so much that Haven always tries to encapsulate the issues. Not all Haven’s natives have troubles therefore; some people feel the troubles are folklore. The troubles are intense and may cause harm and even lead to death in some cases, which is why it is very important that the troubles are maintained. People don’t know the origin of the troubles and the town has their own secret organizations that try to understand troubles better as well as try and cure others. This can also be contributed by the brothers that own the Herald, Haven’s news source, who are very aware of the troubles and creates stories to cover up issues that someone’s trouble may cause, especially when it does affect many in the town. Audrey Parker, who is drawn to Haven, is immune to these troubles. She helps Nate, the town sheriff, contain the troubles as well as try to help the Haven native with the trouble, try to understand his/her family issue (which is also considered a curse by some).  Also, Duke, a Haven native who returns as well, his trouble is activated and he learns that when the blood of a trouble person touches him, he becomes immensely strong and has the ability to kill them and with that, kill their trouble forever. 

[SPOILER] In season 3, we learn that Audrey may be the cause of the troubles! When she tries to enter the barn, seen in season 2; she tries to keep her memories as well as try to put an end to the troubles. She learns, after surviving the barns demise, that she is a counterpart to the other creator of the troubles in Haven. She is even taught that she is the person who has given troubles and basically ruined people’s lives, considering the intensity of the effects as well as being taught on how to create new troubles onto someone. Audrey struggles with the notion that she is a good person yet, learning about her past as the “trouble maker” upsets her on such a deep level. When Audrey is even introduced to actually having to place a new trouble onto someone, she is apprehensive because she fears that she may enjoy causing this harm and still wants to maintain her moral and good persona. It’s a quite common idea to have inner conflicts within one self, the ultimate question of being a good vs. bad person.

Quick thoughts on fear inducing media

Fear is a resonating emotion. We can agree that cinematography has inventive ways of inducing fear whether it be a ghoulish background sound, light refraction methods or visual “scary” monsters, etc. How peculiar of a creature humans are that knowing that their heart rate amongst other bodily functions are affected during fear induced settings yet, horror/gore movies and television are amongst the highest watched entertainment. Shows like Walking Dead, which depicts an apocalyptic earth taken over by zombies and American Horror Story, which a more common idea of what we know as being scary, is based on a mixture of demons, witches, death, spirits and much more, depending on what season of AHS.

When an individual watches horror media, the visual art itself is inducing fear. In the first few seconds of watching American Horror Story (AHS), the visuals and background noises/theme song alone will already increase flight-like behavior in the brain to most. So many types of scary media bombard our societies. Fear is such an ambiguous feeling modern psychology and science try to tackle, but with human emotions, it is a complicated Rubik’s cube of ideas when trying to break down a feeling. These mixed emotions of fear, can be carried into fictional media. [I just want to point out that I’m focusing on scary television like AHS because reality is scary enough and that is a whole other creature in trying to understand and cope with].

 

What is it about fear that we connect with it? Think about times that you may have watched a scary movie before bed and ended up having nightmares. What connections do our brains have with our emotions and unconscious thoughts? I love watching horror media and sometimes, when it’s an interesting concept, the idea resonates with me for a few days. When I first started watching Walking Dead I was really impressed because it’s not atypical zombie apocalyptic show. To me, WD makes a great build up of characters and shows how society works whether building groups, committing crimes, and most importantly – survival. The way AHS resonates is in a completely different format. WD seems more realistic to me rather AHS seems like monsters that I grew up reading and watching on TV. Both are great cinematography examples in this genre but AHS formulates these superstitious dreams and thoughts about spirits taking over the body, kind of like watching the Exorcism when I was much younger. Although, I am quite aware that most of these ideas are complete fiction, apparently my unconscious thoughts runs wild with dreams of how my close friends and I would solve situations just as those shown in the episodes. Interestingly, knowing that I have a few unsettling thoughts, why do we collectively continue to watch it? Why does horror speak to audience on a completely different level that anything else? We are aware that it increases our senses, you ever watch something scary involving creaking sounds and such and then look around the room more attentively? Why do shows like WD and AHS keep us thinking about the scenarios seen?

Because it’s great entertainment!