eSports Aren’t Easy

Game day: fans flood arenas wearing team jerseys, searching for events to meet their dream players and gain an autograph. Those who don’t make it to the event itself sit impatiently by their laptops and T.V.s waiting for their streaming service to begin airing. All wait to watch those who’ve spent hours honing their skills. But these ‘athletes’ aren’t who you think they are. They aren’t big football or basketball players — they’re gamers.

Competitive video game playing, known as eSports, is on the rise. If you play video games — especially Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas (MOBA) — you are sure to know about eSports and how they work. However if you haven’t, here is some information on the sport that’s grabbing attention from gamers.

Any game can be made into an eSport when there’s a clear winner, but the game type that is most popular is MOBA. In MOBAs, players form teams and compete tournament-style in arenas and large game maps. Examples of such games are League of Legends (LoL), Dota 2 and Overwatch.

Each game has its own fan base and has companies like NHL who hold tournaments that gain more popularity over time. A lot of supporters of ‘real’ sports are supporters of eSports as well, like ESPN, which doesn’t only stream football, but also LoL and Dota 2. Most of these competitive games are also aired on streaming platforms such as Youtube and Twitch. Now, a big question to a new person may be, “what do these gamers gain by professionally competing?” The answer to that is simple. Most players come in to gain the cash prizes and glory like ordinary athletes would.

International competitions have especially big cash prizes that amount to millions of dollars and sponsorships to team involved. Many leagues now offer salaries along with that. Though this may seem like an easy job to handle, most players in eSports leagues don’t last long, and many of these players get looked down upon by those who don’t play video games. Not only that, but to get into these leagues a player must have a high rank or status in their game and must possess certain skills that most other gamers don’t have. They also need strategic minds and reflexes fast enough to outplay an enemy in the heat of the moment while millions of fans watch them.

eEports is steadily growing along with the amount of fans that keep up with it. If it continues at this rate, then people will learn more about competitive video games, and eSports could become closer to gaining mainstream acceptance.

Ready Player One Done, Unready?

Warning: Spoilers ahead (but you likely won‘t watch this movie anyway)

After seeing the first trailer for Ready Player One, I was incredibly excited, as any normal person would be after reading Ernest Cline’s novel of the same title. When someone makes a movie based on a popular book, readers tend to forget about the countless books that have ultimately been butchered by their movie-makers. I became one of those blind fans. But the film is by Steven Spielberg, so it should be okay, right?

Since I’m such a sucker for video games, cartoons, anime and the like, I was bound to fall in love with the movie. There were so many references and characters appearing from games like Halo, Over-watch and more from shows like Danganronpa, Gundam and The Breakfast Club to name a few.

The story is based off of a dystopian world in the year 2045 where people use the OASIS, a virtual reality world, to escape the the dread of the real world. The creator of the game, James Halliday, passes away and leaves his entire fortune as an ‘easter egg’ in a large quest meant to find someone worthy of obtaining it all.

Wade Watts (Parzival) is the protagonist and is one of many who seek the egg. During his quest he finds four main friends, Samantha (Art3mis), Helen (Aech), Daito and Shoto — the High-5. Wade finds the first key, and becomes a hero later on by keeping the Innovative Online Industries

(IOI), an enormous company, from obtaining the power of the OASIS. All this is  followed by sarcastic jokes and 80s video game and show references. Sure these are typically “mainstream” games and shows, but many of those used in the movie are classics which allow the flick to grab the attention of different age groups.

But as great as the animation and obvious game advertisements are, there are still some big disappointments to this movie compared to the original novel.

There are some major — I mean really major — plot holes in the movie. One is the ‘Extra Life’ coin that Parzival, or Wade Watts, gets when the main antagonist detonates a bomb that eliminates all avatars on a planet.

Nowhere in the movie is there a clear explanation as to why or how he gets the coin. He just discovers it in his pocket when he realizes he is still alive. In contrast to the vagueness of the movie, the book has a clear explanation to Parzival’s  possession of the coin.

In the novel, Parzival comes across an arcade right after he gains the second gate key. The game he plays in the book is PacMan, and he gets the coin by beating the game altogether.

Aside from the coin, there are significant details relating to the characters from the novel that were pushed aside in the making of the movie.

It should also be mentioned that Daito and Shoto, the supposed brothers in the movie, never actually met in real life. They were both enrolled in a support group for hikikomori in Japan, which was for OASIS addicts who’d disengaged from the real world.

Character appearances were also compromised in the movie, which is a common issue among films made by big film companies since they tend to hire actors and actresses who have ‘pleasing’ appearances and figures.

Wade struggled with his weight which made school in the real world a miserable place for him. Later in the story when he becomes wealthier from his discovery of the keys, he enables a voluntary OASIS fitness lock, so he wouldn’t be able to visit OASIS unless he followed a mandatory daily exercise. It wasn’t just Wade who
struggled with his weight either. Samantha (Art3mis) and Helen (Aech) were over- weight too.

As nice as it was to see a real boy-ish character like Helen in the movie, the avoidance of social issues like how awkwardly obese children are treated by others and how isolated teens exist today was disappointing.

With all these faults out of the way — though there are several more — the movie was a success and is still an amazing movie that took extensive time to film and animate. That is, at least, without the book in mind.

There is still so much left out of the movie, so many social issues, significant moments and details about characters. I get it though, since movies have a general time limit that they have to follow before their audience gets tired, and this movie was already a good two hours and 19 minutes.

In the end Steven Spielberg made a great movie, but like all other live-action films for books, he still took away so many things that made the novels great. He focused on a creator’s crush on another man’s wife and took away most of the focus on the other members of the High- 5, putting it all on the protagonist and his love interest.

Science Olympiad excels

The CHS Science Olympiad team won their regional competition for the first time ever this year on Saturday, March 3.

The varsity team placed second in regionals overall, giving them the opportunity to compete in the state competition. The club has existed at CHS for five years, but they hadn’t made it into the top three school teams until this year.

Margaret Reed, a member of the Science Olympiad, spoke about her experience.

“We haven’t been successful in the past, so to see the fruition of our hard work all come together was really nice, and our president played a big role in that because she got everyone motivated and hardworking,” said Reed.

Bhairavy Puviindran, club president of the Science Olympiad, echoed her sentiment.

“We did a lot better than we expected, and, as club president, that made me really, really happy, and there were only seven people on our JV team. They all got medals which is really impressive for the JV team,” said Puviindran. “In terms of varsity, everyone studied really hard for this competition, and it really paid off.”

Puviindran found it very rewarding to see her club’s hard work come to fruition. It motivates the club to work harder, so the effort they put into the state competition might be worth the result.

“I think just because it’s been so long since the Carrboro Science Olympiad team has made it to States that however well we do, it’s going to be fine because we made it to States,” said Reed.

Photo by Hope Anderson

CHS leads the way

Project Lead the Way (PLTW) engineering classes are in their third year at Carrboro High School, and the program is more popular this year than ever before. The number of students involved in PLTW has increased since CHS introduced its first class within the program: Introduction to Engineering.

The number of students in the program has roughly doubled each year, according to Jeffrey Arthurs, one of the classes’ instructors.

“We’ve got a lot of recruitment with eighth graders, people getting ready to come over here to get them excited about it; I think that has helped a lot,” said Arthurs.

The bulk of students are in the freshman class, according to another instructor within PLTW, Caroline Morais.

The increase in the number of the stu- dents in PLTW classes has also increased the number of STEM-focused students at CHS overall; many of them are becoming more interested in the field, with some even moving in the direction of majoring in engineering at uni- versity.

PLTW classes are a special type of elective, as all of them are AP-weighted even though they aren’t AP listed. This is done mostly to encourage enrollment, as they positively affect students’ GPA.

“We’ve talked to admissions people at the university level, and they all say they weigh very heavily people that have taken Project Lead the Way courses,” said Arthurs.

With the benefit of AP credit and interesting and engaging courses, many students are trying out PLTW classes and becoming more interested in engineering. Most come to the classes with previous experience or interest, but many others without previous experience are becoming more interested in the field thanks to PLTW.

Photo by Levi Hencke.

Student Spotlight: Saige Elms and Jasmine Godfrey, Visual Artists

Q: How long have you been drawing?
Elms: “Well, in general, maybe since preschool.”

Godfrey: “I’ve been drawing since I was little. I was always the kid every teacher thought was special because I was the kid that would draw the fingers on the hands instead of just a stick. So they were like ‘wow she has potential; look at her, she’s drawing extra lines,’ and then I just kept drawing.”

Q: Describe your art style.

Elms: “It varies, depending on what I work on and the vision I have in my head, although usually it turns out really cartoony even if I try to make it realistic.”

Godfrey: “It’s sort of cartoon realism. It’s not really cartoony or anime but it’s not super hyper-realistic. It’s sort of somewhere in between, it’s my own little thing.”

Q: What’s your favorite medium?

Elms: “I mean, I usually just do sketches, so maybe pencil, but for Instagram digital. Doing an art piece that turns out decently is the most fun. I feel like that’s the thing with most artists.”

Godfrey: “Pencil.”

Q: Who inspires you?

Elms: “When I was younger, Cartoon Network, mostly The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy. That turned into Tim Burton, and now I think it’s probably just creepy things in general, like old fairy tales.”

Godfrey: “I don’t have an answer to that…”

Q: Do you want to pursue a profession in artistry?

Elms: “I want to either get into video game character design or animation design, like working on storyboards and stuff, but either or.”

Godfrey: “I haven’t really decided yet, but I think the closest thing I have right now is a tattoo artist because I’ve been drawing on people a lot in class lately, and they’ll be like, ‘Wow, this is really cool! I want this as a tattoo,’ and I’m like yeah, I’d be a tattoo artist. It would be really fun to make art that will live on through someone else as long they’re
alive.

Jasmine Godfrey (left) and Saige Elms (right). Photos by Ryx Zan

Backpacks weigh on CHS students

Let’s face it: most of us go through the school day with sore shoulders. Why? Well, students today bring many things to school daily: laptops, binders, notebooks, pencil cases and charging cables. All of these items are stored in the backpacks we carry every day.

Even in the modern day, where many schools are making their transition from paper to online assignments, the load that many students bear each day has not been lessened.

I personally struggle to haul my backpack around on a daily basis, and it seems that I’m not the only one.

In a Jagwire survey of 25 students, 92 percent said that they were weighed down daily by their heavy backpacks, and the majority of that 92 percent said that they carried a lot more than they thought was required.

Most of those surveyed carried a laptop, notebook or binder for each class and textbooks on occasion. I carry so much — including two binders, a three-subject notebook, a laptop, a regular notebook and separate textbook, a notebook for an online class, a pencil case, chargers, an umbrella and my wallet — that my backpack weighs more than 10 lbs.

This issue of backpack weight at Carrboro’s seems to be related to a lack of locker use, as 92 percent of those surveyed also said that they did not have a locker. Of the two people who said that they had a locker, only one of them said that they used it.

The reason for that is likely the same as it is for me; I don’t have the time to visit my locker between classes, and it’s much more convenient to carry all my things around with me.

It seems we care more about the convenience of having everything with us more than having less weighing down our shoulders. This is most likely a result of the amount of time students are given to travel between each of their classes, as three minutes is not enough time to visit a locker and make it to class.

There is also the option of storing your stuff for afternoon classes in lockers and visiting it at lunch to retrieve them while putting away morning class material. Yet there’s a problem in that too since you’d have to retrieve things at the end of the day as well.

If you’re like me and you have to catch a bus, then you too probably likely feel that it would be a pain to visit a locker and try to get all your things as quick as possible.

I’d say the best solution to avoiding the death of my shoulders is to get a lighter load, but how?

A good option is to buy lighter supplies. So ditch that fancy binder and opt for some expandable pocket files and notebooks with lighter paper. Choose only three to four pens to bring to school, and discard any documents you won’t need in the future.

Avoid bringing large chargers for laptops and such if your laptop can survive on low-battery mode, or don’t bring a laptop at all, since CHS often provides them in classes for students.

You should re-organize your backpack often as well, though being a little more minimalistic will also help save you time in that process of reorganization. It doesn’t seem like teachers will stop making you carry all those multi-subject notebooks and binders any time soon, so us students have to take action ourselves.

Illustration by Ryx Zan

Has Apple lost their X-factor?

Levi Hencke, defending the most valuable company in the world, Apple

Ah, the age-old debate: Apple versus Android — or, in this case, Samsung. It’s never been a hard choice. On the one hand, you have the lawless, fragmented, half-baked ecosystem that are Samsung Galaxy phones. On the other, you have the perfect meld of flawless industrial design and smart, forward-thinking software: the iPhone, by Apple.

There’s simply never been a compelling reason to buy Samsung’s flagship smartphones over Apple’s. There isn’t a big price advantage, if one at all. They offer very little advantage in technical specifications; the camera, processor, and memory are all inferior to those of iPhones. The defining feature of Samsung phones — their oversaturated and overly-bright displays — lack the color accuracy of iPhone displays.

iPhones, on the other hand, are built better. They are more durable, have better cameras, faster processors, more accurate screens and make more efficient use of memory. They will always be updated with the latest iOS — something that Android users can’t say about their phones.

On a basic level too, Apple outdoes Samsung. The two companies have fundamentally different structures on which they build their phones; Apple develops the entire phone — software and all. Samsung, however, is only free to develop the hardware — the software is then ported in from Google’s developers. This gives Apple the advantage in that they’re able to develop software that is purpose-built for their phones and which leverages every bit of their power. Additionally, this makes it quite easy for Apple to push constant updates to all of their phones.

The software that runs on Samsung phones — Android — is inferior as well; the operating system is convoluted and complex to the point of being unusable. It slows at the simplest tasks. Its only advantage over iOS is the way that it handles notifications; grouping by app is a fantastic idea.

In summary, then, the choice between Apple and Samsung is a choice between the most streamlined and complete meld of hardware and software that the tech world has ever seen — the iPhone — and a mish-mash conglomeration of inferior hardware and outdated, slow and inferior software.

Ryx Zan, defending the foreign challenger, South Korean Samsung

The question of whether you should choose an Apple or Samsung phone is easy to answer. On one hand, you have the restricting, unimaginitive, uniform and fragile device that comes from Apple. Alternatively, you have the sleek, inventive, powerful and customizable device that comes from Samsung.

Let’s compare the most recent phones released by the two companies: Apple’s iPhone X and Samsung’s Note 8.

I think it should be clarified that Apple’s iPhone X’s OLED display is made by Samsung, their competitor. However, even with the same display, the Note 8’s 6.3-inch screen is larger and has brighter colors.

Apple also states that the iPhone X is “all-display,” but in reality it is not; there’s that annoying black notch at the top, which makes streaming videos awkward unless you change the video display settings. Samsung doesn’t have that notch, so you can binge-watch shows without disturbance.

You know what else is disappointing about Apple’s recent devices? There’s no headphone jack. Though this is a good way to increase airpod sales, it still leaves most iPhone users unsatisfied. With Samsung’s devices, you don’t have to worry about losing your expensive airpods, stick with regular earbuds.

The iPhone X and the Note 8 both contain dual twelve-megapixel cameras. However, when taking portraits, only the Note 8 can take both a portrait and a wide photo at once. In addition, Note 8’s camera is flat on the back of the phone and doesn’t cause the phone to wobble without a case when its lying on a flat surface.

Samsung also triumphs when it comes to multitasking since all of its devices, since 2014, have split-screen: the ability to easily use two apps at once.

Apple finally incorporated wireless charging into their new device this year, but that’s still two years later than Samsung, which has had wireless charging on all devices dating back to the Note 5. Samsung is also the only company out of the two that currently sells wireless charging docks.

Phones aren’t the only area in which Samsung sweeps the floor, as the company is much bigger than Apple.

According to Business Insider, as of February 2017, Apple has stores spread across nineteen countries; Samsung occupies more than four times that number.

As a bigger company that has much more experience, Samsung very clearly surpasses Apple both in the world of technology and design, and the world of business and marketing. When faced with the choice between an iPhone or a Samsung device, the obvious choice is Samsung. Their devices have the same features plus some more, which perform better than those of Apple, for the same price.

Illustration by Ryx Zan

Meet Ms. Jackson

Every time students walk through the front office, Barbara Jackson, the new receptionist, welcomes them. Some may recognize her as an assistant teacher from Mary Scroggs Elementary.

Jackson moved a couple years ago due to her husband’s job but is now back in the CHCCS School system. She loves the friendliness and professionalism of the staff, teachers and students. She’s the type to keep busy and loves her new job as a receptionist.

“It’s a real homey environment; it kind of hugs you,” said Jackson. “You can tell how much the teachers and the staff here care about the kids.”

She hopes students feel welcome when they walk into the school and that she’s doing her job well.

“I want the kids to feel like they can just come in and not be afraid to talk, and if they’re late, I don’t want them to feel funny,” said Jackson.

As much as she loves her current days as a receptionist, she isn’t used to sitting down all day. An active person, she will have to adjust to her new relatively sedentary job.

She loves to take long walks with her dogs and go to the gym. When she isn’t spending her time outdoors, she likes to spend time with her three sons and enjoys scrapbooking and watching movies. Jackson hopes to continue to help students in the years to come.