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LEVEL
Higher Learning. A publication from Medium for the interested man.

Videogames

In LEVEL. More on Medium.

While the real world is stalled out and spiraling, we’re busy leveling up

Original illustration by Oakland School for the Arts student, Vinh Truong

Whiteness, it seems, has a monopoly on all things.

It’s no surprise in the real world, but Whiteness is also in the distant reaches of our most imaginative galaxies. And that’s frightening.

In too many fictional worlds, the idea of being a Black space pioneer or Brown wizard is inconceivable — even when we’re able to suspend our disbelief around intergalactic travel or riding bareback on dragons.

We’ve all seen a White man with a gray beard as a sorcerer. But when’s the last time you saw an Indigenous spell caster in a U.S. fiction context? I’d have to go…


Who needs a weapon when you are a weapon?

Balrog (left) and TJ Combo (right) from ‘Street Fighter’ and ‘Killer Instinct.’ Photo: Capcom

When I was young, I was a big fan of the original Killer Instinct games.

My favorite character was Glacius, a powerful being made of ice. You could turn his hands into weapons or melt down to a puddle, reemerging with an uppercut to opponents. Other characters in the game were the sword-wielding warrior monk Jago; Sabrewulf and Riptor, a werewolf and fighting raptor; Spinal, a skeletal soldier; and a brutal cybernetic soldier named Fulgore.

There was also TJ Combo. Though this boxing champion has one of the illest Ultra combos in fighting game history, he seemed a bit mundane…


Just Rankin’ Sh!t

Better pick up them sticks!

Photo: EA Games

5. Rap Jam: Volume One (1995)

You already love NBA Jam, so a streetball game starring rappers has gotta be just as good, right? Onyx, Coolio, and House of Pain are definitely the characters you’d most want to play, right? They called it “Volume One” because it’s going to be a long-running series, right? Uh… right?

4. Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style (1999)

A Tekken-style fighting game born from a game that had been canceled for being too violent, this one came at the perfect time… to feel like a cash grab. No jumping, graphics that made GZA and Inspectah Deck look like crash test dummies, and a complete lack of Blue Raspberry…


The popular game is a balm for my depression. It couldn’t have come at a better time.

A photo of a Nintendo Switch menu. “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” is highlighted.
A photo of a Nintendo Switch menu. “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” is highlighted.
Photo: Felipe Vieira via Unsplash

This morning I woke up and left my house.

I gleefully checked my mailbox and found that I had received some packages I ordered, some letters of kindness from my neighbors, and a few unexpected presents from friends far away. I took in the morning sun as I left my house and walked the path to the middle of town; there were things I needed to buy, errands to run. New flowers bloomed from the day before, and the sound of morning crickets greeted me. …

LEVEL

Higher Learning. A publication from Medium for the interested man.

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