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Gaming Interviews

How To Become A Game Tester

In the realm of “dream jobs,” getting paid to play video games all day may seem as far-fetched as becoming an astronaut or a Men In Black agent. But landing a gig as a professional video game tester isn’t nearly as out of reach as you’d expect. The gaming industry, which this year is predicted to rake in nearly $160 billion, is rapidly expanding (set to surpass $200 billion in revenue by 2023) which means that there are more openings in the field than ever before. Video game testing is one of the best ways to break into the biz and earn a not half-bad living while you’re at it. According to Glassdoor, the average base salary of a games tester is around $55K a year – with room for growth.

  • Step 1: Understand The Job
  • Step 2: Play Video Games!
  • Step 3: Study Up
  • Step 4: Hone Your Skills
  • Step 5: Research Companies
  • Step 6: Look for Listings
  • Step 7: Land The Job

Like any career, it requires knowledge, passion, plenty of studying, and a dedication to getting into the field. Don’t know where to start? Read on for our step-by-step guide, along with advice from real gaming professionals.

Step 1: Understand The Job
Glassdoor

Before you start daydreaming, it’s important to understand what video game testers (known in the industry as QA, or Quality Assurance, testers) really do. For the record, they don’t actually just play around all day. The job is about finding and documenting bugs in software that’s usually under construction and perhaps not “playable” in the sense that you’re used to as a consumer. It also involves troubleshooting, testing functionality, analyzing data content, and rating the performance of games. 

“A big misconception that I see new testers have and a lot of Game companies perpetuate is that ‘wow you get to play games for a living’ and it’s not that easy,” says Kristen Dealy, a senior QA Tester at Activision Blizzard (whose opinions are her own and do not reflect Activision). “We don’t play games for fun but to break them. Every day testers are running through every aspect of the game to make sure it is functional. It’s a lot of doing the same thing every day. Then if you do find a bug you have to be able to deduce the exact steps and then document it for the developers to fix.”

According to Jonas Kopka, a QA Lead at Kolibri Games, based in Berlin, QA testers “spend a lot of time manually testing our game so we know it inside out, but at least as much time is spent preparing test maps to find and cover all the edge cases… Another similar amount of time is spent in meetings to plan our sprints, iterate over our workflows and processes, and align and decide on the actual implementations.”

Step 2: Play Video Games!

You’ve probably got this part covered if you’re interested in a career as a games tester, but it’s worth pointing out that, like any profession, some general knowledge can be a big help when you’re starting out. While “a longtime passion” isn’t quite required, says Remy Ripple, a general software QA tester who has previously done QA testing at Activision, “definitely having some kind of knowledge in games helps. The games I tested were never the kind I’d sit down and play myself, like first-person shooters, so I was at a little bit of a handicap at first, but having general knowledge about them helped.” For a leg up, it would be useful to start playing the types of games you usually don’t have in your rotation to broaden your range of experience; if you’re used to first-person shooters, for example, try switching it up to a story-driven RPG. Here’s your excuse to splurge on more titles and spend even more time with your console!

Step 3: Study Up
Activision

While you don’t necessarily need a formal education in gaming to land a job as a QA tester, having a grip on the technical side of things is an obvious plus and a degree always helps, especially in a field this competitive (sorry, but you’re probably not the only one reading this article right now). If you’re entering or are still in school, look into college courses centering on digital media, programming, or software design and development. 

Dealy, for example, studied Game Design and Development-Art with a concentration in 2D Art, while Ripple has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. “I majored in Web and Multimedia (basically a catch-all for digital media studies),” he says. “Since I already had an interest in games and making games, breaking into the industry especially from a mainly art/design perspective can be hard so games QA was a nice adjacent position to what I wanted.”

For gaming hopefuls who have long since graduated, all hope is hardly lost. There are plenty of online degree or certificate courses to help you add some extra oomph to your resume. Gaming Industry Career Guide has a searchable map of related program offerings in your area.

From an entry-level standpoint, QA testing is a great way to get started in the gaming industry, and since it serves as an intersection of so many disciplines, Kopka assures that “any extra skill or experience you have from other areas can be applied in one way or another to QA, so never stop learning!”

Step 4: Hone Your Skills

Speaking of skills, which kinds are video game companies looking for in QA testers specifically? Well, you might be surprised. Kopka, for one, cites three main skill requirements for any successful game tester:

Communication: “We work on a 40 person game team and very closely with devs, designers, product managers. There’s no time for vagueness and misunderstandings.” Written communication skills are also valued, as testers must be able to describe the route to a glitch clearly and concisely to developers.

Teamwork: “We have no place for big egos, it’s about delivering an awesome experience for our players, and that only works if we all pull together.”

Puzzling: “Deconstructing a feature into its parts and finding in which ways you can fit them together is essential to find all the interesting ways it might break.” 

The role also requires a sharp eye for detail – after all, a big part of your job would be to pick up even the smallest bugs – along with plenty of patience and a tolerance for repetition (you’ll likely be required to repeat actions many, many times).

Step 5: Research Companies
Microsoft

When seeking to enter any industry, it’s important to familiarize yourself with all the major players (um, no pun intended). There are hundreds of game companies across the world, ranging from large studios to indie startups, so you’ll have to consider what you’re looking for in a potential employer. Would you prefer a work environment that’s swanky corporate or scrappy startup? Would you consider relocating? Do you want a stable work-life balance or a stable salary?

Glassdoor is an excellent resource for seeking honest, behind-the-scenes reports straight from current and past employees. To get you started, here’s an overview of some of the best-ranked video game companies to work for:

  • Activision Blizzard: Based in Santa Monica, California. Known for Call of Duty, Overwatch, Diablo, World of Warcraft. Employees say, “Not for the faint-hearted but the strong can thrive.”
  • Valve Corporation: Based in Bellevue, Washington. Known for Half-life, Portal, DOTA 2, Left 4 Dead, Steam. Employees say, “Awesome company with good perks.”
  • Riot Games: Based in Los Angeles, California. Known for League of Legends. Employees say, “The best career decision I ever made.”
  • Naughty Dog: Based in Santa Monica, California. Known for Uncharted, The Last of Us, Crash Bandicoot. Employees say, “Very talented team. Amazing tools. Treated well.”
  • Electronic Arts Inc.: Based in Redwood City, California. Known for Battlefield, Need for Speed, The Sims, Dragon Age, Star Wars, Madden. Employees say, “Big corporate with all the pros and cons.”
  • Epic Games: Based in Cary, North Carolina. Known for Fortnite, Unreal, Gears of War, Infinity Blade. Employees say, “Incredible growth opportunity.”
  • Take-Two Interactive: Based in New York, New York. Known for BioShock, Borderlands, Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead, NBA 2K. Employees say, “Great culture and place to work.”
  • Bungie: Based in Bellevue, Washington. Known for Halo, Destiny. Employees say, “People are great, work-life balance is challenging.”
  • Nintendo: Based in Kyoto, Japan. Known for (do we even need to say this?) Mario, Zelda, Pokémon. Employees say, “Best Place EVER to work.”
  • And if you happen to be interested in moving to Germany, Kopka describes Kolibri Games as a 105-person powerhouse that boasts a “very open culture where cross-team collaboration is common and appreciated.” Sounds like a stamp of approval to us.
Step 6: Look for Listings

Once you’re finally ready to dive into the actual job search, your best bet is to look for job listings on sites including Indeed, Glassdoor, and Gaming Industry Career Guide, or on the company websites themselves. Keep in mind that not all QA positions are salaried or full time. A company may hire temporary or part-time testers, meaning that you’d be paid hourly as a contract worker (on the plus side, that means the potential for lots of overtime pay).

Nevertheless, according to Ripple, “a lot of major studios have massive QA departments in the sheer number of the lowest rung QA testers,” so there tends to be plenty of openings for QA roles. And don’t be afraid to start somewhere, whether that’s an internship or a peripheral role. 

In college, Dealy says she “did an internship at iDTech as an instructor where I taught kids how to 3D model and create video games [and] ended up working again at iDTech before I graduated as a Lead Instructor.” Then she found a job opening at Activision. Kopka got his start doing SEO, copywriting and localization at a startup – and now he’s the QA Lead at Kolibri! 

As Ripple says, “I think anyone that wants to get into QA can find that this is actually a pretty large field with a lot of crossover between different disciplines. QA in games, in software, even in mechanical stuff are out there and anyone that likes understanding how systems work and how things fit together in even the most abstract way I think can find a place here even if it isn’t with their dream company or if QA isn’t even their end dream position.”

Another insider tip? “Get into mobile games,” says Kopka. “The market is much larger and most things are very similar compared to console and PC games.”

Step 7: Land The Job

You’ve sent your resume out there, consistently applied to openings, and finally got called in for an interview – congrats! Here’s your chance to show off all the knowledge you’ve gleaned preparing for this role and actually land the job. So what should you expect from the interview? In addition to general questions about which games you typically play or have experience with, interviewers may ask things such as, “How do you assess the quality and difficulty of a game?”, “What techniques do you use to find all the bugs and glitches in a game?”, and “What skills do you think Video Game Testers need to be successful?” (luckily, we went over those!). You also might be given a test to assess that eye for detail we mentioned.

On a more practical level, Ripple notes that, “public transport is possible out to the office but in the interview, they usually request that you have reliable transport due to expected overtime.” Depending on where you are, that might mean having to get a car. 

As for whether or not all this prep for your “dream job” is actually worth it? Well, it might not be all fun and games, but Kopka maintains that the career pays off. “There are so many amazing people working in games, and they bring so much passion to work every day. Also, working on products that just want to bring positivity and joy to the world is incredibly rewarding. It’s surreal and deeply touching seeing your game being played in the subway by a random stranger, or when your friends confess they’ve been playing for a while!”

Categories
Sports Strength

Get to Know AEW’s Cody Rhodes

The wrestling landscape plays host to a number of individuals who’ve followed in the footsteps of their legendary progenitors. Some of the most notable 2nd and 3rd generation talents that plied their trade in the squared circle include greats such as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Charlotte Flair, Bret “Hitman” Hart, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Eddie Guerrero, Randy Orton, etc.

Another name you can throw into the mix is Cody Garrett Runnels aka Cody Rhodes, the blond-haired son of the “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. Since entering the business his father made great strides in, Cody has gone from a chip off the old block looking to make a splash in WWE to the executive vice president of his very own wrestling promotion. Cody’s fascinating wrestling journey is marked with plenty of major successes and less than stellar moments. But with his current association with the hottest new wrestling fed on television, he’s set to create even more lasting memories that push him ever so closer to Hall of Fame status.

If you’re still a bit unclear about Cody’s origins and what pushed him to where he is today, then this extensive primer should bring you up to speed. “The son of a son of a plumber” is undoubtedly one of the most interesting personalities in all of professional wrestling today.

Cody Made a Huge Splash in High School as an Amateur Wrestler

During his days as a high school athlete, Cody competed in football and amateur wrestling while attending Lassiter High School. His accolades in that aforementioned sport saw him defeat the No. 1 seed at the Cobb County tournament at 160-lbs, finish second at that same tournament, and the Region 6AAAAA tourney as a sophomore, and come in at sixth at the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) AAAAA state tourney. 

Once Cody left football behind to focus all of his efforts on amateur wrestling, he managed to pull off an 18-0 undefeated streak soon after and claim his first Cobb County title at 189-lbs. During his last two years at Lassiter High School, Cody was victorious at the Georgia state tournament on two occasions. Cody’s junior season even saw him compete with a fellow amateur wrestler turned pro wrestling superstar by the name of Austin Watson aka Xavier Woods (Cody ultimately got the win during their match). 

Cody’s collegiate amateur wrestling career looked to be starting on a high note as his father Dusty noted that a coach from Penn State looked to recruit his son. However, that scenario never came to be as Cody opted to attend Howard Fine Acting School in Los Angeles instead and pursue a career as a thespian once he graduated from high school. This career decision only lasted for a year before Cody decided to make a play for the world of professional wrestling.

Cody’s Early Pro Wrestling Days Saw Him Make Great Career Strides While Training in Ohio Valley Wrestling

Cody has made it known that his father didn’t want him to enter the wrestling business at first. “He didn’t want me at all to get involved in sports entertainment,” Cody stated during an interview with The Post and Courier. He went on to say that “it wasn’t like he was a deterrent for it, but he didn’t really want the day to come where I said I wanted to go somewhere to train. He wasn’t ready for that day when it did come.” Dusty Rhodes has been credited by Cody as the man that helped kickstart his wrestling training and teach him the fundamentals of the sport at a young age. 

Once he got older and made his way over to former WWE developmental territory Ohio Valley Wrestling back in 2006, Cody learned even more about his chosen profession while under the tutelage of Al Snow, Danny Davis, Randy Orton, and Ricky Morton. Cody’s OVW career saw him claim the promotion’s Southern Tag Team Championship with current AEW wrestler Shawn Spears on two occasions, become Television Champion once, and get his hands on the Heavyweight Championship one time. The championship accolades Cody accrued while in OVW marked him as the fed’s fourth Triple Crown Champion.

Cody’s WWE Career Put His Ability to Adapt and Excel in Any Situation on Full Display
WWE

Cody’s WWE career as a main roster member lasted from 2007 right up until 2016. During his storied run with the company, Cody played a number of varied gimmicks that pointed to his penchant for making the best out of any role given to him. While teaming with Hardcore Holly, Cody simply competed as the typical “son of a wrestling legend” character that so many had done before him. He eventually went onto aligning himself with a third-generation wrestler in the form of Ted DiBiase Jr. As his career wore on, Cody entered into a partnership with DiBiase Jr. and Randy Orton to form a powerful stable by the name of Legacy.

After Legacy’s run on top came to a close, Cody adopted his “Dashing” gimmick and successfully played the part of a handsome individual who took great pleasure in his unmatched facial features. During a feud with Rey Mysterio, he adopted a much darker persona and went full Doctor Doom mode when he became “Undashing” Cody Rhodes. Proof of Cody’s ever-improving abilities in the ring can be seen during his WrestleMania XXVII bout against Rey Mysterio.

In the ensuing years during his continued WWE run, Cody went on to become Intercontinental Champion and win the tag team titles several times (one of those title reigns was spent alongside his half-brother Dustin Runnels aka Goldust). While under the guise of the face-painted madman known as Stardust, Cody’s disillusionment with WWE began to grow. In May of 2016, he went to Twitter to announce that he had requested his release from the company. And the very next day, his request had been granted.

During an interview with Bleacher Report, Cody detailed how much his WWE exit affected Paul Michael Levesque aka Triple H: “Hunter took it very personally because he had done so much for my dad in NXT. There was one conversation where he said, ‘I’m shocked that you feel this way after everything I’ve done for your family.’ But I told him, ‘I’m not my dad. I can’t stay here out of loyalty to you for giving my dad a job in 2005.’ I get it, and the little boy in me really appreciates what you did for my dad. But I’m not him. He’s not here anymore. I’ve got to be me.”

Cody’s Indy Wrestling Run Eventually Led to Him Birthing All Elite Wrestling
Noam Galai/Getty Images for WarnerMedia Company

In order to prove himself to the wrestling world as someone who could hang with the best the sport had to offer, Cody began working for a number of independent wrestling promotions. His post-WWE work saw him compete for Evolve, Northeast Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, and WhatCulture Pro/Defiant Wrestling. 

As his stature on the indy wrestling scene grew, Cody aligned himself with much more prominent companies such as the National Wrestling Alliance, Ring of Honor, TNA/Impact Wrestling and New Japan Pro Wrestling. And during his stint in all those aforementioned feds, he earned plenty of championships along the way. Some of the biggest names he wrestled against on the indy scene include Ricochet, Jay Lethal, Dalton Castle, Christopher Daniels, Sami Callihan, and several others.

The initial signs that pointed to Cody looking to start a wrestling promotion of his own began at All In, a massive indy wrestling event promoted by him and the popular tag team of the Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson). Several members of the NJPW, ROH, CMLL, Impact Wrestling, AAA, MLW, and NWA rosters came together to produce a major televised wrestling show for the ages. 

The overwhelming success and fan goodwill garnered from All In back in 2018 eventually led to the birth of All Elite Wrestling in 2019. On January 1, 2019, AEW was officially unveiled to the world during an episode of the wrestling web series Being the Elite. With the assistance of his wife Brandi Rhodes, the Young Bucks, Kenny Omega, and Tony Khan, Cody is currently in the midst of making the AEW product must-see on TNT. Cody is certainly All Elite.

Categories
Culture Music

ONE37pm’s Open Dialogue With, Moe: Florida’s Next Rising Hip-Hop Star

Recently, ONE37pm launched a new series where open conversations are being had with some amazing talents who have been killing it in their desired industry. From sports to music, the hustlers and grinders in everyone would always like to have the opportunity to pick the brains of the greats who are on top of their game so they can elevate their grind to get to the rightful position they deserve to be at. Introducing Open Dialogue—the series where real talk infuses real motivation to see real results for the hustler in you.

Our first episode of this new series is with rapper Moe. The Epic Records signee is having a monster year thanks to his hit song “Outta There.” Racking up to 10 million streams on Spotify and counting, the Orlando bred emcee was able to have his song get featured on the NBA 2k20 soundtrack as well as having his own Tik Tok Challenge gone viral. A combination of everyone like LeBron “Bronny” James Jr, Bryce James, Kiyan Anthony (Lala & Carmelo Anthony’s son), and Tik Tok king Jason Derulo have partaken on the #OuttaThereChallenge.

Our very own Omari White was able to have a dope conversation with Moe on his steady incline to stardom as well as sharing with him what it took to reach the position he is at right now.

Omari: What was the inspiration you took or what was that kind of motivation needed to be like, “alright, cool, let me just settle in and really focused on making sure that my name gets out to the people.” 

Moe: I played ball (basketball) my whole life. So around that time, 2016, that kind of came to a halt. I wanted to do something where I felt like I had more control over it instead of a coach.. Like somebody really like having control over your career. Like I was playing for a n***a who brought me from Florida way to Virginia and then didn’t play me like that. You know what I’m saying? So I’m like, you know, fuck that. I’m going to go do music right now. At least I got control over the craft and the creativity. You know what I’m saying.  Everything else was in God’s hands. You know what I’m saying. God been blessing me in all types of ways, but at least I knew if I put the work in, then, you know, Lord willing, I’ll be rewarded for it. 

Omari: Now what was the hustle like in creating a lane for your music to be heard not only in Orlando but around the world?

Moe: It was, it was tough, bro. It was different because with me, I put out a mixtape in 2018 and I put out the “Rich Dreamin” mixed tape back at the end of last year. You know, “Outta There’ obviously being the standout, it was tough trying to figure it out because everything is digital now. But I think what made it go for me was I took that old school way and the new school way. So I would go to the club and you got anybody in Orlando, any DJ, any host and these n****s know me, bro. I went to the club with my USB and go to the booth and I wouldn’t leave until they spun it over and over. And like, I’d be in a bed at one in the morning, at 2:30. I’ll jump up, throw some sweats on the tee-shirt, and would do that every night.

Categories
Grind Money

What Is Chamillionaire’s Net Worth?

When you hear the name Chamillionaire, it’s easy to just think of ‘Ridin’. It’s understandable, considering it’s easily one of the biggest crossover records in Hip-Hop of all time. People who don’t know the first thing about Rap music know the words to the song’s chorus. But to reduce the Houston rapper to that song is almost insulting and completely ignores the fact that he’s actually one of the more quietly successful rappers around. What might surprise you is that Chamillionaire boasts an estimated net worth of around $25 million. Here’s how he did it.

The rapper was a superstar
Jason Kempin/FilmMagic

Chamillionaire released his debut album The Sound Of Revenge in 2005 and it only took a month for it to be certified platinum. It was a different era in music, where big singles would really catapult the success of an entire album. In this case, the aforementioned #1 hit ‘Ridin’ with Krayzie Bone popularised the album and gave Chamillionaire a top ten debut album.

Within the music space, the rapper has his own entertainment company called Chamillitary Entertainment, which all of his releases since leaving Universal in 2011 have gone through. Being an independent artist is extremely financially viable and the rapper saw the vision early. Lil Ken and Tony Henry are fellow artists under the umbrella.

Chamillionaire’s expertise in business paid off
Andy Sheppard/Redferns

By the point of his first album dropping, Chamillionaire was already an entrepreneur outside of music, though. In 2003, the rapper invested in his friend Big Ernest’s company Fly Rydes Kustom Toy’z, a Houston based auto-dealer, and car customization shop. He saw how important that culture was in Houston and made a smart investment, which became a theme in his career.

In 2009, Chamillionaire met Mark Suster, a fellow entrepreneur, and a venture capitalist. They built a good relationship and the rapper ended up investing in his online video talent agency, Maker Studios. The investment was a massive $1.5 million and it paid off more than tenfold. Six years later in 2014, Maker Studios, Inc. sold to The Walt Disney Company for a massive $500 million with the possibility of $950 million if some financial goals were met. Chamillionaire’s pay-out from the deal is believed to be $20 million and with one investment, he made more than many successful rappers make in their entire touring career.

One of the rapper’s other most lucrative investments has been in Cruise, a self-driving automation tech company that ended up being purchased by General Motors for over $1 billion in 2016. There’s no word on what his investment here was but if it was anything near the $1.5 million he put into Maker Studios, it definitely made his pockets considerably fatter.

Never one to leave his roots, Chamillionaire has also made investments with fellow musicians. He revealed that he, Big Boi, and Trey Songz invested in Lyft in 2015 before it went public. The same year, it was worth a reported $2.157 billion. This foresight is key and was on show again when the rapper invested in Ring, which was eventually bought by Amazon and is now used worldwide. The rapper has the Midas touch when it comes to putting money behind businesses.

Success leads to big opportunities
Chris Polk/FilmMagic

His experience in the field is what led to his appointment as Upfront Ventures’ entrepreneur in residence, where he gets to offer advice and investment capital to startups he deems worthy.

As well as investments, Chamillionaire has launched his own businesses too. In 2018, he announced Convoz, a social media app where fans and their favorite celebrities can communicate in a more personal way than anything else offers. It received seed funding from Upfront Ventures as well as 500 Startups, Precursor VC, and more as well as Snoop Dogg and others being involved early on.

Chamillionaire gives back

Chamillionaire has done a great job of giving back too. Last year, he announced that alongside Bay Area legend E-40, he was going to be investing $25k into a start-up founded by a woman or person of color, in an attempt to close a huge gap. A study was published that showed that Caucasians make up 87% of Venture Capital-backed CEOs and only 3% of those positions are held by women and this was what inspired the decision. They ended up investing in Atoms, a company that offers shoes in quarter sizes. It was so successful that they launched a contest where start-ups that met the same criteria could win four times the amount, $100k.

With all of this success outside of the music industry, it’s no wonder why Chamillionaire took a step back from music entirely to focus on investments and the tech space. Although his name is synonymous with being a “one-hit wonder” for most, many young people would benefit more greatly from listening to his advice than some of their favorite rappers. With his expertise in entrepreneurship, it’s no wonder how the Houston MC has lived up to his name.

Categories
Consoles Gaming

15 Games Like Until Dawn

Until Dawn was the unexpected smash hit of 2015. At the time of its release, games like Until Dawn weren’t exactly hotly anticipated. You had some stars like David Cage and his catalogue of titles but, for the most part, the genre wasn’t known for its popularity. While Until Dawn didn’t necessarily change that, it did give players a new appreciation for games that, for lack of a better word, sacrifice gameplay for a compelling story.

And that is the common denominator for the games on this list. While Until Dawn is best known for its horror elements, I believe it’s more at home with games that place an emphasis on telling a story.

1. Indigo Prophecy

Let me go ahead and warn you, David Cage will have a strong presence on this list. His games, while divisive in terms of storytelling and quality, are undoubtedly synonymous with storytelling games and Indigo Prophecy (also known as Fahrenheit) is definitely one of his wilder stories. The game puts you in the shoes of a disturbed killer and the police trying to catch him. It’s a game of cat and mouse that takes several unexpected left turns.

While not explicitly a horror game, Indigo Prophecy does have some horror elements and a healthy amount of jump scares. It’s a good title to pick up, if you’re done with Until Dawn and looking for something else to play.

Buy now
https://store.playstation.com/en-us/product/UP9000-CUSA08981_00-BLACKWOOD0000001
2. The Inpatient

From the creators of Until Dawn, The Inpatient is a 2018 release that didn’t quite resonate with players as much as it’s predecessor. The game utilizes the Play Station’s virtual reality headset. While this may change the gameplay, somewhat, The Inpatient echoes Until Dawn in several ways.

The game puts you in an insane asylum that exists in the same world as Until Dawn, just several decades in the past. Much like Until Dawn, The Inpatient’s story is heavily dependent on player choice. Characters and scenes are entirely dependent on how the character plays the game which enhances the title’s replayability factor.

Buy now
https://store.playstation.com/en-us/product/UP9000-CUSA08981_00-BLACKWOOD0000001
3. Telltale’s The Walking Dead

At no point did Telltale’s The Walking Dead reflect the real-world trouble the company was embroiled in. From the start, The Walking Dead told a compelling story that rivaled it’s AMC show counterpart in every way. Every chapter was released to ravenous fans who over the course of years had become attached to Clementine, Lee and the game’s perpetually growing and shrinking cast of characters.

The art style is different from Until Dawn but the similar gameplay, particularly the player choice mechanic, earns this game a spot on the list.

Buy now
https://www.amazon.com/Walking-Dead-Collection-Telltale-PlayStation-4/dp/B0774CL85T
4. Until Dawn: Rush of Blood

Released in 2016, Until Dawn: Rush of Blood bridges the gap between Until Dawn and The Inpatient as the first VR experience that heavily features characters and assets from Until Dawn. The game is more of an extended tech demo than a full blown story. It puts you on a roller coaster that is constantly bombarded with increasingly frightening imagery. The player, armed with pistols, has to defend themself from the horrors the game throws at you. It’s easiest to think of the game as one part Until Dawn one part House of the Dead but with much better graphics.

Buy now
https://www.amazon.com/Until-Dawn-Rush-Blood-PlayStation-4/dp/B01LWJB4QT/ref=sr_1_1?crid=XGY56IQQWR6L&dchild=1&keywords=until+dawn+rush+of+blood+ps4+vr&qid=1592158622&s=videogames&sprefix=until+dawn+%2Cvideogames%2C256&sr=1-1
5. Heavy Rain

Widely considered David Cage’s magnum opus, Heavy Rain is a 2010 release that helped put Cage on the map. The game boasts a story that is a bit more subdued than Indigo Prophecy, which graphics considered to be cutting edge for its time. In this installment, Cage tells a dark and disturbing story about a man trying to rescue his son from the clutches of an origami-themed killer, whose identity will leave players gobsmacked.

Heavy Rain is perhaps one of the most critically acclaimed games on this list. Much like Until Dawn, Heavy Rain’s narrative sets it’s hooks in you and it doesn’t relent for a second.

Buy now
https://www.epicgames.com/store/en-US/product/heavy-rain/home
6. Life is Strange

There aren’t many games out there that can be compared to Life is Strange. Everything from the game’s story to its tone to its presentation and characters are unique, which is why so many players were drawn to it quickly after its 2015 release.

Life is Strange tell the story of a teenager who finds herself able to manipulate time. Her decisions surrounding this ability dictate the game’s winding narrative. While Life is Strange lacks horror elements, it’s gameplay and teenage angst mirrors Until Dawn, putting it in the top ten of this list.

Buy now
https://store.steampowered.com/agecheck/app/319630/
7. Beyond: Two Souls

Another David Cage title, this time with a bit of star power. Beyond: Two Souls, released in 2013, is perhaps the most commercially successful title on David Cage’s resume. It tells the story of Jodie, played by Ellen Page, a child who appears to have psychic abilities due to her spirit being tethered to another spirit that can manipulate objects. Think JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure but less bizarre but still pretty bizarre.

The game follows Jodie’s life as she learns to control her abilities. It’s a story that, at times, can be just as gut wrenching as it is inspiring. The game represents some of David Cage’s best work.

Buy now
https://www.epicgames.com/store/en-US/product/beyond-two-souls/home
8. Oxenfree

A group of friends decide to spend their down time on an island where an evil spirit lies dormant. If this sounds like a sequel to Until Dawn, it isn’t. It’s Oxenfree, a game that takes the horror trope of a group of friends discovering ancient evil, while still remaining fresh. The more you and the other characters explore the island, the more you uncover the mystery of the mysterious force behind the unexplained occurrences.

The game inserts AAA storytelling in an indy package. It started its life as a Kickstarter before it’s release in 2016. The game’s story is intentionally ambiguous which has invited a large group of fans to come up with their own theories about the island, in a similar fashion to Five Nights at Freddy’s.

Buy now
https://www.epicgames.com/store/en-US/product/oxenfree/home
9. Call of Cthulhu

2017’s Call of Cthulhu is one of two games that tries to turn the Cthulhu mythos into a game. Drawing heavily from the well-loved tabletop board game, Call of Cthulhu puts you in the shoes of an investigator hired to unravel the mystery behind the death of a well-loved painter and her family. While the main character is a bit of a sceptic, at first, he quickly discovers and is forced to accept that something supernatural is behind the mystery.

While the game could have benefitted from a bit more polish, the story is tells is equal parts engaging and disturbing. Lovecraft fans or students of the occult will enjoy the games many, many eldridge easter eggs, while those looking for another Until Dawn experience won’t be disappointed.

Buy now
https://store.steampowered.com/app/399810/Call_of_Cthulhu/
10. Murdered: Soul Suspect

An older game that flew under a lot of people’s radar, Murdered: Soul Suspect garnered a lot of praise when it released in 2014. The game puts you in the shoes of a detective who was recently the victim of a serial killer. You must use your knowledge as a detective, coupled with new non-corporeal abilities, which include taking control of living beings. The game manages to be dark and brooding while not delving completely into the kind of horror Until Dawn is best known for. The similarities between these two games lies more in the tone and gameplay.

Buy now
https://store.steampowered.com/app/233290/Murdered_Soul_Suspect/
11. Detroit: Become Human

While there are several games that benefitted from an extended period of anticipation among fans, few games have kept fans waiting more than Detroit: Become Human. Anticipation for this game kicked off in 2012 after the release of a tech demo, a video named Kara. In the video, a factory worker decided not to scrap an android after noticing it seemed to spontaneously develop sentience. To say the video wowed audiences was an understatement. The problem is the disclaimer at the start of the video.

“The following footage is a prototype running in real-time Playstation 3,” the disclaimer read. “It is a concept only and is not taken from any software title currently in development.”

The call for Quantic Dream, the developers of the tech demo, to expand it into a proper game were too loud for the company to ignore. Six years later and Detroit: Become Human hit the markets.

A near-future science fiction tale, David Cage tells a story that is oddly prescient given recent events. While the game’s narrative fumbles at times, it consistently engages players in one of David Cage’s more interesting stories.

Buy now
https://www.epicgames.com/store/en-US/product/detroit-become-human/home
12. The Last of Us

The most critically acclaimed games on this list, The Last of Us is a contender on most “Top Games of All Time” lists. Released in 2013, the game tells a sweeping story of two people trying to survive a post-apocalyptic world. But this isn’t a retelling of The Road or Blood Meridian. The Last of Us manages to stand on its own narrative merits.

WIth the game’s sequel scheduled to release sometime in the coming months, now is a perfect chance to revisit this classic.

Buy now
https://store.playstation.com/en-us/product/UP9000-CUSA00552_00-THELASTOFUS00000
13. Alan Wake

A pioneer of the horror genre, time has been kind to Alan Wake, which is something that can’t’ really be said for other games released in 2010. Part psychological thriller, part horror title, Alan Wake puts you in the shoes of the titular character in a game that is very reminiscent of a blockbuster movie. That’s what makes this game so similar to Until Dawn. Alan Wakes implements a combat system that, for the most part, isn’t overused and avoids becoming  tedious. Alan Wake’s influence on modern horror titles is clear and it doesn’t look as if we will be moving beyond the Alan Wake playbook anytime soon.

Buy now
https://www.amazon.com/Legacy-Interactive-ALANWAKE-Alan-Wake/dp/B007TRXBJY
14. Control

Another unexpected hit, Control released in 2019 to a pre-established cult following. While not directly related, Control is very reminiscent of the fictional organization called the SCP Foundation. Users from across the world have contributed to the SCP mythos and many of these very people made Control the success it is today. THe game’s developers have acknowledged the similarities between Control and the SCP Foundation and are happy that such an enthusiastic community has taken a liking to their game. The game has you play the role of a new recruit to an organization that hunts down supernatural artifacts. The artifacts range from supernatural juke boxes to just about anything you can imagine. Fans of Until Dawn should be able to pick up on the gameplay with little issue.

Buy now
https://www.amazon.com/Control-PlayStation-4/dp/B07DPJ3LZQ/ref=pd_lpo_65_t_2/143-6448652-5625835?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B07DPJ3LZQ&pd_rd_r=83e27e94-11ef-455b-85eb-80728eb45d69&pd_rd_w=yZyJ7&pd_rd_wg=2xAkj&pf_rd_p=7b36d496-f366-4631-94d3-61b87b52511b&pf_rd
15. The Stanley Parable

Perhaps one of the most interesting games on this list, The Stanley Parable is a…well, parable, about doing what one is told. You play the titular stanley, who makes his way though a labyrinth of office rooms while a narrator directs you where to grow. The game give you the option to listen to the narrator’s instructions or forge your own path.

That’s what makes this game so interesting. Like Until Dawn, the narrative is based entirely on your decisions, though The Stanley Parable increases the weight of your decision, particularly if you lead Stanley to his doom.

Buy now
https://store.steampowered.com/app/221910/The_Stanley_Parable/
Categories
Entrepreneurs Grind

5 Ways to Show You’re a Voter

It’s quite literally an understatement to say the country is in a crazy place right now. Mass unemployment, civil unrest, a freaking life-as-we-know-it-shattering pandemic? 

Yeah…if you want some say in wtf is going on in the United States – and you should – you’ve gotta vote.

Assuming you’ve already double and triple-checked that you’re registered to vote in November’s presidential election (if not, do that here!), it’s time to show your support in your wardrobe. Not for a particular candidate, but for the cause of voting. 

“There’s a lot of people out there who aren’t all that excited about their choices in this year’s presidential election, “says The 46 Project’s Megan Collins. “Instead, why not show your support for being a voter?” 

“Maybe you don’t want to turn yourself into a walking billboard for a candidate by wearing a hat or sweatshirt with their name on it. That’s understandable. But wearing cause-related merch is important for building awareness and momentum. That’s why setting a good example by showing you plan to vote in November is so important right now. Thankfully, there’s plenty of options for showing your support for voting in the lead-up to this year’s election.” 

Show your civic engagement with the stylish merch below:
1. Richer Poorer’s new collab with I Am A Voter

Did you know there’s no federal law that governs time off to vote, and only twenty-three states require paid time off to vote? Richer Poorer’s collab with I Am a Voter includes information on how to get involved with the campaign to make Election Day a national holiday. To help you get your office closed on election day, the site offers a downloadable letter to share with your boss.

Shop
https://richer-poorer.com/pages/dirty-hands-club
2. “Phenomenal Voter” sweatshirt

You’ve probably seen activist and author Meena Harris’s “Phenomenal Woman” t-shirts, but did you know they also make a (unisex) “Phenomenal Voter” sweatshirt? Snap yours up before November.

Shop
https://phenomenalwoman.us/products/sweatshirt?_pos=1&_sid=65a07a3bb&_ss=r
3. The 46 Project dad hat

This one’s a bit more partisan, but if you want to see the current administration voted out in November, The 46 Project is for you. They don’t just want you to vote…they want you to vote for the next president, aka commander in chief #46.

Shop
https://the46project.com/
4. Madewell vote t-shirt

Madewell is donating 100% of the purchase price of this U.S.-made tee from now until Election Day to the American Civil Liberties Union (the ACLU). Its mission is to maintain and advance civil liberties, including the protection of the fundamental right to vote for all who are eligible.

Shop
https://www.madewell.com/vote-graphic-allday-crewneck-tee-99105760802.html?source=googlePLA&noPopUp=true&srcCode=Paid_Search%7CShopping_NonBrand%7CGoogle%7CMWGGBS00002_99105760802_1563606909_62083180787_522824000337_c_pla_online__9067609&gclsrc=aw.ds&&gcl
5. ACLU “Let People Vote” pin
ACLU

Speaking of the ACLU, this pin makes for a great conversation starter about the very real threat of voter suppression. Educate yourself, then educate those around you!

Shop
https://shop.aclu.org/let-people-vote-pin/
Categories
Consoles Gaming

16 Games Like Harvest Moon

There is a type of player who isn’t necessarily drawn to entertainment that features stories of action, adventure and high stakes. It’s one of the reasons why slice-of-life anime and literary books are so popular. Sometimes people want to slip into the lives of someone else without being burdened with a swashbuckling adventure.

Games like Harvest Moon offer players a low stakes story while still managing to keep them immersed in gameplay. It’s little wonder Harvest Moon has gone on to cultivate legions of fans since it’s release in 1996. While not the first game of its kind, it is considered genre defining by fans of games that feature calming, low-stakes and ambiatic gameplay. Luckily for these kinds of gamers, there is a wealth of games that can scratch that particular itch.

1. Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley is two parts Harvest Moon and one part Legend of Zelda. While Harvest Moon is laid back, Stardew Valley adds some stakes, requiring players to survive in a wilderness while carving out a life for themselves and others. Much like Harvest Moon, farming still takes center stage but is sometimes punctuated with combat against the creatures of the game’s wilderness. Overall, however, it’s clear developers tore a few pages from Harvest Moon’s playbook.

2. Story of Seasons

Craving a Harvest Moon game but with better graphics and an added element of character customization? Look no further than Story of Seasons. Originally released for the Nintendo 3DS a version for the Nintendo Switch is forthcoming and if you don’t want to wait you can play another version of the game that features characters from the anime Doraemon. Both Harvest Moon and Story of Seasons tasks players with managing a farm and cultivating a community but Story of Seasons allows for a bit more wiggle room and player choice.

3. Summer in Mara

What started as a Kickstarter quickly grew into one of the most anticipated games for the Nintendo Switch. Summer in Mara takes the concept of Harvest Moon but puts it on a tropical island, throws in a dash of richly animated cutscenes and features a cast of interesting characters. On top of the usual farming players fish and explore the depths of the ocean, which gives the game an element of verticality.

4. Farm for Your Life

It says it all in the title. Farm for your Life is a pc game that heavily emphasizes farming, sometimes to the detriment of other elements. However, players familiar with Harvest Moon should have no problems picking this up, at least at the start of the game. At some point it’s revealed that the game’s universe is in the midst of a zombie apocalypse and one of the tasks includes fighting off the undead.The way the game goes about revealing this is quite clever.  It’s a bit different from Harvest Moon but a welcome addition to the genre.

5. Ooblets

Ooblets is perhaps the strangest game on this list. It combines gameplay elements from Harvest Moon, Pokemon and Pikmin in an interesting, if not whimsical, title. While farming is an integral part of the game, the vegetables, once harvested, turn into tiny creatures that follow the player around and participate in battles. However, this is no Pokemon rip-off. Although your characters are able to level up, the battle system is not as in-depth as the one found in Pokemon. That’s largely because battles are a small aspect of the game. Customizing your farm, as well as dance parties, take center stage. However, Harvest Moon elements like upgrading your living space and caring for your crops/creatures are also key parts of the gameplay. Ooblets may not be as grounded as Harvest Moon but fans of the latter will enjoy it all the same.

6. Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin

A game that puts the stakes back in farming simulators. Sakuna combines realistic farming mechanics with not-so-realistic battle mechanics. Throughout the game the player must fight monsters who drop items that help make farming easier.

One would imagine the juxtaposition of farming and combat aspects make it look like two different games stitched together but somehow it works. There is no mistaking the fact the farming and combat parts occupy the same in-game universe.

While Sakuna is definitely a departure from Harvest Moon, much of the spirit is still there. Building your rice farm in Sakuna  is as rewarding as building a Harvest Moon farm, particularly in the latter parts of the game when the difficulty becomes unrelenting.

7. Stranded Sails

Harvest Moon fans who also happen to enjoy Pirates of the Caribbean will almost certainly take a liking to Stranded Sails. Another game that takes place on an island, the player is stranded and has to farm to survive. Exploration is also a key gameplay element as the player must also befriend individuals throughout the island and set up a camp to accommodate them. Unlike Harvest Moon, combat is present in parts of the game, although it isn’t as in-depth as some of the other titles on this list. Instead farming and crafting and building up your relationships are the primary focus. With enough time, those characters will become members of your crew.

8. Staxel

Staxel looks like a Minecraft farming mod. Despite its appearance, however, the game has features found in Harvest Moon, like farming and community building and it allows players to invite other players with tasks. Because of the Minecraft aspect, players are able to construct truly amazing personal living spaces.

9. Farm Folks

Another game that takes cues from Harvest Moon’s laidback gameplay. In Farm Folks, players can do whatever they want, whether that entails farming, livestock raising or cutting down  pesky trees. As the player progresses through the game they meet the inhabitants of the island and unlock memories. As each memory is unlocked, the story is slowly revealed to players, which is an interesting addition to the farming and crafting genre.

10. World’s Dawn

The art style of World’s Dawn lends itself to the game’s tone. The game is just as laid back as harvest moon and features a somewhat familiar, although diminished, farming mechanic.The game emphasizes relationships the the player builds with the game’s characters. The player’s primary goal isn’t necessarily to have the biggest and best farm but to revive the town that serves as the game’s locale. Rife with mini-games to keep things fresh, Worlds Dawn is an interesting take on the classic genre.

11. Shepherd’s Crossing

There was a time when Shepherd’s Crossing was as large as Harvest Moon but, for whatever reason, it fell by the wayside. While the game doesn’t feature farming as heavily as Harvest Moon, it does require players to build a village until it becomes self-sufficient. To do this, the player is required to cooperate with other villages by creating and trading products. The game gives players a crash-course in very basic economics without beating them over the head with it. Overall, it’s a solid game that deserves to be on this list.

12. Funky Barn

A game as silly as its name, Funky Barn is another game that gives players a lesson in economics by having them run a barn.  Released exclusively on the Wii-U, Funky Barn recreates many of the features found in Harvest Moon and other farming simulators while adding new ones. For example, players are able to assign certain tasks to strange machines. The machines can water crops and sell eggs, which gives the farm a measure of autonomy. The game also features seasons which have an impact on the way the game is played. This is in addition to certain hurdles the player has to periodically contend with as they build up their farms, which include things like alien invasions and other wacky circumstances.

13. Verdant Skies

Verdant Skies takes the elements of Harvest Moon and turns them into an RPG. The player takes the role of a colonist working to establish a town in the midst of a wilderness. To do so, hunting, foraging and farming are your primary tools. If the game’s tasks get to be too burdensome, players can invite three others to help lighten the load.

The game’s graphics are reminiscent of old-school Harvest Moon, which is probably what the developers were shooting for. Longtime fans of Harvest Moon will enjoy the nostalgic look, while newcomers will enjoy the updated gameplay and story.

14. Farming Simulator

Although farming is Harvest Moon’s primary task, it isn’t as in-depth as Farming Simulator. In this game you are tasked with managing a medium-sized farm, though, depending on how you play the game, farms could grow to being just shy of industrial-sized. Developers went through great lengths getting the machines to look as realistic as possible and it shows in the final product. Real life farmers probably would have some difficulty finding errors in the design of the machinery the game features, though they might take issue with the ease of which some of the tasks are completed. After all, sowing an entire field probably requires a bit more labor than pushing a few buttons.

The simulator offers a crash-course in how best to operate a successful farm. In both Harvest Moon and Farming Simulator, successful players are meticulous, though Farming Simulator might require an extra level of care.

15. The Sims

Another game on this list that manages to overshadow Harvest Moon’s popularity. For years The Sims has been a favorite among players for several different reasons. The game allows players to simulate lives that mirror their own. That coupled with a healthy modder community has made this game a powerhouse in the genre.

Most recently, Sims developers have released the Eco Lifestyle expansion, which only makes the game more like Harvest Moon. In the Eco Lifestyle expansion, players are given the chance to make their homes, and eventually communities, more eco friendly with sustainable architecture and community gardens, among other additions.

16. Animal Crossing: New Horizons

This one is a given. This is one of a small handful of games on this list that has managed to surpass the commercial success of Harvest Moon. These two franchises have always been compared to each other and for good reason. The mood and pacing of both games are near-identical and while Harvest Moon’s gameplay isn’t as aimless as Animal Crossing’s, both games have players tackling similar tasks.

Farming, trading and building are key components of both games but Harvest Moon features these elements as a means to an end. Also, the other significant difference between the two games is Animal Crossing’s emphasis on online multiplayer gameplay, in which several people can visit a person’s island. Frankly, there is no game on this list closer to Harvest Moon than Animal Crossing.

Categories
eSports Gaming

VaynerSports Launches Gaming Division, Adds Fortnite Champ Bugha

One week after expanding into baseball, VaynerSports co-founders Gary and AJ Vaynerchuk announced the launch of VaynerGaming, a new division focused on esports athletes and gaming personalities.

Founded in 2016 as a football agency, VaynerSports looks to continue their disruption of the traditional sports representation landscape with their third division, with future expansion announcements coming soon.

“I have been quietly paying attention to the gaming industry for over a decade, building relationships and following the trends. One of the most exciting things about it, for me, is the gamers themselves. And when I look at the culture, the interest in the sector from other athletes, artists, celebrities – it is enormous. This is a very significant expansion for VaynerSports” Gary Vaynerchuk said.

Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf, the 2019 Esports Gamer of the Year, is VaynerGaming’s first client. Bugha originally signed with Vaynerchuk’s agency after earning overnight success, and a $3 million prize, when he won the inaugural Fortnite World Cup last summer. Reed Bergman, managing partner at VaynerTalent, oversaw his initial representation until VaynerGaming launched this month.

Bergman and VaynerSports Executive Vice President Mike Neligan have worked together to secure lucrative long-term partnerships for Bugha with Samsung, Mondelez, and retail chain Five Below, along with an appearance in the Sabra Hummus Super Bowl commercial this past February – produced by VaynerMedia. The team has also brokered a long-term, exclusive streaming partnership with Twitch and renegotiated Bugha’s existing team deal with the Sentinels.

Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Gaming industry veteran Darren Glover will serve as the division lead and work closely alongside Neligan and VaynerSports Co-CEO, AJ Vaynerchuk. Prior to joining VaynerSports, Glover has helped professional athletes, celebrities and esports athletes build their communities inside the world of gaming.

“While lucrative, the gaming industry is still the wild wild west and unlike other sports, relevancy is not necessarily tied strictly to performance or wins and losses. I don’t believe anyone has a better ‘secret sauce’ than what Gary and the Vayner ecosystem does for brands, talent, and professional athletes. I’m extremely excited to implement that strategy on behalf of esports athletes, gaming content creators, and VaynerSports athletes as we launch a first of its kind agency division” Glover said.

Also, joining VaynerGaming is content and brand strategist, Brandon Hatcher, who has led the content development for Bugha’s brand over the past nine months, yielding more than 300% social media growth. Tyler Schmitt, Gary’s Office of the CEO, has served as Bugha’s day to day manager and will continue to play a vital role in the expansion of VaynerGaming and future clients.

“The strategy for Bugha for the past nine months has proven successful and we’ve put the pieces in place to scale and bring on additional players and personalities that we can elevate to a whole new level” Schmitt explained.

Categories
Style What To Buy

15 Affordable Streetwear Brands

Streetwear has always had a unique position in our culture.  There aren’t many other sectors that have managed to evolve and stay current while still honoring its origins and the iterations that came before it.  Originating in California skate and surf culture, it has been influenced by New York hip-hop culture, international runway fashion, and around-the-way comfort. It’s prominence rose in the 90’s, with brands developing cult-like followings through collaborations with other brands, designers, and celebrities, and limited-edition and exclusive drops.

Not every brand needs to be a Supreme and not every item needs to be a brick or water bottle that retails for $300. 

I’ve rounded up 15 affordable (and affordable-ish) streetwear brands, and even better: they’re all black-owned.

1. Denim Tears

The creator of Denim Tears, Tremaine Emory, has been championing black culture and racial justice for a long time, but he also pushes all the brands he collaborates with to do the same. Most recently, he posted his design of Chuck Taylors on IG, inspired by David Hammons’ ‘African-American Flag’ painting.  He then outlined the conditions of release to Nike requiring they push to defund police departments and put minorities in leadership roles within the company. 

Shop
https://denimtears.com/
2. Diet Starts Monday

Starting as a retail and restaurant concept in Washington,D.C., Diet Starts Monday was only intended to last three months.  The success the space experienced had it up for over a year, and when the location closed, it continued to operate pop-ups across the country. They have partnered with various companies to release $45-$55 collections as well as $90-$200 collections. Their latest releases feature anti-police brutality messages and an array of “Stop Killing Black People” tees.

Shop
https://www.dietstartsmonday.us/
3. A-Cold-Wall

London based designer Samuel Ross started his British streetwear label A-Cold-Wall with functional design, fabric, and architecture in mind but as the climate changed, so did his focus.  As Black Lives Matter protests crossed the ocean, the brand reacted by not only making a donation to its BLM financial aid program, but by creating 10 grants in a myriad of categories, from fashion to urban planning to public administration to food services.

Shop
https://a-cold-wall.com/
4. Brownstone

Stocked with comfy shorts and cozy-cool hoodies that won’t break the bank, Brownstone is already on the radar of Lebron James, James Harden, the cool kids at Complex, who put it on their Brands to Watch for 2019 list, and the Roots; Brownstone was even enlisted to create the official merch for the Roots Picnic 2020. If that doesn’t make you want to get on board, they even designed and sold a shirt that raised over $45,000 for various BLM causes.

Shop
https://brwnstne.co/collections/all-products
5. Renowned LA

As Renowned LA debuts their third collection this summer, creative director John Dean continues to push menswear to new heights by focusing on diversity and sustainability.  The collection, entitled “Against All Odds,” explores the American Dream and features powerful graphic t-shirts like the one shown here, featuring pinnacles of black culture since the Civil Rights Era.  All proceeds will go to The George Floyd Foundation and Reclaim the Block.

Shop
https://www.renowned.la/
6. FTP

Zac Clark, the creator of Fuck the Population, started his brand when he was only 15, creating t-shirts for his friends to wear in school (the shirts said “FUCK” but backwards because you know, teachers and stuff.) The line has remained highly controversial, as well as the founder himself.  Clark, a gun enthusiast, once posted so many images of his firearms on social media,  it led to a raid of the FTP warehouse by the cops, resulting in an arrest and $415k bail. Another interesting tidbit: hesitant to be the “face” of the brand, Clark wears bandanas to shield his identity.

Shop
https://fuckthepopulation.com/
7. Post-Imperial

Niyi Okuboyejo strives to design attractive products. “I want to make products that people like because they like the way it looks. Then once they pick it up, they can start learning about the story.” And what a story. A true labor of love, Post-Imperial uses Nigerian artists who hand paint patterns on all the clothing before fabrics are hand dyed through a process developed by the Yorubas. When done, it’s all shipped to New York where everything is cut and sewn. Whether it’s beautiful button up tops, patchwork shorts, or galactic pocket tees, there’s a breathing taking design in his collection that’s waiting for you.

Shop
https://post-imperial.com/
8. Walker Wear

Walker Wear isn’t new, even if this is the first time you’re hearing about the brand.  After seeing the success of Dapper Don, founder April Walker started her own brand in Brooklyn — a trailblazer in streetwear, her brand has been worn by Jay Z, Aaliyah, Biggie, Tupac, and LL Cool J. Bringing transparency about the racism that exists in the fashion industry, you can read her  brilliant and insightful essay here and shop some of her cool designs below.

Shop
https://walkerwear.com/collections/home
9. Bricks & Wood

Referring to his company as a “South Central” brand, founder Kacey Lynch is a strong advocate for storytelling.  Sitting on the idea of Bricks & Wood for a whole year before putting it out, Lynch thought his idea for a clothing brand was a “dope idea” but refused to put it out there before he had cemented the story he wanted to tell. Focused on high quality cut and sewn garments, each item is meant to promote balance and can be worn by both men and women.

Shop
https://bricksandwood.us/
10. Cross Colours

The motto of the brand Cross Colours feels extremely timely:  “Clothes Without Prejudices since 1989”. Started by entrepreneur Carl Jones with the later edition of graphic designer Thomas Jones, the brand was a vehicle to get out messages of racial unity, rebuking gang violence, and promoting education. The brand even has an HBCU Mentorship Program that connects students with resources to get into fashion and entertainment.

Shop
https://crosscolours.com/
11. Crime Club

Based in Brooklyn, every Crime Club piece is hand-printed and created in house. Their latest collection includes t-shirts and hoodies that speak to systemic racism and police brutality, including an Uncle Sam-inspired “I Want You to Help Us Stomp Out Racism” tee and the above “No Cops” tee, in which the brand has promised to donate 100% of the proceeds.

Shop
https://crimeclubmfg.com/
12. Come Back As a Flower

If you’re feeling this year’s big tie-dye trend, you should check out Come Back As a Flower. Featuring cool rainbow and bleach tie-dye sweatsuit sweats, this LA brand is super sustainable, going as far as to use 100% recycled cotton for their one-of-a-kind hand-dyed pieces. This ethically produced brand is already loved by trendsetters like ASAP Rocky and Big Sean.

Shop
https://www.cbaaf.org/
13. The Good Company

Playful illustrations and colorful graphics make up the spring/summer collection of The Good Company. Sold out of  a tucked away Lower East Side storefront, this space also functions as a hub for the community of creatives that frequent it.  Acting as various environments from radio broadcast studio to music venue, founders Quinn Arneson and Kumasi Sadiki have provided a home-away-from-home for many aspiring artists, giving them a platform they might not be able to find elsewhere.

Shop
https://www.97allen.com/
14. The Marathon Clothing

It doesn’t feel right to mention black owned streetwear brand without recognizing the late Nipsey Hussle’s brand, The Marathon Clothing. Started by the rapper with his brother, Samiel Asghedom, along with A&R of Def Jam, Steve Carless and marketing strategist and public figure Karen Civil, was another endeavor in Nipsey’s mission to empower his community and people. While the clothing store closed down last year, the online retailer is still up and running.

Shop
https://www.themarathonclothing.com/
15. Martine Rose

Sold at streetwear staples like Dover Street Market and MRPORTER, Martine Rose founded her brand in London in 2007. Inspired by her Jamaican-British heritage, Rose’s aesthetic mixes fun fabrics with clean silhouettes.  Her brand also participated in Get Up, Stand Up Now — London’s exhibition to celebrate 50 years of Black British excellence.  She’s also developed a bit of a cult following in the menswear world, hosting fashion shows in unconventional locations.

Shop
https://martine-rose.com/
Categories
Sports Strength

The 10 Best UFC Documentaries

The UFC has been around for nearly 27 years. It is considered by many to be the top promotion in the sport of mixed martial arts. While it is broadcast on ESPN and the UFC brand is a household name, that wasn’t always the case.

The UFC had a long, rough road to becoming the $4 billion MMA behemoth that it is and there’s a lot of history to look back on. Fortunately, there have been many documentaries made along the way to keep a record of the UFC and the sport of MMA. 

Here are 10 you may want to check out if you’re new to MMA:

1. ‘Smashing Machine: The Life and Times of Extreme Fighter Mark Kerr’ (2002)

This film focuses on Mark Kerr and UFC Hall of Famer Mark Coleman. While the UFC is only mentioned in the beginning when looking at the careers of both men, it does show another side of the sport that was likely missed by newer fans. Coincidentally, Duane “The Rock” Johnson announced before the weigh-ins of UFC 244 that he will be producing a film on Kerr. With the UFC’s Hollywood connections, don’t be surprised if they heavily promote the film. Watch this before the dramatized version gets made.

Watch
https://www.dailymotion.com/video/xtb87
2. ‘Once I Was a Champion’ (2011)

This documentary focuses on the life of Evan Tanner. Tanner was a former UFC Middleweight champion who had a unique journey in MMA before his untimely death in 2008. The film features interviews with friends and training partners of Tanner who talk about how they remember him and what made him unique. An interesting note on Tanner, he was self-taught before making his way to a serious MMA gym and he did pretty well with the knowledge he gained on his own.

Watch
https://www.amazon.com/Once-Was-Champion-Evan-Tanner/dp/B00AWMQ14A
3. ‘The Hurt Business’ (2016)

This documentary will serve future MMA fans well. It was down in the same year the UFC sold for $4 billion and the ban on the sport of MMA was lifted in New York State. It was released in September of 2016, and the UFC made its first trip to Madison Square Garden that following November.

Watch
https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x55by0b
4. ‘UFC Chronicles: Love, Death and Prizefighting’ (2020)
YouTube

UFC Fight Pass is the UFC’s longtime streaming service. The entire UFC library is on the service but they produce some original content and the premiere of UFC Chronicles on the service features a look at Josh Samman who was a fighter with a heart that may have been too big for him to deal with. The story is both tragic and beautiful, but it is worth watching to see inside the life of a fighter like Samman.

Watch
https://www.facebook.com/UFC/videos/592079861689581/?v=592079861689581
5. ‘Fightlore on UFC Fight Pass’ (2020)

Animation can make history fun and Fightlore serves as the UFC animated mini-doc series that animates some of the best stories that have followed the UFC since it has been around. So far, there is a story about a fight in a hospital, how Bruce Buffer met his brother and the legendary Kimbo Slice.

Watch
https://www.facebook.com/UFCFightPass/videos/fightlore-ep-1-ufc-fight-pass-exclusive/277740906567047/
6. ‘Through My Father’s Eyes: The Ronda Rousey Story’ (2016)

Oddly enough, this documentary was released when Rousey hung up her MMA gloves to pursue film and professional wrestling. It features interviews with her, her mother, and training partners about her career and the path she carved for women to come into the UFC. Some fans might not like the way she left the sport, but watching this serves as a good recap of what she built in it.

Watch
https://www.netflix.com/title/80168034
7. ‘Conor McGregor Notorious’ (2017)

In a recent press conference, UFC President Dana White said that McGregor is one of the athletes that have made promoting UFC events fun for him. McGregor fought his way up from regional promotions in Ireland to end up in the UFC. The film was shot over a four-year period and focuses on his rise in the UFC.

Watch
https://www.netflix.com/title/80164752
8. ‘Fighting for a Generation: 20 years of the UFC’ (2013)

The UFC is working on its third decade of putting on events but it was not easy to get to where they are. This documentary serves as a great jumping-off point for recent fans that might be wondering what they missed if they just started following the UFC.

Watch
https://www.amazon.com/Fighting-Generation-20-Years-UFC/dp/B00U3N0J6O
9. ‘Fight Life’ (2012)

Appropriately named, this documentary follows the lives of many fighters that are well known because of their longevity in the sport and the era they fought in. UFC fighters like Chuck Liddell, Jake Shields, Nick Diaz, and Gilbert Melendez are only a few that make an appearance in this film. This not only shows the early struggles of the sport of MMA but the lives of fighters both inside and out of the cage. Fighter pay, which has come up a lot over the years is also focused on in this film and has been coming up a lot recently.

Watch
ttps://www.amazon.com/Fight-Life-Lyle-Beerbohm/dp/B00KMGZMQY
10. ‘Anderson Silva: Like Water’ (2011)

The longest-reigning UFC champion, Anderson Silva of course would have a film made about him. Silva won the middleweight title in 2006 from Rich Franklin and remained champion until 2013 when he lost to Chris Weidman at UFC 162. This film documents Silva in his prime and features some of his most memorable bouts and greatest rivalry, Chael Sonnen. At 45 years-old, Silva will likely hang up the gloves soon so this film is worth a watch. 

Watch
https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x51zu6n