Gamers Gather For A Smashing Good Time at CCBC

Everyone was crammed into the dimly lit room. Around them were several projectors, each of them playing a game. Game consoles varied from old classics like the Sega Dreamcast to the latest generation such as the Wii U.

One crowd of gamers were playing Marvel Vs. Capcom 2. Another were playing Dead or Alive 5. Others were playing Killer Instinct. Two projectors were playing Super Smash Brothers.

No doubt, everyone was having a good time. Club president Chris Mason Hale noted in particular the popularity of Super Smash Brothers, “We try to change it up, but…it’s what [people] come for.” Vice President Linda Brainerd added, “We have such a high volume of club participation, Smash Brothers seems to be the best choice because you have the capability of playing [with] up to eight people at one time. Nevertheless, they also voiced their enthusiasm for other games such as Super Street Fighter and Pokken Tournament.

Brainerd went on to describe her favorite parts of video game club. “It is the aspect of bringing people together that are like-minded and see them make friends.” Hale agreed, “A lot of people who come to club, I don’t think would be in the same groups without the club. I think we introduce a lot of people who normally wouldn’t cross paths…”

Secretary Quentin Stefano said “My favorite aspect is the community itself. We are a very big organization on the campus, one of the biggest. We are also one of the friendliest. We welcome anyone and everyone to our club.”

The star of the show was definitely Super Smash Brothers. The colorful, quirky fighter was the biggest draw by far, and many were lined up to play it. Whether it was competitive or casual play, Smash Brothers was at the top of the list.

Super Smash Brothers was first introduced on the Nintendo 64. Designed as a budget game, it quickly became popular with gamers around the world. While the first game was not well-known for its competitive scene, it did find an audience.

Unlike most fighting games, which rely on depleting your opponent’s health through attacks, the main goal of Super Smash Brothers is to knock your opponents out of the ring. As a character takes damage, they are launched further and further away from the attack. This act of “launching” a character offscreen is the main way that players deplete a set stock of lives. Once the stock is depleted, the player is considered defeated.

The competitive scene really came into its own upon the release of the game’s sequel, Super Smash Brothers Melee. Improved game mechanics, new characters, and a tournament-friendly style of play made it a go-to favorite for tournament players. Even to this day, Super Smash Brothers Melee is being played competitively.

Melee’s popularity with the community has resulted in tournament communities cropping up around the world. At anime conventions, Melee is often one of the top games played competitively. People line up with their old Nintendo Gamecube controllers just to play the fabled game.

Upon the release of the Nintendo Wii, fans were greeted with teases for a new game. The game, Super Smash Brothers Brawl, was the third and most controversial edition of the game. Support within the tournament community was not as strong as it is for Melee.

There are several reasons for this. The addition of a “tripping” mechanic in Brawl felt that power was being taken away from the players. Additionally, the physics were changed to a “floatier” style, making people fight more defensively. The addition of “Meta Knight” has been widely scorned by the community and most tournaments explicitly ban the character from use.

However, when the Wii U came out, another Super Smash Brothers looked quite promising. Super Smash Brothers for Wii U, colloquially called “Smash 4” was well-received by critics and fans alike. This version also came out with a companion version for the Nintendo 3DS. Several of the fans’ biggest gripes were officially dealt with in Smash 4. The tripping mechanic was removed and several characters were altered or “nerfed”.

This edition of Smash Brothers also had downloadable content or “DLC”, characters and stages that were added into the game after launch. One example is the popular Cloud Strife from the video game Final Fantasy VII, as well as the sultry Bayonetta who has graced the console with Bayonetta 2.

Regardless of whether it was Smash, Marvel Vs. Capcom 2, or any of the other games at the club – it was clear that everyone was having fun and getting to know each other. With such an enjoyable pastime, it’s clear that the club has a bright future ahead of it.

Downtown Baltimore Feeling The Bern!

A crowd of Bernie supporters gather in downtown Baltimore.

BALTIMORE – Thousands of Bernie Sanders supporters gathered in Baltimore for a rally on Saturday, March 19. Despite Sanders’s recent loss of delegates in Missouri, his supporters remain hopeful. The rally began in Penn North Plaza, leading to a march down to the Hollywood Diner and into the Pulse Nightclub for live music and speakers.

Throngs of Sanders supporters marched through the streets of Baltimore. The entire march took several hours to complete. One member of the rally, Adrian Stanley said, “…Bernie’s the only one in the race that tells it like it is. I know that’s a [Donald] Trump thing, but Bernie doesn’t lie, he’s a good politician.” This sentiment was echoed by other members of the rally. As they marched down the streets of Baltimore, they chanted lines such as “Show me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!”

Despite Trump’s threats on Twitter, no protestors were present. Public support for Sanders was at an all time high. People even adorned their dogs with Bernie Sanders T-shirts. Another member of the rally, Katie, said “He has compassion, he’s honest, and has always been consistent throughout his entire campaign.”

Despite this, there was some skepticism from the media on Sanders’s ability to secure a nomination. Keanu Smith Brown told the Real News Network “I think it’s BS, and honestly the only BS we need in politics as you know is Bernie Sanders…” Some of the supporters were longtime followers of Sanders. Deborah Kleinman, a staunch supporter of Bernie said, “I’ve been following Bernie [Sanders] since the 80’s. I’ve been a Vermont person since the 80’s, I go up there and work at a very progressive camp that does a lot of activism, with farming and gardening, and anti-racism work. I saw Bernie speak at Bread and Puppet Theater and he was amazing…”

Still, the largest turnout was by far on the younger side. Nathan Zebrowski, another attendee said “…Quite honestly he’s the only one who has actually made it a point not to take donations from Wall Street, which really separates him from Hillary Clinton,” Zebrowski went on to criticize Trump, “I can’t see…any sane person voting for Trump… He’s pretty much knocking people out of the race left and right and that’s also a really present threat.” Another attendee carried a sign that read “Bernie can stump the Trump.”

Interview With Lucas Larsen(Contains Strong Language)

We meet up at my friend Nathan’s house. The kitchen and dining room area is cramped, but cozy. There are wood shavings on the floor, remnants of a whittling project that remain uncleaned. The table has all sorts of stuff on it – glass Coke bottles, miscellaneous papers, three ring binders, and the microphone Nathan and I use for our weekly podcast. Next to it is a fireplace, which has seen plenty of use during the harsh winter blizzards, as well as during celebratory bonfires.

Nathan and our mutual friend Michael sit across from me and Lucas, promising to keep quiet throughout. They’re knee-deep in Dungeons and Dragons character creation, diligently filling out a character sheet for Michael. Lucas is wearing a baja hoodie. I notice he has brought a sketchbook with him.

Dylan Greene: Ok, so first let’s get started. How about you introduce yourself?

Lucas Larsen: I’m Lucas and I’ve been an artist for basically my whole life.

DG: When did you start your career as an artist?

LL: Well it’s not really a career, it’s more of a hobby I’ve been doing my entire life, but I really just started when I could pick up a writing utensil, like a crayon or something.

DG: Do you have any specific age that you remember? Like two, three, or five?

LL: Well, what’s the age that you can pick up a pencil at?

DG: I guess it would probably be since probably age three.

LL: Probably around then, yeah. Although I do remember I was more like five or six when I was drawing but my mom said I could do it since I could pick up a pencil.

DG: All right, so a pretty long time.

LL: Yeah it’s about sixteen years.

DG: What inspires you and your work?

LL: I dunno, my imagination really and other stuff that I see online. Like if I see something that interests me I’m like “Oh, I have an idea now!”

DG: So you find that to be something that inspires you and you take your sources from say, the Internet?

LL: I mean, who doesn’t?

DG: Well, yeah, that’s how the creative process works.

DG: Who or what are your biggest influences?

LL: Well to be honest, right now I draw manga and anime style so I’d really say just like manga and anime in general. As for specific artists, I really like John Locke, that’s what he goes by online. He’s a

really good artist and I really like his work. It’s not just like backgrounds, but he also does characters and such, it’s really interesting. He drew that one comic series about websites like Tumblr and Twitter and like Facebook and them being personified and it’s really neat. Another one is, I can’t remember his name, but he’s a really famous furry artist.

DG: How would you describe your artistic style?

LL: Very plain. It’s more of a visual thing, I don’t really draw extravagant things and I can’t draw a lot of stuff in detail, so I just leave it kind of like plain T-shirts or jeans, I can do shirt wrinkles and stuff but I can’t do armor and robots and stuff like that. So it’s mainly just people and plain styles of clothing. I try to go detailed every now and then and sometimes I regret it, ’cause then it takes like two days to finish the drawing.

DG: Every artist has a signature. What would you say your signature is?

LL: The eyes definitely. I just have a very plain way of drawing eyes, sometimes it’s plain sometimes it’s not. But it’s mostly plain.

DG: Where do you keep your art? Do you have a website or blog that you feature it on? If so what is it?

LL: I have a website and a blog. I also have a DeviantArt, I keep all my shit on Facebook. So I have a Facebook page, Lucas the Lion, it has a little picture of a multi-colored hair person with lion ears and a tail. Then I have my DeviantArt which is CrymsonLyon, both spelled with “y”’s instead of “i”’s. I have a new Tumblr blog because I abandoned my old one. I haven’t posted much art on there, but it’s occasional.

DG: Have you experimented with art forms other than the one that you predominately use?

LL: Mm, yes and it has not turned out well. Does crocheting count as art?

DG: Yes.

LL: Yeah, I’m trying to get back into crocheting, I was doing some of that last night. I’ve tried realistic drawing, I’ve tried painting. Realistic drawing is not a thing for me, I tried drawing a self-portrait and I look like I drowned or something. The hair shines looked like water and I made the bags under my eyes like way too dark, so I looked dead. And then painting, I ended up painting Slenderman in a forest, it was interesting actually, I think I still have that one. It was pretty good. I think I spent like a good two days on it. I did some clay work in art class in high school. My mom gave me some charcoals, I’ve been wanting to do some of that.

DG: What are your ambitions for your art?

LL: To get noticed, maybe get more commissions. Because, I don’t get any commissions and it’s kind of annoying, because then people are like “Hey, can I get free art?” and I’m like, “No.”

DG: Yeah, the struggle is real.

LL: Oh God, don’t even get me started. But, I don’t have any true ambitions. I used to want to be an animator or character designer, but that’s just kind of gone now because college sucks. But I just want to get my art out there and be noticed and get commissions and stuff and have people go “Oh my God,

I love this artist!” and stuff like that, but I really have to ramp up my art style before I can really do that.
DG: What themes pop out at you while making art?

LL: I actually have phases. I’ve been through like a furry phase, I still kind of am, it’s more like half and half. I’ve been kind of like into wings, I’m drawing a lot of wings right now. I’m also into mythical creatures like fauns and dragons. I also do furries. So anthropomorphs of any kind like a satyr or a faun, or like just an anthropomorphic fox. I can do dragons, and really mythical creatures is a thing I do a lot. I do half animals, half demons, angels, crap like that.

DG: How many sketchbooks do you have around your house?

LL: Around my house I’d probably say like two or three, I have one in front of me right now. Actually, no it’d be more like four or five. I have like three that I don’t use, and one that I’m using right now. Then one at my mom’s house because I left it there so I just bought another one. So I use that one when I go to my mom’s house. Otherwise, four or five sketchbooks that I keep at my Dad’s house.

DG: What does your family think of your art? Have you shown them your artwork?

LL: Yeah, I do occasionally. I show them the stuff that I’m really proud of. Like I recently did this really neat one, I used angel wings as kind of a framework for the entire picture. And then I had an angel and a human in front of her and in between that area, and I showed them that. My parents think it’s really good. My grandmother, what I show her, does think it’s really good. I rarely show her anything because I think she’s conservative, like extremely religiously conservative. I don’t know what her interests are and I feel like if I show her something that it could even spell disaster for me. But

really my family thinks it’s all really good. But I feel like they just say that because it’s my family, but y’know.

DG: Well, that’s good. You have support of your family, that’s something that not a lot of artists necessarily have.

DG: What kind of music do you listen to when you’re drawing?

LL: I listen to a mixture of American, like modern pop, rock, and Jpop and Jrock. Japanese pop, Japanese rock.

DG: Who’s your favorite music artist?

LL: I have a few. Nqrse is one of them, he’s a really good Japanese rapper. I don’t think he’s well known but the stuff I listen to is really good. It’s spelled N-Q-R-S-E, but it sounds like an “A”, so it’s supposed to be “Narse” or “Naruse”. I like some Vocaloid songs, but I really mostly like their covers. Reol is another one, Kuroneko96 is another. These are artists that like to do Vocaloid covers and such. Vocaloid’s an interesting one, I like Gumi. Gumi’s a good one. As for non-Japanese artists, I like Breaking Benjamin, Linken Park, Bring Me the Horizon, I like some Taylor Swift to be honest. Nicki Minaj is a good one. Mostly it’s all just rock. I like Paramore, yeah. So I have a lot, I can’t choose just one.

DG: How does your art relate to you as a person?

LL: What I like to do is I draw a lot of original characters, so like what I like to do is I like to put aspects of my own personality into them. And it gives them, so that way if I roleplay them online or what not, it gives me a better sense of how they would respond to something. So, whenever I make characters for a story or whatnot I just put some of myself in them and it’s really easy to depict them then because I don’t have a really hard time being all like “Oh my God, what would he say?” because I like to write stories too. But when I do like whole picture things with backgrounds and stuff, I do a lot of vent art, like if I’m feeling upset I’ll draw a dark-mooded picture or if I’m happy I’ll draw something sunny or shiny or I’ll draw a happy character. It really just depends.

DG: Do you see yourself as an artist in the future? Why or why not?

LL: Well, I don’t see one as a professional artist being hired by a company to do character designs, I’m more just gonna stick to being an artist on the side and do commissions online and stuff, but really my focus is welding. Maybe I could do little commissioned sculptures out of like spoons or forks, but I won’t do anything professional like being a character designer or 3D modeler.

DG: What was your least favorite artwork?

LL: Basically all the ones from like a year ago and back. Anything past a year ago, I hate. It’s just disgusting looking, I can’t look at it. When I do, I redraw it because that way I feel like a sense of closure, I feel better about myself. I basically spent an entire week just last week just redrawing some old pictures and I just felt so much better about myself.

DG: So what were the ones you redrew?

LL: I had this one in ninth grade, where I drew this cat-woman with brown hair and cat ears. It was this Cheshire Cat sort of thing. Well, her tail design was, it was long with purple stripes. She had really long sleeves, really it was just super anatomically incorrect, so I was just like “Oh my God I have redraw this just to feel better.” so basically what was wrong with it was that the torso was too long, the arms were too long, the legs were too weird. Like her hips were way too small. The hair was all wrong. So I went back and just basically just fixed everything. Like everything needed to be fixed, so I did that and it was really great. I used to be really into Kingdom Hearts, so I drew like a picture of three chibis from 358/2 days series and so it looked really bad back when I looked at it a little while ago, so I redrew it and it looked so much better. I colored it and everything, and it was great.

DG: What do you notice about your artwork as it has evolved over the years?

LL: Definitely the anatomy. The anatomy, the hair, basically everything. I used to draw my characters very straight and their arms were very straight because I hated drawing elbows so much. But nowadays, all my characters do is bend their arms because humans and humanoid creatures, we bend our arms we move, we have structures of our backs. Like any part of the bone can really affect the body in general. So like, compared to four years ago to now, I’ve made my waists thicker, I’ve made them shorter, the hips have become decent. I can actually draw guys now as opposed to just women. Because I drew almost only women back four years, because they’re really cuvy, so curves are like really good for me. But males are really straight in general. I basically fixed a lot of my problems from last year.

I could still use some help with my artwork, but that’s what the Internet is for because I’m a self-taught artist.

DG: What do you like most about your artwork?

LL: Honestly I find a lot that it looks better as a sketch than it does lined and colored. So I guess the sketching part. I really like drawing eyes because they show a lot of emotion, so when you draw eyes you can basically depict any emotion without having to change anything else of the body. Like if you have a generic anime girl base character, and give her like all this sweet-ish looking stuff like pink hair, a cute little yellow outfit, but if you give her these really narrow looking eyes, it gives her a sly vixen- ish look rather than if you give her round eyes, she’ll have an innocent vulnerable look.

DG: How has your art influenced you as a person?

LL: It’s influenced me in that I have a lot more respect for artists. I did an animation class in junior year of high school. So when I first watched 3D movies I thought “Oh this looks super cool and probably super easy to make” and then I go into animation class it’s like “Holy crap, this is like hard as hell.” And when you look at the credits you see all these animators, ’cause they worked on all these things for this two hour movie and it took them years to make. So I have a lot of respect for artists, ’cause it takes them forever to like do anything and when they do people bash on them for like “it costs this much for just this? Blah!” and I’m like, “Well yeah, they use their own time, and they did this with their own hands, rather than it being mass-produced. So yeah it’s gonna be more expensive.” I used to underprice my own stuff because hey, I didn’t think it was that good. But once I started getting better I started pricing more and more for it, even though I don’t get any commissions. But it’s influenced me in that it’s given me a lot of respect for people.

DG: What’s your advice to aspiring artists?

LL: Don’t let anyone judge you. Not judge as in “Oh my God, you’re drawing that, ugh!” But I do say, let people criticize your art and don’t get like all offended about it. Because criticism can really help you, but if they’re telling you that “Oh my God, it sucks!”, that’s not criticism. If they say like “Oh maybe you can try this instead of this.” or “if you shorten that arm more”, or “if you make the waist a little thicker or thinner.” Like make sure it’s nice and it’s actually good criticism before getting offended or before you actually take it. Don’t take it to heart unless it’s actually good criticism. Like if they’re trying to help you, stuff like. Don’t let yourself be judged, take good criticism, find your own art style. I understand finding a really good art style and then wanting to be just like them, but put your own twist on things. That way it’s noticeable for them and people don’t think you’re trying to copy them. People are going to think bad of you no matter, so don’t really take that heart. Build an iron skin, because you’re really gonna need if you’re going to be an artist in the world.

DG: Well thank you very much, that was very informative.

LL: You’re welcome. Have a nice day.

DG: Thanks, you too!