A Hometown Hosting

It’s a Hickory reunion, right here on The MESH!

Comedian, actor, and Hickory native Jon Reep visits the MESH studio to record the latest episode of his podcast “Fried w/Jon Reep & Sarah Tiana”!  And to make it a true coming home party, he is joined by MESH co-founder Alan Jackson and fellow Fred T. Foard high school alumnus Jon Wright.
The three talk about their Hickory memories, adventures in college, and even give some advice to a listener about their wife’s impending labor.
The MESH was happy to host a recording of the “Fried” podcast from the All Things Comedy network.

Intern Blog: Bright Side of Video Games

Any time this topic comes up I feel like I’m helping teenagers convince their parents to let them game. Explaining why video games are good is hard, because most people cannot see past the bad.

There is some amazing benefits to video games, seriously they exist. One I like to point out the most is promoting a global community.

Growing up in Burke Country, I never got to interact with those from different nations. My feelings about particular countries was through movies and television (and the few books I read). Online multiplayer exposed to a wide array of cultures. This helped debunked popular stereotypes. I played games with people from the United Kingdom to Japan. It helped me learn a lot about how people actually are from those countries. I learned how to communicate with majority of people across the globe.

The more popular positive about video games is the physical and mental bonuses. Many studies have been done about the topic. Some studies point to an increase in reaction time, specifically among esport players, while others contradict that finding when looking at players who stay up all night without proper sleep. It is still grey, whether or not video games do have bonuses for physical and mental attributes. What I can say from personal experience is my ability to communicate and react quickly to situations improved heavily.

Which brings me to the final point. It is a way for non-athletic people to access competition. If you ever get the chance to sit in on an esport game, you’ll hear family sounds. Game plans are chosen, an audible is called and there is organized communication on how to deal with a particular situation. Sounds like a sport right? For those of us who don’t have the athleticism to make it on the field or have no desire for sports to begin with (and for some of us we choose games over sports) then video games become that competitive outlet.

As always, everything can be bad if consumed at an unhealthy amount but in moderation even video games can promote some healthy qualities.

Intern Blog: The Dark Side of Video Games

My entire time at theMESH I’ve never spoken against video games on my show, Esports Teamcast. In fact, to get me to talk about the negative aspects of gaming is hard because I feel like it would be used against me. I advocate for video games so whole heartedly that some people use any criticisms to devalue whatever it is I have to say.

However, there is some people who are genuinely curious, what is the dark side of video games? For those who already know, keep reading, there is some factors you may have never considered. It’s important to know these details. Ignoring them makes it harder to prevent.

As with binge watching Netflix or hanging out with friends on the daily, video games take time away from more important things. If you saw my transcript, you’d immediately understand this. Any time a new game would release my grades took a giant hit. Some online buddies want to get in the same server and dominate? Well guess what I am doing, I’m gaming. This isn’t unique to video games, but it’s usually the first one people bring up.

It’s addictive. No, seriously it’s addictive. Don’t try to deny it, there is a slew of studies behind this. The World Health Organization recently classified video game addiction as a legitimate behavior disorder. The science behind it requires a lot more words than I’m allowed for this blog so to put it simply: video games is an alternate reality where we can be, have and do whatever we want. It is an escape from the real world and a way to feel some form of success.

The community sucks. The internet is full of trolls and people who think their opinion is the downright gospel of truth. Left wingers, right wingers and everything in between are on a radical level. Good people do exist, in fact I’ve made lifelong friends with people online, but they are hard to come by. Of course this is assuming you play multiplayer games or engage with discussion on forum websites such as Reddit. This can be avoided.

Last and what I feel is the biggest issue, the cost. It is a highly expensive hobby. My PC was around 2 thousand dollars, mix that with games being anywhere from 5-60 bucks and then downloadable content for some products on top of it all you get a quick increase in money spent. I do have friends who play 1-5 games and that does bring down cash flow. If you are on console and you want to play online you have to pay a service fee. It’s a lot of money. Thankfully with the competitive world of the internet, computer gaming gets cheaper and cheaper. Steam, a digital market place on PC/Mac, has holiday sales which slashes prices up to 90% off.

In the next blog I’ll talk about the bright side of video games, but for now just be cautious and remember that anything is bad if you do it too much. Video games do not have anything super unique to itself that can’t be found in other hobby areas.

Music: For a “Reel” Kick in the Gut.

Did you know, when I was a little girl, I had a dream of being a meteorologist?  Not a “weather girl” on tv, but a “storm chaser”.  The kind that worked in a field – drove a beat up truck, but had the high tech equipment to track the most dangerous of storms. Then, I would saves lives by developing early warning systems.  Big dreams for a little girl… but thank goodness I could live vicariously through Helen Hunt in the movie Twister.  However – as much as I wanted “that life”, I mainly wanted to be IN that movie.

Twister is one of my first vivid memories of a film making me feel real emotion. Not just because of the chase scenes or cows flying through a tornado – but because of the music. I can still hear it. I had the soundtrack memorized.

Music plays such a huge part in not only film making, but in corporate video as well. One of my goals is to find music appropriate for a video – before we even shoot.  It doesn’t always work out that way, but it really can help the flow of the content, the mood of the piece, and of course – in editing.

Fun fact: Guillermo del Toro wrote the film The Shape of Water with the music from Punch Drunk Love in mind. Del Toro wrote an award winning film – because of someone else’s soundtrack. THAT is how magical music can be. Not to mention I am partial to that reference because Punch Drunk Love is one of my favorite Paul Thomas Anderson flicks.  A close second behind Boogie Nights. But, that’s another blog in itself.

I still get the creeps when I hear the theme of the wicked witch from Wizard of Oz and want to pump my fist when I hear Simple Minds “Don’t You (Forget About Me) from Breakfast Club. The Star Wars Theme gives me butterflies and the Glasgow Love Theme from Love Actually makes me tear up just thinking about it. How is something that is meant to be in the background so powerful?

What are your favorites? What inspires you? What it your soundtrack?  Do us a favor… next time you watch a video or view a film – take a second to step away from the footage and appreciate the music.

Intern Blog: Why I Hate Nintendo.

Now hold on, fingers off the keyboard, just follow me for a second. In an upcoming episode of Esports Teamcast I, with some special guests, talk about a new game that will rock the competitive scene when it releases.

While I am super excited for said game, I really hate Nintendo. To keep it short, here is my main three reasons why I have such negative feelings.

  1. The Death of Classics

Emulators occupy a grey area of law. If you are unfamiliar, an emulator is a software (sometimes hardware) that attempts to clone classic games. For example, Dolphin is an emulator that will run Gamecube Games on your PC. Are they legal? Hard to tell. To combat this many companies, including Sega, will release “HD Remasters”. So instead of having users track down a third-party emulation of Metal Gear: Peace Walker, the developers released an update version for newer consoles.

What does Nintendo do? Nothing. Every now and again they will bring 1 or 2 games back but most of the time the classics die with time. What’s worse is they actively seek out third-party emulators and have them removed. What’s essentially happening is classic games are becoming more and more rare as even digital archives are having a hard time keeping the games alive.

  1. YouTube

Some gamers, in aims to keep classics alive, while record them and release them to Youtube or other streaming websites. Nintendo sees this as a loss of revenue and will actively seek out a take of the ad payments the channel receives or will take down the videos.

  1. Pricing

If games release on PC, there’s a good chance for an amazing sale to hit. I’ve gotten games from developers that slashed prices from 29.99 to 9.99. The deals are absolutely phenomenal. However, Nintendo will keep a game at full price retail forever, rarely dropping a sale. Smash for WiiU is still pushing $100 if you want the game plus all downloadable content. This is a problem.

All in all, Nintendo has a home in all of our hearts. Mario wouldn’t exist without them, but at the same time they actively make it difficult to be a fan. Stay tuned for the upcoming episode all about the game they announced and keep on gaming.

Intern Blog: What Competition is Like

My hands were shaking, my mind was constantly going over game plans and I stared at my opponents. I hear my name called by the staff ran by the tournament. “MoonKat vs….” I didn’t even catch my opponent’s name. I walk over to the table, plug in my controller, shake hands with my opponent then I hold my breath.

It isn’t till after the first round that I breathe normally again. Win or lose, my reaction is the same, I duck my head down and shake off the experience to prepare for the next round. This was a basic explanation of my experience at a recent Smash Bros., a 1 versus 1 family friendly brawler, tournament in Hickory.

Physical tournaments take a toll on you. Just like athletics, the atmosphere and venue affect your mentality. When you are the new guy and people chant for your opponent, you’ll use it as motivation to win or it will rock you to your core.

It’s a delightful experience generally. You meet new people who you may stay friends with forever. When I competed in Call of Duty, a team based shooter, I met a lot of people. Three of those people I still talk to regularly. I met these people over 4 years ago in Atlanta.

I always get asked by people new to scene what competition is like. It’s an experience you have to be present for to fully understand. It is fun, a lot of nice people and it takes casual gaming a whole step forward.

In an upcoming episode of Esports Teamcast, I will talk about this in more detail.

Intern Blog: Why are Video Game Movies So Bad?

One day at Lenoir-Rhyne a friend who listens to the Esports Teamcast asked me about video game movies. She said I should do a podcast about it. I explained that the topic of video game movies is more of a Footcandle Films conversation.

However, it got me thinking, why are video game movies so bad? It seems so simple, the plot is already laid out and the set has been designed. Take the Assassin’s Creed movie. There had already been a slew of games released. All Hollywood had to do is take one of the games, split it into a trilogy if you can’t fit the entire plot into a feature length film and BOOM profit.

What did we get instead? A lengthy, boring movie that had more dialogue and set up than action. I feel like out of the two hours, maybe 30 minutes of it was actual assassins killing people.

The new Tomb Raider is close. I will go see it and I know it’ll probably be pretty terrible but I have hope that maybe this time we will get a half decent video game movie. Now Rampage is also a movie on the horizon but it will most certainly tank. It looks like terrible CGI action that’s been overdone in the transformer series.

If you are someone who is incredibly desperate for a video game movie to watch. This is my list of the movies that are not as bad as the others. In no particular order, the few video game movies I can sit through and somewhat enjoy:

  1. Mortal Kombat (1995)

  2. Doom (2005)

  3. Resident Evil (2003)

  4. Silent Hill (2006)

There is a fan made movie called Metal Gear Solid: Philanthropy. I like it in an appreciative way. A bunch of fans got together and funded their own fan movie and released it for free? I can’t criticize it too much. The animated films and series’ I left out because they are nostalgic for me so my recommendations will be clouded by my experience as a child.

Hollywood, please give me your money so I can actually give the world a good video game movie!

Intern Blog: Podcast is Out!

Esports TeamCast is here! My big project for my internship is this podcast. Now on the MESH.tv, Esports TeamCast is a series that is exploring the ever expanding world of video game competitions.

I am so used to doing live work. Lenoir-Rhyne athletics, campus radio and live streaming our Esports matches are full of doing things in one shot. There is no do overs in these areas.

The MESH took a mood shift. I have done studio work, many of my classes involve recording and post production editing, but my habit tends to stem from all the live work I do.

I heard myself as I edited my podcast. I sound as if I am on a radio show, I don’t stop. I act like there is only an hour on the tape and I wanted to get everything out before I ran out of time.

What made me realize how I should be treating a podcast is watching various podcasts as I recorded them. Part of my internship is recording other shows for the MESH and this is an opportunity to see the professionals at work.

A common theme is relaxation. Everyone seems relaxed and it makes it sound more personal. So when you listen to the next episode of Esports TeamCast and wonder why it appears to be more calm or relaxed, it’s because everyone at the MESH does a good job of showing me how things are done.

Habitat Humor

Jackson Creative has worked with Habitat for Humanity of Catawba Valley for many years. We produced a video honoring their longevity during their 30th anniversary in 2015 ( click here to view ) and helped launch their new division Habitat Repairs! in 2016. ( click here to view )  While these videos were extremely successful and received accolades when we met with them in early 2017 we decided to go in a slightly different direction.

Why the new direction?  During our meetings with the staff of Habitat they mentioned wanting to try and reach a different audience with their videos this year while not alienating their existing audience.  Basically they wanted to try and appeal to folks who might watch a video because it is funny or clever as opposed to just heart-warming or emotional. During a brain storming session the idea of re-tooling the ice bucket viral video came up and the “Nice Bucket Challenge” video was born.  Take a look and you’ll see how the goals and mission of Habitat for Humanity were still discussed but a lighter tone was set.  Before you ask, yes that’s the actual Catawba Valley Habitat staff featured in the video & they’re willing to give autographs for a small donation. ( click here to view )

Our most recent video effort continued the thread of fun, light-hearted humor while this time giving a promotional push to the Habitat ReStore.  (click here to view )  As we begin to develop ideas for 2018 who knows what theme or direction we might venture in.  My son has suggested an idea based around a competition to see who can build the best Habitat house that looks like it was constructed in Minecraft.  Yeah…I’m not sure we’ll go there.

Intern Blog: I Can’t Believe It

It is kind of surreal. Never did I imagine I’d be sitting in a studio ranting about collegiate Esports. It’s my show, I am in the hot seat during my 2nd week as an intern.

I took the weekend to edit my podcast. All the time hearing my own voice I still couldn’t really believe this was actually happening. Starting the Lenoir-Rhyne Esports program was one thing, but working with the Jackson Creative and the MESH takes it to a whole new level. I’ve always been a pessimist when it comes to video game careers. North Carolina is kind of a dry area when it comes to the gaming industry. As time goes on I see more and more jobs pop up, but I still never see myself in them.

When the MESH gave me the opportunity to see what I can do, I couldn’t help but shake in nervousness. I want to be the best, I want to show everyone what I am capable of, but at the same time I am super green at this.

That’s when the Jackson Creative staff made me feel at ease. They reassured me that the first time is always rough and things will be ironed out. It’s Sunday, Super Bowl Sunday in fact, and while writing this I can say there has been two victories.

The first victory is my involvement with the MESH. I was given a chance and I am being taught by people who have been in the industry for a long time. I am mixing my two favorite things, video games and communications into one pretty awesome internship. Still can’t believe it.

The next victory is the Eagles. Finally, Tom Brady took a loss. Sorry Patriot fans, I am sick of seeing Brady take the trophy time and time again. Sure, Brady is probably one of the best quarterbacks of all time, but he just got beat by a backup quarterback leading a team that lost 12 years ago to the same opponent.

It’s a good day and I am excited to see what else I learn and how I grow through this internship. I’ve said it million times and I will say it one more time, I can’t believe this all happening.