Term Project Article

Dressed in suits and ties, dapper sweater vests, and evening gowns, 104 gamers came to Carnegie Mellon University on Saturday Nov. 17 to compete in the Pitt Smash Bros. Club regional tournament. The event, titled “An Exercise in Formality,” required formal wear for all players, who battled each other in brackets for the games Super Smash Bros. Melee and Super Smash Bros 4.

“There was a formal event two years ago,” said tournament organizer Shay DeSabato, known to the other players by his gamer tag “Shady.” “It was one of my first events ever, and it was just really well-received.” 

Shay DeSabato, tag name “Shady,” one of the tournament organizers. Illustration by R. Scassellati.

Because of the past event’s success, the tournament organizers decided to bring the formal event back, with positive turnout.

“It makes it feel really professional, which is what I always liked about Smash becoming competitive,” said player Tim Legenzoff, a senior at University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. “It used to be just a party game, and now we all take it more seriously.”

Legenzoff, who goes by the tag “Seraph,” was among the 44 competitors who played SSB4 in the Wii U singles tournament. A total of 61 players competed in the Melee singles, with DeSabato among the few competing in both. Doubles were held for both games earlier that day. In every game in the SSB franchise, players choose from a selection of Nintendo and third-party characters, including Mario, Link, Kirby and Pokémon, to battle each other with the goal of knocking their opponent’s character off the game stage.

The Pitt Smash Bros. Club hosts small tournaments weekly and regional tournaments like this one roughly every two months. These much bigger events are “where the really good players come,” according to DeSabato. “At this event, there’s people from Delaware, Columbus, northeastern Ohio,” he said. “Regionals are like a big deal.”

Tournament organizers monitering scores and brackets on their computers. Illustration by R. Scassellati.

The challenges for each game differ, according to Legenzoff, who has been playing since 2010. “For something like Melee, it’s the tech ceiling, so learning all the physical skills that your hands have to do and being consistent takes a lot of practice,” he said. “With a game like Smash 4, it’s all mental…It’s more about who’s playing more consistent that day, or who’s getting in whose head.” 

Competetors of the Melee tournament, sitting on the desks of the lecture hall. Illustration by R. Scassellati.

Anuj Vij, known by his tag “star97,” had been playing SSB games for fun since he was four or five years old before he entered the competitive scene. “When I’m in that competitive mindset, it’s like, ‘I’m trying to destroy you right now, even though you’re my friend,’” the Seton Hill University senior said. “Why not be competitive in the game I like to play the most?”

Neither Vij nor Legenzoff were among the top standings, but that did not stop them from enjoying the event. “Overall, the format’s really nice and the venue’s pretty cool,” Vij said.

Competitor Holden Sheeks, alias “WinterShorts,” was ranked fourth in the Wii U singles tournament. He praised DeSabato’s organization and leadership, along with the spirited environment. “Whenever I invest in a hobby, I try to do it as competitively as possible, because it just gets more bang out of my time,” he said. “Never really understood casual playing, to be honest.” 

Though Vij also described himself as competitive, he also mentioned the importance of playing for fun. “It’s cliché to say, but I just started playing Captain Falcon because he was really fun…I still have as much fun playing him now as I did so many years ago,” Vij said. Captain Falcon is a character from the F-Zero racing game series, known for his “Falcon Punch” attack in SSB. 

In the lobby between the tournament rooms, former player Anna Zotta set up artwork, keychains and other merchandise for competitors to purchase between games. Once the games ended, tournament organizers who befriended her during her gaming days urged the players buy something from Zotta before they left, affectionately referring to her by her tag “Housewife.” 

“I make a lot of work of the characters from the game,” said Zotta, a graduate from northeastern Ohio. “Hopefully, I can appeal to a lot of the people who play the game.” Not one to be left out from the festivities, Zotta came wearing a black strapless gown and a shimmering necklace. “I really just wanted to dress up,” she said.

Anna Zotta, a former player, selling her artwork in the lounge area between the Melee and Wii U tournament rooms. Illustration by R. Scassellati.

For any new players considering entering the competitive scene, the players at Pitt Smash’s formal had plenty of advice.

“I actually started running a tournament at Pitt Greensburg recently, and so we’ve been trying to reach specifically new people,” said Legenzoff. “I think the best way to get into it is to do a little bit of searching online and find out where the nearest scene is. For here, it used to be Pittsburgh, and now we’re trying to start a scene for newcomers and veterans alike out in Westmoreland County.”

Vij offered advice on choosing a main, a major decision in the world of Smash. “Just play who you have fun with, and from there you can just figure things out,” he said. “Play a bunch of characters. Whoever is the most fun, just stick with them.”

As for Sheeks, he had one piece of cheeky advice for tournament newcomers. “Don’t play Jigglypuff,” he said, earning laughs from the competitors around him.

Har-Ber Herald

What I found interesting was Hiestand’s quote that the school officials basically told them, “We’re not going to listen to what the law says in our state, and we’re going to do what we want.” It is a frustrating quote, and one that is fully believable. Isn’t the stereotype for school boards that they shut up student journalists any time an article is published that makes the district look bad? Isn’t it the stereotype for southern states like Arkansas to care more about football than anything else in education?

This story reminds me of a story my high school law and economics teacher told during our unit on the Bill of Rights. Long ago, before any of our class came to the high school, a student journalist published an article in the school paper that the school board didn’t like and made her remove it. She brought it to court. I can’t remember on what grounds exactly the trial finished, but I remember my teacher said she did not pursue any more appeals after some point, even though it was her right, because it seemed like too much cost and hassle over a school paper article.

Schools reserve the right to restrict certain student rights if they interfere with education. For example, my high school was the home of countless banned books but the librarian drew the line at “Fifty Shades of Grey” on the grounds that it didn’t have enough educational merit to warrant the inappropriate subject matter. But keeping out or limiting access to inappropriate books in a library is different than preventing student journalists from publishing truthful articles on wide-impacting events. Just like few people had good things to say about the Red Cross after Hurricane Katrina, if few people had positive news to share about the football players transferring from Har-Ber High, it is not the fault of the journalists for reporting a mostly negative article. You can’t get an equal amount of good and bad opinions when all you have is bad news.

Source: Har-Ber Herald

Mission Complete

I notice the comments are overwhelmingly positive, which surprised me. I guess it is reassuring to see nice things on the post of a president who died. Personally, I have seen very mixed reactions to the death of H. W. Bush. My parents, along with half of my Facebook friends, are sorry for his passing because they respect him as a veteran and politician. The other half of my Facebook friends are resentful that H.W. dramatically cut AIDS funding during his presidency and are not upset by his passing. I guess when examining a man’s political career, it is smart to start off objectively looking at both sides, and then following the leads on both sides until it becomes clear if one side needs to lean more than the other. But when responding to a deceased man’s family, especially his dog, it makes sense to stay polite. The photograph in the tweet is well-captured to evoke so many emotional responses from so many folks.

Source: Mission Complete

Blog Portfolio 4

Welcome to the blog portfolio I don’t know if I’m supposed to do. Today at 5 a.m. I suddenly realized that in middle school my friend Bradyn told me a certain word meant “pussycat” in Spanish and because I loved cats and thought I was good at Spanish I said it all the time but then today at 5 a.m. I googled it and it actually means ******* cat and I was like DANGIT BRADYN.

Listen, I’ve been up all night writing a 10 page essay on angels in the Renaissance. I’ll be lucky if I remember what a journalism is before the end of this portfolio.

Depth:

All of my posts went pretty in-depth this time, so I am pleased with this section. It wasn’t listed as a blog assignment, but I posted my Term Project Layout Reflection and go in depth about my thoughts during the layout process. I include some graphic design insights and also plans for what to do next. My post on Principles of American Journalism Ch6 goes in depth on the dangers of stereotyping (and worrying about stereotyping) in both journalism and creative writing. And my post on Chapter 8 talks about Edward Snowden and explores why he chose journalists over the broad internet to tell his secrets.

Riskiness:
My post on Nellie Bly was risky in that I talked about personal experiences more than Nellie’s history. My post on Chapter 8 was risky in that it betrays the classified information that my brother and I hate essays. My post on chapter 7 was risky in that it raised several questions about free speech vs. panic that I did not know how to answer.

Intertextuality:
My post on chapter 7 is intertextual because it ties in to an article I saw online. My post on Principles of American Journalism Ch6 is intertextual by referencing a book I wrote. It is me. I am the intertext. And I made a post of the Indesign cheat sheet I made with Rachel even though it wasn’t an assignment. It combines two disciplines, journalism and graphic design, which is kind of like referencing two texts.

Discussion:
My post on Nellie Bly garnered discussion because people liked the steampunk Nellie Bly I drew. My Indesign cheat sheet was a source of discussion in class because I was able to help Rachel and then send it to everyone else in case they wanted to see it. Because we did not have as many posts this time, there was not as much online discussion, but we did have in-class discussion for our thoughts on the Term Project Layout Reflection.

Timeliness:
This was a record for timeliness because 25% of my required posts were early this time. That is because there were only 4 required posts, and the one I submitted before the due date was Chapter 8. I also submitted the Nellie Bly post on time but not before the due date (right day, few hours late) because I needed to finish and take a photo of my drawing. And even though the other two posts weren’t on time, they weren’t terribly late either. What an improvement.

The remaining two posts were not asked for and therefore they are extra early.

Coverage:
For my Chapter 8, I wasn’t very inspired so I started with a personal anecdote and then it became something more academic-related. Same thing with chapter 7 and Principles of American Journalism Ch6. They were all examples of what I thought would be basic coverage but became decent posts.

Conclusion:
In conclusion, what if purgatory is full of all the chaotic neutral souls because God is like, what the heck am I supposed to do with these.

Regarding this class, I believe I’ve learned important things about a career I do not desire at all. But now I’m happy to be familiar with AP style and formatting, because even if I will probably not write a serious journalism article ever again, I will likely have to do P.R. related work in the future, and will know what to do. This will also help me write one of the comic stories for my Honors Capstone, as it will take place almost entirely through TV news stories. My favorite part of this class was getting to know the other students better. In such a small class, the students and professor were able to have a nice, close bond. So maybe I would have been better off taking history of graphic design if I wanted to stick to what I know, but I suppose it was more important in the long run for me to take news writing.