Comics and Games


  • How is Ms. Marvel Changing Media for the Better? | PBS Idea Channel

    Popular media generally has a problem with representation. Fictional worlds are often designed by and for straight white males, and this can subtly affect how audiences view the real world. Comics are no exception, portraying muscular white males, or exaggerated expressions of the female form. But those traditions are being broken. One of the most exciting new characters breaking this mold is the new Ms. Marvel: Kamala Khan. Kamala is a teenage Pakistani-American Muslim girl, a far cry from the comic pantheon of Captain Americas and Supermans. So is Kamala a step in the right direction for media representation? 

    Grades: 9-12
  • Is A Thor By Any Other Name Still Thor? | PBS Idea Channel

    Female THOR has brought about some controversy. But, gender issues aside, people seemed most perturbed with labeling someone other than the male THOR as THOR. Chris Hemsworth even somewhat cemented his THOR character in The Avengers as the modern incantation of THOR, so how could the new comic book THOR not be Thorina or Lady THOR? Why just THOR? Join Michael Rugnetta on this episode of PBS Idea Channel as he investigates what the labeling and naming of someone or something actually means.

    Grades: 9-12
  • What's the Deal With Amiibos? | PBS Idea Channel

    The insane popularity of Nintendo's Amiibos, Amiibo Hunting, and Amiibo Hunters (both in stores and on places like the Amiibo Reddit) proves that people can't keep their hands off of them. But are Amiibos simply be the next big thing in a long line of product/game crossovers? The world was previously infatuated with Skylanders, followed by the Disney Infinity characters, but something about Amiibos seems different. They're interactive in a way that gives them value outside of the object itself, blurring the line between consumer and ardent collector. How does the existence of Amiibos challenge our idea of what play is? 

    Grades: 9-12
  • How Do We and The Sims Perform Gender? | PBS Idea Channel

    The Sims have always allowed for characters to choose their sexual orientation, but what about their gender? Why is it that after all these years it's still not possible to choose an option other than guy or girl, male or female? And is gender something we are, or perform? Judith Butler would say no. But why? Find out in this week's episode that's part of a wider collaboration featuring lots of great Youtubers talking about gender! And then, tell us what you think!

    Grades: 9-12
  • Can Video Games Become the Next Great Spectator Sport? | PBS Idea Channel

    As our South Korean friends can confirm, video games can most definitely be a spectator sport. But will they ever catch on in a huge way in the USA? Pro leagues already exist. To know if they'll ever reach the levels of March Madness and Superbowl Sunday, we need to take a closer look at traditional sports spectatorship to figure out the real reason we watch. It's more than just winning and losing: there are characters, rivalries, histories, and a host of other background information that coalesce into an amazing story, and we're dying to know the ending. Could eSports ever achieve this level of storytelling? Watch the episode to find out and tell us what you think!

    Grades: 9-12
  • Can Dungeons & Dragons Make You A Confident & Successful Person? | PBS Idea Channel

    There are some deeply ingrained stereotypes about Dungeons & Dragons, and those stereotypes usually begin and end with people called D&D fans nerds. But, the reality of the D&D universe is much more complex. Rather than being an escape from reality, D&D is actually a way to enhance some important real life skills. It's a chance to learn problem solving, visualization, interaction, organization, people management, and so on. Plus, there are some very famous non-nerds who have declared an affinity for D&D, so perhaps it is best to stop criticizing and join in if you want to be a successful at the game of life! Watch the episode and tell us what you think!

    Grades: 9-12
  • Can Bullet Hell Games Be Meditative? | PBS Idea Channel

    Bullet Hell games are crazy. Their onslaught of lasers and bullets (also known as "dakka") seems overwhelming or even impossible to the uninitiated. Is playing these games an elaborate and stressful mastery of patterns and strategy? Or could it instead be a form of meditation? Maybe the way to find your way through the dakka is to fall into a mental autopilot in the face of complexity, finding harmony within the haze. Is this wild overstimulation a form of modern meditation? Watch the episode and tell us what you think!

    Grades: 9-12
  • Are Videogames About Their Mechanics? | PBS Idea Channel

    As we play video games over and over again, we spend a lot of time getting pretty good at the mechanics and gameplay - but at what expense? Each shot fired and potion consumed engrosses us more and more, but does that engrossing nature work against the story, the narrative, and maybe the bigger picture of what the game is (supposedly) about? Do we care more about what we do, instead of what happens? And should the interaction be more important than the message? Watch the episode and tell us what you think!

    Grades: 9-12
  • Is Buying Call of Duty a Moral Choice? | PBS Idea Channel

    Can the choice to engange in video games be compared to the use of firearms? Many action-oriented games include the use of weapons, and of those digital objects, many are in fact licensed by real-life arms dealers. Which means that when you buy a video game, you're also putting money in the pockets of those gun manufacturers. That's fine and dandy if you're a fan of guns, but if you are someone who considers themselves anti-gun, this creates quite the moral quandary. 

    Grades: 9-12
  • Is Diablo III Turning Virtual Economies Into Real Ones? | PBS Idea Channel

    The U.S. economy may be in the dumps, but you can find solace in the fact that your Second Life avatar is living the life of the 1%.  What if the economies of video games could be transferred to the real world? We're actually already seeing this in Diablo 3, where axes, swords, and other awesome gear have taken on real world value at the Diablo 3 Auction House. People are buying and selling them with real US dollar bills!

    Grades: 6-12
  • Super Mario Brothers as Surrealist Art? | PBS Idea Channel

    We all know the Mario Brothers, but have you ever stepped back and tried looking at those games from a fresh perspective? They're bananas! There are armored turtles who stand on their hind legs and steal princesses! There are bullets with faces! We make a case for Mario's inclusion into a canon of art wider than "Video Game": we think Mario is a piece of surrealist art.

    Grades: 9-12

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