Archive for April, 2019

The New York Public Library Influencing Others

Mason Kelliher

There have been many renovation plans for the New York Public Libraries over the years. In my blog post I went over the past and current plans for the Stephen A. Schwarzman building and how they were going to exile millions of books to a storage unit so that they could remove the historical stacks and make the library more modern. Ultimately, they decided to scratch this idea and relocate some of the money to the Mid-Manhattan location and Bryant Park. This way any books added to the Schwarzman library can be easily accessible as Bryant Park is right across the street. In this article I will be furthering the discussion of the NYPL past and future renovations, but more so on the changes in structure and goal for providing people with the opportunity to learning centres for all ages, access to free Wi-Fi, business building centres for entrepreneurs, and many more other resources that go far past the idea of providing books for people.

Figure 1: Retrieved from

There are many small things that the everyday person takes for granted, such as power, clean water, education, a roof over their head, internet and many other things that the average person from Saskatoon assumes is nearly assured all over. I read a couple articles about the NYPL initiative to provide for everyone, especially the ones that may not be able to financially be able to pay for such resources. Tony Marx, the CEO of The New York Public Libraries, when discussing the vision of their libraries told a few stories on what makes the need for them to provide more than just the regular library “One early morning before the library opened, a man was spotted settled in outside over behind the dumpsters—the dumpsters!—working on his laptop. He had found a strong library Wi-Fi signal right there and was getting some work done while the library was still closed” (Fallows, par. 9). Later in this article Deborah Fallows notes that over 3 million people in just New York can’t afford internet (par. 7). This led me to look into the poverty rates of New York which in 2018 was reported that a staggering 14.1% of people were in poverty, which meant that a household was making less than $24,860 annually ( Talk Poverty reported the population in 2018 of New York was 19,337,685 and 14.1% of that is 2,722,257, which means that there were still families that essentially couldn’t afford to live, but still had to allocate money towards internet. The NYPL provides over 10,000 internet modems for free for people to use, which not only helps the people who may be able to afford internet, but for the people who are in poverty that monthly savings help immensely (Fallows, par. 4).

The NYPL allows the homeless to come and stay, use the resources, and even help them with filling out applications for jobs. Fallows goes on to tell a story she heard from Columbus, Ohio, “Education efforts in Columbus libraries are a continuum from the kids on through “life skills” for adults. This means adult literacy programs, career and technology literacy, and financial literacy. Here is a true story that gives a sense of the realities: A young man comes into the library seeking help with a job search and filing his application for work. A librarian helps him load the application onto the screen. They agree he’ll fill it out and she’ll return to look it over. The librarian returns to discover the man has completed the application, not by keying in the responses, but with a marking pen on the screen” (par. 11). Obviously, this is an extreme case of someone who wasn’t able to be educated with computers in his upbringing, but it does show that there is a further need for such resources to be provided. If these resources had been available even 10 years earlier it would have potentially allowed children coming from a family in poverty, homeless, or even elderly people the ability to do applications or learn basic things that could potentially help them get a higher paying job or in some cases a job in general. Speaking of elderly, the number of senior citizens working is increasing every day, and mostly it’s not by choice. Richard Dever, 74, did an interview with The Washington Post, where he said I’m going to work until I die, if I can, because I need the money. I drove 1,400 miles to this Maine campground from home in Indiana to take a temporary job that pays $10 an hour. (Jordan and Sullivan, par. 2). Dever obviously has work experience in his 74 years on earth, but why is he having to work for 10$ an hour and 1400 miles away? In my opinion it’s because it’s a new world out there. Things get thought out more thoroughly and efficiently these days. Such a high number of things these days are done with a computer or because a program on the computer told us it’s the way it should me. How does this relate to the elderly? The fact that computers didn’t become a key part of society until they were nearly set to retire for the first time, or when they anticipated to being able to retire. Jordan and Sullivan write “People are living longer, more expensive lives, often without much of a safety net. As a result, record numbers of Americans older than 65 are working — now nearly 1 in 5. That proportion has risen steadily over the past decade, and at a far faster rate than any other age group. Today, 9 million senior citizens work, compared with 4 million in 2000” (par. 4). Now it’s too late for the NYPL to go back and make the decision to provide people with these resources, but the fact that they have done it now is extremely important. By helping elderly people come to the library and learn how to navigate through a computer free of charge or take classes there will help them get job opportunities that could be easier for an older individual. In relation to kids that are unable to have internet at home or don’t live in the best area, they are able to go to their closest library and get the education they need. This will allow them to not fall behind the people who are much more fortunate.

In my opinion what the New York Public Library is doing on their own is extremely important, but this biggest positive of this is the influence it has had and will have on future libraries and organizations. Coming a little closer to home, the Toronto Public Library had an article by the star Columnist Bob Hepburn, who said “When we think of places where homeless people hang out during the day, our thoughts likely turn to park benches and downtown sidewalks. But the reality is that our public libraries, especially those in hard-pressed neighbourhoods in Toronto, have become the place to go for growing numbers of homeless men and women seeking refugee from the heat, cold, snow and rain — or the hard life on the streets” (par. 1). This is a perfect example of using what you have and getting the most of it. Hepburn notes that they have hired a social worker to help with the homeless or people in need and that they are welcome as long as they wish as long as they’re not disturbing anyone (par. 5). Such moves may upset non-homeless patrons who are disturbed when they see the homeless lingering in their local branch. But the Toronto library is taking the right step in trying to deal with the issues facing the vulnerable people who pass through their doors every day. More library systems should follow in Toronto’s footsteps and look at ways to help their homeless patrons, such as offering special programs and raising employee awareness of how to take an empathetic approach to homeless people in their branches (Hepburn, par. 11). It’s their priority to help everyone that steps in through their doors, but it’s very encouraging that that they do acknowledge that the homeless people in this situation take priority as they truly are in need. The way the article is written it makes it seem like they are almost taking credit for the steps taken and are the main influencer, but the Toronto based article is from 2018, while the NYPL article is from 2015. The first to promote helping people in need and giving resources to help truly doesn’t matter. What matters is that others are taking notice and making a change all across North America.

One of the largest supporters of Toronto’s public libraries and other supports for the homeless is Emilio Estevez. At a shared release of The Public, a film by Emilio Estevez that covers a two-day period when homeless patrons occupy the main Cincinnati library during a severe winter cold snap (Hepburn, par. 9). Having a big public figure openly talking, let alone producing films about the situation, will surely help promote and influence others to join the cause.

Figure 2: Retrieved from

When you look at the changes the NYPL has made over the last couple years, you can’t but think that they have nailed their choices. Whether that be scrapping the renovation plans of the Stephen A. Schwartzman building and making millions of histories important pieces readily available to the public or recognizing the way society is these days with the need to help education and provide for those in need. Emilio Estevez goes to say “We’ve got to do something. We’ve got to try” (Hepburn, par 18), which can’t be more straight forward. If the NYPL, Toronto libraries, you, or me keep trying to make a difference for the better, it will only improve the life of the homeless, poverty, children, elderly and everyone involved.


Works Cited

Back to Poverty – New York.” Talk Poverty, 19 April. 2019,

Fallows, Deborah. “The New New York Public Library.” The Atlantic, Accessed 19 April 2019.

Hepburn, Bob. “How Our Libraries Can Help the Homeless” The Star, / Accessed 19 April 2019.

Jordan, Marry. Sullivan, Kevin. “The New Reality of Old Age in America.” The Washington Post, Accessed 19 April 2019.

CSGO and the Wild World of E-Sports

Brodie Custer

Counter-strike: Global Offensive is an online first person shooter that requires more than just good aim with a mouse and keyboard. Tactical thinking, critical decision making, and good communication between yourself and teammates is absolutely required to do well at the game, at least at a high level. It is for this reason that CSGO has become one of the biggest and most exciting E-Sports on the planet. What is an E-Sport? An E-Sport is “a multiplayer video game played competitively for spectators, typically by professional gamers” (Google Dictionary). These players are the cream of the crop, the crème de la crème. These men and women, sometimes young boys and girls, are picked up by organizations that fund them to play the game in front of thousands of live spectators, millions if you count the people watching via twitch or youtube/facebook streams. Counter-strike is one of the biggest of these E-Sports.

                     (Chart from

            From the 12th to the 28th of January Boston Massachusetts became the host of the twelth E-League Major for Counterstrike: Global Offensive. E-League is the company that organizes and oversees this specific chain of tournaments. To qualify as a Major for CSGO the tournament needs to be sponsored by Valve, the company that develops Counterstrike. This specific Major in Boston featured 24 teams and a prize pool of 1 million dollars that would be distributed between the winning teams ( Millions of people were watching the teams battle it out against each other as skill, teamwork, and determination clashed. They cheered, awed by the incredible skills of their favorite players as the matches played out for them on the big screens in the Agganis Arena in Boston, Massachusetts. Little did they know they were about to witness history as Cloud 9 would become the very first North American team to win a CSGO major. An achievement so far only claimed by the best European teams in the scene. They shocked everyone in the arena as their teamwork, grit, determination and incredible individual skill stole them round after round until they were finally able to put their hands around their trophy and $500,000 in prize money.


             It may seem strange why so many people would watch a video game being played. To me, and the countless others who watch these games at the highest level, it is exactly the same as watching pro sports. The excitement you feel when your team scores that game winning goal in overtime can similarly be applied to E-Sports. Watching your favorite player clutch a 1 versus 5 situation bringing the score to 15-15 a tie game and going to overtime! Although E-Sports have only gotten huge in the last few years they have been around for a long time. Individuals have been competing at the highest level of certain games, in this case “Spacewar”, since 1972 (, “The History and Evolution of Esports”).

The argument against E-Sports from “real” sports fans, or your mother, is always “well you can’t make a living playing a stupid video game.” That is however, factually incorrect. This is especially true in recent years as the organizations have grown immensely in no small part thanks to the introduction of platforms such as Twitch. With the help of these streaming platforms the audience and therefore the revenue from these events has grown significantly. With the exception of fighting games, which have criminally small prize pools, placing well in an E-Sports tournament generally offers a fair sum. It is not unusual to see pro players from games like CSGO or Dota 2 end their careers with millions of dollars in tournament winnings (Esports Earnings). For example Dev1ce the “AWPer” (Sniper) for Astralis, one of the best teams in the game today, has made approximately $800,000 in tournament winnings and is still an active player so it is not unreasonable to expect that number to grow larger (Liquidpedia). With the addition of sponsors, players can make an excellent living playing the video game they love, though it becomes more like a job than a hobby. To compete at the highest level of anything takes hours of practice and research, honing your skills into the best they can possibly be, video games are no exception.

Works Cited

“dev1ce.” Liquipedia Counter-Strike Wiki,

“Dota 2 vs Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Top Players Compared :: Esports Earnings.” e,

“ELEAGUE Major: Boston 2018.” Liquipedia Counter-Strike Wiki, “ELEAGUE Major 2018 Detailed Stats.” Detailed Stats – Esports Charts,

Gaming, Bountie. “The History and Evolution of Esports.” Medium, Medium, 3 Jan. 2018,

“Largest Overall Prize Pools in Esports.” Largest Overall Prize Pools in Esports – Esports Tournament Rankings :: Esports Earnings,

“Tekken 7 Prize Pools & Top Players – Esports Profile :: Esports Earnings.” Prize Pools & Top Players – Esports Profile :: Esports Earnings,

Multiple Choice: The History of Interactive Storytelling in Video Games

Ian Meadows

Video games are a constantly evolving medium. Game developers are constantly trying to implement new and exciting mechanics into their games that will bring players in and keep them playing. One way to keep players playing is the “high score” method. Players will keep trying to get the highest score possible despite completing the game. Without this, if a player completes a game with a typical linear story, they are unlikely to replay the game as they have completed it. To combat this, a very popular trend in narrative based games currently is giving the player a variety of choices throughout the game that will impact either how other characters in the game treat your character or sometimes the ending of the game itself. Adding choices like this easily adds a replay value as many gamers want to see all the endings. This is known as interactive storytelling, or interactive drama. “A form of digital entertainment in which a storyline is not predetermined” (Bostan 28).


What were the first video games to use interactive storytelling? Many people give credit to the 2005 game Façade created by Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern. In Façade you play as a friend of Trip and Grace who has been invited to their apartment for drinks, while you are there it becomes glaringly obvious that something isn’t right between them and your goal is to try and fix their marriage. It uses language processing software that allows the player to “speak” to the two AI characters of Trip and Grace and depending on what you say it could result in a variety of outcomes from bringing the two back together to being forcibly shoved out of their apartment. While reviews were mixed, Façade helped usher in the wave of interactive storytelling in video games. The creators have stated that they consider this an “interactive theatre” more so than a game. They claimed that the goal was to create a dramatic experience as opposed to a fun game. (Rauch).


One of the first interactive games to achieve mainstream success would be Quantic Dreams 2010 game Heavy Rain. You switch between four different protagonists throughout the game as you try to piece together the mystery of the “Origami Killer”. A serial killer who murders his victims by drowning them during heavy rainstorms. Your decisions affect the story and any of the four characters you control can be killed leading to many alternate endings. Heavy Rain was a massive undertaking for a video game during its time. It had over 4 years of development, a 2000-page script, seventy actors with 170 days of motion capturing and 60 days of animating. (Welsh)

Another major success in the interactive storytelling genre was Telltale Games 2012 game The Walking Dead based off the comic book series with the same name. The game follows Lee Everett who must try and survive the zombie apocalypse. Unlike Façade, The Walking Dead requires the player to respond to certain events by choosing between four pre-set answers. The answers you pick could simply change how other characters perceive your character or it could decide which characters live and die. The game received huge praise from critics and players alike. It earned numerous “game of the year” awards and was a massive financial success selling one million copies in 20 days. This was Telltale Games breakthrough success and they proceeded to continue to make more interactive storytelling games including: three more Walking Dead Games, and a variety of other franchises including Game of Thrones, Minecraft, Batman, and Guardians of the Galaxy. More were planned, however due to major investors backing out, Telltale Studios faced a majority studio closure followed by bankruptcy in 2018. (Crecente)

Lastly, I’d like to talk about one of my favourite game that uses interactive storytelling, Galactic Cafe’s 2013 game The Stanley Parable. Aptly described as a “walking simulator”. You play as Stanley, an office worker whose computer stops working, unsure what to do, you get up and find that your entire office is abandoned. As you are wandering the halls, the narrator who has been guiding you so far will tell you go down a certain path. However, there is another path you may take, and from there on out the player decides whether to listen to the narrator or go their own way as said narrator berates them for disobeying. Developer Davey Wreden stated in an interview, “The very first thing I asked with the game was ‘what would happen if you could disobey the narrator?’ And I actually had no idea what the answer was, so I just started designing a game around it to see what would happen!”. Wreden also said that the creation of the game came from “a desire to know something about video games that had never been explored.” (Mattas)

What’s exciting about interactive storytelling is this whole new level of engagement that it give the player. While game with a good linear story can be engaging in its own way, it can be dull at times knowing that the mistakes you make won’t have much of an impact outside of just delaying the inevitable end of the game. A game where your decisions will have consequences for the rest of said game is something that creates a lot of natural tension. With the advancements of graphics in general and the virtual reality, its very exciting to see just how engaging video games will be in the future.


Works Cited

Bostan, Barbaros., and Marsh, Tim “Fundamentals of interactive storytelling.” August 2012.    ytelling. Accessed March 21, 2019.

Crecente, Brian. “How Masterful Narrative Game Makers Telltale Suddenly Lost Everything.”    Variety. September 24, 2018.   walking-dead-studio-closure-1202955309/. Accessed March 21, 2019.

Mattas, Jeff. “Interview: The Stanley Parable developer Davey Wreden”.” Shacknews.     September 27, 2011.          on-stanley-parable-remake-and-self-taught. Accessed March 21, 2019

Rauch, Jonathan. “Sex, Lies, and Videogames.” The Atlantic. November 2006. 1202955309/. Accessed March 21, 2019.

Welsh, Oli. “Heavy Rain’s David Cage.” Eurogamer. February 17, 2010 Accessed March         21, 2019

The Death of the Book(store)

Brenna Sych

FIG 1. Booklover mug – Giftware carried by McNally Robinson Booksellers (Photo by Brenna Sych)

Bookstores are magical places, places where stories and knowledge are sitting waiting to be discovered. The scent of coffee and ink and pages mixing together to create a tempting space to spend an afternoon.

But is that idea dying?

I hear it whenever I say I work in a bookstore, “Those still exist?” Now I’ve been a bookseller at a local independent bookstore for five years, specifically in children’s books, but I have worked all over, and I’ve seen how the focus of the store has changed in that time.

While there has been reports that the number of independent bookstores is up (American Booksellers Association). The question is, how long will that last and how have bookstores changed to last this long?

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Has the Internet Killed the Book?

Philip Gordon

Image: creator unknown.

Image: creator unknown.


What People Thought Would Happen

Since the inception of the internet and the mass adoption of its wondrous potential, people have been predicting all kinds of changes to the world of printed books. Imagine yourself as a child many years from now sitting on your grandfather’s lap. He clears his throat after a long raspy sip from his scotch on the rocks and tells you a story. “ When I was your age Timmy, people read books.” “Ah Grampa? What’s a book?” You’d ask nervously. “Well, books were a technological innovation where stories and information were printed on pages and bound together.” Your grandfather puts his hands together to demonstrate either side of the book, folding them open then apart to show the motion used when opening and shutting a book. You look wide eyed at him in confused amazement. “Hold on Grampa, let me look up what a book is online.” You close your eyes and see the web in your mind’s eye and search for an image of a book using only your thoughts immediately understanding all of its functions. “Why do you tell me about all this useless stuff Grampa, people don’t need to read anymore… we just know everything.” Your grandfather, gets up out of his chair looks out the window and sheds one single tear. The tear slides down his wrinkled face while his image reflects in the darkness of the window pane.

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