Until Dawn: Review

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: This game is currently free to download of the PSNetwork!

This weekend I spent most of my Friday night doing what any respectable 24 year old should be doing…playing a horror video game. I would like to say that I only did the game in sporadic play-throughs but no…I finished the game in maybe two nights. The first night, I had only just started, the story hadn’t begun to ramp up yet and I was tired. But the second night, I could NOT put the controller down. I needed to see how it ended and how I did overall.

General synopsis

Until Dawn is a 2014 horror game that tells the story of a group of teenagers. The story begins with them all playing a prank on one of the girls, who in her humiliation runs out onto the mountain, in the middle of winter and ends up getting lost. Her sister goes looking for her, only for them to fall down the mountain to their deaths. Fast forward a year, and the same group of friends are back at the mountain to pay their respects and honouring their friends’ memories. The characters are all varying degrees of generic teenagers: there’s a lot of angst, lots of unrequited love, lots of love triangles and therefore lots of drama BESIDES impending death and destruction. This game gives you the chance to play as every character, each taking their turn to play out the story as it is happening.

The Butterfly Affect aspect

The Butterfly Effect is the idea that one little decision or action can drastically alter the future: A flutter of a butterfly’s wings could cause a horrific storm 300 miles away. While it is far-fetched to think about it is still a really interesting idea, that all of our actions and our choices shape how our life turns out: One little chance meeting with someone on a train could mean you meet the love of your life, or being a few minutes late in the morning meant you never met that person to begin with. Until Dawn made it a bit more serious than that, making it very much a life or death situation, and the fact that the choices are timed forces you to make split second decisions that can alter the course of events following it. In the case of Until Dawn, this can determine whether or not the character you are playing as lives or dies.

Image result for until dawn gifs

Game play itself

The game is similar to a telltale series game: Lots of cut scenes, lots of time to investigate places, quick time events and of course, timed choices. I am absolutely not a good person when it comes to shooting games, because try a I might I can not aim to save my life. These types of games suit me better: They feel like I’m watching a movie that I get to interact with, rather than having to try and beat countless enemies and complete quests. The story is awesome, as it keeps you really invested in what is happening: The only reason I stayed up for so long was because I needed to find out what would happen next.

The horror

This game is indeed a horror game though. It has jump scares galore, monsters that are scary as all hell and some genuinely tense moments: One of the scariest tasks is having to remain absolutely still (The PS4 controller has a motion sensor in it!) when a huge, screaming monster is circling you. The scares are also relatively clever, and are only used when really needed to progress the story forward. While some scares are very early on and are usually anti-climactic, it all helps to create that feeling of ‘horror’ within this game: What the characters go through, you go through as the player.

Image result for until dawn gifsJust one of the horrible deaths that can occur through bad decision making

The characters

Most importantly though, the characters are multi-dimensional: One of my favourite characters actually came across as the biggest jerk in the beginning, but as the game progresses and you start to see the consequences of your actions, the characters become far more important to you…some can even become LESS important to you when you see how they react to little choices you make. This game gets you invested from the get-go and I think that is what’s so enjoyable about it. Each character has their own set of personality traits, and you can also keep track on how every character views each other: Who is mad at who, who is fond of who, and who is most likely to leave you for dead just because you chose a seemingly small option. The characters are also surprisingly vast in personalities and it is nice to see them change throughout the course of the game.

Image result for until dawn gifsSam (played by Hayden Panettiere) and Josh (played by Rami Malek)

Overall?

Well worth a play! The game itself may not be an overly long game, but with the amount of stress you go through you’ll probably be thankful for it! It is a very fun game either way, and the fact that every decision leads to a different series of events, the ending can be different each time you play it. It’s fun just to see how each decision can change things and, more importantly, which decisions ultimately do nothing even though it seems like a super hard choice.

Have any of you guys played it? Let me know below your views on the game 🙂

T xx

 

Best horror games

If you love a puzzle…

Limbo is actually a pretty simple game design, and yet somehow it just works. You play as a little boy, wondering through different areas trying to find his sister. It is almost all in black and white (or at least super muted tones) and works mostly based on shadows. Now while this game isn’t the traditional ‘horror’ game, it is definitely a game that puts you on edge and makes you feel uneasy: At one point, you hack off a giant spider’s legs with a bear trap, and at another point you lure murderous children (or at least slightly older than you teenagers) to death-by-stomping-machine…All while very little is explained to you and there is no more story than what you piece together as you go.

Image result for limbo gameSimple, yet effective

The puzzles are just challenging enough to make you think, while still being hard enough that it may test your patience attempting them four or five times. The art work is both calming and unsettling, and it’s simplicity is probably what makes it so enjoyable. It is definitely worth a play if you fancy something that’s scary while still being charming.

For the survivalist…

Outlast (1+2…so this may be a cop out…) is a survival horror game. In both games you play as some poor man who just ended up in the wrong place at the very worst time possible. In Outlast 1, you are trying to escape a mental asylum, and in Outlast 2, you are trying to rescue your wife from a mental religious cult: Po-tay-to po-tar-to. In both games however you are armed with nothing but relatively good stamina and a video camera to document your journey…and help you navigate the very dark crawl spaces. You have no weapons to fight back with and so you can either run or hide from the vast array of scary characters who want nothing more than to harm you.

Image result for outlastA little visit in Outlast

Both games are terrifying, and not only because you can’t fight back. Both games are really quite graphic with the blood, violence and mutilation that you are bound to encounter (so I suppose parental guidance should be stated!) and so is not a game for the fainthearted for that reason more than anything. The stories may be relatively flimsy – in many cases you aren’t sure why or how you even got into this situation in the first place – but the overall pace of the game is so well structured that you rarely get time to think about anything other than escaping…preferably with as many limbs as possible still attached to you. Jump scares galore, graphic violence and some truly terrifying moments, this game will definitely keep you up at night.

For the nostalgia….

Resident Evil VII was largely a success…while it may have varied a lot from the original games of the 90s, the game had a lot of nods to them for the fans. The game itself, was actually a lot of fun. While it may have been a relatively short game (roughly 8-9 hours) it was packed with everything you would expect from a horror: jump scares, abandoned houses, viruses, plagues, bugs, demon possessed families and even creepier non-possessed adults. The best thing about this game was also the high tech aspect of it all: Playing the high-resolution, wonderfully life-like animated game was bad enough without playing it in virtual reality. This game had everything you would want; decent story line, lots of monsters, lots of levels and, most importantly, lots of weapons to defeat them all with. If you don’t feel like sleeping for a long time, then have a go at this!

Image result for resident evil 7Meet the Bakers

Just because you like the scares…

Slenderman (again, a slight cop out) is not necessarily a ‘game’ in the same way the above mentioned are: There isn’t really a story passed the point of ‘Slenderman wants you dead’ and ‘find the papers’. The game, despite it’s simplicity, really is quite fun and is actually a bit of a cult classic these days. It’s surprising how scary a little bit of static on your screen can make you and I promise you, no matter how many times you play the game, it will still make you nervous when it happens. There isn’t much else to say on this game because there really isn’t much to it apart from jump scares, but if you just want a little game to play with people or because you’re bored one night, then this is the game for it.

Image result for slender manSlenderman awaits….

Similarly to the above is Five Nights at Freddy’s…because…well this one is pretty self explanatory!

For the nightmares…

While this demo is pretty hard to come across now (the game itself was scrapped before full release) it was truly scary. It was a demo released to raise interest for a new horror game made by Kojima Productions and featured the acting talent of The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus. It was pretty basic in theory: You walk a long a corridor of a house, walk through a door in the basement, which then brings you out at the start of the corridor again while all the while changing to become more horrific each cycle. I think almost everyone is aware of the fetus in the bathroom sink….yeah…that’s somehow not the most unnerving of things you will see in this game. If you are looking for nightmares then just watch the game play of this because it is genuinely unsettling…and if you’re brave/stupid enough to actually play the game then be prepared for a psychological trip.

Image result for PT gameOh hey…

What about you guys? What are some of your favourite horror games?

T xx

 

 

Top 5 Books of all time

I have always been a keen reader: According to my Mom I threw a huge tantrum after my first day of nursery venues they hadn’t taught me how to read and that’s the only reason I went to school to begin with. Books for me have always been an outlet and a place to lose myself in different worlds and different stories. So I thought today I would share a list of my favourite books with you guys!

1. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

This book was one of the first books I remember reading by myself. Granted I think at the time it took me about 4 months to finish but I could happily sit down and read it cover to cover in one day if I was left alone. It is just lovely! The book tells the story of a little horse and the life he leads: We join him as soon as he is born on a little farm with his mother, and follow him as he goes from house to house, owner to owner, job to job. Not every owner is nice and not every job is kind to him, but he approaches it in such an innocent way that you can’t help but share his optimism. This book definitely helped shape me as the animal loving vegan I am today, as I finally got to read a book that was from an animal’s perspective rather than as a simple side character. This book is charming, emotive and sincere and for that reason, I will always love this book more than any other.

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2. The curious case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde by R. L. Stevenson

This book is terrifying. At least, I found it so! However it is not truly scary until the end of the book where we hear Doctor Jekyll’s account of everything that has happened throughout the book. The book itself is told from the perspective of one of Jekyll’s closest friends, a lawyer named Utterson, who notices that his highly moral and just friend has begun to associate with the corrupt and evil Mr Hyde. Having never read this book before this year, I had no idea what the story really was: I understood the general concept of a man having two personalities but this book takes that a step further, in that Jekyll and Hyde are two separate people. I won’t give away any spoilers (at least none that aren’t already common knowledge) but this book was more like a mystery horror than the psychological horror that pop culture would have us believe it is. It is haunting, yet charming, in the way only Stevenson can pull off. It is one of the few books that when I finished, I just say there in shocked silence for a minute or two and tried to comprehend what I had just read. If you are someone who fancies a bit of an existential crisis, then this is definitely the book for you.

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3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K Rowling

As with every other twenty-something, I love Harry Potter. I was brought up on the books and grew up with the films (I believe I was about 9 or 10 when the first one was released) so Harry Potter will always hold a very special place in my heart. But the third book was by far my favourite: I liked that it focused on the wizarding world before Harry. I liked learning about the Marauders: Mooney, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs and the entire friendship as a whole. I believe that this was something that was somewhat glanced over in the film as it helps you believe why (spoiler alert!) Wormtail’s betrayal to join Voldemort all the more heart-breaking for not only Harry, but for the remaining Maurauders as well. It was a welcome change to hear about the wizarding world at a time different to Harry’s world, and I believe this book cemented the importance of friendship on a deeper level than simply ‘Harry, Ron and Hermione = best friends for life’. I won’t go into too much detail about the Harry Potter universe (trust me, I could for days!) but recommend this book, even if you haven’t read the books at all.

Image result for harry potter and the prisoner of azkaban book

4. Dante’s Divine Comedy

Ok so this is a pretty pretentious entry I know, but stick with me! I was recommended this book by my high school English teacher, Mr Ingles, as he said it was the inspiration for so many modern day classics. So, with a summer free before university started, I decided to give it a read. My word, it is beautiful! I don’t mean that in the sense that the story is beautiful (Not going to lie, I’m still not 100% certain what the entire story really is) but rather that the words, the way they flow and the way they create an image is beautiful. This is essentially a very very VERY long poem telling the story of one man’s journey through Hell, Purgatory and Heaven in order to get to heaven and meet God. I will not go into the imagery and religious meaning of it all, but just as a piece of writing it is honestly the prettiest piece of writing I have read so far. The words are almost effortlessly lovely and when I read this I am instantly calmed and transported on this journey. I won’t lie to you, it is HEAVY reading…like seriously heavy reading with a lot of words and a lot of different styles, but it is worth it just to read a page at a time. I found it to be like Shakespeare, in that if you just let the words flow over you, you can eventually form a picture of what is happening and what it all means. If you are at all interested in English literature or even if you just fancy something pretty to read, I would highly recommend this!

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5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

As you can tell I am a sucker for the classics, but they are normally referred to as classics for a reason. This story, as I’m sure you are aware, is a pretty tragic one. The book is written from the point of view of Nick Carrow, Gatsby’s accidental neighbour, and describes Gatsby’s (somewhat worrying) obsession with the dim but lovely Daisy Buchanon. I won’t go into details, but if you saw the Leonardo DiCaprio film from 2013 you already know how it goes. This book is an insight into the entire 1920’s era, and probably acts as a bigger warning for the American Dream than Mice and Men ever did. There are moments when you are not sure who is the ‘bad guy’ in the story, as every character has aspects of themselves that we in today’s society would most likely frown upon. It is at times charming and funny, while at others it is harrowing and disturbing. Personally, I love this book and I love Fitzgerald. I especially love this book because I feel that it is always relevant: there will always be someone wanting to obtain the life of others. It is human nature to chase the dream that you have only seen glimpses of from afar, and I believe this books acts as a cautionary tale as to what happens once you have your first invite inside.

Image result for great gatsbyHey if it’s good enough for Leo…

What books hold a special place in your life? Let me know and I will most likely add it to my list of books to read!

T xx

Top 5 Relaxing Games

Animal crossing New leaf

To be honest, I could have picked any of the games from the Animal crossing franchise, but this one is my favourite. It is just adorable! Granted, I have not been back to my little village in a LONG time but the sentiment is always there. You play as a little Amibo character that is moving to a new little town. You can pick the name of it, its general map layout and your own personal appearance for your little character who you will soon live vicariously through. My little town, for example, was called Snorlax, it was centred right on the coast with a little stream running through it and my house with its little pink roof sat prettily on the edge of the cliff overlooking the sea.

This game is so cute…and is so unbelievably relaxing. Yes there are little tasks you can do and little objectives you have to meet, but there is no real time limit on it: I played the game pretty solidly for about a year and I am still only on about 10% happiness for the town. But my town is so cute! I can spend my evenings wondering around picking fruit from the local trees, organising my flower gardens, creating statues and monuments for my little animal neighbours to enjoy, or I can simply spend the day in the ocean, swimming and fishing. Now everything you collect in your town can be sold for coins (sharks, for example, are worth about 400 of those) and as you build up your coins you can then start to decorate your little house, build extensions and design the layout as you want.

Image result for animal crossing gifsAaaaaand…relax…

This game has limited potential as there is always something to do to keep you busy. While it may seem dull to some, it is no doubt the most relaxing game I have ever played and is easy to lose endless hours over.

Pokemon Sun

Now this game goes without saying: It’s Pokemon! This game is the newest release from the Pokemon franchise and I love it. The new Pokemon are adorable and exciting, while the revamp of some of the more classic first Generation Pokemon pretty much made my life complete: Icy Vulpix is probably even more adorable than a firey one!

Image result for ice vulpix^^ Look at his little face!! ^^

The game itself is pretty free-roaming. You have little tasks to complete and battles you need to win, but there isn’t any time limit on this. I spent most of my time collecting as many Pokemon as I could, trying on new clothes and outfits in the little shops and mostly just looking at the beautiful artwork in it: The game is based loosely on Hawaii and it is very clear to see as you stroll through the different tropical islands with golden sand beaches, crystal clear waters and the warm glow of a digitally created sun.

The main reason I find this game is so relaxing is beqause it’s so easy to delve in to: The story is just enough to keep you interested in progressing, but not so complicated you get confused. The characters are likeable and, most importantly, you can now interact and cuddle your Pokemon! I would play with my team of Pokemon so much that all of them (Ninetales especially) would be absolute beats in the battle arena: I once had my Ninetales on 1% hp for 9 ROUNDS because everytime it was hit, a little bubble would pop up to say that Ninetales toughed it out so I wouldn’t be sad. How is that not the cutest??!!

I won’t get into the whole ‘Pokemon promotes animal abuse’ because I honestly think that’s a bit farfetched an idea (more on this in a later post I think!) but this game is truly a delight and if you haven’t played this before, I would highly recommend it!

Journey

Where to begin…I love a puzzle. I like to see myself as the logical, problem solver and this game is just that. Also, it is just beautiful to look at: You play as a little floaty person in a big old cape and scarf, wondering around the dessert. At some point, you find another little floaty person and the two of you have to work together to solve puzzles and complete the game. The reality of it is that each floaty person is an actual player…there are no AIs, and that in itself is quite lovely…that the two of you, wherever and whoever you are, come together to play this game.

Image result for journey game gifsIt’s just so pretty! ^^

The imagery itself is just beyond beautiful. Everything may be somewhat golden for the most of it but it’s calming and warm and based more on problem solving abilities than it is based on brute strength or strategy. The music is perfect, the game is stunning, and the little floaty fellow is surprisingly charismatic.

DC Injustice

So this one may not be on the same level as the others as it is basically Mortal Kombat with a DC skin. And I know it didn’t get much praise, but I for one love it, for no other reason than there is something strangely relaxing about beating someone up as Batman. I have used this game as a stress relief…while it is frowned upon for me to punch a rude customer in the face, it is practically expected of Harley Quinn to smash someone repeatedly with a huge hammer. As macabre as that may seem, or even unnecessarily violent, it is simply fun. It is a fun game, to play by yourself or with friends (the real trick is remaining friends after you’ve beaten them 5 times in a row as Catwoman) and you can just feel all the stress and anger of the day leave you. Also, I will point out that while it may appear violent, this game is actually incredibly PG compared to the original mortal Kombat games. There isn’t really much to this game by way of story (again, I only really play the fighting chapters) but there is definitely something relaxing about bashing your opponents into the stratosphere or exploding them with a bomb-filed cherry pie. Trust me, one little play of this as your favourite DC character (hero or villain) will make a little less stressed from the woes of working life.

Image result for dc injustice gifsGotta love a bit of Raven

What games have you guys found to be super relaxing? Let me know and I will probably give them a try!

T xx

How can you be bored of board games?!

So this weekend I had a wonderful time at a place I really didn’t expect: A board game cafe. It seems that board games are now becoming trendy again, as I know of at least two cafes that have popped up near where I live. But why the sudden increase in popularity?

Social interaction

The main thing I enjoyed about playing board games with my friends, was the sheer social aspect of it. Looking around at all the tables of people I noticed how involved they were all getting in the social aspect of the game. Board games, no matter how simple they may seem, still manage to draw you into the excitement as much as a video game would, but with your friends along with the ride. I can not believe how much I laughed at a simple game of Connect 4, nor how much fun it could be beating my friends at the Game of Life.

A recent development in the wild lives of my friends and I are the Games Nights we have held: Normally this consists of us playing various rounds of Cards Against Humanity, having a few drinks, and realising just how twisted our sense of humour is (If you have played Cards Against Humanity, you too will understand this!) and yet still managing to catch up on our lives as ‘functioning adults’. To me, it feels like we have all found a way to be childish, without being immature. We are all there, in person, playing games that we can hold in our hands. We can read each other to find out who the werewolf is, or we can send subtle clues to each other to throw off the other team as to what our strategy will be. Sneaking truly becomes sneaky and victory tastes oh the more sweeter when you can rub it in their loser faces.

Image result for simpsons monopoly episode                                                        How monopoly usually ends

Imagination and problem solving

Case and point: Cluedo. Anyone who says that they are not competitive is a liar the second this game comes out, and it is literally a race to find out not only who the murderer is, but who can do it in the least amount of moves. I have not played this game in years and yet I won (bwah ha ha!) and I must admit it was a brain workout and a half. I saw my friends concentrate more on their questions in each round than they ever did for final exams. I think that is because, any mistake they make….we remember! There is no way to erase what has just happened, the silly move you made that just cost you a victory can not be overwritten on your save file by starting again. Every decision counts as a result, it takes way more time, thought and strategy than any virtual game ever will. If your friends don’t yell at you for disproving their accusations, then can you even call them your friends?

Image result for simpsons monopoly episode police quotes

The lack of technology

As I’ve grown up, I have realised that while I am indeed viewed as an adult, I have very little clue as to what I am doing half the time. It worries me that my friends and I are well and truly allowed to be the ‘adult supervision’ that many packages warn children they need before playing with something stupid. Something I have noticed from spending a whole Saturday morning playing board games is that, for one brief moment in time, everyone in that cafe was transported to a simple way of life. Not a single person had their phone in their face the entire time, and I only had mine out to take photos of my friends completing challenges, or filming little plastic chairs that were stacked precariously on the table. Board games show that you do not need technology in order to have an immersive experience. In my house, almost every board game turns into a contact sport, to the point which Scrabble is banned unless there is someone acting as referee, dictionary in hand, to reach a peaceful end to the game.

What about you? Which board games bring out your worst traits? And which games have lead to some of your best memories?

T xx

 

Easiest ways to help the planet

While this post is technically a day late, I thought it would be a good time to right a list of everything you can do on a daily basis to help protect the Earth. Whether you chose to believe in global warming or not, there is no doubt that our planet is not in a good state: Ocean temperatures are rising, coral reefs are being bleached into obscurity and the amount of pollution we are producing is not a maintainable standard of life. Therefore, in honour of Earth Day 2017 here is a list of how to be kinder to our planet.

Image result for earth quotes

Recycling

This is probably one of the easiest ways in which you can lessen your impact on the Earth. In 2015, the EU made it mandatory to separate out all recyclable waste from normal rubbish, and for the most part it is pretty easy. But why is it good for the environment? For the most part, rubbish that is not recyclable just ends up in a land fill where it can be burned, but is usually just packed into the ground. Everywhere has their own method of dealing with it, but these are the most common solutions. Obviously, land fills are bad news: They are dirty, contaminating and not to mention a complete eye sore for anyone who happens to live near one. It’s not nice to look at and it is just using our earth as a dumping ground for all of our unnecessary stuff.

Recycling on the other hand allows us to reuse the things we need to throw away: In most cases, recyclable products such as plastic bottles, paper and tin cans can all be melted down to create new tin cans, new water bottles, and in some cases even make handbags, notebooks and shoes. By doing this, we can create a maintainable resource as we do not have to continually cut down trees to make new paper, nor do we have to make room in our countryside for unnecessary landfills. It is kinder on the planet, and a more resourceful way of making our products so that we don’t have to worry about the future of our planet every time we buy a bottle of water.

For more facts about recycling and it’s benefits, have a look at this!

Reusable items

Something that links on to the above point is the use of reusable items: Water bottles, coffee cups, thermos flasks…the list can be endless and for most part of relatively cheap alternatives to buying one every day. Plastic water bottles are surprisingly expensive, especially when you can drink the tap water for free in almost every part of the world. Why spend £1 every time you need a bottle of water, when you can spend £5 and have a bottle readily available to fill up throughout the day as and when you need to. Personally, I drink a lot of water anyway but when it’s hot or I’m out and about a lot seeing friends or running errands, having a bottle of water on hand in my bag is a genuine money saver and life saver.

You can also do the same with reusable coffee cups: Most disposable ones are not recyclable, so if you buy a Starbucks or Costa coffee every morning on your way to work, then it is definitely worth investing in a nice, sturdy, washable travel mug that you can reuse each morning. You can pick up pretty good ones for about £3 or less on ebay, and they can come in so many pretty colours your main concern will be choosing your favourite!

Diet

It has long been known that red meat has been linked to climate change, but how so? Well, aside from the animals rights side of things, raising animals for food requires massive amounts of land, food, energy, and water. In a report by the Worldwatch Institute, 51% (at least!) of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture. Furthermore, most deforestation is caused by the demand for animal rearing land, where large areas of the rain forest are being cut down to make room for even more farmed cows to be raised and slaughtered. With less trees, more CO2 is released into the air and thus causes a rise in climate change, as trees take the CO2 and convert it into oxygen during photosynthesis.

Therefore, if you care about the environment, it is advised to leave meat, especially red meat, off of your plate. This however is also not considering the impact that even fish, chicken and pork have on your health and the overall impact it has on the environment: Chickens may not be as gaseous as cows, but they still take a huge amount of land, water and food to raise them so that they can become food themselves. Over fishing is now a problem across the world, with many ecosystems being negatively effected by the amount of fish that we are taking from the sea. Many other species of marine life are also being killed by mistake, including whales, dolphins, turtles and sharks, all because we as a species have such a high demand for fish meat.

Needless to say, cutting out meat from your diet is a huge way you can combat climate change without even trying to and in this day and age where more and more people are realising the positive impacts a vegetable diet can have on their life and their environment, there are so many new and exciting replacements out there that can make going vegetarian or vegan a very easy and straight forward process. I, for example, have been vegan for about a year and a half now, and have saved around 2,269,326 litres of water, 1,526 sq. metres of forest, 4,960 of CO2 and 545 animal lives. Even if you don’t care all that much about animals, you can’t deny that just by cutting out meat from your diet you are combating huge amounts of climate change.

Have a look at this website to see how much you can save by switching to an animal free diet.

A few extra tips

Next time you buy a kitchen appliance, get one that is Energy Star-approved, and only plug in electrical equipment when you use it often: Don’t leave them on standby, or leave your phone charging all night long.

Skip the pre-rinse when using a dishwasher and only run it when full as this can save up to 7,300 gallons of water a year!

Buy local, plant-based food to cut back on the distance it has to travel from farm to plate, as this will in turn reduce the amount of emissions caused.

Doggy bags or composting are the way forward: only order or make as much food as you can eat in one sitting to prevent waste. If you happen to have leftovers, store them in a reusable glass or stainless-steel container and compost any inedible scraps. Compost can then be used to grow your own vegetables and thus teach you how to be self-sufficient and with less chemical pollution in our soil and our air.

Organise a clothes swap with friends or work colleagues, or even donate unwanted furniture and clothing to charities. This way your trash doesn’t end up in a landfill anywhere but rather can become another person’s treasure. Most cities have clothing bins, but most charity shops are happy to take any unwanted clothing, furniture, books and china (provided they are all clean and still usable!). If there is no chance anyone else would want it, why not get creative and turn those old jeans into a storage box, or that old knitted jumper into a comfy pillow or even a throw? The possibilities are endless!

As you can see, there are many ways that you can help lessen the impact we have on the environment, and with scientific and technological advances being made every day, we as a society should be focused on moving toward a sustainable and healthy way of living so that generations after us can enjoy all of the wonders that this world has to offer.

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Do you guy have any environmental friendly tips too? I’d love to hear some other ideas!

T xxx

The devil is in the detail

I have commented on copyright infringement in regards to video games before in some of my previous posts, but I have been thinking lately about what this means for other creative mediums. In particular, can fashion be protected under copyright law? In this day and age, with 3D printers, online shopping and very skilled seamsters cheap knock-ff of very expensive and popular items can be found across the globe in attempt for these people to make a quick bit of easy cash. In 2015 EU’s Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market conducted a study that found that 9.7% of all items on the market were counterfeit, and as a result accounted for around €26.3 billion of revenue lost every year. While it may not be a mainstream issue, it is clearly a huge problem for those who wish to work within such an industry.

Why else does this matter?

In the 2006 movie The Devil wears Prada, Meryl Streep’s character has a little speech about why fashion matters and the end punch line is that it all matters, because you live your life in it. We spend every day wearing clothes, that while we do not think are overly important, they still say who we are: Our personal style helps to create first impressions to those we meet and how we carry ourselves through society. Trends in fashion also reflect the issues of society at any given time: punk rockers dressed the way they did to silently protest against the conformity seen throughout the rest of society, just as vegans can now wear clothing that has little to no impact on the environment and causes no harm to animals. As much as we don’t want to admit that we care about ‘fashion’, we all care about style in that we all care about how we dress ourselves, even if it is only for the feeling of power that is gives us to wear what we like, how we like and when we like.

Blair Waldorf (played by Leighton Meister) in Gossip Girl

How does the law approach it?

As with everything to do with law, interpretation is everything. Lucky for us, fashion is all about interpretation and based on the statute alone, fashion is not actually mentioned under the Copyright, Patents and Design Rights Act 1988. Under this law, a creative medium needs to fall within one of the categories within the legislation and while there is some leeway as to how the courts label fashion, it is most likely to fall within the definition of ‘artistic craftsmanship’. Now this is not really helpful, but thankfully there is a LOT of case law to refer to in order to try and make a decision.

In Hensher v Restawhile, the House of Lords stated hat a prototype for a distinctive three-piece lounge suite, which was intended for mass production, was not artistic although the Lords differed in their reasons as to why. Then there was a case about a baby’s cape which was held not to be artistic because there was no intention to create an artistic work, just as a patchwork bedspread was not deemed to be artistic because although the designs were “pleasing to the eye” they were not sufficiently creative. This has been discussed in fashion relevant case law where sweaters and cardigans were held not to be artistic. Although the items in question had been displayed in the V&A Museum, they were exhibited as examples of developments in fashion rather than as works of art. One case in recent years that has also addressed this issue was related to the storm trooper helmets from the Star Wars movies, where the High Court held that the helmets were not artistic because their purpose was not aesthetic. The Supreme Court later held that the helmets were not sculptures, and could not be protected in that way either, which brings to attention the need for aspects of fashion to be protected from copyright infringement.

The majority of cases seem to show that there is a lot of debate over whether fashion can count as ‘artistic’: as a rule of thumb it seems the work must be aesthetically appealing to the general population or must have been created as an artistic work. To me, art and an ‘artistic’ creation should make you feel something. Now this may be confusing to those who are interested in fashion: How anyone can look at Charlize Theron in that gold Dior dress, or stare at a pair of Louboutin high heel courts and not see the art in them might as well be dead inside.

Image result for j'adore gold dress                                   Charlize Theron in the Dior J’adore perfume advert

On the other hand, “craftsmanship” is potentially easier to meet. Knitting and tapestry-making have been treated as crafts, usully on the basis that they are one off creations that were intended for artistic work. In Hensher v Restawhile, Lord Reid and Viscount Dilhorne said that the requirement for craftsmanship implies that a work must be hand-made whereas Lord Simon held that “craftsmanship” cannot be limited to handicraft and that the word “artistic” in itself is incompatible with machine production. This therefore suggests that if a designer is to make a one-ff, limited edition piece of haute couture clothing that is not designed to be mass-produced, then this could potentially be protected under ‘craftsmanship’ and thus protected by copyright. But what does this mean for mass-produced clothing?

In short, the UK is still pretty slow on the protection available for fashion under copyright law. There have been many debates and papers on what can be done about this, with many of them pointing towards the European model of an open list: In France, Germany and even in the US, any work which is original can be protected by copyright. In France, the threshold for originality is a work which “bears the stamp of the author’s personality” and in Germany copyright protects “personal intellectual creations”. This allows for a much smaller threshold to be met by designers and as such less chance of them being copied without the author’s consent. It also means that there is no need for long and complex case law or debate around the issue as it is simply stated within legislation and only needs to be discussed when it needs to clarified on a large scale. This appears to be not only the simplest option for designers, but also the easiest way for the UK intellectual property offices to keep an eye on potential infringements on the open market.

Image result for fashion gifs

Here today, gone tomorrow

One potentially reason why there is no real need for there to be protection for fashion is because fashion is always changing: What is fashionable this week will most likely be forgotten about in a months time. Fashion is a constantly evolving aspect of society and while trends may come and go, the fashion industry is constantly in a state of innovation and trying to create pieces that have never before been seen. Trends are only meant to last a few years at the most, as anytime after that they either become iconic for the time period, or they become cringe-worthy (in some cases they can be both!).

What do you guys think? What would you want to see within the fashion industry?

T xx

 

The real OG

‘You are unique…just like everybody else.’

This simple statement is a pretty common oxymoron. While it is still true that there are no two people who are 100% identically the same, the fact that we are all different is one of the main things humanity has in common. So is there such a thing anymore as originality? No matter what we wear, how we act or what we create, there is a high chance that there is someone else out there in the world who is doing the exact same thing. But that doesn’t mean it’s all doom and gloom…

Is originality even a thing?

Everyone is shaped by their experiences: Everything that we come into contact with over our lives shapes us into the person and the personality that we become. Due to this, inspiration is everywhere and we may even be influenced by things that we aren’t even aware we have noticed. A newspaper article from 10 years ago could be the reason you want to draw pictures, in the same way that a loud car stereo blasting 80s pop driving past you may make you want to start writing. It could be near impossible to pinpoint the exact reasons why we are all the way we are, but it doesn’t stop the fact that we have all been influenced by something else, which was no doubt influenced by something before it and so on and so forth.

Image result for originality gifsFightclub breaking all the walls

So it possible to still be original? If everything we ever create is nothing more than a step up from something we have seen, can we even say that it is our own work? From a legal standpoint, intellectual property has guides in place to ensure that no work has been intentionally copied: As long as you can prove that you created a piece of work through your own thought processes and own design plans, chances are you’re going to be fine (obviously it’s a bit more succinct than this, but I don’t think I have the time to explain it all!). But on a more philosophical level, is it possible for any of us to claim that our brand new identity or our way of dress is an original one?

Subculture symmetry

Everyone knows the old troupe: In high school you have those who follow the norms of society, and then you have the odd little groups of people who do not.

Image result for mean girls group gifs Mean Girls showcased this perfectly…

From the sociological aspect, all of these little groups within society are known as ‘subcultures’ where everyone within that subculture shares the same norms and values. However, in today’s society these  subcultures can have very blurred cut off points within them. I, for example, would not necessarily fit into one subculture alone: I may be blonde, wear a lot of pink and love pop music, but I also love video games, superheros and reading science fiction novels…I also don’t think I’m a mean enough person to have been one of the Plastics, but I digress. Subcultures by nature always include some form of similarity: members tend to dress the same, talk the same and even believe the same things. Key examples of this are the 1980s Punk, the 2000s Goth and even now the emergence of the Seapunk. They all look the same as each other, but at least they’re not mainstream. In some ways, subcultures go against originality as the entire practice seems to try and place members of society into boxes. Is this why originality is so hard to come across? The use of labels?

So what does this mean?

Today’s society is a massively innovative one with common social norms being challenged everyday from every aspect of itself. Young people are leading the gender revolution, wanting to do away with normal sexuality labels and gender stereotypes and instead move to an inclusive and free state of simply just existing: love who you love, be whatever gender you decide, believe whatever it is you wish to believe…but know that you will be accepted purely on who you are rather than how you have been socialised and labelled. For some people, especially those in a creative setting, this can be a whole new challenge, as trying to be memorable in a world where everything merges together is not an easy task. but perhaps this is where we fail.

Moving forward…

Just because something has done before does not mean that it is not original or innovative. it is common knowledge that anyone can copy something: If i can’t draw, I’ll just trace a picture, if I can’t write songs, I’ll just mash a load together. Originality comes from the little bits of you that you add to it to make it better: Five Night’s at Freddy’s fans are another key example of this as while the games they make are not, by nature, original content, the stories they create, the character interactions they add and the overall game play of said games are enough to make the new games original enough to improve and add to the existing base. Everything may not be original, but if something is added to the original to progress the entire idea forward, then that alone should be enough to be original.

“Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.”

– C.S Lewis

T xx

Intellectual Property Law

This is intended to be a very brief introduction to Intellectual Property Law, so as to familiarise yourself with what my future blogs will touch on and some of the issues that they raise.

What is it?

Intellectual property law is a wide umbrella term that is used to encompass many different aspects of the creative world. In short, intellectual property law aims to protect the expression of creative work in it’s many varying forms. Many of them do overlap so that alone can raise confusion! A little bit of the basics:

Copyright Law

This area of IP is governed by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. It is defined under Section 1, subsection 1 as being a property right which subsists in the following descriptions of work: (a)original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works, (b)sound recordings, films  broadcasts, and (c)the typographical arrangement of published editions. In layman’s terms, if you have an idea and have expressed it as a book, a drawing or a song, then that is automatically protected by copyright law and as such, no one can steal your idea and pass it off as your own.

Patents

Patents relate to inventions. Anything that an inventor creates can be protected by a patent. Under Section 1, subsection 1 of the Patents Act 1977 a patent may be granted only for an invention if the following conditions are satisfied: (a) the invention is new, (b) it involves an inventive step (i.e is not simply an ‘upgrade’ on a current invention) and (c) it is capable of industrial application (i.e can the invention actually be used in everyday life). There are however some exceptions (S.2) such as a discovery, scientific theory or mathematical method; a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work or any other aesthetic creation; a scheme, rule or method for performing a mental act, playing a game or doing business, or a program for a computer; the presentation of information.

Design Rights

These are closely linked to Patents and are concerned with protecting the overall shape and appearance of a particular object. This type of protection is automatic and last for either  10 years after it was first sold or 15 years after it was created, whichever is earliest. If you wish to protect your design for longer, there is still a formal registration procedure available as long as your design meets the criteria; be new; not be offensive (such as featuring graphic images or words); be your own intellectual property; not make use of protected emblems or flags (Olympic rings, for example); and must not be an invention or how a product works (you’ll need a patent instead!). If the design meets all these criteria, then a registered design right will protect it for 25 years, with a renewal needed every 5 years.

Why is it needed?

Without getting too bugged down in the legal theory surrounding IP Law, it is needed in order to protect a persons’ creative expression. An artist can protect their paintings, a writer can protect their novel and a musician can protect their albums. Personally, I find IP Law fascinating, because it is to some extent allowing people to protect their own ideas and creative outlets in a more theological manner than strict property law. For example, if I were to write a book, and someone was to steal the physical copy of the book, that would be a crime for stealing my property. But if someone was to steal the overall story, publishing the entire story under their own authorship name, then that would be a crime for stealing my intellectual property and my creative expression. In short, it prevents someone taking credit for work that someone else has done.

Why the fascination?

I have always been surrounded by very creative people: My father is a drummer, so I was brought up surrounded by musical instruments and musical scores. My mother is a photographer and studied as a journalist, so I think that is where my love of writing stemmed from. From as long as I can remember, I have been a reader. My main goal in life is to have a personal collection of books that rivals the British Library! However, I can just about draw stick men, my photographs are always blurry and the closest I got to mastering an instrument was the recorder when I was 8. I found that my true calling was in the academics, and it was during my time at law school I discovered a way of using academic means to help protect creative outlets.

This subject is easily the marmite of the legal world: You either love IP or you hate it. And I absolutely adore it.

I hope this brief introduction has helped you understand the basics of what I will discuss throughout this blog, and I hope I can instill some of my passion in you as you read.

T xx

Hello!

Welcome to my blog!

Now bear with me as I am very new to all of this. So…the basics:

My name is Taylor. I was born in England and have lived just outside of London for pretty much my entire life. I have recently graduated from university, where I completed my Masters in Law last September and at some point I will hopefully get a training contract that will allow me to become a qualified solicitor.

But I’ve always been a writer. For as long as I can remember I have been writing stories. My main goals in life are to save animals and to have a library such as the one Beast gives to Belle. So I read…a lot. When I was 11, I was already reading the likes of Jane Austen and Stephen King and am now making my way through all of the classics: Jekyll and Hyde was amazing, as was Lord of the Flies.

Which lead me to here…a way to combine everything that I love into one platform! So my plan for this platform is, as it stands, a place for dumping my thoughts and interpretations about today’s legal stories. As the law is so wide reaching I can not guarantee what area of law I will focus on: For now, let’s say this will be intellectual property based musings, most likely relating the legal implications of video games, films and fashion. Now none of these are by any means ‘small’ aspects to cover and so this will probably be something that is developed over time.

As far as I am concerned, no one will ever read this. I will be buried somewhere in the deep web under far more talented writers and far more exciting personalities and topics. But if you are here, hello and welcome, and I hope I can share with you a little bit of trivia for the day, as I try to get my head around learning something new.

Much love,

Taylor xxx