The Joel funko pop should have been the first to go on Ebert’s grave, and the Ellie funko pop should show that, at least for now, video games have shown the possibility of surpassing cinema.

Video games have proven they can not only equal but surpass cinema — at least, in stories about coping with your dad being a hitman. © Netflix 2019 and © Naughty Dog 2020

When film critic Roger Ebert said in 2005 that video games couldn’t be art, video gamers were offended. In retrospect it can be hard to really understand the reason for the strength of the umbrage and backlash to which Ebert was subjected— he was, after all, a film critic, and was hardly “in touch” with the tastes of the masses 15 years ago, much less…


The Marvel Cinematic Universe smash hit WandaVision might have something insightful to say about grief, hope, and harmful ways of coping — but critics haven’t been responsive to such stories in the past. Why is that?

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is a staple of our popular culture. Despite the endless stream of online trolls who dare to discuss it in any non-contemptuous context, the franchise that started as a remarkably well-done, witty superhero film in 2008, back when superhero films were only “surprisingly common” and not the actual bread and butter of theatrical releases, is now one of the common reference points for cultural discussion. …


So, when I was young and impetuous and somewhat more invested in arguing about tabletop roleplaying games online, I decided the tabletop roleplaying game forum I posted on just wasn’t cutting it. I needed my own forum. A few erstwhile allies of mine and I carved aside our own corner of the Internet, a phpBB forum with… well, about half the features you’d expect from such an already aging beast in 2012.

Intangibility Forums were hosted initially on NearlyFreeSpeech, a libertarian-oriented (but also very cheap) shared hosting provider, and then when we required full server configuration, we moved to Linode…


Fictional Violence, Aesthetic Genre, and the Illusion of Safety

Being queer is scary, and 2020 is a particularly scary time to be queer. When I was still deeply in the closet in 2005, a friend and I went to see “the new Wachowski film,” by which we meant the Lilly and Lana Wachowski-produced, James McTeague directed Alan Moore adaptation V for Vendetta, and the film crystallized many of the fears I had around queerness from the hostility of my rural Wisconsin high school teachers, the attitudes of my peers, and above all the comments of recently re-elected President George W. Bush about “family values.”

Lewis Prothero, a Trump-resembling character from V for Vendetta, speaks on a television channel from the film called BTN.
Lewis Prothero, a Trump-resembling character from V for Vendetta, speaks on a television channel from the film called BTN.
© Warner Brothers 2005

The film opens with a…


One of my earliest exposures to data science research, or really any research at all, when I was growing up was SETI@Home, which when I was 11 promised a tantalizing possibility: what if you could potentially be the person to (have your computer) discover a signal from alien life. SETI@Home, many people’s first exposure to the kind of distributed processing that today makes up, among other things, cryptocurrency mining, is a pattern recognition project and in 1999 when it launched and I enthusiastically installed it on my 233 megahertz Windows 98 PC, it was my first exposure to the kind…


When I was young, I was basically certain I would become a computer programmer. I loved everything about computers, and not just games — I loved doing the things we had to do on Windows systems in 1997, like configuring CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT, and like so many kids of that era my family treated me like a sort of wizard for learning those things. I wanted foremost to be a wizard, of course, or an astronaut, failing that; but my third and clear fallback was computers. I even had my plan together by the age of fourteen — also the…


The past two weeks have been a whirlwind for anyone who pays attention to video game journalism. Essentially daily a new piece attacking some element of The Last of Us Part II is released by a major outlet. As someone whose primary takeaway from the game was not “wow, there’s violence in this game” or “wow, this was probably prohibitively expensive to make and labor corners were likely cut” (because those things were also true of Final Fantasy VII Remake, Star Wars Jedi — Fallen Order, Yakuza 0, the Resident Evil 3 remake, and Yakuza Kiwami, all AAA games released…


This isn’t exactly the essay I had wanted to write about the Last of Us franchise. This franchise is probably the most personally impactful games-related entity that has had an impact on my life, with the possible exception of Dungeons & Dragons (which gave me a social life I simply wouldn’t have had as a teen and young adult). In so many ways The Last of Us (both parts) form the culmination of my lifetime relationship to video games that started when I was eight and has continued all the way to (I shudder to speak it) thirty-two. …


The Internet is crowded right now with people gleefully proclaiming that this geeky franchise or that one is dead or dying, usually for political reasons. Most recently, we were treated to the claim that female-centric DC Comics vehicle Birds of Prey spelled doom for all female-led comic book films, because Sonic the Hedgehog did well. These sorts of proclamations have become overwhelming since hashtag-GamerGate ripped through the Internet and turned geek culture into a full fledged battlefront in the war over whether the world should be a more bigoted and small-minded place.

Sure is fun how nothing happened with the “balance” theme this poster is practically screaming at us (Copyright: Lucasfilm, Ltd./Disney)

This is not one of those articles. This…


Almost a year ago I wrote a Medium blog post which I tweeted about to my following of, at the time, about 2,000 Twitter followers, entitled Night in the Woods: A Rebirth of Graphical Adventure Games, and Trumpian Propaganda in Disguise. This piece, much like my very first piece on this platform, a critique of the game Life is Strange (a game I have since come to love and have somewhat less hyperbolic views about), was a deeply personal reflection on how a video game made me feel. I’ve frequently used this blog to express my genuine feelings and emotional…

Eleanor Amaranth Lockhart, Ph.D.

Dr. Eleanor (Ellie) Amaranth Lockhart holds a Ph.D. in communication from Texas A&M & is currently researching topics related to popular culture & data science!

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store