Celebrate Non-Binary Week 2020 with these musicians we love.
It's Non-Binary Week, dedicated to those who don't fit within the traditional gender binary.
This week in mid-July has been defined as "a week by, for, and about non-binary people," dedicated to uplifting and celebrating them. It's an extension of Non-Binary People's Day, typically celebrated on July 14.
Though genders outside of the male-female binary have existed in a number of ancient cultures, terms like "non-binary" and "genderqueer" were first used in the 1990s. Since then, many people have come out as non-binary—whatever that means for them. Some non-binary people still use the pronouns they were assigned at birth, while others might prefer they/them or other neutral pronouns.
Pro Skater 2, Skate 3, these skating games defined a generation
There was a special thrill that came from watching a pixelated Steve-O ride a mechanical bull through the streets of Barcelona.
From Nigel Beaverhausen to Bigfoot and Shrek, Steve-O was only one of the many crude unlockable characters available in Tony Hawk's Underground 2. Nailing trick combos as ludicrous as "Yee Haw + Acid Drop + grind + bull air," Tony Hawk's Underground 2 was not a game for those who couldn't suspend their disbelief, but that was always the anthology's charm. Kids who followed the series from its birth in 1999 were drawn to the game for its abundance in stupidity; exploring Area 51 in Pro Skater 1 or watching Spider-Man shred across audacious ramps in Pro Skater 2. In Underground 2, we'd send our avatars to the brink of death for no reason other than that it was fun to hear their bones crack.
Skating video games have a special place in the heart of '90s babies, mostly because the last few years have spawned no skater games that truly exemplify the genre's excellence. Pro Skater 5 was one of the most disappointing releases of all time, and 2018's Skate Jam is merely a hollow phone game with awkward controls.
However, hope was recently restored, as EA finally announced Skate 4 back in June. But thanks to COVID, it will be a long time before the project sees the light of day. As skate-enthusiasts continue to wait ever so patiently for Skate 4, let's revisit some of the best skating games that defined countless childhoods.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2
While Pro Skater 1 is a certified classic, the nuanced details its sequel added made it one of the greatest video games ever to exist. The graphics were lush for a Playstation game, each of the massive sandbox levels containing minute details like graffiti and hidden areas, and the newly-unveiled create-a-character and skate-park editor modes provided players with an overabundance of customizable features that would go on to define the rest of the series. Playing alongside your friends in your own curated skate park was fantastic, ripping across them in the hopes they'd topple over mid-trick.
The soundtrack, which included a fantastic roster of Rage Against the Machine, Anthrax, and Bad Religion, was pure adrenaline. As a majority of game developers turned their attention to the imminent PS2 release, Pro Skater 2 was one of the last great games to honor its predecessor.
Just to clarify, Skate 1 and 2 were fantastic games, the latter just featured a lot of unnecessary bloat, such as the impossible "S.K.A.T.E." mimicry challenges and crap A.I., that distracted from the project's highlights. But for EA's (seemingly) final installation in the series, Skate 3 ditched the excess in favor of what it was known for: fluid, realistic skating mechanics, slick visuals, endless tricks, and fantastic creation tools.
While the game was criticized by some for not bringing anything fresh and new to the table, Skate 3 remains one of the most well-balanced games in the series. It caters to both newcomers and devotees alike. Gone are the security guards who would frustratingly chase you away from government buildings in Skate 2; and instead, as a decorative "pro skater" at the beginning of the game, the world is your oyster. Everywhere is free to explore, which may hinder a certain feeling of progress, but Skate 3 makes up for it with its surprising variety of challenges, sexy visuals, and massive trick catalog–and let us not forget the "Hall of Meat."
Tony Hawk's Underground 2
One can barely call THU 2 a skating game. The single-player campaign opens with your curated avatar being kidnapped by two people in hockey masks. He is brought to a dark room alongside other pro skaters like Bob Burnquist and Eric Sparrow. Bam Margera and Tony Hawk are revealed to be the captors and explain their plan for a "sick-as-hell" around-the-world "World Destruction Tour."
The objective is simple: to travel around the world to pillage and destroy and become a sweet ripper in the process. It's absurd, and the game is often panned by skating buffs for its insanely unrealistic game mechanics.
But for those who don't take themselves too seriously, THU 2 was a rip-roaring good time. It had varietal game modes, copious character creation options, and watching your character snap their board in half after activating the post-trick-fail "freak out" function was a hoot. The game leaned fully into its ridiculousness, and the payoff was rich for those who needed the lighthearted escape.
Praised for being the most authentic skater game ever made, Session is an indie PC gem that shouldn't be played for those looking just to rip around. It follows a similar flick-stick mechanic to the Skate series but is much more difficult. It matches a foot to each stick so that to land a simple kickflip, you have to make sure both sticks do the right flicks.
It's a simple mechanical tweak that makes for a frustrating few hours of gameplay, but for those patient enough to learn a few tricks, the system can make even the simplest manual feel satisfying as hell. Speed, angle, stance, timing, and rotation need to be accounted for if you want to land some tricks, but for those willing to traverse Session's beautiful landscapes, the game is one of the most absorbing skate games in recent memory, and could potentially be as impactful to kids today as Skate was for us.
As Pride month ends, we look at the life of one of the most important figures in the push towards gay rights.
Content warning: This article contains a brief mention of sexual assault.
As Pride Month comes to a close, we remember Marsha P. Johnson, one of the principal figures in the gay liberation movement.
A Black transgender woman, Johnson was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey in 1945. Her parents were blue collar workers who raised Johnson with her six siblings. At age five, she began wearing dresses, but stopped after boys in her neighborhood began bullying and harassing her over her outfits. She later recalled being violently raped by one of these boys, who she remembered being around 13 at the time.