I was lucky enough to receive an advance review copy of AI: The Somnium Files in my capacity as both a freelance journalist and an admin for Operation Bluebird, so the following is my honest opinion on the game:

The name doesn’t exactly give anything away, so what is AI: The Somnium Files? The latest visual novel/mystery/sci-fi blend from renowned director Kotaro Uchikoshi, AI follows amnesiac protagonist Kaname Date, a Special Agent in the Advanced Brain Investigation Squad, as he investigates a mysterious set of murders known as the Cyclops Serial Killings. These murders are connected by the killer’s gruesome…


A way to relieve struggling mental health services, or just another technological fix?

With over two million individuals seeking mental health advice in 2017 — an increase from 1.2 million in 2010 — it wouldn’t be considered out of the realm of possibility that the UK is going through a mental health crisis. This increased demand for clinical intervention, paired with an ever-falling supply of mental health nurses (45,384 in 2010, 38,774 in 2016) and other medical professionals means that to many, the future of clinical interventions for mental health isn’t looking too bright.

However, emerging from the fringes of their disciplines some scientists and medical professionals are now pinning their hopes on…


The dark legacy of the tobacco industry looms over the world of vapes

Ah, the humble e-cigarette. Also known as a ‘vape’, it is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “a battery-operated device that is typically designed to resemble a traditional cigarette and is used to inhale a usually nicotine-containing vapor”. Over the past decade, vapes have wormed their way into everyday life, with more and more smokers ditching their traditional cigarettes in favour of the supposedly safer option. Earlier this year, the UK Vaping Industry Association asserted that there are now around 2,000 vape shops UK-wide, and even the NHS is advocating vaping as a method to quit smoking.

It’s the age…


Drumstick’s official profile, as tweeted by the White House verified Twitter account

Here in the UK we’ve all heard of the traditional Thanksgiving Dinner; an amped-up Christmas meal, with more pies, and in some cases delicious multicultural twists reflecting America’s diverse population. Those of us who consume a higher-than-average amount of US media might have knowledge of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. But even the most switched on Britons are likely to have missed out on one of the White House’s most unique traditions; “turkey pardons”.

Last night, I came across the concept of a “turkey pardon” — before promptly being told that it is “THE turkey pardon”, by my American friend…


Mere months after allegations that Russian buyers had used Facebook to rig the 2016 US election with ‘fake news’ and controversial adverts, Paul Chichester, director for operations at GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre called for Facebook and Twitter, amongst others, to recognise that “they carry some social responsibility.” In the months since it has emerged that Facebook allowed advertisers to target users whose listed interests included “Jew hater”, and “how to burn Jews”. …


In the aftermath of the Sutherland Springs mass shooting, as has been the case with previous incidents, a chorus of voices can be heard.

“It’s too soon to debate gun control!”

“People have died! Politicising this tragedy is disrespectful and morbid!”

Or as POTUS Donald Trump said after October’s shooting in Las Vegas,

“We are not going to talk about that today.”

The minutiae may vary, but the message is the same: a conversation about preventative stances against mass shootings will not happen anytime soon. Only thoughts and prayers allowed, for an undefined, arbitrary time after any such event.

The President of the United States is not doing enough to combat gun crime

But…


On August 5th 2013, more than 200 journalists gathered in London to watch a burger being eaten. The burger in question was no normal burger, however — it was the world’s first lab-grown burger. Costing around £200,000 to make, the burger was prepared from cultured meat; also known as in vitro meat, shmeat, or even ‘Frankenmeat’, it is made when scientists use tissue engineering techniques on animal stem cells.

The most technically advanced, yet least appetising burger ever (Photo/Reuters)

Since cultured meat was first proved to be a viable scientific venture in the year 2000, it has been lauded as a technological fix for multiple complex problems. From world hunger…


These days it seems that every time Donald Trump does something awful, barely anyone flinches anymore. It’s almost as if we’ve collectively become immune to his stupidity.

Almost.

This week the Trump Administration rolled back a mandate requiring companies to provide birth control to employees under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The policy, which reads as a big “fuck you Obama”, will allow companies to withhold free birth control provision on the basis of “sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions.” Officials are maintaining that that majority of companies will choose to still provide free birth control, but that is…


If we were playing a word association game and you said “representation” to me, I’d probably say something along the lines of “whitewashing” or “Dr. Who” to continue the game. But as a disabled woman, as well as one of colour, I also have concerns about the representation of disabled people in the media. Representation isn’t just a race or gender issue; it is incredibly important for minorities of all kinds. …


I can safely say that when I entered the basement bar venue for the Beach Hunks’ Hog Wild show, I didn’t expect to witness a) a close friend of mine getting married, b) the future of mankind, or c) the origins of the infamous Spiderman theme song; it is also safe to say that said expectations were completely subverted.

The current lineup of Beach Hunks includes Dave Duncan and Jack Nicholls, ex-members of Lancaster University Comedy Institute. As seems to be becoming a trend in shows I’ve seen this Fringe, one member of the sketch troupe was missing. This was…

Serena Bhandari

Freelance journalist

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