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I’m a doctoral student at Teachers College, Columbia University and an Instructor of English at Kingsborough Community College. I teach and study the use of pop culture in the classroom. And when I have free time, I play or write about video games. You can read more of my work at TheDailyPugle.blogspot.com

Location:New York City

stories by Ben Villarreal

A Late Review of Uncharted 2: Indiana Jones Directed by Michael Bay

For the sake of full disclosure, I'm going to begin by admitting that not only have I not played Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, but the series as a whole never really appealed to me. It just didn't look like my kind of game. But when a friend of mine found this out he forced his copy of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves into my hands in hopes of showing me what evidently the rest of the gaming world considers one of the best games ever. Ten minutes in and I was pretty sure this was Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom directed by Michael Bay. Several hours later and I was sure of it. Here's why that didn't work for me. Beware of spoilers, though I sense I'm the only PS3 owner on Earth who hasn't played this one.

Isaac Who? The More Interesting Characters in Dead Space

Let's make one thing clear from the get go; I'm a big fan of the Dead Space universe. I think it's one of the best multi-medium franchises to exist, and other game companies that try to release connected movies, comics, and books, should really pay attention. That said, the series' main returning character is the least interesting, and I'm tired of playing as him. Here's why: *SPOILER ALERTS*

Dracula, Frankenstein, and the T-virus: Resident Evil’s Victorian roots

Like many gamers, I first discovered survival horror through Resident Evil. While growing up, I was a Nintendo fanboy. I didn't get to play the series until the GameCube remake, but it still changed the way I look at games. As a cautious gamer, I was thrilled to finally discover a title that rewarded my play style but still challenged me. Since then, I've slowly worked my way through most of the series (though I only just played and beat Resident Evil 2 via PSN download last month) while acknowledging but shrugging off most of the criticisms concerning the game mechanics and stories.

Gamers in the Hands of an Angry God: Purgatory, Deicide, and Religious Critique in Video Games

Back in April, I wrote about deicide in video games on Bitmob. It was promoted to the front page, and within a couple of weeks had a quarter of my personal blog's lifetime hits. I received some amazing feedback, and the idea of expanding on it has been growing in the back of my head. At last, those ideas have begun to come to fruition.

Scott Pilgrim Vs. NMHU: Weekly Student Spotlight

This is a repost from my personal blog that I felt was relevant to the Bitmob community, especially because it partially involves the work of Bitmobber Dennis Scimeca. One of my university Composition classes has been working on a Case Study concerning film critics' reviews of the film Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World and their stereotyping of the video gaming community. And Dennis' Scott Pilgrim Reviews Reveal What Film Critics Really Think of Gamers served as one of the key texts. Lastly, the Weekly Student Spotlight is a feature on my blog in which I post excerpts and links to the best student blogging from my classes to encourage good blogging and increase student feedback to a broader audience.

A Portrait of the Nerd as a Young Man: “Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour”

My induction into the world of Scott Pilgrim happened entirely by divine intervention. Some might call it luck or fate, but the series proved such a match for my life, interests, and sense of humour, only God could have been involved on that day. What followed was what I now affectionately look back on as the "Summer of Scott Pilgrim," in which I not only hunted down and read all five books but reaffirmed my love for Edgar Wright by finally getting around to watching his hit series Spaced in preparation for his film adaptation of the series. Admittedly, with the sixth book having just now come out (a year later) and the film still almost a month away, I was a little too excited.  Still, my excitement has been rewarded, as the final chapter of Scott Pilgrim's quest to defeat The League of Evil Ex-Boyfriends and live happily ever after with his beloved Ramona Flowers doesn't disappoint this fan.

“Zombies! In! Space!”–A Very Late Review of “Dead Space”

So I realize I'm a bit late to the party, but Dead Space was released before I had my PS3. But with the intriguing early news of a Wii version in 2009, my interest was piqued. Of course, I would eventually find out, that this "version" would actually be an on-rails shooter. When reviews showed that even this game was actually pretty good, and a small franchise was developing around it (including a comic book series and an animated movie) I had to check it out. So when Dead Space: Downfall appeared in my Netflix Instant Queue, I watched it and was surprised to find a decent sci-fi horror story. Decent.

Does the “Resident Evil 5″ DLC Really Make the New Edition “Gold”?

There's something about academic research that just makes you really dislike the subject of your study. And since "Lost in Nightmares" and "Desperate Escape" are apt descriptors for how I felt during the preparation stages of my recent pop culture conference presentation on Resident Evil 5, the last thing I wanted to do when I finished said presentation was play the game ever again. But it is a testament to the two new downloadable chapters that they reaffirmed my love for the game.