It’s Wavy at Smith’s Olde Bar

Local Atlanta rap artist KZ put together the first Wavy Day on Friday, showcasing some of the city’s popular and promising musicians like Jaylon Ashaun, Bri Broskie, OG Jonny D, Whereischo and J Wesley. The venue on the second floor of Smith’s Olde Bar provided an intimate setting that allowed the crowd to feel connected to the artists.

The concert started off with DJ OG Jonny D, who was for the most part a good opener, despite only playing slightly remixed versions of radio songs. The highlight of his performance was when he played one original song, which left much of the audience wishing to hear more of his original content instead of overplayed throwbacks.

Bri Broskie followed with a smooth acoustic flavor of original songs and mash-ups. Her soft voice and rhythmic guitar had the audience nodding along in attention.

Unfortunately, shortly after Bri Broskie left the stage, the lights went out with an announcement that the entire block lost power after someone hit a pole down the street. After 30 minutes of waiting, though, Whereischo took the stage and injected the cold crowd with new life.

Whereischo seemed to thrive on coming back from a long break with danceable songs. He had an undeniable charisma on stage. His two special guests for a couple songs brought a nice variety to the performance.

After energizing the crowd Wherischo passed off the mic, letting J Wesley take the stage with pop-rock guitar solos that had the crowd jumping up and down. Halfway through his performance, he brought KZ on stage to thank him for putting Wavy Day together and performed with him.

KZ brought a blend of freestyle and a pre-written chorus that flowed smoothly over the top of J Wesley’s guitar riffs.

After a short break to set up, Jaylon Ashaun took the stage with his inspirational rhythm and blues. He immediately captivated the room in an absolutely standout performance, among an already stellar group of artists. It was clear that Jaylon Ashaun is an artist who can move a crowd.

The show finished up with a performance from KZ and Scotty Z, closing with cool hip-hop sounds. Their songs had choruses that were easy to pick up and sing along to. The pair were a nice way to end the night.

Despite an unforeseen interruption, Wavy Day went well with great performances from almost every artist, making it an easy recommendation to catch any of their shows in the future.

VS Realm: Esports with a Purpose

In an unassuming corner of the North DeKalb Mall near Decatur is VS Realm, a modern arcade with big dreams of making an impact in the community and gaming.

The owner, Christen Munroe, works as a gang investigator in the DeKalb County police department. His work with the DeKalb County gang unit gave Munroe the idea to open a place where kids would want to be after school. Munroe said about his time as a kid, “Definitely spending a lot of time in the comic book shop steered me away from the nonsense.”

Munroe’s initial idea was to create a place for kids to spend time and make friends like his childhood. In 2017, he created that place when he opened VS Realm with his operations manager Valeria “Ms. Val” Vincent.

Munroe and Ms. Val share the desire to create a school club-like environment, where members not only have a place to hang out, but a place to form teams and compete. This desire for competition is propelledby their partnership with Walimu, a local Atlanta business that provides training programs for competitive gamers.

VS Realm and Walimu’s agreement is simple: Walimu will sign up trainers or customers for programs to use the VS Realm facilities. This has created a mutually beneficial relationship and allowed patrons of both companies to improve their gaming skills.

Ms. Val elaborated that this is very much in line with the goals of VS Realm. According to her, the goal is “creating a place for people wanting to get better in a specific game to train.”

VS Realm even has a couple members competing in Tekken 7 tournaments around the metro Atlanta area.

VS Realm offers more than just competitive gaming. People who simply want to play video games with their friends are more than welcome to become members. The store offers a variety of single player games along with their fighting setups. Games like Kingdom Hearts or Super Mario Bros. are perfect for the average gamer who just wants to play their favorite games with their friends.

Ultimately, the VS Realm team hopes to attract large names in Esports to act as influencers for the arcade. Munroe hopes this could help the team market the business and create a mutually beneficial relationship with more gamers and businesses like Walimu.

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The Unfortunate Realities of E-Cigarette Addiction

Recent years have seen a growing trend of vaping, especially among teenagers and people in their early twenties.

In a recent Monitoring the Future Survey, 37.3%  of 12th graders admitted they had tried “any vaping” in the past year. This number increased from 27.8% in the same age group, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

With more teenagers vaping regularly, there has naturally been a large outcry of researchers— and concerned parents— who have committed themselves to learning more about vaping products and their ties to potential addiction.

While most vaping devices (e-cigarettes) do not have chemicals like lead and ammonia pumped into them like tobacco products do, they provide a more concentrated form of nicotine, making researchers wonder if vaping could potentially have adverse health effects on young people, due to nicotine alone.

Nicotine, a highly addictive substance that has been a focal point for anti-smoking campaigns, exists in vaping products too. Vaping’s specific effects on the human body remain undiscovered. There are specific concerns about how it could affect a developing body.
According to an article published in Yale Medicine, nicotine is particularly addictive to people under the age of 25. Nicotine is a drug that once inhaled, it goes through the blood vessels in the lungs and is delivered to the brain in seconds. There it releases dopamine and adrenaline throughout the brain and body.

Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that activates reward-pathways, which essentially signals the brain that the person is enjoying their current activity. Most drugs activate dopamine, causing most addictions.

Addiction is a concern of its own. Johns Hopkins Medicine says nicotine can be as addictive as cocaine or heroin. Nicotine could also have long-term impairments on judgment by altering development of the cerebral cortex (the main language and information processing center in our brains) and hippocampus (in charge of processing emotions and forming memories) , according to a report by Linda J. England, a researcher at the Office on Smoking and Health.

People believe that e-cigarettes could keep young people from using regular tobacco. However, the Surgeon General reports the opposite could be true, and teenagers who regularly vape could be more likely to try tobacco in the future.

There is still information being gathered about e-cigarettes, including studies of certain chemicals with potential links to cancer and other serious illnesses. Scientists are constantly finding out more on vaping and its potential effects on the body.

Scientists agree on one universal truth: any e-cigarette is not as bad for you as traditional cigarettes. With most chemicals in tobacco missing, vaping is less likely to cause many of the diseases researchers are worried about, but that doesn’t entirely eliminate the threat. While being much safer, there is still something to think about when you pick up that new black cherry flavoring you’ve been wanting to try in your vape pen.

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Last week Square Enix and Marvel released a teaser trailer for their new untitled Avengers Project, which will be developed by both Eido Montreal and Crystal Dynamics. Not much is known about the project, but the trailer showed a large amount of destruction covering what looks like artifacts left by the Avengers team (including Captain America’s shield, Iron Man’s arm, and Thor’s Hammer). The teaser lasts less than a minute and raises a lot of questions about what gamers might be seeing from this new project that is meant to kick off a multiple year and multiple game agreement between Marvel and Square Enix.

The first thing in this trailer is that it looks like it could be following an Avengers team that has already been working together, based on the tagline “reassemble” which is featured toward the end of the clip. Reassembling the team means they must have been broken up to begin with, so the game must be starting in a Marvel universe which has already seen a plethora of super heroes come and go. Skipping the origin stories means the game will be able to create a new and original story, which Marvel and Square Enix have both promised in their press release.

If the Avengers are defeated then the game could take on a lot of different forms, including an RPG where the player creates a character who must put back together the pieces of the team, and take over where they had failed. This would be an RPG game that allows players the agency to control what their character’s powers are and adapt to any environment around them. The problem with doing it this way is that it might just start to look like X-men: Desitny, a super hero RPG based on marvel comics that had less than a stellar reception from critics and fans. It could be risky to lean into that world, but if it is done in the same way as Knights of the Old Republic for Star Wars, there could be a lot of interesting content when exploring the Marvel universe; even allowing players to take the path of a villain if they so choose in a world that is short on heroes. The likelihood of an RPG is not high, as the two studios associated have both worked on Tomb Raider games in the past, giving them strengths in story-based single-player experiences.

Another notable feature in the trailer is the voice over that says that heroes are not dead yet and there is still hope if they reassemble. The trailer does not give any hints of who is speaking, and it could be just a narrator, but it could also be a playable character in the game. Based on Avengers lore and properties there are two strong contenders on who this mystery woman could be: Black Widow and the Wasp. Both heroines are strong characters in the Avengers comics and movies, Wasp being the character who named the team in their first appearance in 1963. Black Widow is one of the starting members in the Avengers films and is an off and on member in the comics. Black Widow right now is more likely to be a playable character because of her popularity in the films and even the games Eidos Montreal and Crystal Dynamics have made lead into a Black Widow lead game with their work done on Tomb Raider.

Black Widow is a spy in the comics and movies and thus would lead to a third-person stealth game. The campaign could play with not only Black Widow but Hawkeye, the archer of the Avengers. Hawkeye and Black Widow are both spies and longtime partners in the comics, forging one of the closest friendships within Marvel. Having both players would utilize different mechanics, and Hawkeye’s bow mechanics could be based on the mechanics in the new Tomb Raider series from Eidos Montreal that started in 2013. A game based around Black Widow and Hawkeye could be right in the strengths of Eidos Montreal, but that alone is not what fans would want from the game, they would also want to play as characters like the Hulk and Thor.

What is likely to happen is the game might start with smaller characters like Black Widow, but players will slowly accumulate other heroes that they can play as to unlock other parts of the game. Can’t get past those giant trucks piled on the street? Wait until you play as the Hulk. Need to get into Stark Tower? Iron Man will be able to do that later. The game could see a lot of open world assets and play as a variety of characters from the history of the team, all with different abilities that can be utilized for different situations.

This hopefully won’t play the same way the Lego games play where the players can instantly change to whatever character they want. Instead it could see a multi-character wheel in the same fashion of Grand Theft Auto V, where the characters might be some place else with their own missions to play. Forcing players into different characters to do different characters in the world would then get them accustomed to different characters and learn how each one plays can then be used to approach enemies in a variety of different ways. This would also be useful for the multiplayer the game is likely to have.

If the game is not an Avengers MMO, then the game will most likely have a multiplayer section, in which the game will have a variety of characters to play as in different modes. The multiplayer could then take on different forms, as it could easily be every man for himself death match mode, which could mean the guy playing as the Hulk has a clear advantage in power. What else would be fun is a sort of MOBA version like Overwatch, which would force players to pick different characters to play as to accomplish the goal of the game to win. Characters like Nick Fury could be a support class, while Iron Man is all about dealing a ton of damage. It would be a lot of fun and have a new way type of super hero game gamers haven’t seen yet.

Whatever this game is, it needs to be something different and it needs to be huge. Square Enix obviously has big plans for the game as two very competent developers are working on the title, and hopefully there will be more announced later this year. There is only speculation based on what has been seen and announced so far, and the game is probably going to be massive. Whether it is an MMO, open world action game, or going full multiplayer, it is sure to make an impact on the ever-changing gaming industry.

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As an open world super hero action game, Marvel’s Spider-man is sure to garner a lot of comparisons to other games of the genre. Specifically, many fans have been comparing what has been seen of the game so far to the current king of super hero action games, the Batman: Arkham series from Rocksteady Studios. The Arkham games have been a hugely successful and impactful trilogy for Rocksteady and the industry. Many other games such as Shadow of Mordor have borrowed different combat schemes from the series. The games are based on stealth and hand-to-hand combat, and Shadow of Mordor had many of the same multiple enemy fight mechanics as the Arkham games, and Insomniac’s Marvel’s Spider-man seems to be lined up to utilize many of the same mechanics.

Mentioned above is how the Batman: Arkham games are heavily based on stealth and hand-to-hand combat while utilizing a variety of tools and weapons to more easily take out the array of enemies found throughout the series. A common setup for the game is for Batman (the player) to walk into a room unnoticed with a half a dozen guards patrolling the area. Batman will then take on the enemies in any way he wants, from swinging around with his grappling hook from gargoyle to gargoyle; hiding just out of sight from any guard or setting traps with his explosive gel so the walls blow into the guard’s faces to take them out. Often in these scenarios the guards will have guns so going around in the vents or on the ceiling is good to stay out of sight of the guards so not to get shot.

Compared to the Spider-man gameplay seen as E3 last year, it is reasonable to assume that it might play similarly to these scenarios, but with more of a web theme. The gameplay trailer featured Spidey swinging into an area with members of the demons (a gang featured in the game) patrolling a rooftop, probably guarding something they are shipping. A couple different web mechanics are displayed in the gameplay such as a web that sticks to a wall until an enemy will walk past it and then it grabs him to subdue him. The traps set echo the different ways to string up enemies in the Arkham series, but that is only natural. After all, in the comics both characters are often shown to sneak into different environments controlled by their villains and take out enemies in a variety of ways. The Spider-man in the trailer then swings around over the heads of the enemies to sneak different traps; and even a perched takedown like the way in which Batman would jump from his gargoyle and hang his enemy upside down from the ankle.

The stealth combat bears a lot of similarities to the Batman games, but that is also common for many games with stealth mechanics. As sneaking up on enemies and taking them out quietly can often be easier than dealing with a bunch at once in a one versus many fight. The combat in the game takes a lot of pages out of the Batman: Arkham handbook. Spider-man is seen against a group of enemies twice in the trailer. When fighting the enemies one or two at a time code red, as if to show that that enemy is about to attack. In the Arkham games when an enemy is about to hit Batman the AI will have three lines light up above his head, letting the play know they need to react to this henchman next. The top right corner of the HUD in Spider-man even has a combo counter, like it does in Batman, keeping track of how many hits a player has landed on enemy AIs in a row.

One key difference in what we’ve seen of Spider-man and how the system in Batman works is the utilization of the environment in combat. The Batman games use the environment more in a way to run away, and any damage comes from Batman’s tool belt. If Batman wants to take down an enemy, he needs to use his fists or take out a tool that can daze that enemy until he can hit him. While in Spider-man it seems that there is constantly something in the environment that can be interacted with. Spidey is seen using a crane to take down two guards at one time while in stealth and throwing boxes at enemies to distract them. He can even swing girders hung in a construction zone to take down all enemies at once with ease. The ability to interact with environments can allow anybody playing as Spider-man to think creatively about how they handle enemies, while managing the numbers with their fists. This creates unique combat situation, while in the Batman games a lot of the times there is a collection of combos to use to take down specific kinds of enemies. The system of combos then tests a player’s memorization rather than awareness and creativity in the middle of a fight. While both can be fun it could be interesting to see what all can be used to fight with in Marvel’s Spider-man.

Stepping away from gameplay, it is also important to break down how the two games could be similar based on their stories. Often regarded as the two super heroes in comics with the best rogue’s galleries: Batman and Spider-man have a lot of memorable villains to go up against in both games. Joker took a main role in every Arkham game, while other enemies like Bane and Mr. Freeze both brought in interesting missions and fights to keep players interested. Spider-man will then follow suit with a wide range of enemies that could all work together or against each other to take down the web head and take over New York. Seen in the trailer are Wilson Fisk (AKA Kingpin), Mister Negative, and there is a teaser for Norman Osborne to appear via a billboard advertising his run for mayor. It is unclear how the villains may fight together or against one another, but it appears Kingpin may be working with Spider-man to take down Mister Negative. The relationship between Spidey and Kingpin is even like the way players react with Mr. Freeze in Batman: Arkham City, where after a boss fight Batman works with Mister Freeze to develop a cure for a disease the Joker injected into him.

Marvel’s Spider-man is sure to include a large portion of his villains, just like the Arkham games, whether in a main story quest or a side mission. What matters is that the game includes the right villains in the right places and makes the content with each one interesting (unlike the Bane side quest in City). Rocksteady’s Batman franchise understood what made the character so popular and use his legacy to create a game built around the Batman mythos, and it seems Insomniac is doing the same thing for Spider-man. If the game’s mechanics and ideas are like that of the Batman: Arkham series, that does not matter. What matters is that the mechanics borrowed are used in a way that is emblematic of the Spider-man legacy, and creates a game based on being Spider-man, not based on ripping off Batman.

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The Last of Us Part 2 is coming, not a lot is known about it, but the game is full of hype and where there is hype, there is plot speculation, followed by theories. Breaking down what we know from the first game back in 2013 and the trailers seen so far, this game is sure to come with a plot that hits fans hard and jerks all kinds of tears. It could jerk tears so hard that it might even kill off one of its central characters, a character that could be dealing with a lot of emotional and physical trauma, as the world is filled with a bunch of fungi-based zombies. The Last of Us Part 2 might be getting ready to kill off the girl who could be the link to a cure, Ellie.

One of the biggest reasons to speculate Ellie’s death comes from the very end of the first game, where Ellie was going to be, essentially, dissected in by Firefly to see what makes her special and why she didn’t die when being bit by an infected. Doing this, though very well could have killed her, and so Joel, the father figure that he is decided to instead just kill just about every Firefly member in the building to keep them from killing Ellie. Doing this could have caused ramifications that doom the rest of the human race, but Joel only really cares about himself and Ellie at this point in the story. She’s set up to be all that he has in the world since in the matter of hours he had lost everything before her years prior. During all of this Ellie was asleep and when she woke up Joel lied to her just saying that the cure for the infection was simply out of reach and they did not need to conduct any further research.

Two things could then happen in Part 2, one having to do with the fact that there is no way that Firefly is all dead. Not all the organization was in that room even if taking out Marlene. There must be other members still out in the world who might here about what Joel did, and could even seek revenge and to track Ellie down to find the cure they initially set out for. So, if Firefly shows up Part 2, how does Ellie react when hearing the news that Joel killed everybody and doomed the world? How would she react knowing he lied? One of the most logical things to do would be to go with Firefly and leave, Joel, but as far a character goes Ellie probably wouldn’t do this because of the logic behind it, but because Joel lied to her and she wouldn’t be able to trust him like she used to. Even further though, is that fact that she may want to go with Firefly because of medical reasons that are shortening her life to begin with, because she is contracting Parkinson’s disease.

One of the reasons to think this comes from the first trailer of the game, in which the first image after the title card is one of Ellie’s hand trembling in front of the camera. This could be blames on a couple things, from nerves, adrenaline, or fear as the scene seems to be taking place in the middle of a battle. Now consider instead that the battle is not actually happening, that the entire scene all takes place in Ellie’s head and none of that is happening. What is it instead? It could be the cordyceps in her brain that made her immune to the disease in the first place, as explained in the original game. These would continue growing as she gets older as her body would probably still supply them with some sort of life force to feed off. They would grow and mutate until eventually they overtook the brain, likely showing some sort of ware on the brain, even causing tremors, a precursor for Parkinson’s.

Parkinson’s disease is a neurological degenerative disease that is caused when something inhibits the neurons in the brain from firing properly. This inhibits how our nerves react and changes the way a person can control their body, often experiencing severe shaking and movement deficiencies. Ellie’s shaking is the tremors taking over, and what she sees instead is what she wants to see, to convince herself that there is something to be afraid of instead of the fact that her body is beginning to fail. When she finds out that Joel is not as trustworthy as she had originally thought, she decides the best course of action is to leave him, and let Firefly do their tests at the cost of her own life instead of continuing with Joel, the only person she had to count on in her life.

Whether or not Naughty Dog would actually kill off Ellie is not likely as she did take a more central focus towards the end of The Last of Us and most of the teases of Part 2 have shown her as the main central character. The only way to find out what happens to Ellies is to play The Last of Us Part 2 coming out later this year on Playstation 4.

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To say that EA has a bad image with players right now would be an understatement. After a year where they ruined franchises like Need for Speed, Start Wars: Battlefront, and Mass Effect, franchises that should be able to sell themselves, and yet underperformed in the market of what was otherwise a stellar year for many other publishers and developers. EA has garnered a lot of criticism over the past several years, and almost every piece of it is deserved, and with their image amongst gamers in a decline, many people might be wondering if EA can bounce back from their blunders in 2018. The answer to that is a strong maybe, but only if they can do a couple very key things in the next year.

Fix Battlefront II

One of the first things EA can do to fix their image is fix the game that finally broke the trend for microtransactions, Star Wars: Battlefront II. The game was heavily criticized for seeming like a play-to-win model despite being full-price, and having a progression system that is tied to making players pay more money just, so they can play as Darth Vader. There is nothing wrong with locking characters or weapons behind progression or pay walls, but there needs to be a reasonable way to unlock characters, and using credits is not the worst way to do it. The problem is having the credits to unlock characters in loot boxes, and EA needs to change that, by having loot boxes work like Overwatch and only have things like skins and character emotes and taunts, and create different ways for players to unlock, character and weapons like most games. Using the model of different player levels, or achieving different functions, like winning 20 battles as the Empire unlocks Emperor Palpatine.

They are rolling out the Last Jedi DLC, which is free as promised, but they need to have more. Release more story, more modes, maps, and most importantly, add in Galactic Conquest. The main game mode that everybody loved from the original games is something that needs to be added back to the series, just having that could even give a resurgence in purchases and cause many old fans to come back to the series just so they can play the one game mode.

Fe and A Way Out Need to be the Creative Endeavors Advertised

In the terms of money makers for EA these two will not be the biggest of blockbusters, but both are very intriguing games, and both could be a way for EA to fix their image of being a publisher that just eats developers, but instead lets them have creative freedom. The games could not be any more different based on the way they function, as Fe from Swedish developer Zoink looks like a beautifully, peaceful cross between Metroid-Vanias and Zelda, with a new character that could be in the running for cutest mascot of the year.

On the other hand, there is Hazelight Studios’ A Way Out, a two-player cooperative story-driven game that seems to be personal and potentially dark in the way it tells its story. The game has even been confirmed to come with a second copy code because a second person is required to play in order to do anything in the game. These two games could be huge when looking at EA and how they can restore their stance as a creative company by releasing these two hugely creative games early this year, with Fe coming in just a couple weeks on February 16th, and A Way Out launching on March 23rd.

If these games do well and are the critical successes they are set up to be it could lead to strong partnerships between the two studios and EA, creating more hype over what their future looks like with more strong studios to work with further and create new and exciting IP for gamers to sink their teeth into. Hopefully, EA won’t do what they have done with other studios, and after a few problems in development take their properties away, and sink the developers.

Do Something New with the EA Sports Titles

This is a weird idea, as admittedly there is only so many things a developer can do with sports titles. Yet, the EA sports games like Madden and FIFA seem to have gotten stale in comparison to other games like NBA 2K and The Show. Much of the fanbase has expressed a lot of fatigue over how the two franchises have moved, many by saying that the games have not changed in over a decade. One of the biggest issues when playing the games is that they have quite a few playing issues. When a player in Madden wants to catch the ball, they had better hope that the CPU can catch the ball when being hit, which is not likely. It can be frustrating when Antonio Brown goes up to catch the ball and doesn’t come down with it because he was grazed by the defender who couldn’t even reach it. This is very unlike The Show, a game that is also on the yearly schedule, and yet the players come down with amazing catches over the back wall consistently, not every time because that is unreal, but enough to be said that he catching mechanics actually work.

EA sports will kick off its year with UFC 3 on February 2nd, and will probably show a lot of the same bugs, fighters not controlling well and missing punches on the other fighter who is right in front of them. While the games have all been moved to the Frostbite engine form Battlefield, which delighted fans because the games looked archaic, it did not hide the huge issues of gameplay and how poorly the career modes work. Maybe the games could take a page from 2K and add in the chances of sponsorship and contract negotiation to make the game more realistic and more fun for the players when in the off season. There has not been a lot of information on FIFA or Madden, but they are sure to come this year, and maybe, they could finally have something new.

Make Battlefield and Anthem Great

Sure, Anthem has been delayed until next year, but that does not change the importance of that game for EA and everything that they must get right with it. They have to learn from every mistake they made with Battlefront II about progression and microtransactions and not do that, and make this game world and story completely original and encompassing for the players. This is the game that many people think killed Mass Effect after all, and that means this game could either be a revival of Bioware since EA bought them, or the end of it. Meaning this game cannot just be a Destiny clone, it has to be something that beats Destiny in the world of MMO shooters with RPG elements the old Bioware was known for. The delay to early 2019 needs to be used well do develop a game that is near perfect, and could be a contender for Game of the Year, because there is that much hype for it.

For this year, the multiplayer game that EA banks on every other year is Dice’s Battlefield series. While there is not a lot known about the game, EA has to know now that the microtransactions in the series cannot be anything like what they imposed on Battlefront II. Whether its Bad Company 3 or not, the game has to be enough to win back fans, and there have been rumors that it could be a World War II game, to follow up the excellent Battlefield One from 2016. EA should know after their interference with Battlefront II to just let Dice do what they do best, and that is make a great shooter that runs well and is a blast to play. The difficulty of the series cannot be lost, and they need a new Battlefield that does not just do what it always has, but even redefines it.

EA has a lot to do in the next year, but a lot of its issues sim

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Livingston Site Gets in the Holiday Spirit with a Christmas Jumper Party to Raise Money for a Local Charity

The Foam Products site in Livingston celebrated Christmas with a special holiday jumper party and barbeque with local charity, First Steps Nursery, who help support children from the ages of 1 to 3 by providing food, clothing and even toys for Christmas.

To help in this wonderful cause the site sold barbeque food and deserts to the employees who were given extra time during the day to attend the event. All proceeds for the event went to First Steps Nursery, which was the charity chosen by management.

The group wore festive sweaters at a barbeque to help support First Steps Nursery and had a great turnout. The employees at the Livingston site donated money for the barbeque with all proceeds going to the charity, and it promoted a great focus on the community. Everyone was happy to help with such a great cause and eat a lot of the good food provided.

And what’s a good Christmas party without an appearance from Santa and Mrs. Clause? The famous pair greeted everyone with holiday cheer and joined in conversations and to purchase the lovely sausages, bacon and cakes on sale.

Along with a great time, everyone at Livingston is happy to have supported their community and help bring some holiday joy to people in need.

John Johnstone, Regional Operations Manager for the Livingston site said, “It is great to see that a small team of people can work together to help out our community so a big thank you to you all.”

Polar Krush Switches to Bag-in-Box for Frozen Drink Concentrates

Polar Krush Switches to Bag-in-Box for Frozen Drink Concentrates

A leading UK supplier and manufacturer of frozen drinks, Polar Krush, recently approached Rapak with a challenge to change the packaging of their frozen drinks concentrates from single use plastic bottles to something more efficient and sustainable. As a result, the amount of plastic waste going into landfills will be reduced by 5 times thanks to the new Bag-in-Box solution.

With plastic use being a worldwide issue, Polar Krush is implementing environmental strategies to help reduce the increasing levels of single use plastic globally. They have joined forces with DS Smith Plastics, (Rapak) to switch from plastic bottles to 10L Bag-in-Box. Following the development work carried out with the Rapak team, Polar Krush are delighted to switch all of their range into one type of bag and one type of box to suit all types of customer needs. This solution removes hard plastics, replacing them with a recyclable, collapsible bag and a cardboard box. When the 10L flexible bag is empty, it is easily detached and replaced with a new Bag-in-Box, and then can be completely recycled, making it kinder to the environment than any other frozen drinks packaging systems.

The new Bag-in-Box packaging also brings the following benefits as the system is:

  • Easy to use – the tap system on the bag makes it easier for the customer to fill their dispenser manually, or to connect directly into the frozen drinks dispenser via an automatic filling system.
  • Longer shelf life – the Bag-in-Box keeps the opened concentrate fresh up to twelve weeks longer than plastic bottles.
  • Easier to store underneath the machine, taking away the need to store bottles.
  • Stackability – making shipping more efficient and reducing the carbon footprint.

Michael Reid, Sales Director of Polar Krush, says: “The new system has been very well received by our customers who are keen to reduce the impact of single use packaging on the environment. Not only is the system easier to use, it falls in line with the broader Polar Krush policy to remove harmful single use plastics from the brand”.

About Polar Krush

Polar Krush, based in Northumberland, is the fastest growing frozen drinks supplier in the UK, and are rapidly expanding internationally. The manufacturing efficiency of the new Bag-in-Box system is supporting the company’s success and their ambitious growth plans. Central to the brand values are using natural flavouring and colours in the products and in 2017 Polar Krush was the first to switch a full range to sugar free versions. The new recipe is sweetened naturally with stevia leaf, avoiding any harmful artificial sweeteners, and offers a guilt free treat to help combat the rising obesity crisis. Its environmental initiatives, apart from switching to Bag-in-Box, include recyclable and reusable cups and straws projects.

About DS Smith Rapak

Rapak is a business unit of DS Smith Plc. — a € 5/ £4 billion plastics and packaging multinational with operations in 37 countries, employing 27,000 people. Rapak offers a complete portfolio of Bag-in-Box packaging, filling and dispensing solutions for any liquids including post-mix and syrups. Latest innovations include EvacuStrip™, a dip strip bag for highly viscous liquids and PCSS+ line side connector.


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FILLBEE®, the Next Step in the Field of Reusable Beverage Crates with an Integrated Pack to Reduce Waste Generation

FILLBEE®, the Next Step in the Field of Reusable Beverage Crates with an Integrated Pack to Reduce Waste Generation

Subtitle: DS Smith Plastics Bilzen takes a leap forward in the sustainable development of beverage packaging by designing a returnable pack that fits inside reusable crates and can be stacked without a crate.

The beverage crate industry was one of the first industries to adopt what is now known as a truly circular approach to packaging products.  The DS Smith Plastics design team in Bilzen, Belgium was challenged to take the concept to the next level by designing a solution to combine returnable crates with returnable packs.  The amazing teamwork of the young and environmentally conscious design team, resulted in Fillbee®, a returnable four or six pack that can be designed for any shape of bottle. The packs fit in beverage crates, or can be stacked. The innovation offers benefits on multiple levels.

Today, returnable bottle crates are used with loose bottles or with one-way packs. Therefore, breweries had to invest in two types of filling lines. The new returnable pack fits into regular returnable crates, so the bottles can be placed directly into the baskets on the existing filling line for loose bottles, thus simplifying the production line complexity and lowering investments tremendously.

The shelf ready packaging protects the bottles and is easy to take home, easy to store and easy to return empty bottles to the store.  The durable packaging can be stacked when full thanks to the unique feature at the bottom of the pack that prevents direct pressure on the crowns of the bottles to avoid CO² loss. Furthermore, the large, recyclable IML labels allow for easy branding at POS and the application of barcodes to scan the products.

Waste prevention is the most efficient way to reduce CO² emissions. This ‘mini crate’ was designed to fit in a closed loop deposit scheme and meets all the requirements to minimize environmental impact: combined with reusable glass or PET bottles, they are 100% reusable and 100% recyclable, eliminating consumer waste completely. Furthermore, DS Smith Plastics has the technique to produce crates and Fillbees out of 100% post-consumer waste.

Curious to find out more? This innovation will be launched at BrauBeviale in Nuremberg Germany, November 13th-15th, Hall 4A, booth 207.


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