Today I Learned: 'How To Train Your Dragon' Was Used To Help Rehab High-Risk Criminals

Turns out there may be a number of ways to train dragons. And by dragons we mean criminals.

We all know How To Train Your Dragon as that charming animated kids movie where an awkward teenager stumbles across a deadly dragon and the pair soon become best buds while also becoming better people. Well, better person and dragon. But what you may not know is that How To Train Your Dragon was somehow used in real life to help better people without dragons, specifically, uh, helping to rehab high-risk criminals.

Speaking of wild flexes, the GOAT team talk about the Weeknd and the turn his career has taken on ‘It’s Been A Big Day For…’ below:

Okay, bear with me here as there’s a point to the madness and how Hiccup and Toothless fit into all this. So Devon Polaschek is a New Zealand professor of psychology and crime science who studies high-risk violent criminals in prisons.

She’s written several published journal papers on the topic, but the most interesting – and unexpected – one is titled *checks notes* How To Train Your Dragon: an introduction to the special issue on treatment programmes for high-risk offenders.

Seriously, it’s an actual thing.

As for what Devon’s paper is about, it’s not a thing arguing how high-risk criminals should be subjected to repeat viewings of the first How To Train Your Dragon movie like in A Clockwork Orange.

Rather, Devon postulates that the plot of How To Train Your Dragon closely parallels “several features” in the “efforts of programme designers and treatment providers who work with the highest risk offenders.”

It’s pretty in-depth and you can read it here, but the TL:DR version of this How To Train Your Dragon paper can be roughly summarised as this:

  • Hiccup lives in a world where dragons are assumed to be dangerous and are detested by the wider human community, only for this perception to be shattered by the end of How To Train Your Dragon when Hiccup shows how dragons aren’t actually malevolent killing machines and how it is possible to live alongside them peacefully.
  • This narrative and thematic throughline of How To Train Your Dragon mirrors the real-life work in trying to re-integrate high-risk criminals into a society that’s shunned them.
  • Despite difficulties, the movie should be some sort of inspiration and optimism on how we should continue to tackle the issue of having offenders go through rehab.

Of all the lessons we could’ve gleaned from a movie like How To Train Your Dragon, helping to put high-risk criminals through rehab so that they may be safely reintegrated into society certainly isn’t one of them. Talk about a strong argument against those who think fantasy kid’s films aren’t rich in thematic value and have absolutely no real-world applications.

Always be in the loop with our snackable podcast breaking the biggest story of the day. Subscribe to It’s Been A Big Day For… on your favourite podcast app.

'Doom Eternal' Is Simultaneously The Dumbest And Smartest Game Of 2020

A weirdly - and unexpectedly intelligent game masquerading big dumb shooter.

Having played some fantastic, “thinky” games like Dreams in 2020, I was expecting Doom Eternal, id Software’s sequel to 2016’s Doom, to be on the opposite end of the spectrum and that this review was going to be nothing more than “GUNS! SHOOTING DEMONS! METAL! BOOM BOOM!”

What I didn’t expect underneath Doom Eternal‘s juvenile exterior was a Game Of The Year (GOTY) candidate that features some of the most intelligent gameplay mechanics ever seen in a shooter, while also simultaneously being ridiculously dumb for, well, everything else.

Speaking of other amazing 2020 games, the GOAT team talk about ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ on ‘It’s Been A Big Day For…’ below:

Id Software basically took the gameplay elements that made 2016’s Doom so good and cranked it up to 12 for Doom Eternal by adding a bunch of new systems, such as new weapons, equipment, and skills. However, it isn’t as simple as having extra tools to go blasting baddies with as id Software have made enemies smarter, more varied, and tougher to kill, while also drastically reducing the amount of ammo available.

The end result is something far more difficult and well thought out than Doom‘s “running around blasting demons in the face with a shotgun” gameplay loop. Or any shooter we’ve experienced for that matter. It’s like being given a massive chest of hammers but only a very limited and very specific number of nails to use said hammers with.

Doom Eternal forces you to continuously stay on the move while proactively managing your resources on the go in every fight. If you go straight for the big robotic spider, he’ll weaken you so much that you become a sitting duck for others to pick you off. At the same time, focusing too much on weaker demons will leave you open for surprise attacks from bigger monsters like a Cacodemon.

Even when you think got the correct sequence of monsters you should kill first down, you also need to figure out the best weapons to use against them. Going for a close-quarters “Glory Kill” may get you some much needed health, but it’ll land you in the middle of a pack of Hell Knights who will king-hit you in two seconds flat. But if you go for a mid-ranged shotgun kill, you just wasted your last shell which you really needed in order to take down some unrelenting Marauder that’s been chasing you for the last 10 minutes.

It’s like a delicate yet complex dance where one mistake will lead to your head getting chopped off. Doom Eternal isn’t just about killing demons, it’s about knowing when to kill, what weapons to use at the right time, how to use and recover resources wisely, and never ever standing still.

The sheer amount of thinking and laser-focus required is far more than what one would expect from a “big dumb shooter.” Id Software seems to know this and included an option to turn down Doom Eternal‘s difficulty whenever you want, which you’ll almost certainly end up doing. There’s absolutely no shame about using it either as you’ll be begging for mercy in no time.

My entire Doom Eternal review experience was maddeningly tough, mentally exhausting, and physically draining due to the sheer amount of finger movements you’ll have to perform on your controller/keyboard. It’s also one of the most exhilarating feelings you’ll get from a video game in 2020, and that alone firmly puts Doom Eternal in the GOTY mix.

But while I can’t speak highly enough about Doom Eternal‘s incredibly sophisticated gameplay loop, the game also features some of the dumbest world-building elements in recent memory.

Scattered throughout Doom Eternal‘s 15-hour playtime are seemingly never-ending “codex entries” that shed light into the protagonist’s origins, why he holds such a grudge against Hell, the universe’s lore, the settings, and all the major characters. It’s all very goofy, unrefined B-grade stuff that tries to be as grandiose as Lord Of The Rings but ends up being as ridiculous (in a weirdly good way) as something from Evil Dead. That’s not to say this ridiculousness isn’t interesting – some of it actually is, especially how Doom Eternal ties into the older games – it’s just a bit out of place.

Doom Eternal puts your brain through some serious workouts, but it is something where mindless fun is the aim and forward momentum is the game. Shooting imps in face accomplishes that. Reading endless pages about the “Khan Maykr,” “Sentinals,” and “Argent D’Nur” doesn’t. It just kills the momentum.

There’s a time and place to read Doom Eternal‘s slapstick-y world-building lore, but in between battles (or in the middle of battles) isn’t it. At least reading all this stuff is optional as I don’t need to know the dark origin story of why the main character is the way he is. I just want to shoot Arachnotrons in the face.

We’ve seen some fantastically smart games in 2020 already, like Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Ori And The Will Of The Wisps, as well as some ridiculously dumb games (in a good way) like Two Point Hospital. But I don’t think I’ll review a 2020 game, let alone a very strong GOTY candidate, that’s as simultaneously dumb and smart as id Software’s Doom Eternal.

Always be in the loop with our snackable podcast breaking the biggest story of the day. Subscribe to It’s Been A Big Day For… on your favourite podcast app.

Today I Learned: Miss Piggy Had An Incredibly Dark Muppets Backstory That Would Traumatise Kids

Certainly explains the fits

Of all the Muppets that have been in the spotlight over the years, Miss Piggy is arguably the most popular character of them all and has captured everyone’s attention for decades with her confidence and unapologetic femininity. But it turns out that underneath Miss Piggy’s sassy and empowering exterior lies and incredibly dark backstory that seems a bit out of place for a Muppets character.

Speaking of unapologetic femininity, the GOAT team talk Harriet Gordon-Anderson about gender roles with Hamlet in ‘It’s Been A Big Day For…’ below:

Frank Oz, the performer who breathed life into Miss Piggy in the early 1970s when The Muppet Show first premiered, outlined a very tragic backstory for the character over the course of various interviews over the years and it helped shape the way he played her.

Oz says (as per AP) Miss Piggy was born in a small town in Iowa and had a strained relationship with both her parents. Miss Piggy’s father was an adulterer while her mother was neglectful as she was too busy raising Piggy’s many other siblings. She then faced trauma early on in her Muppet life when her father died in a tragic tractor accident when she was very young.

This ultimately left Miss Piggy with lifelong insecurity that was born out of her mother’s neglect, as well as some deep-rooted anger issues that manifests itself in the form of her now-trademark karate chop.

After vowing that she’d rather “die” than live like her parents, Miss Piggy ran away to the big city and to try and make it as a famous star, which again stemmed from the lack of attention she received as a kid.

Miss Piggy’s early days in the city was tough as she hustled hard and did whatever she could to survive, including entering beauty contests, working at retail stores, attending something called charm school, and perhaps her least proud achievement, appearing in a bacon commercial.

But as history showed us, Miss Piggy didn’t let her awful backstory or past traumas hold her back from her dreams and her constant drive in pursuing stardom while remaining true to herself has made her into a symbol of resilience.

As Frank Oz noted, Miss Piggy is one of the few Muppets to be fully realised in three dimensions and her subsequent popularity certainly backs that up. Probably a good thing that they kept the character’s backstory away from the kids though as that would’ve traumatised them, not unlike Miss Piggy’s childhood actually.

Always be in the loop with our snackable podcast breaking the biggest story of the day. Subscribe to It’s Been A Big Day For… on your favourite podcast app.

Pop-up Channel

Follow Us