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Verge Favorites: Rich McCormick

Verge Favorites: Rich McCormick


Step up to the challenge

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Verge staffers aren't just people who love technology. They're people who love stuff. We spend as much time talking and thinking about our favorite books, music, and movies as we do debating the best smartphone to buy or what point-and-shoot has the tightest macro. We thought it would make sense to share our latest obsessions with Verge readers, and we hope you're encouraged to share your favorites with us. Thus a long, healthy debate will ensue where we all end up with new things to read, listen to, or try on.



I’ve been trying to build a routine for learning Japanese for a year or more now, but Anki’s been the only thing that sticks. It’s "spaced repetition software," using an apparently scientific method that somehow reminds human brains of stored information just before it’s flushed out of our short-term memories. I’ve got no idea about the science, but I’ve lasted so long with it because it gives me something approximating a score, and I’m a sucker for video games. The desktop and Android versions are free, but I use it so much that I stumped up ¥ 2,500 (about $24.99) for the iOS app.

‘Dark Souls’


Finish From Software’s famously unforgiving action RPG and it teases you with a "New Game +" option. Step up to the challenge — making an already harsh and cruel game harsher and crueler by choice — and it gives you a new option: "New Game ++." Friends of mine have lost their (social) lives to Dark Souls, falling into its complicated online play, exploring its covenant system, and spending days scouring it for deep secrets. I got off comparatively lightly: I just have a Dark Souls-inspired tattoo.



I’m from the UK, where karaoke has traditionally taken place in sticky-floored pubs in front of sour-faced locals on rainy Tuesday nights. The Japanese karaoke experience — private booths, cheap hourly rates, tiny telephones that summon endless rounds of highballs — is comparatively glorious. Jankara is a particular favorite, easy to spot when wandering the cities of the Kansai region by virtue of its unsettling yellow-gloved mascot, and placed with happy regularity on almost every street corner.

Salty Bet


Salty Bet is an internet casino in which viewers can bet "Salty Bucks" on the outcomes of fights between computer-controlled characters. The fake-money betting makes it compulsive, but Salty Bet’s made magic in MUGEN, a community-built fighting-game engine that allows people to import characters from existing beat ‘em ups, other games, movies, or their own warped imaginations. Tune in at any given time and you might see Ryu vs. Ken, or you might see a green-haired Japanese version of Ronald McDonald throwing fries at his opponent, or Omega Tiger Woods: an MS Paint stick man with the golfer’s head crudely pasted on. I love Salty Bet so much that I pay real money to ensure my Salty Buck supply never drops below $666.

‘Use of Weapons’


People see Iain M. Banks’ Culture novels as works of cold and sweeping space opera. They’re not. They’re set against a vast backdrop, sure, with millennia of Banks’ invented semi-utopian history and tripedal aliens. But his books are neat, tightly paced, human stories that just happen to feature talking missiles and spaceships called "Of Course I Still Love You." Consider Phlebas is perhaps the better exposure to Banks’ Culture universe, but Use of Weapons is my favorite, if only for the sheer physical effect its final stages had on me. Banks’ death in June of last year was a massive loss.

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