Put your goofiest masks on, lessoners, we’re jacking in. Watch Dogs: Legion wants you to recruit random passers-by to your hacker organisation, so you can free London from a fascist megacorp. But, as ever, the real baddies are not so easily got. In this episode, we speak to hacker expert Gabriella Coleman of McGill University about the culture of underground hacker groups, and the origin of government-opposed “hacktivists”.
The parasites are here, and 50% of the global population is already infected. That’s the bad news. The good news is that this parasite seems to be a quiet one… mostly. In this episode we speak to Joanne Webster, a professor of infectious diseases, about the microscopic cat-borne organism Toxoplasma Gondii – the closest thing humans have to the mind-altering brain tadpoles of Baldur’s Gate 3.
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Pew pew. That’s the sound of lasers whipping past your head in new space shooter Star Wars: Squadrons. Don’t worry, it’s all make-believe. Or is it? For this episode, we speak to an expert of space militarisation about the weapons and strategies used by Earth nations to snarl at other governments in orbit. Victoria Samson is a political scientist at the Secure World Foundation and she is here to tell us that war in space is (surprise surprise) a very bad idea indeed.
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It’s dark down here, in the perilous caves of cartoony platformer Spelunky 2. If only there was some sort of caving instructor we could speak to, who could tell us how to survive. Oh, there is, and we have spoken to her for this episode of Hey Lesson! Christine Grosart is a caver, diver and medic who has found actual skulls in caves. With her help, we can navigate the hazards of earth’s real unseen depths, and the dangerous animals that lurk beneath, such as… sheep?
In post-apocalyptic hiking simulator Death Stranding, there is a weird holographic internet floating around in the air. See a nice bridge? Hit that ‘like’ button. You can even make a helpful structure other players will ‘like’ in return – a watchtower, a shelter, a strange mushroom. But why do we crave ‘likes’ in the first place? In this episode, we speak to neuroscientist Dr Ofir Turel about what happens to our brains when we spend a lot of time on Twitter, Facebook, and maybe even the weird world of Death Stranding.
The world has collapsed in grim action game The Last of Us Part 2. Humanity is barely getting by, whereas all the plants and animals we previously pushed to the brink of extinction have rebounded, reclaiming the planet as their own. But is this how Earth would really look without the pressures of humankind? We ask environmental writer Alan Weisman, author of The World Without Us, what happens to our cities, our art, and our pets when we kick the collective bucket.
Do dogs get lost in caves? Can we prevent a war in space? How long will the Statue of Liberty last when no one is there to scrub it? At Hey Lesson, we ask the big questions. And we use video games as a handy excuse to do it. You can learn a lot from games like Star Wars: Squadrons, Spelunky, and The Last of Us. You just need to ask the right people. That’s what we do. Smart people, silly questions, video games.
All episodes come with links and a full transcription.
Hi. If you’re reading this it means Hey Lesson has launched with few problems and I can breathe a big sigh of relief. As the world slides deeper into a twisting gyre of general horribleness, I wanted to make something that might make people smile and say “huh, cool”. I’ve spent the last couple of months planning and creating this podcast, with help from a lot of friends.