How did sailors become pirates? (Sea of Thieves)

Load the cannon! Did I say “cannon”? I meant load the new episode of Hey Lesson. It’s all about the pirates in Sea of Thieves. We’ve spoken to author and historian Dr Jamie Goodall about the history of these cut-throat sea-scoundrels, and ask her: how did ordinary sailors of the 1600s go about embracing the life of high seas shenanigans? As ever, there’s no simple answer (turns out there’s no pirate exam) but there are interesting ones! We also welcome back Pip Warr to tell us about her own oceanic misadventures in Sea of Thieves. She is a devious sea dog, we’ve discovered.

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Why do people like to fight? (Guilty Gear)

How would you like to get hit in the head? No? Well, for some that’s part of the thrill of a fight. And it’s about more than that. For this episode, we’re talking about fighting games with Guilty Gear player and martial artist Patrick Miller. On top of that, we ask psychologist Dr David Matsumoto (who also happens to be a judo coach) why some people enjoy the risk of the ring, and what judo players or boxers do to prepare themselves mentally for a big fight.

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How do you design a dream home? (The Sims 4)

What’s a nicer shade of pink: “sad piglet” or “burnt tongue”? No, I don’t know either. Luckily at Hey Lesson we make it our mission to speak to people who can tell us the answer to such questions. This week we’ve been building an expensive manor house in The Sims 4 and wondering, how should you really design your perfect home? So we spoke to Linda Merrill, a professional interior designer to find out what’s best practice when it comes to painting walls, choosing furniture and tricking visitors into thinking our tiny corridors are bigger than they really are. We also showed her some photos of our wonderful Sims house to see what she thought. Her response was polite.

With guest co-host Grimsevers!

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Who invented Chess?

It was not Dr Albert Chess, we regret to inform you. We’ll probably never know the precise origin of this ancient game of strategy and funny horses. But we can try to find out! And that starts with asking a board game historian for some background on the noble game. Where did it come from? Was it always so stuffy? Did chess ever face competition from other ancient board games? We ask Ulrich Sch├Ądler of the Swiss Museum of Games to bring us up to speed on a multiplayer battle arena that hasn’t been patched since the 15th century.

With guest co-host Matt Cox!

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How do mediums speak to the dead? (The Medium)

Spoiler: they don’t. Unless they are the tortured protagonist of The Medium, a new horror game from the makers of Layers of Fear. She talks to the dead all the time, shifting between our world and a decaying spirit realm as she is pursued by a malevolent presence with a gurgling voice. Do “real” mediums have such problems with spirits? And how do television mediums and psychic performers correctly intuit so much about their audience members? We spoke to expert fact-checker Susan Gerbic to discover the psychological tricks mediums use to fool their audience, and how she goes about performing a “sting” on a phony psychic.

With guest co-host Edwin Evans-Thirlwell.

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Are Japan’s Yakuza disappearing? (Yakuza: Like A Dragon)

With guest co-host Kazuma Hashimoto!

Get your best suit on. We’re off to the classiest, seediest, and most fictional entertainment districts of Japan. Yakuza: Like A Dragon is the latest criminal RPG in the much-beloved Yakuza series. Yet what truth lies behind the flashy jackets and shocked expressions of its characters? Yes, Yakuza games are all melodrama and action, but can we learn anything about the real Yakuza of Japan through these lovable rogues? In this episode we speak to investigative journalist David Kaplan, who spent time in Japan investigating the criminal underworld. He fills us in on the history and current-day reality of these entrepreneurial crime lords, and blesses us with an anecdote involving some unfortunate little fingers…

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The Trial of the Tomb Raider

Featuring guest co-hosts Alex Fitzpatrick, Imogen Mellor and Florence Smith Nicholls!

Her reign of archaeological terror ends here. Lara Croft, known to some as the “Tomb Raider”, has been stealing ancient artefacts and impatiently kicking skulls out of her way for too long. Today, in a special holiday episode of Hey Lesson, we are putting the infamous plunderer on trial for her crimes. Those crimes are mainly being a poor archaeologist and a questionable archer to boot. She will be judged by a (very small) jury of her peers. Two archaeologists, one archer, and a mostly clueless host who is mainly there to ask leading questions. Lara will be tried in absentia, because she is a fictional character and cannot take the stand in her own defence. Yes, this is a show trial. We follow our own customs of law and order here on Hey Lesson. Happy holidays.

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Can you escape from Hades?

With guest co-host Chris Bratt!

Crawl out of that blood pool, you’re in Hades. Don’t worry, not real Hades, only the much-lauded action game interpretation of said underworld by Supergiant Games. It’s a roguelike full of notoriously beautiful Gods and super hot heroes. But were Greek deities really considered so sexy by the ancient Athenians? Who even was Zagreus, son of Hades and lead character of this game? And if we found ourselves trapped in this realm of ghosts, could we ever truly escape? We put all these questions (and more) to archeologist Gunnel Ekroth, a specialist in ancient Greek religious practices who has legitimately burned goat bones to better understand these distant people. That’s dedication.

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How does a language die? (Heaven’s Vault)

With guest co-host Pip Warr!

Hello, bonjour, hola, dia duit, eguerdi on… Language is important. You’re using it right now. In adventure game Heaven’s Vault you’re a cosmic archeologist trying to decipher the meaning of long-forgotten hieroglyphs scattered throughout a colourful nebula. But the languages of our own world are not immortal. We speak to linguist May Helena Plumb about one such family of endangered languages called Zapotec, spoken mostly in Oaxaca, Mexico. She tells us why it’s important to make sure these endangered tongues stay spoken, written, and respected.

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Who were the Viking shieldmaidens? (Assassin’s Creed Valhalla)

With guest co-host Alice Bell!

Take another horn of mead, friend. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is out and trying to rehabilitate the rowdy reputation of the Vikings. It pits you against the dastardly Saxons as the axe-wielding Eivor, a raider whose gender is up to you. To find out more about the Vikings and the reason why we’re seeing more women on the Viking battlefields in our popular media, we’ve spoken to Dr Cat Jarman, a bioarcheologist who explains how historians can learn about the people of our past. Clue: it’s all in dem bones.

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