How Lucasfilm Games Can Be a New Era For Everyone

After eight years and five new games, the divisive era of EA Star Wars exclusivity has come to its conclusion. On January 11th, Disney signaled a change, launching the “Lucasfilm Games” brand, and promising “a new and unprecedented era of creativity”. Two days later Ubisoft announced a new open-world Star Wars game was in development, confirming that EA’s grip on Star Wars gaming had ended. The death of EA’s monopoly was long awaited and long called for by fans and prominent gaming personalities. The EA era wasn’t necessarily awful, or even a failure, but it was limited in its offerings. 

With their Star Wars titles, EA chased trends and the lowest common denominator. Their flagship entry was Battlefront, which chased the success of Call of Duty, and attempted to revive the glory of Pandemic Studios’ beloved LucasArts-era shooters of the same name. Instead they became mired in controversy over loot boxes and season passes. Battlefront 2 finally found a true audience years later, only to have support cut off shortly after the release of The Rise of Skywalker. Many fans had called for more story from their Star Wars games, so EA responded with Jedi: Fallen Order, a Dark Souls/Tomb Raider hybrid. Fallen Order received acclaim, and with the following year’s Squadrons, EA responded by attempting to serve another audience: fans who love flying.

Fallen Order and Squadrons were steps in the right direction. Attempting to appeal to more than just the most mainstream shooter fans, EA realized there were other audiences out there. Yet both were bound by the paradigms of mainstream, Triple-A studio gaming. With a new frontier on the horizon and the opening up of the Star Wars license, perhaps there is the potential for more?

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This is the Way: Anti-War and Anti-Colonial Lessons to Learn from The Mandalorian

Star Wars has always been known for strong anti-imperial themes, and these powerful political messages are particularly apparent in The Mandalorian. In this piece, I’ll explain how Din Djarin’s interactions with the Tusken Raiders, an Indigenous alien race, could provide important lessons to consider regarding the treatment of native communities. Even though Star Wars has tended to depict the Tuskens as being dangerous and monster-like, The Mandalorian shows they are actually a complex, dynamic and even vulnerable species. I’ll go on to explore how the show demonstrates the importance of coalition building, and shows the dangers of imperialism and war as embodied by those who lead the Empire.

Last year, I touched on the mistakes of the Republic as depicted in The Clone Wars – how its indifference to the suffering of ordinary people, and insidious expansion of imperialism, helped to create the Empire. Before that, another piece on colonialism by Abigail Dillon (that every fan should read) discussed why the role of Ezra in Star Wars Rebels was so powerful because he served as one of the first main heroes to firmly position themselves against the dangerous colonial points of views embodied by other characters. Like Ezra, I think Din is a continuation of fan-favorite characters representing a more recent tradition of Star Wars, particularly under the direction of Dave Filoni, that critically engages with themes of colonization at the narrative’s core in ways we haven’t seen before.

The first main interaction with Indigenous communities in The Mandalorian is in the fifth episode of season one, “The Gunslinger”, where Din works with Toro Calican, a young, naïve bounty hunter on Tatooine. In their trek the characters come across the native Tusken Raiders, whom Toro describes as “filth” that were standing in their way. Din, on the other hand, explains that they are Indigenous locals and the two of them are considered trespassers in the view of the Tuskens. Rather than engaging with them in a way that would antagonize the native race of aliens who had resided on the land for thousands of years, Din negotiates their passage using sign language and trades safe passage in return for equipment.

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The Necessity of Detours: How Ahsoka Taught Me that Separation and Self-Discovery are Healthy

“I have to sort this out on my own, without the Council, and without you.”

– Ahsoka Tano

There comes a time in your life when the views and beliefs you were raised with are stripped down, shaken, or even uprooted at their very core. It took me submerging myself in Star Wars, its fandom, commentaries, critiques, costumes, and new friends to understand what had taken place since I moved out on my own. Similar to how Ahsoka Tano left the Jedi Order and the hypocritical structures of their religion in order to discover who she was in the Force, I left a conservative upbringing that prioritized strong social adherence to tertiary aspects of Christianity rather than the overarching values the religion preached. I’ve been on my own “detour” arc ever since then. In this article I will highlight why I relate so strongly to Ahsoka’s character development throughout the seventh season of The Clone Wars and what her relationship with the Jedi could evolve into beyond what we saw in Star Wars Rebels.

At Star Wars Celebration Chicago in 2019, I ended up doing a mad dash through the convention center and across the street (in the snow!) to catch the Clone Wars panel so I could see the sneak preview. I shed quite a few tears as I watched the scene of Ahsoka seeing Rex and the clone troopers with their helmets painted to show tribute to her. Their respect for her reminded me of how much my own opinion of Ahsoka had changed from finding her annoying in the first season to becoming one of my all-time favorite Star Wars characters.

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“Who’s Ever Ready?” – Poe’s Leadership Development in the Sequel Trilogy

As someone who works with college students through a campus ministry, my favorite part of the job is leadership development. Every year I try to guide students to take steps forward along a leadership “pipeline”: taking risks, sticking with commitments, inviting others into a vision, being honest about past mistakes, and dealing with failure—all while doing so with a measure of humility. That’s why I’ve loved the recurring theme of leadership development in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, particularly as it relates to passing the baton to the next generation. There are many ways that we see characters grow in this trilogy, but perhaps the clearest development arc of a leader is that of Poe Dameron.

Whether it’s his risk-taking in The Force Awakens, his lessons learned the hard way in The Last Jedi, or his final maturation in The Rise of Skywalker, we see a continued path of development for Poe into a leader far beyond just another stereotypical flyboy or lone ranger. Poe’s steady growth as a Resistance leader, under the guidance of Leia and other mentors, is a stirring model for anyone looking for a clear picture of a leadership pipeline in action.

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Shadow Fall: Where Will Alexander Freed’s Starfighter Story Go From Here?

The novels of Alexander Freed focus on the trials and tribulations of frontline soldiers in the Galaxy Far, Far Away. Both his original works and his novelization of Rogue One center on characters’ experiences on the periphery of main galactic events. His latest novel, Shadow Fall, Part II of the Alphabet Squadron trilogy will be released next month. This piece will take a dive into what I’m expecting from Shadow Fall based on the contents and themes of Freed’s previous novels, Twilight Company and the original Alphabet Squadron.

Alphabet Squadron, as the first novel in a planned trilogy, is a bit hampered by the need for setup; some of the things that Freed did best in Twilight Company were therefore not expressed in Alphabet Squadron. For Shadow Fall, my hope is that Freed will more fully realize his vision of the galaxy at war. The post-Operation Cinder, pre-Battle of Jakku timeline that Freed is exploring contains vast narrative possibilities. With the Empire reeling as it loses control of the galaxy, there is massive room for conflict.

In Twilight Company, Freed deftly balanced between covering events around Hoth and telling new stories. I expect Freed will continue to cover his niche of the galaxy, while also tangentially including Chandrila, Kashyyyk, and perhaps eventually Jakku. One of Freed’s major strengths is how he tells established stories from new perspectives.  Part of Twilight Company covers the fall of Echo Base from the trenches, and I would be pretty excited to see the battle of Jakku from a similar perspective. 

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