God from the Machine: Five Cybernetically Awesome Video Game Characters

God from the Machine: Five Cybernetically Awesome Video Game Characters   (photo)

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One of science fiction’s greatest promises is the melding of man and machine. For decades, authors and creators have imagined what humans would be like with all of our free will bonded to inexhaustible carbon alloys or polymers that would replace bone and muscle. Of course, the question arises as to just how human a person is when silicon circuitry commingles with blood circulation.

In some fictions, there’s no angst whatsoever, Steve Austin and Jaime Sommers seemed pretty well-adjusted for being 40% (or whatever) robot, in the classic 1970s TV series “The Six-Million Dollar Man” and “The Bionic Woman.” On the other hand, “Robocop” showed future Chicago police officer Alex Murphy’s humanity as deeply submerged under all that plating.

In video games, cyborgs have prowled the virtual worlds of arcade machines and home consoles since almost the very beginning. “Deus Ex: Human Revolution” features Adam Jensen, the latest machine-augmented hero in the storied cyberpunk franchise. Jensen follows in the footsteps of J.C. Denton, the protagonist of the original Deus Ex. While both seek to root conspiracies in their stories, Jensen’s tech is a generation or two behind Denton’s, since “DXHR” is a prequel to the 2000 release. These two characters aren’t alone, though. Below, you’ll find a list of some of the most memorable bionic warriors to show up in video games.

Nate ‘Rad’ Spencer from “Bionic Commando”

If he’s not the first cyborg hero in video game history, then he’s definitely the most memorable. The 1987 arcade title featured a special agent The gimmick in Bionic Commando was that the playable character couldn’t jump–a rarity in those days–and instead had to navigate the game’s tiered platforms with the grapple hook attached to his arm. The excellent “Bionic Commando Rearmed” remake in 2008 hit the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live, and the downloadble hit featured co-op play so two people could get their hook on. (There was also a modern, gritty 3D update in 2009 that, frankly, sucked.)

The Big Daddies from “BioShock”

Any game rises and falls by its antagonists and one of the reasons that “BioShock” is regarded as a classic is because of the Big Daddies. These hulking monstrosities had their organs transplanted into armored diving suits so that they could protect the creepy Little Sisters who harvest the ADAM substance require for genetic splicing. You often heard them before you saw them in the iconic underwater city of Rapture and any encounter with them was brutal and often humiliating. “BioShock 2” casts you as a prototype Big Daddy with free who searched for the Little Sister he was once paired with. For as much as they’re fearsome figures, the Daddies are also a pitiable example of the cyborg’s lost humanity.

Master Chief from “Halo”

Arguably the most recognizable cyborg in all of video games, the hero of Microsoft’s “Halo” franchise is the one-man army players control in a massive war against an invading alien collective. Also known as John-117, he’s the last of the Spartans, cybernetic supersoldiers who represented humanity’s best hope against the Covenant, a marauding alliance of various extraterrestrial races. The Chief is a terse character, but shows some depth when relating to Cortana, the AI who guides him through most of the games. Microsoft’s putting out “Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary” to celebrate the 10th birthday of the game that started it all. And the Chief’s story will continue in “Halo 4,” announced this year at E3.

Jax from “Mortal Kombat”

Magic gets all the attention in the gory, long-running fighting series but the human warriors of Earthrealm have a few super-science stalwarts who can hold their own against Outworld’s demons. Chief amongst them is Major Jackson Briggs, better known as Jax. He’s a special ops agent who gets embroiled in the extradimensional conflict while searching for his partner, the leggy and lethal Sonya Blade. Jax’s robot arms give him superhuman strength and the ability to launch ranged enemy attacks. His Fatality finishers generally involve pounding the stuffing out of the poor fool who lost their fight, proving that this guy’s gun show is no joke.

Yoshimitsu from “Tekken”

Ninja + robot parts = awesome. The bionic shadow warrior in Namco’s hallowed martial arts franchise conforms the Robin Hood archetype and his reasons for entering the King of Iron Fist tournament usually have to do with fist-to-face wealth distribution. The radical changes in Yoshimitsu’s appearance from game to game get explained as various redesigns of his chassis. He’s the only character in the game who wields a weapon which make him just a bit cooler than the rest of “Tekken” crew.

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.


IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines


The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.


Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.


A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.


Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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