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If you have not heard of Defense of the Ancients (DotA), here’s a short introduction:

DotA is a free game or ‘digital sport’, consisting of 112 playable characters known as ‘heroes’. Each hero has a minimum of 4 skills, and up to 134 purchasable ‘items’. Then there is everything else you need to learn in order to play the game, i.e. last hitting, denying, etc. Like any other sport or game, a basic understanding of ALL these things is required before you can begin to properly begin to enjoy the game. Its ridiculous complexity is probably why it is still fascinating millions and millions of players across the globe since its creation in 2003. Fast forward to 2014, and a newer version – ‘DotA 2’ – has been released. It has about 10 million players, and an international tournament was hosted this year for various players from countries such as Ukraine, Europe, China, Russia and USA, with a total prize pool of almost 11 million USD, about half of it going to the winner.

About five years ago, when I was first coaxed by my cousin into playing DotA, I never would have believed a mere computer game could induce so many life changing realizations. I’ve been playing the game with a passion since then, and though it may not have taught me these valuable lessons first hand, it definitely pushed me into taking them to more closely to heart, the first being:

5. Dealing with less capable teammates

A point about DotA I did not mention previously is that it is a team-based game, with five players on both sides. Teamwork, communication, and cooperation are important if you want to win (most people do). Sadly, this can also be a problem, especially when it is your precious free time you are spending to enjoy the game. Unless you have your own five person team, you are going to be placed together in a team with four complete strangers, who may or may not (a) speak your language (b) share your standards and (c) share your desire to win.

So, instead of getting angry and cursing the high heavens over the disfigured, handicapped, human-animal hybrid team that you are given, you scrap together whatever skills and efforts your team has to offer, and try to make your 30-50 minutes of game time as enjoyable as possible, and hope the opposite team has worse teamwork than yours. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t make assumptions of their personality or character based on their game playing skills, these things do not matter to the task at hand, but it would be nice if they would put in some effort, or at least show that they want to.

You learn to work with what you’re given, instead of complaining and straight up quitting, because you’re not going to have an A-team for every group project or activity you’re going to work on.

You might ask: why not just play with your friends? Wouldn’t that solve the problem? I too, was naïve enough to believe that notion. But having your close friend disappoint you is a far worse feeling than having it come from a total stranger. Which brings me to my next point.

You learn to work with what you’re given, instead of complaining and straight up quitting, because you’re not going to have an A-team for every group project or activity you’re going to work on.

4. Imposing standards on others (and having unrealistic expectations)

This might seem a little obvious, but it slaps you in the face when you’re actually trying to accomplish it. People play DotA for different reasons, and some people don’t mind being bad at the game and so they don’t spend too much time on it. And sometimes that person can be your friend of more than 10 years, with whom you’ve chaired committees and worked on many projects with, but that doesn’t mean he shares all of your standards. Moreover, you shouldn’t expect people to fulfill your expectations. If they happened to meet said expectations, consider it a blessing, but don’t blame others when they fail to do so.

3. Handling critics and comments

As with any online social platform, where users can communicate anonymously, there will be no shortage of people who have no reservations in insulting and belittling others. DotA 2 is certainly no exception. Dealing with negative comments and critics is an everyday ordeal for a DotA 2 player. Most would choose to ignore, some fire back, and too few would surprisingly ask for suggestions for improvement.

It’s tempting to retaliate verbally when insulted, especially in such an anonymous setting. I did give in initially, but only after a long time I realised that it was not benefiting anyone, especially myself, as I found myself spending my time just being rude to others. When you have a need to improve yourself in something, the opinion of others matters. However, the trick is to differentiate constructive criticism from toxic nonsense. A good way to receive more useful criticism is to ask why the person made that comment about you.

Self evaluation and introspection is a difficult thing, it forces you to admit that you are not as capable as you imagined, and to deal with issues you’re sometimes not ready to face. But with enough time with yourself, and some humility, you’ll eventually learn to ignore the rubbish, and gain ideas on improving yourself based on what others have said about you.

2. Accepting failure

I have spent about 2800 hours on DotA 2 over a period of five years, and I’ve had my share of mistakes and defeats. Failing is a good thing to make your weaknesses apparent, but not so when you’re in denial. It is particularly painful when you have put in effort, it makes it seem like you’ve wasted all the hard work, and eventually you resort to blaming others. I do admit that sometimes someone besides you is responsible for the defeat, in that case refer lesson 4.

If the problem lies within you, then know that you should keep trying to improve yourself. It’s a good thing to have ideals and examples that you look to for certain things, but reaching that level should come eventually and not immediately.

You’re not constantly being evaluated, life is not a competition, and there is always something to improve on. Occasional mistakes are fine, but regret is a maggot that eats your vitality. Accept that you were weak before, seek to improve and move on. When you’re striving to be good at something, failing eventually becomes a welcomed habit.

You’re not constantly being evaluated, life is not a competition, and there is always something to improve on.

Up to this point it seems that I was simply recycling old teachings and sayings with relevance to DotA. Perhaps that is why they were able to survive so many generations, because they are truth. I leave you (finally) with the most important lesson I’ve learned:

1. True learning is derived from passion and freedom

I’ve never complained about playing DotA 2. For a few months I ate DotA, I slept DotA, I breathed DotA, and I lived DotA. I have never had to race to meet assignment deadlines or had any quiz or exams on DotA (though I would gladly do so), and I never had to revise the things I’ve learnt. I was continuously captivated, and so eager to share and practice what I’ve learned.

Its allure is not simply because it is a game. If that were the case then many other games would have met the same kind of success. I believe it is simply the result of being equipped with the means to seek information, and being allowed to pursue one’s curiosity and passion without constraint. That is simply the best way to learn.


Crow (BM113)

Scholar. Gentleman. Handsome. Also a bird.


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Chai Kah Chun (Lawrence), President of the Table Tennis Club 

Lawrence is a Pharmacy student in his third semester. Read on to find out about his experience in the current IMU Cup as both a participant and an event organiser.


You are in charge of organizing the table tennis competition for the upcoming IMU Cup – how has progress been?

The preparation has been great. However, the main problem is recruiting participants for the competition. It’s quite difficult to get students to join the game as IMU students are often focused on studying and they generally avoid activities that distract them. Furthermore, table tennis is a game that requires 10 players per team. As such a high number of players is required, forming a team proved difficult.

What was the most challenging part of this event for you?

Like I’ve mentioned, urging people to enter the competition was quite challenging – I had to persuade them to join! We had to form a strong team with the complete set of players within limited time. Furthermore, time management was also another obstacle as I needed to maintain my performance academically while handling both my responsibilities as a team player and as president of the Table Tennis Club.

What is the most interesting part of this event for you?

I had the opportunity to meet new people and to form new friendships. It helped me be more inquisitive and eager to fulfill my duties as a leader.

What was the responsibility of the post you hold?

As the President, I have to know the direction the event intends on going, as while as assign different tasks to those responsible .Ultimately,  I have to make sure that the event runs smoothly. Besides that, I have to encourage committee members and players alike to participate and, contribute ideas before finalizing any decisions.

What have you put in place to make the team work out?

All the committee members are friends so there was already a strong bond initially. To further strengthen that bond, I constantly encourage good communication, having created  Whatsapp and Facebook groups.

How do you manage time between your studies and extracurricular activities?

I had to sacrifice time spent hanging out with friends and family in order to keep up with my studies. However, I would like to think that all these extracurricular activities help me perfect my time management skills. Thus, I have no regrets being active in them.

What are your expectations for this event?

I hope that interest in table tennis will continue to grow and that aspiring participants take up the chance to play in any future events! Personally, I would consider my progress thus far as an achievement.

Is there anything you would like to convey to other IMU students?

Table tennis is a very interesting sport! It’s not as hard as people imagine it to be and our club organizes trainings for those new to the sport. Students should also learn to partake in extracurricular activities as it helps them master the art of time management and other skills they cannot learn through studying. For those interested, you can join the IMU Table Tennis Club on Facebook. We conduct training sessions twice a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays) in front of 4.02 at 7 pm. Do come join us!


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Ernest Ng Cheng Ern, Captain of the Swim Team (Griffin) 2014

Ernest Ng Chang Ern is a medical student in his second year. Here he shares with us his responsibilities as Captain of the Griffin Swim Team.



Can you give us a brief overview about your role as captain for your team?

Oh of course! My role as Captain includes gauging the interest of Griffin members in swimming, ensuring that they join the type of race that best suits them, organizing regular training sessions with the team and most importantly, keeping the team spirit up and inspiring them to victory!

As the team captain, you are bound to go through ups and downs while handling your team in the upcoming swimming competition for IMU Cup. What has been the most challenging part of this event for you?

I think getting people to join and putting them in the right events is the most challenging part. You see, swimming is often viewed as a survival skill as opposed to a competitive sport. There are people who swim well but just not competitively so it wass quite challenging convincing them to join the team.

What have you done to work around this problem? 
So far I am still trying to further build on their interest while teaching them ways to improve on their technique so that they will be more interested in competitions.

Tell us what the most interesting part of this event is for you.
Winning would definitely mark it as a great experience. The sense of satisfaction you feel after a victory just tells you that all the hard work your team has been through has paid off.

As this is quite a time consuming task, how do you manage time between your studies and extracurricular activities?
Be focused on one sport! Since Semester 3 is relatively more relaxed compared to Semester 2, I don’t find time management a major obstacle.

What are your expectations for your team?
I am expecting Griffin to get at least third place. I also want more swimmers to continue swimming recreationally because to me, swimming is definitely more than a sport.

Finally, is there anything you would like to share with other IMU students?
Study hard, BUT experience life harder! I’ve learnt so many soft skills such as time management and networking through joining events such as IMU CUP; YOU too involve yourself in events happening around campus!

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By Navin Chandran (ME113)

For some reason I’ve been thinking a lot lately about children. Not about having them or anything of the sort, but more about their significance. Their place in the world that seems to go unnoticed and unappreciated by anyone and everyone.

We’re always searching for new opportunities. New chances to start over, put the broken shards of our life back together and hopefully leave the shadows of our past behind us for good. And yet every single time that precious chance displays itself, we come along and we mess it all up. I can’t fathom how long it’s been, how many generations have been raised and lost, how many lives and how much time have been wasted as we set ourselves into this vicious cycle over and over and over again.

We’re always searching for new opportunities. New chances to start over, put the broken shards of our life back together and hopefully leave the shadows of our past behind us for good.

Children represent the very best and the very worst of humanity. They represent the unassuming youth we’re born with and lose along the way to the great chain of industry and progress. They represent the pristine, unspoiled nature we’re blessed with and at the same time the very depths of depravity to which we have to be exposed to crack and damage that porcelain mould.

Children aren’t born prejudiced, or hateful, or despicable. They aren’t born thinking “he’s black” or “she’s a Jew”. They aren’t born with sickles and daggers in their hands, ready to stab and hurt everything in sight. They’re moulded. We take them, and instead of creating a portrait of beauty and perfection we shape them after ourselves, into a swirling torrent of hatred and despair.

When I think about the Stolen Generations, Columbine, Sandy Hook, I can’t understand why we put children through the horrors our soldiers and freedom fighters are already facing. That’s why they do what they do, isn’t it? So we don’t have to. So we can sit safely in our houses, enjoying the life we’ve earned and gotten accustomed to, and raise our children to appreciate that and work for a better future. How are we to give them that future if we kill them ourselves day after day?

Why do we put our children through horrors they’ll never recover from? Why do we keep them locked up, terrorise them, rape them, shoot them, blow them up? Why do we damage them, give them no horizon to look forward to? Life makes us all jaded, eventually.

Why do we put our children through horrors they’ll never recover from?

Eventually we’re swallowed up and spat out onto the cold concrete floor; forced to pull ourselves to our feet by our bootstraps and stumble forward. Why do we have to make it harder for the innocents, for those who look out at the world with wide eyes and a mind hungry for knowledge? For those who ask a hundred questions a day and want nothing more than to understand the world they see and feel, so different from the warm, comfortable womb they were so cozy in.

Why can we not afford them the very best we and life has to offer, before they discover for themselves it’s not all it’s made out to be? Why do we chip at them, whittle them down before they’re even fully formed? How long will it take before we learn and realise that children are our true once in a lifetime chance, and that they are truly the coin we can only spend once?


Navin Chandran (ME113)

Navin sees the world not in black and white, but in furrowed shades of grey. He spends his time riding the dusky isles like a ship in a maelstrom, trying to find order in the madness and slowly learning that chaos is part of organising one’s universe.


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I’ve always wondered, at what point in our lives do we come to realise, if at all, that the universe, unfortunately, does not revolve around us.  Maybe if you will it hard enough, things will end up fine. Just maybe. But we all know that that is not always the case.

We always imagine ourselves as main protagonists with an epic storyline ahead of us. There’s the romantic notion that every miniscule act will lead to an advancement in the plot, and that for every ounce of adversity we go through, we have to come out stronger eventually, prepared to face an even bigger foe. This too, is not always the case.  You will find yourselves with days of stagnation and there will be days where you’re broken beyond recognition. And that all, is fine.  There will be times where you face a dead end and there will be times you ask “Why?”  Sooner or later you will realise, there isn’t always an answer and that you can only cower and cry. And that too, is fine.

You will find yourselves with days of stagnation and there will be days where you’re broken beyond recognition. And that all, is fine.

It’s hard to imagine how the world will keep going on when you cease to. After all, you’re only able to experience it through one perspective, one mind and one identity. Ironically, because of this singular perception of the world, it’s even harder to imagine that the story of the world takes a turn when yours ends. Not the world in general but those whose world you were a part of. How easy it is to just slip away, not knowing that someone might have been holding on.  A tiny blip along the course of time, a permanent scar in one lifetime.  Time numbs but it does not necessarily heal. People will move on but a part always lingers, a part that never forgets.

Shakespeare compared the world to a stage with all the people actors in the play of life. Actors don many masks. A frustrated scowl could transform into a charming grin at a moment’s glance. Words of scorn turn to words of praise. I guess, versatility is a necessary skill if you want to keep your show running. But what of those who go weary of wearing masks? What lies behind the plastered smile? Maybe after each performance, the cracks start showing. However, the show runs on a tight schedule, it goes on with or without you. The rest of the crew would shun you and the audience care not for what lies underneath. To remain on stage, you hope the mask, and yourself, push through another performance.

We may all be ripples amongst raging water, but it takes a ripple to form a wave.

We may all be ripples amongst raging water, but it takes a ripple to form a wave.  We may only be a minor mention in the story of the world but we all have our stories to tell, and there are people willing to listen.


Soh Zhi Min (ME113)

Zhi Min is a self-deprecating pessimist who can’t give herself a break. Followers of the MBTI would be intrigued to know that she identifies as INFJ. The world she sees is a juxtaposition of the chaotic and the mundane, with a fair share of the absurd. She spends her free time zoning out, trying to make sense of it all.



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Delusions.The not-so-witty demeanor. Dilated pupils. The instantaneous eye-contact-avoidance technique which fails miserably. Funny blabbers. The shy acts. Palpitations (mild ones). Pretty much sums up my open secret. The bitter truth? I’m not the only one. Each of us, at a point in life, are strung by those electrifying little attractions to celebrities, lecturers, the other guy you meet through a mutual friend, a batch-mate, or anyone in that manner (the former two being substantially trivial and are viable to be ruled out with immediate effect).

The rule is simple – opposite poles attract. And a cumbersome fact which follows – it never lasts. And as one or two of my friends rattle; how do you know that a person is as beautiful as he/she looks? Looks can be deceiving, my friend. So which peculiarities matter? How do you choose someone as a friend, per se? How do you not judge a book by its cover? And how good are the perceptions you create to your own self by scanning through the multitude of social networks (the word is STALK on a disconcerting note), namely Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter? (Trifling subjects, if you ask me). Will it possibly make a difference if you were to initiate a conversation with the person of interest rather than justifying your non-existence? Will it be interesting if you greeted him/her with a smile or a “Hello” compared to digging his/her story through others?

The rule is simple – opposite poles attract. And a cumbersome fact which follows – it never lasts.

Communicate, my friend. Technology has ripped our life so apart that we don’t spare enough time to lift our heads off our mobile phones and observe the world around us. The world which might be a whole lot different given any of us had taken the initiative. Ubiquitous technology, they say. It has taught us nothing but merely impinging on other people’s lives in the dire hope of changing things in our lives so that we are equivalent to what the world denotes as “The Cool Subgroup”.

You, me, and him; we are not so different from each other.

Behold the truth, my friend. You, me, and him; we are not so different from each other. We are versatile, and we are unique on our own. Remember genetic diversity enhances formidable survival skills? What I am emphasizing on, is not so much different. I ask myself every day, ’ What if’? What if I had mustered enough strength to communicate with a person I find to be enormously attractive? Would it be any different from what it is now? But at least I will be free from the turmoil of juggling between Yes and No. The self-esteem that we pretentiously flaunt during interviews, is it of no use on a daily basis? Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”. Therefore, my friend; be bold, confident and optimistic, and you will never be able to fathom the heights to which life uplifts you (this invariably includes your crush talking to you RATHER THAN brushing your sight away). As for me, I solemnly swear that I will stop stalking and be real. Unleash your true potential, my friend. Designs change, personalities DON’T.


Srivindiya Ramanaidu (ME113)





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By Joan Ng (BP113)

BP113 Joan Ng - Music Never Sleeps


BP113 Joan Ng

Joan Ng (BP113)

With pen, pencil and amazing talent, Joan Ng , semester 3 Pharmacy student drew this fantastic piece of art. Her inspiration hits her right after she attended Jason Chen’s concert in Taylor’s. Jason Chen is a Youtube rising star that covers and creates different genre of musics.

Besides being a student, Joan is a part-time designer who  makes notebooks, postcards and bookmarks which are aesthetically useful too!  If you want to get your hands on her artworks, feel free to approach her on Facebook.

If you wish to learn more on Joan’s story, visit her blog or follow her on Instagram (@joanmyelife)!




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Are you a fan of astrophotography?

Born in 1963,  51 year-old Thierry Cohen has been working as a professional photographer since 1985 and is  a pioneer in the use of digital techniques. He lives and works in Paris. Through his eyes, you can feel the breath of the cities, the soul of light and are able to embrace the beauty of the world. One of his recent projects, ‘Villes éteintes (Darkened Cities)’ shows us what we might see if the sights we know were to be illuminated purely by the stars.

In the words of Cohen, the loss of starry skies due to pollution have created urbanites who “forget and no longer understand nature. To show him stars is to help him dream again.”

To view the complete collection of this project, check out his website.

All rights reserved by Thierry Cohen.