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John Azzilonna, the Circle’s newest member, was privy last week to an early peek at Battleborn, the new game from Gearbox and 2K that will launch sometime next year. As Azzilonna interviews the game’s creative director and then, the narrative lead, you’ll see that what’s compelling about the game is twofold.

Firstly, the characters created are inspired by all forms of games and pop culture, so you’ll see nods to everything from Lord of the Rings to SoulCalibur as you play.

Secondly, there’s a MOBA element – from a first person perspective, no less – that may well spawn a new e-sport. Yet as Circle founder Harold Goldberg cautions in the piece, the game is still in the pre-alpha stage of development. We don’t know exactly how it will turn out.

Nevertheless, what you’ll witness via the deft video editing of Gregg DellaRocca, looks promising.

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Hello, Gamers! This is the inaugural post for our new franchise entitled ARCADE FIRE.

by Kevin L. Clark

Here, we spotlight the movements, mods, and works of art within gaming culture for your ultimate enjoyment. The weekly post will be your central point to see just how

KILL SCREEN‘s Jamin Warren wrote about how Atli Bollason and Owen Hindley used Pong as an inspiration to revamp concept design. The duo managed to turn the building facade of the Harpa concert hall in Iceland into an open-air arcade. It is not the first time that a major city has been turned into a gamer’s paradise and surely it won’t be the last.

Itching for another fix of some world class basketball after Team USA decimated the global competition? Celebrated modder MGX brings his talents back to the hardwood for an intergalactic, futuristic battle for the ages. In what has become a staple in MkEliteWorksX cap, 2K SportsNBA 2K14 is reimagined with Darth Vader and son, Luke Skywalker, taking on the androids from I, Robot. It’s worth watching and downloading the mod to play against friends while waiting for the NBA season (or 2K15) to start.

8BitGamer always has something fresh and unique to offer when discussing video games and the culture. Enlisting the talents of writer Dragomir Simovic and artist Aleksandar Jovic, the duo take a stab at the not-so-beloved updates made to the popular Call of Duty franchise. If anything, I believe this particular gamer in the comic strip shares too much information.

We’re just getting warmed up! If you see anything that you feel is culturally relevant, artistic in merit, or just all-around cool for gamers — please don’t hesitate to leave a note for us in the comments section.

The Roundup: The Circle Speaks

Come here for some news on Destiny?  Looks like you’ve come to the wrong place… but while you’re here, take a look at this diverse group of stories by the brilliant minds in the Circle!

Microsoft just spent $2.5 billion buying Mojang, the developers of Minecraft. To those who think that sounds absurd (because I’m sure many of you do), Jason Schreier gives us his logic behind the deal.  Following the announcement, Markus ‘Notch’ Persson, former owner of Mojang, released an honest “farewell letter” where he declared his departure from the company.

Apple revealed its new Apple Watch last week.  Scott Stein over at CNET wrote a great multimedia article that tells you everything you need to know.

And if you’re more Android-inclined, here is some good news from Anthony John Agnello about Google Play’s new expanded app refund policy.

Still haven’t worked up the courage to play through Konami’s P.T. demo? Maybe Nick Capozzoli can convince you, or at the very least inform you of what all the fuss is about.

For those of you eagerly awaiting the new Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS, Game Informer’s Mike Futter brings you the full character roster, courtesy of some devoted Twitch streamers.

Follow Unwinnable’s editor in chief Stu Horvath as he chronicles his life playing games, sees how far we have come, and reflects on interactivity.

In his first piece as Managing Editor of the NYVGCC, Kevin L. Clark responds to Circle Emeritus, Leigh Alexander’s piece, and introduce himself to the rest of the group.

Wow Oculus Rift

by Kevin L. Clark

Am I playing the character, or am I being me?

This question posed by our own illustrious Circle Emeritus Leigh Alexander, written for Vice the day before Bungie’s Destiny hit shelves, was meant to ponder the concept of “You” in video games. A true Jill-of-all-trades, everything from insightful writing to games consulting, the London, U.K. scribe has always pushed buttons in an attempt to inform, shock, or just make you a true believer of gaming culture. Having been a casual observer of her talent, I figured as my first post as Managing Editor of this here New York Videogames Critics Circle, I would attempt to directly answer the question posed in her piece.

Who am I, you ask?! Well, thank you for wondering. My name is Kevin L. Clark, and I joined the Critics Circle last April. A long time gamer (as I’m sure we all are) I have always wanted to be around my contemporaries talking about the ins and outs of the industry. I wanted to debate the fates of past, present and future games; and challenge societal issues catalyzed by our work. As background, I previously penned for EbonyVibe, and XXL magazines. I originally got my start on the web at AllHipHop, SOHH, and HipHopDX. I’m currently a Content Producer at Black Enterprise, handling both the web and print.

That’s enough about me.

Back to the matter at hand: Are we reflected in the game and the characters we choose? Or are these narratives only designed for us to experience? Speaking solely for myself, I believe that, yes, our personas are willingly reflected in the best games due to the suspension of belief needed to enjoy the journey. One of my all-time favorite games is Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead, and while you don’t have to customize your character à la Destiny, you have important decisions to make that affect you and your companions. As Lee Everett, you are emotionally thrust into his shoes to be the leader in a world full of zombies. Do I shoot this guy’s undead kid or let him do it to have closure? Will I take this box of provisions to feed my group or do I find another way?

I played the game as if I was there, as if I was in Dave Fennoy’s shoes and he was the voice. And real, for me, is to put your best, most positive foot forward in hopes of saving lives and completing each task without disappointing those around me.

On the other hand, the satirical Saints Row is devoid of a code of ethics and morals. You can arguably do whatever you want to whomever you want. Run over a large amount of townies to agitate the cops and engage in a shoot-out — sure! Walking down the street with “The Pentrator” and club opposing gang members to death to take over Stilwater — why not?! Can I still inject the optimistic nature of my real self into a game that offers zaniness at every turn?

The absurdity within the game does not change the way I choose to play as the protagonist I am portraying. For instance, at the end of the game (** SPOILER ALERT **) you are faced with the decision to head to the airport to decimate Killbane or go to the statue and save Shaundi. I still inject myself into the action as the player and go for the latter — saving the woman is penultimate over destroying the bad guy.

Why? Because evil always arises to fight another day in games — and in the real world. While I indulge in these few moments of fantasy I am going to play out a scenario where good triumphs despite the odds. Gaming allows us all to hop into the lives of dastardly villains (Fallout 3) and white-hat wearing heroes and make the decision on how it will all end. Leigh writes that the self in games is an “unsolved problem,” which I believe is easy to resolve: Know who you are before pressing that option button.

Kevin L. Clark is the Managing Editor of the New York Videogames Critics Circle, a lover of Star Wars, and a Brooklynite. You can follow his latest and greatest @KevitoClark!

The Roundup: The Circle Speaks

Sick and tired about being sick and tired of all things #GamerGate?! Put your mind on neutral by reading these incredible stories from our wonderful Circle members. 

Sports fans looking to find out what happened to EA Sports‘ NBA Live ’15 can read Jorge Jimenez‘s piece about why the game was delayed at Dual Shockers.

The Critics Circle‘s own co-founder Andrew Yoon wrote a descriptive piece about his transition from gaming journalist to game developer, which is a must-read piece.

Gamers continue to supersede expectations and surprise the world daily. Digital TrendsAdam Rosenberg wrote about Robbie Lakeman, an Arizona man who is now the best Donkey Kong player in the world.

Over at Mashable, the colorful Chelsea Stark asks if 2015 will finally be the year for Nintendo‘s Wii U. Make sure to leave your answer in the comments section of her piece.

To celebrate Bungie’s recent successes with DestinyPolygon‘s Samit Sarkar takes us all the way back to 1999 to commemorate a little game you might’ve heard of called — Halo.

Jeremy Voss plays the humble narrator in celebrating the 15th year anniversary of Sega‘s Dreamcast console. If you were able to enjoy the wonders of Shenmue, then make sure to pour out some cola for this classic gaming device.

At the New York Videogame Critics Circle, we’re always striving to improve the work that we do.

Much of that happens behind the scenes. While we work with community groups and offer the occasional public event, we have two highly visible community functions.

We present the Circle Awards each February.

And we publish salient essays and news on this website.

But our home here needs more content. It has for a while.

As editor in chief, I’ve been in contact with all of our Circle members about naming Kevin L. Clark as our managing editor. Kevin has worked for Vibe, Black Enterprise and Complex, among others.

He is a worthy candidate for the gig with lots of fresh ideas and endless energy.

While I’ll still be involved with the site with both writing and overseeing, Kevin will handle much of the day-to-day content.

Please join me in welcoming Managing Editor Kevin L. Clark to the New York Videogame Critics Circle website!

-Harold Goldberg, Editor in Chief

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As he finds himself ensconced in a brand, new world, Founding Circle Critic Andrew Yoon writes insightfully about his past in game journalism and his future in game development.

by Andrew Yoon

I remember as a little kid, I used to say: “when I grow up, I’m going to
be a Yoshi.” Eventually, it dawned on me that such a dream wasn’t entirely
feasible.

That dangling-carrot feeling—knowing that something was just a little bit
out of reach continued when I started contemplating a job in video games
journalism. I loved picking up the latest issue of Next Generation
magazine from the newsstand. I would obsess over IGN, following the
exploits of Matt Cassamassina and the like. I never thought that I’d be
able to get a job like that—not until the day I actually got a job at
Joystiq.

I didn’t necessarily think myself qualified for the position. But it was
fairly early in the world of journalistic blogging, and we were making up
the rules as we went along. Things moved so fast back then: I remember it
didn’t take long before I became lead editor of the PlayStation Fanboy
sites and had my very first in-person interview: with Phil Harrison, a
giant of a man that literally had to bend down in order to enter rooms.
“You can buy a better sunset,” I remember he told me of his then-pet
project, PlayStation Home.

Thousands of posts later, talking with the industry’s most influential
individuals became a regularity. I remember beating Shigeru Miyamoto on a
level of New Super Mario Bros. Time to check that off my bucket list, I
suppose. I remember that a video interview I did of Polyphony Digital’s
Kazunori Yamauchi ended up being turned into hilarious GIFs on NeoGAF.
Cross that off the list!

But what else remained on my bucket list? Well, making a game. By the time
I had become Editor in Chief at Shacknews, I had accomplished nearly
everything I could want in games journalism. And so, like that little kid
that said he wanted to become a Yoshi, I told myself “I’m going to be a
game developer.” I didn’t know exactly how, but I thought why not figure
that out as I go along?

In January, I began prototyping early game designs for tabletop games. I
didn’t have any programming chops, but the idea of saying I did a “game
jam” sounded particularly satisfying. Out of those early experiments, I
created a game about imaginary numbers and a game about building (and
destroying) walls. The former would eventually become what I’ve released
on Kickstarter last week as Divorce! The Game.

The past few months have been truly revelatory, and even my limited
experience in game design has given me insight into development that years
in the games journalism side never offered. There truly is something to be
said about simply diving into the deep end and learning through
experience. The amount of iteration (and reiteration) required to make
something fun, balanced, and satisfying can be hard to understand without
going through the process yourself. Even now, I find myself constantly
trying to make tweaks—many of which may be invisible to the end user. I
wonder how different my perspective would be if I ever return to games
journalism?

To be honest, I never thought that my first game would be Divorce! It’s a
silly two-player card game that has a surprisingly satisfying
hook—you draw two cards, keeping one for yourself while giving the other
to the other player. Still, I had imagined that my debut would be a deep,
serious “art game.” But, I certainly don’t mind starting off with a game
that almost always makes people laugh. Seeing people react in the way I
intended for them to definitely empowers me as a designer.

I also thought that my gaming debut would be in video games. But, given my
limited resources—both in terms of technical talent and money—tabletop
provided a much more viable avenue to pursue. Not to say that I’m simply
“settling” for a card game. It’s a genre I love, and the lessons learned
from my first game are going to make way for even more ambitious game
designs from me in the future. Who knows? If Divorce! takes off, maybe
this actually could become a viable career path for me.

I may never become a Yoshi, but I’ve already accomplished one of my other
childhood goals. My life as a games journalist may be behind me now, but I
hope with the help of the community, I’ll be able to take a leap into my
next: game designer. I already have the business cards printed, so I hope
you’ll consider supporting this endeavor. Otherwise, I’m really going to
regret having made those business cards so prematurely.

 

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