Archive for October, 2010

A Halloween made even happier: Even though  Shadows of the Damned won’t be released until next summer, EA’s hint of what’s to come makes be overflow with fearful goosebumps.

Because it’s looks like it could encase me in a Bukowski-like screaming nightmare with moments of William Peter Blatty/Joe Hill/Neil Gaiman/Clive Barker to make it just that more demented, I want summer here — now.

Of course, this is just a trailer. But since the directors of No More Heroes and Resident Evil are make it, I’ve got goosebumps already. I just hope some of it as as compelling as this terror-inducing trailer.


-Harold Goldberg

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It’s  an onslaught. At this time of year game critics receive a hundred emails daily — at least.

Review me! Review me! is the cry.

I look at absolutely everything I receive, sometimes admiring the prose of a j-school grad now in the PR game, sometimes laughing at the balderdash that is spin.

Regarding the latter, yesterday I received an email touting the accomplishment, “Video Games Live Album Debuts at #8 on Billboard!”

As a guy who used to review music for Rolling Stone and the Village Voice, I thought, Wow! What an accomplishment. Let me check this out.

So I went to the Billboard Hot 200 CDs. It’s not at number 8 at all. Emimem’s Recovery is.

Maybe it’s on another Billboard chart. It probably is. But I couldn’t find it.

We all love Tommy Tallerico and his live show featuring the stirring music of videogames.  He provides transmedia at its best for hungry gamers.

But sending around a press release that reads “The CD version of Video Games Live: Level 2, the latest release from the worldwide concert phenomenon known as Video Games Live, has debuted at #8 on the Billboard Charts” isn’t right.

In fact, it’s deceptive.

Just tell us the truth. We’ll appreciate Tommy’s heartfelt work and long-term accomplishments even more.

-Harold Goldberg


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Hire Tracey John — Now

It looks like the brilliant Tracey John, one of our core members, is briefly without a full-time gig.

She won’t be for long.

I first met Tracey at a Sony event when Alex Porter was running the MTV games site.

Tracey sat down on a chair, took hold of the controller and kicked everyone’s butts at the game. She’s a serious gamer.

But she’s also a fine writer, one who knows games and pop culture in general quite well.

With a resume that includes Techland, MTV, Wired GameLife and UGO, she won’t be unemployed for long.

Hire her before someone else beats you to it. You won’t be disappointed.

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This morning, THQ announced that Apocalypse Now screenwriter John Milius has written a novel to be released in tandem with the release of the science fiction game Homefront. It’s called The Voice of Freedom.

Homefront, as you’ll note in my G4TV preview, has a wild premise that’s somewhat plausible — at least to the more paranoid among us.

As the plot unfolds, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s son takes over the world, country by country, as he expands his Greater Korean Republic.  (In reality, Jong-un supposedly has a ruthless streak.)

Milius wrote the scenarios in the game. And he’s a terrific writer. Though he’s penned movie novelizations before, such as The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, this is his first entry into the videogame transmedia space.  While Homefront looks like it might a generally fascinating game, Milius’ novel will be of more interest to those of us who know his history and who still love long form writing — just as much as we love the short form.

-Harold Goldberg

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A while back, I spent many, many hours with Sam Houser at Rockstar Games. We talked about, well, everything under the sun for a narrative history of videogames that will be published next April.

Houser’s mind is imbued with a wonderfully extreme, dedicated passion for games and an abiding, maven-like hunger to understand American popular culture.

I’d been unapologetically enthusiastic about the content since I previewed the game for G4TV.  So yesterday, when the latest trailer for Undead Nightmare was released to the media, it was not unusual to see that Rockstar had gone the extra mile. Sure, the  artwork and gameplay in Undead Overrun looks compellingly horrific.

But beyond that, the narrator was doing this Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett thing, a Monster Mash-like rhyme, humorous, dangerous and with a wild rhythm.

It not only put me in the frame of mind to play Undead Nightmare. It made me happily consider all those kitschy Halloween novelty songs and sound effects disks which have a place in our hearts and minds. It made me want to write my own kitschy Halloween poem, too. Or watch an old 70s B-movie like Zombi 2.

-Harold Goldberg

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I think a lot about the idea of transmedia these days. I think beyond a console game into an action movie or a comic book into a Facebook game and how they link together.

The other night, for instance, I walked the somewhat spooky halls of the Whitney Museum. Nintendo had closed the fifth floor for an event that heralded the release of a DS offering, Art Academy. It’s far more of an app than a game. But after a few short lessons, I swear I could draw better than I ever had before. Not much better. But better than my usual stick figures.

Around 8:30 p.m., I found myself exploring the two rooms that housed the moving photography exhibit, Lee Friedlander, America by Car. It is an odd, tantalizing, heart-tugging exhibition. All photographed from the driver’s seat of a car, the photos can be at once convivial and lonely, communal and haunting. It is the American dream, Friedlander-style.

If it weren’t for the guard eyeing me suspiciously, I would have taken a photograph of the photograph with my DS. Then, I would have tried to make it mine by drawing a version of it with Art Academy.  That’s truly transmedia, a more recent, but equally compelling, American dream.

-Harold Goldberg

Courtesy: Whitney Museum



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Do You Want to Join Us?

At the New York Videogame Critics Circle, we feel there’s safety in numbers.

We meet once a month (sometimes more), usually at an appropriately dive-y bar or restaurant, to discuss games, the Circle’s agenda, news, our work, getting more work, jobs and the dysfunctional vagaries of the industry.

We often invite an entertaining guest of note for the second half of the meeting.

Our group includes writers and editors from Time/Techland, G4TV.com, UGO, MTV Multiplayer, New York Daily News, Boys’ Life, Joystiq, Wall Street Journal, EGM, Onion AV Club and others.

We are really dedicated to elevating the level of journalism and discourse in the videogame world as a whole.

If you’d like to become a member and you live in or around New York City, we’d love to hear from you.

Shoot us an email at nyvgcc@journalist.com.

Please include links to three of your best clips.

We’ll get back to you if we like your work.

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