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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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The New York Videogame Critics Circle had a fine time at Barcade Manhattan at our 3rd Community Event and Hoohah last Wednesday night. We met many awesome gamers and journalists so it turned out was a great hang for all of us. (Stay tuned for more!) We enjoyed:

1) Kotaku’s Jason Schreier, Digital Trends’ Adam Rosenberg and Unwinnable’s Chuck Moran battling it out on the X-Men arcade machine, looks of glee and determination on their faces.

2) The Daily Show with Jon Stewart‘s Daniel Radosh and the New York Times’ Chris Suellentrop talking about everything from game design in real life architecture to The Last of US DLC.

3) CNET’s Jeff Bakalar speaking about journeying with his wife upstate to the Catskills along with Polygon’s Russ Frushtick and his S.O. during the 4th of July holiday.

4) Complex’s Kevin Clark and Gamespot’s Nick Capozzli keeping scores as in their contest to win our Asia-themed prize pack.

5) Just taking a step back to watch as the place became packed to the gills. There were 200 people at Barcade Manhattan at its peak.

6) Playing Time Traveler, Sega’s holographic arcade game, with DualShockers’ Jorge Jimenez and shouting, “This is a terrible game.” I agreed. “This is a HORRIBLE game!”

7) Kotaku’s Tina Amini holding onto the forearm of Jacqui Collins, a sign of true friendship.

8) Playboy’s Scott Alexander talking affably with a young game designer, holding back on the fact that he’s written stirring narrative for games himself.

9) Meeting Gaines Hubbell of the Journal of Games Criticism, who traveled all the way from Troy, New York, for the event.

10) Watching Kotaku’s Evan Narcisse hold court about comics. A circle gathered around him as he spoke with wisdom.

11) Listening to the enthusiasm of John Azzilona as he spoke about MOBA games like League of Legends. His pal Kate Ogden had the event’s most awesome t-shirt, too. (See below. Who knew Luigi could appear so menacing?)

12) Andrew Yoon, Circle co-founder turned game maker, showing off his brand new card game, Divorce.

13) Newsarama’s Lucas Siegel secretly brainstorming with me about the topic of a panel for the big — well, stay tuned about that.

14) CNET’s Dan Ackerman giving a thumbs up to the hoohah. He brought some of the CNET gang to Barcade Manhattan to check it out prior to our party.

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by Harold Goldberg

As another school year threatens to begin, the New York Videogame Critics Circle finds itself in need of a new intern. Interns should be over the age of 18 and in college.

You’ll learn from the best in the business. Here’s a list of our stellar members.

Applicants should:

*Be a self-starter; i.e. meet deadlines!

*Have some writing chops

*Be a good communicator, especially on the phone

*Be able to hold your own on camera, if need be

*Be affable and willing to work hard

*Be super organized.

There is little to no pay for this position.

If you’re interested,

*send a note

*including your credentials,

*a link to writing work if you have it,

*and add your contact info.

*Send that package via the contact form below.

Or, you can talk to me directly at the New York Videogame Critics Circle Community Event tomorrow night, 8/6, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Harold Goldberg, a contributor to the New York Times, is the founder of The Circle.

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Each summer, the New York Videogame Critics Circle holds a rollicking community event.

We’re happy to announce that this year, it’s at the newly opened Barcade New York on August 6 at 6:30 p.m. at 148 West 24th Street.

We don’t often invite the community to our regular meetings (probably because of the great amount of off the record stuff we spew).

But this is your rare chance to hang with your favorite New York City game writers from Kotaku’s Evan Narcisse to Polygon’s Russ Frushtick (semi-fresh from hanging with Jay-Z) to Mashable’s Chelsea Stark  – and more.

Here’s a list of our current members, many of whom will likely be there.

Indie game developers are welcome to show off there newest stuff as well!

So come game with us, drink with us and generally shoot the bull with us.

We just might have some cool giveaways, too, like we did last year.

Plus, we’re looking for a new intern. So show up and tell me what you can do!

-Harold Goldberg, Founder

NY-Videogames-Critics

 

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by Harold Goldberg

SIGNIFICANTLY UPDATED: MAY 13, 2014

May 13 will likely be lucky for author and filmmaker Blake J. Harris. That particular Tuesday is the day Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo and the Battle that Defined A Generation (It Books), his well-researched and compelling narrative history of Sega, Nintendo and Sony’s battles, will be released. I met the affable Harris a few years ago – shortly after All Your Base Are Belong to Us, my own narrative history of games, hit the shelves.

We hit it off immediately. Harris has many fascinating stories to tell, of his collaboration with Seth Rogen and Scott Rudin for the tome’s film version, of the geniuses of videogames, and of the writing process itself. Part One appears today. Part Two will appear on the book’s release date.

Also, Harris will read and answer questions from Console Wars at the Astoria Book Shop on May 15 at 7 p.m. If you get there early, you can play old school games with the author.

Now, on to the interview.

1) What compelled you to write a book on the Console Wars?

My journey down the 16-bit rabbit hole was as unexpected as it proved
to be delightful.

A little over three years ago, my typically terrible-gift-giving
brother surprised me on my 28th birthday with the perfect gift: a Sega
Genesis, which is what we had when we were kids. Holding that
controller in my hands after so years away from videogames brought to
the surface all kinds of memories and then, after the barrage of that
nostalgia hit me, came all kinds of questions. What ever happened to
Sega? How were they even able to compete against Nintendo in the first
place? And ultimately: what the hell was going on behind the scenes
all that time?

To answer these questions and all the others that kept bubbling up I
wanted to read a book on the subject. But, as luck would have it, no
such book existed. Not only did no such book exist, but I quickly
learned that for an industry as gigantic as videogames there was an
alarmingly small number of books about this wonderfully wild world.

Well, after reviewing my old college econ notes on supply and demand,
I began contacting former of employees from Sega and Nintendo to find
out if there was an interesting story here; something exciting and
dramatic with twists and turns that would appeal to gamers and
non-gamers alike. Needless to say, what I soon discovered exceeded
even my wildest expectations.

2) What do we need to know about Tom Kalinske, who’s kind of the
protagonist of Console Wars?

The most important thing to know about Tom Kalinske is that he’s the
man responsible for the childhood of anyone born in the 70s or 80s.
From Barbie and He-Man to Flintstones Chewable Vitamins and Matchbox
cars, his ability to turn unusual ideas into iconic properties is
second to none. And in 1990, when Nintendo had over 90% of the market,
that made him the perfect guy (and perhaps the only guy) capable of
transforming Sega from an industry punchline into a
generation-defining market leader.

3) What did he do right and what did he do wrong?

He did a ton of things of right. Some that many of us might remember
(like launching the famous Sega-Scream-infused Welcome to the Next
Level campaign), some that many of us never knew about (like
brilliantly and unexpectedly getting the Genesis into Wal-mart) and
some that none of us will ever know or fully understand (like how he
convinced a team of rebels that they truly had the golden touch).

What did he do wrong? Like any CEO, a variety of mistakes were made
along the one. Perhaps the most notable (and perhaps inevitably
unavoidable) was to focus on beating Nintendo (and then Sony) when a
more crafty enemy was lurking much closer than he realized.

(more…)

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by Harold Goldberg

Recently, Polygon’s Colin F. Campbell wrote Piranha Frenzy, a full-length novel that’s a labor or love.

Within this taut fiction about what’s it’s like to be a videogame journalist, Campbell offers a motley mix of characters. There’s an older guy/mentor who raises his eyebrows at youthful idiocy tempered with younger folks with too much attitude.  Immersed in this jumble of personalities is a writer called Kjersti Wong, a go-getter who reviews a game that somehow is more than it seems.

Here’s how “Piranha Frenzy” begins:

“Kjersti Wong gazes at the crawling hell-scape. Groaning imps patrol in musical patterns, throbbing portals glowing crimson.”

Yes, it starts with the emotions one feels when playing a game, but soon, there’s a mystery which unfolds that affects everyone. As the tale progresses, there’s also writing about game review embargoes, the absurdity of review scores, and interpersonal annoyances like critics hating other critics. It’s nerd-dishy, yes. But it’s also tight prose peppered with humor that skillfully plotted.

Ultimately, Piranha Frenzy feels real.

Harold Goldberg, a contributor to the New York Times, is the Circle’s founder.

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