Archive for the ‘Our Trade’ Category

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 128 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



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by Harold Goldberg


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.


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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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During the course of the week, we’ll publish photos from the 3rd Annual New York Videogame Critics Circle Awards. They’re by Victor Kalogiannis. Here are two shots of the great Steven Ogg, who won the Great White Way Award for Best Overall Acting in a Game for playing the demented Trevor in Grand Theft Auto V. At the After Party, actor Ogg and Circle founder Harold Goldberg discussed the issues surrounding Alberta’s oil sands, which actually was the subject of a fascinating film/game hybrid called “Fort McMoney.”

20 28


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During a rousing evening full of sly, cutting, rapid fire jokes from Daniel Radosh (The Daily Show with Jon Stewart), we presented our nine Critics Circle Awards. Game developers arrived on the cold Brooklyn evening from the U.S., Canada and Switzerland.

In addition to a wild and lively Radosh, the audience was treated to appearances by author Rick Moody and punk rocker Handsome Dick Manitoba (The Dictators), who presented Awards. Music was provided by the wonderfully strange banjo and guitar stylings of Future Folk.

Finally, Irrational Games provided a stirring, exclusive video about the final entry in the BioShock series (BioShock Infinite, Burial at Sea, Episode 2).

Watch the complete ceremony right here.

And now, the winners. Congrats to all of them!

Battery Park Award for Best Handheld Game
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
Central Park Childen’s Zoo Award for Best Kids Game
Super Mario 3D World
Herman Melville Award for Best Writing
The Last of Us
‘A’ Train Award for Best Mobile Game

Ridiculous Fishing

Off Broadway Award for Best Indie Game
Gone Home
Tin Pan Alley Award for Best Music in a Game
Bioshock Infinite
Statue of Liberty Award for Best World
Grand Theft Auto V
Great White Way Award for Best Acting in a Game
Steven Ogg, Trevor, GTA V
Big Apple Award for Best Game
The Last of Us

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It’s a rarity that one of our members is asked to curate a museum exhibit.

But that’s just what’s happened with Polygon’s Samit Sarkar.

He curated and penned the excellent Madden exhibit at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens.

There to talk about the show, and about Madden’s 25 year history, were NFL superstars Marshall Faulk, Cam Newton and Michael Vick. They traded anecdotes about playing the video game. For instance, when Faulk was a kid, his mother constantly asked him to turn the game’s sound down because a Madden audio file (“Boom!”) kept repeating. It was maddening for her to hear.

But in our eyes, the real star of the event was the unassuming Samit. His prose, which appeared in large typeface on the w hite walls of the exhibit, included a timeline for the Madden game. Everything he wrote was crisp, clear, salient, and to the point. It’ll be a joy for casual museum-goers and for hard core fans alike to read.

So here’s to Samit Sarkar on his excellent accomplishment.

-Harold Goldberg, Founder




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By: Sarah Awad

Kick off 2014 with some diverse and insightful writing about this year’s past, and what’s coming up next…

Jeff Bakalar’s 404 Podcast takes us to the future 

Unwinnable’s Stu Horvath has the best board games of 2013 

Jason Schreier has some news about The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky via Kotaku

Mashable’s Chelsea Stark tells us why 2013 was an awesome year for games 

Jeremy Voss at Shouts from the Couch has some words on collectibles

Sarah C Awad and fellow TheLaserGirls partner Dhemerae Ford will be the Shapeways Artists-in-Residence at the Museum of Art and Design.  Stop in between 12-6pm January 14-19 to check out some 3D printed fashion!

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After some serious discussion, our esteemed critics have named the following games as official New York Videogame Critics Circle Awards Nominees. The Awards will take place on February 11, 2014 at NYU/Poly’s Pfizer Auditorium in Brooklyn. Stay tuned for how you can get free tickets.

And a hearty congratulations to all of our worthy nominees!

Big Apple Award for Best Game 

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (Ubisoft)

BioShock Infinite (2K Games)

Gone Home (The Fullbright Company)

Grand Theft Auto V (Rockstar Games)

Kentucky Route Zero (Cardboard Computer)

Ni No Kuni (Namco Bandai)

Super Mario 3D World (Nintendo)

The Last of Us (Sony)

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (Nintendo)

Tomb Raider (Square Enix)

Herman Melville Award for Best Writing in a Game

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (Ubisoft)

BioShock Infinite (2K Games)

Device 6 (Simogo)

Gone Home (The Fullbright Company)

Grand Theft Auto V (Rockstar Games)

Kentucky Route Zero (Cardboard Computer)

The Last of Us (Sony)

The Stanley Parable (Davey Wreden and William Pugh)

Battery Park Award for Best Handheld Console Game 

Animal Crossing: New Leaf  (Nintendo 3DS)

Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millenium Girl (Nintendo 3DS)

Fire Emblem: Awakening (Nintendo 3DS)

Guacamelee! (PlayStation Vita)

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies (Nintendo 3DS)

Pokemon X/Y  (Nintendo 3DS)

Spelunky (PlayStation Vita)

Tearaway  (PlayStation Vita)

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (Nintendo 3DS)

Tin Pan Alley Award for Best Music in a Game 

Animal Crossing: New Leaf (Nintendo)

BitTrip Runner 2 (Gaijin)

BioShock Infinite (2K Games)

Contrast (Sony)

Grand Theft Auto V (2K Games)

Rocksmith 2014 (Ubisoft)

Ridiculous Fishing (Vlambeer)

Saints Row IV (Deep Silver)

The Last of Us (Sony)

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (Nintendo)

The A Train Award for Best Mobile/iOS Game

Device 6 (Simogo)

Icycle: On Thin Ice (Damp Gnat)

Plants vs. Zombies 2 (PopCap)

Rayman Fiesta Run (Ubisoft)

Ridiculous Fishing (Vlambeer)

Rymdkapsel (Grapefrukt)

Type:Rider (Cosmografik)

Year Walk (Simogo)

Off Broadway Award for Best Indie Game 

Antichamber (Alexander Bruce)

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (Starbreeze/505 Games)

Gone Home (The Fullbright Company)

Killer Queen Arcade (SortaSoft)

Porpentine’s Twine Compilation (Porpentine)

Papers, Please (Lucas Pope)

Rogue Legacy (Cellar Door)

The Stanley Parable (Davey Wreden and William Pugh)

Towerfall (Matt Thorson)

Statue of Liberty Award for Best World 

Los Santos: Grand Theft Auto V (Rockstar Games)

Columbia: BioShock Infinite (2K Games)

The Caribbean: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (Ubisoft)

Your Town: Animal Crossing: New Leaf (Nintendo)

The Greenbriar Home: Gone Home (The Fullbright Company)

Salt Lake City: Last of Us (Sony)

The White House: Saints Row IV (Deep Silver)

Great White Way Award for Best Overall Acting (Combines Male and 
Female Acting) 

Courtney Draper – Elizabeth – Bioshock Infinite (2K Games)

Ellen Page – Beyond: Two Souls (Sony)

Jay Klaitz – Lester – Grand Theft Auto V (Rockstar Games)

Kevan Brighting – Narrator – The Stanley Parable (Davey Wreden and William Pugh)

Sarah Grayson -Sam – Gone Home (The Fullbright Company).

Stefan Rhodri – Drippy – Ni No Kuni  (Namco Bandai)

Steven Ogg – Trevor – Grand Theft Auto V (Rockstar Games)

Troy Baker – Joel – Last of Us (Sony)

The Central Park Children’s Zoo Awards for Best Kids Game 

Animal Crossing: New Leaf (Nintendo)

Disney Infinity (Disney Interactive)

LegoCity Undercover (Traveler’s Tales, WBIE)

Lego Marvel Super Heroes (Traveler’s Tales, WBIE)

Skylanders: Swap Force (Activision)

Super Mario 3D World (Nintendo)

Tearaway (Sony)

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In which the author learns much and hears the sage words, “Fuck the internet. I swear to God.”

by Jill Scharr

It’s one thing to write about videogames. It’s quite another thing to write for them.

That’s why I attended NYU’s weekend long “Games Writing Master Class” a few weeks ago. The class was taught by Susan O’Connor, a freelance writer who’s worked on titles like BioShock, Far Cry 2, and even the ill-fated Star Wars 1313.

On both days the class opened with an exercise: each table (comprising approximately six people) was given a different simple game, such as a chess board or a deck of cards. We were told to play the games as a group, and then devise a narrative based on the mechanics of the game. For example, my group on Saturday morning got a deck of cards and played Bullshit. We then came up with a narrative about how we were secret agents testing each others’ bluffing skills and learning each others’ tells.

But exactly why did we do this? (more…)

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It’s really one of our best Full Circle shows yet.

Host Sarah Awad went to XCubicle on Hester Street to find out about the art they sell — and the rumor of cockroaches in a PS3!

Founder Harold Goldberg talks about the subversive nature of Animal Crossing: New Leaf.

And there’s some serious discussion between Sarah and Harold about the Ouya’s potential success or failure.

As always, thanks to the great Victor Kalogiannis for editing the show!

Check it out, right here.

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