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by Harold Goldberg

As we carefully prepare for our Awards event in February, there’s already change in the air.

First, we are really proud of our new New York Videogame Critics Circle Award. Of course, we’ll miss the old, handmade, spray-painted, super-indie, old school joystick. But it was definitely time for a change.

John Azzilonna has designed a brand new award, and we think it looks terrific.

There still may be some tweaks to the Award before the big day rolls around next year and we have our big event.

For now, we thought you’d enjoy seeing what John has so artfully created.

Additionally, we’ve shortened the name of the event itself. It’s no longer a mouthful to say. While our group name will remain the same, we’re dubbing our event The New York Videogame Awards.

Stay tuned. There’ll be much more news on the Awards very soon!

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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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In this long form piece, our writer Sarah Awad looks at the role of female characters in video games- the good, the bad and the ugly.

Our story begins…

Ten minutes to midnight, as a suburban town lies dormant in the dead of night, Sarah, the protagonist, enters her home with a soft shut of the door.  A well-bodied thirty-something clad in jeans and a t-shirt, she schleps into the living room, exhausted and concerned as she debates with her business partner on the cell phone. “I can’t lose this job!” she warns, as if work has been slow, as if ends are barely meeting for her.  She sighs as she speaks. As a single mother caring for a twelve-year-old, her distress over this job appears pressing.  She concludes the call as she sees her son, Joel, perk up from his sleep on the living room couch, awaiting her return.  He asks about her day. She tells him it is past his bedtime.  Obviously forgetting her birthday, Joel reminds her with a gift, a new watch, since she kept complaining about her broken one.  Although spent from a long days work, Sarah’s heart fills from this gift, and after a few laughs and some TV-time shared with Joel, she tucks him into bed. “Goodnight, baby boy,” she whispers.

This is how Naughty Dog’s zombie drama The Last of Us begins, except all is not what it seems; in the actual game, Joel is the parent, the playable character, and Sarah his child.  And in the ten minutes that follow, Sarah is killed and Joel is thrown headlong into a tragic quest of heartache and survival in an infected world. 

Although she never existed, who could our role-reversed-Last of Us-Sarah have been if she was the true lead of the game: a single mother, worried about money, trying to balance a busy life, grieving the loss of a child, trying to physically and mentally survive in the midst of tragedy.  Both the mother and the breadwinner, she could have been a woman of depth, one who does not necessarily fall into an obvious role.  A woman living her life, and doing her best- she could be a friend, someone in town; she could have been anyone. 

If there can be narratives about such a man in the central role of a video game, could there ever be a game about such a woman?

(more…)

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As the doors to E3 open, relax after a long day of excitement with some reads from your fellow members!

Mashable’s Chelsea Stark advises us on what to look out for this E3

Dan Ackerma’s got PC gaming at E3 via CNET

Jeff Bakalar’s 404 Podcast celebrates a satisfying milestone!

MTV’s Craig Goldstein retells the story of Chris Kooluris, this time with a little help from the man himself

Stu Horvath of Unwinnable interviews Laird Barron

Adam Rosenberg talks Fantasia: Music Evolved via Digital Trends

 

 

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Russ Frushstick has the best of April via Polygon 

Joystiq’s Anthony Agnello talks League of Legends with the Voices of League of Legends playing League of Legends… You got that? 

Jeff Bakalar’s 404 Podcast talks MLB for PS4

 

Stu Horvath and Jill Scharr have a comics roundup via Unwinnable  

Mashable’s Chelsea Stark talks the art of icons… Game icons… like, on your phone icons 

 

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By Sarah Awad

Dan Ackerman reviews the new Chrome OS laptops via CNET

Jeff Bakalar’s 404 Podcast talks Facebook 

 Engadget’s Ben Gilbert has some (poorly played) Titanfall

Chris Plante of Polygon has a feature on the Street Fighter movie

Samit Sarkar has Capcom Pro Tour info via Polygon

Shouts from the Couch’s Jeremy Voss has something to say about South Park and health insurance

 

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Kick off the wildcard weather month of March with some Circle reads

Jeff Bakalar’s CBS – 404 Podcast has special guest Kofi Outlaw

Kotaku’s Jason Schreier tells a story of his Final Fantasy love 

Scott Stein has something to say about wearable tech via CNET: 

Jeremy Voss of Shouts from the Couch takes us through his first several hours of Thief 

 

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