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The Roundup: The Circle Speaks

by Harry Rabinowitz

The holidays are right around the corner. So, what are you getting for your family? Don’t know? Well, for now, forget about it and check out what our illustrious Circle members have been up to.

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U has been the talk of the town, an accomplishment in and of itself with so many new releases. Check out Chelsea Stark’s review straight from Mashable. For a second opinion, Jason Cipriano gives his thoughts on Spike. And for a third, why not see what Anthony John Agnello has to say at DigitalTrends?

If you’re still on the fence about Dragon Age: Inquisition, Jill Scharr’s review might help you make up your mind. If not, you can take a look at Ebenezer Samuel’s review from The New York Daily News.

Jason Schreier continues rounding up game industry layoff stories on Kotaku. This time, he found one that wasn’t all that bad! Just one though…

As we prepare game lists for our own awards show, the new The Game Awards prepared it’s list of contenders. Samit Sarkar has the nominees.

Jeff Bakalar reviews the Xbox One one year after its launch.

Ben Gilbert has notices that many of the recent AAA games have been essentially broken at launch. His thoughts and discussion are over on Engadget.

by Harry Rabinowitz

Here, we spotlight the movements, mods, and works of art within gaming culture for your ultimate enjoyment. The weekly post is your central point to see just how video games influence the world around us.

With the reveal of the long-awaited Super Smash Bros. for Wii U opening cinematic, Ron Duwell begs the question: What happened to our inspiring, masterfully crafted, adrenaline-inducing openings of yesteryear? Tracing all the way back to the arcade, Duwell follows the timeline of the videogame opening.  What started as eye-catchers moved into introductory stories, hype-generators, and everything in-between. And most of these memorable intros came from Japan, as seen by nearly all of Duwell’s examples.

Robert Morris University in Illinois has a varsity e-sports team, the first of its kind.  What started off as a simple proposal quickly became real, as staffers received thousands of applications from students around the world. Current members of the team focus mainly on League of Legends. And just like any other varsity team, these “e-athletes” receive large scholarships, sometimes up to half their tuition costs. Manoush Zomorodi gives all the details on “Eagles eSports” via WNYC podcast.

Going east, American University’s School of Communication has a different take on the rise of videogames: applying video game design to journalism. And they got $250,000 in grant money to do it. The belief is that videogame design teaches leadership, management, and collaboration in spades, all skills vital to journalism.  Videogame designers also have a skill journalists desperately want: the ability to capture and engage an audience.  Mike Scutari, albeit skeptical, gives the full breakdown here.

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 let us know @HaroldGoldberg, @KevitoClark, and @HarryRabinowitz.

The Roundup: The Circle Speaks

by Harry Rabinowitz

In case you were living under a rock last week, a boatload of big games were released. Lucky for you, our Circle members aren’t known to live under rocks, so they’ve got you covered in this week’s Roundup.

To start us off, Ben Gilbert streamed his impressions of multiple titles, including Assassin’s Creed Unity, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, and the re-released Grand Theft Auto 5.

For a different take on Assassin’s Creed Unity, check out Jeremy Voss, who tackled the first few hours over on Shouts From The Couch.

Mike Futter reported a rocky launch for Blizzard’s fifth World of Warcraft expansion, Warlords of Draenor due to DDoS attacks against the company and server problems all around.

Jorge Jimenez and Adam Rosenberg both reviewed Bioware’s massive new RPG Dragon Age: Inquisition. You can find Jorge’s review on Dualshockers and Adam’s on Digitaltrends.

If AAA games aren’t your fancy, Evan Narcisse reviewed Never Alone, the platformer imbued with Alaskan Iñupiaq culture.

And Anthony John Agnello reviewed Freedom Wars, the futuristic, Monster Hunter-esque, grindathon by SCE Japan.

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Here, we spotlight the movements, mods, and works of art within gaming culture for your ultimate enjoyment. The weekly post is your central point to see just how video games influence the world around us.

With games making more money than the U.S. economy, there are a host of independent creators who are pushing the culture into the faces of the mainstream. One particular destination is CineFix, also known as 8-Bit Cinema, which makes original videos for true movie buffs and filmmakers on YouTube. The group took Wes Anderson‘s classic The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou and turned it into a point A to point B video game. Their reinterpretation of the Bill Murray classic is pretty artful and creative to watch—which you can do so by clicking here.

Kotaku‘s Gergo Vas found something for all those ’80s Babies who are into mechanized robots. “Atlas”, a 6-foot, 330-pound humanoid robot, is the pride and joy of engineers at Boston Dynamics. Together, they are ensuring that the days of man are coming to an end by making ninja-like robots. We’re only kidding, but in the video (which you can watch here), “Atlas” attempts to do something that not even the T-1000 could do —the famous “Crane Kick” from The Karate Kid. Full disclosure: You may want to watch on mute as “Atlas” still sounds like he’s a work-in-progress.

8BitGamer‘s resident comic book artist, Aleksandar Jovic takes a brief break from penning tales about Super Mario to humor us with an interesting take on the iPhone 6. While it is a device that you can play video games on, it may not be the best device to use while playing Twister. Want to know why then just check out the comic by clicking here.

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 let us know @HaroldGoldberg, @KevitoClark, and @HarryRabinowitz.

The Roundup: The Circle Speaks

by Harry Rabinowitz

If you’re like Circle member Stu Horvath, then this is the time of year where you want a quiet place to warm up and read.  What better reading material than this week’s Roundup?

Jason Schreier reports on The Game Awards, a new videogame awards show being produced by Geoff Keighley.

Chris Plante reviews Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and asks the question: “Do we prefer killing virtual people on a world that looks like our own?”

Jason Cipriano reviews the other big shooter of the week, Halo: The Master Chief Collection.

Now that it has been out for a year, Jeff Bakalar re-reviews the Playstation 4 over on CNET.

Forgoing a formal review, Lucas Siegel explores Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor’s Nemesis System, and how it could improve existing game franchises.

In another installment of Mashable’s “What to Play”, Chelsea Stark recommends The Long Dark, a single-player survival game in the winter Canadian wilderness.

Mario Cartridge

by Harry Rabinowitz

“Can I take a look?” Rebecca asks me, gesturing towards the blue-screening copy of Mega Man III.

“Sure.”

I open the lid of the Nintendo Entertainment System, a piece of equipment a little under a decade older than me, caress the cartridge of Mega Man III out of the system and pass it to Rebecca, a visiting videogame preservation expert.  She flips the large square upside down.  It rattles a bit.

“What’s that?” I ask.  “Sounds like a bead or something.”

“It’s bad.  Really bad.” She frowns.

Rebecca explains what the sound means.  I ask more questions, naturally curious about games and a console I never had the pleasure of owning.  It gets complicated.  About a half-hour later I get the gist of it.

That copy of Mega Man III is dead.  We won’t be able to get it to play anymore.

I work in the NYU Game Library.  Every day, I sit at my desk placed in front of hundreds of cartridges.  Atari, NES, N64, Sega Master System, SNES, GameBoy, you name it.  I’ve probably only played three of them.  Slowly but surely, each and every one of these games will degrade.  The cartridge might get “finicky”.  The consoles might run a game strangely.  And one day, a Legend of Kage or Zelda II with have its final death rattle.  It might literally start rattling, or just show a silent blue screen, and that’s that.  If I were more versed in this kind of hardware, I could open up the cartridge and try to bring it back.  But I’m not, and I don’t know a single person in my generation who is.

60 years from now will people still be able to play any of these NES cartridges?

Videogames are not like other art forms.  We cannot just put a copy of The Legend of Zelda in a glass display somewhere and be satisfied.  To understand a game, you need to play it.  With companies like Sony and Microsoft abandoning backwards compatibly, the likelihood that my stack of PlayStation 2 games will ever see playtime is shrinking every day the console gets older.  Nintendo is trying its best with the Virtual Console store, but they do not offer nearly the amount of titles that sit behind my work desk.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure how to physically preserve the consoles and games I work with everyday.  But I do know how to digitally preserve them.

I am, of course, talking about emulators.

Things for from grim to hopeful (albeit a bit complicated) with the turn of a page…

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Here, we spotlight the movements, mods, and works of art within gaming culture for your ultimate enjoyment. The weekly post is your central point to see just how video games influence the world around us.

For longtime computer whiz kids and all-around geeks, the words “AOL Instant Messenger” harken back to a time where emoticons were first born and used to make conversations interesting. Kill Screen‘s Michael Pedersen wrote about developer Hit That Switch whom recently came out with its own trailer utilizing the old-world tech in a top-down action-adventure game called The Great Emoticon. In it, players are an unnamed protagonist who uses the emotional energies of happiness, anger, sadness and others to persevere a post-apocalyptic world. The Toronto-based team will plan on releasing the pleasantly vibrant game sometime in 2015.

Kotaku‘s own Evan Narcisse pleasantly writes about Rockstar Games‘ visual upgrades to their new-gen Grand Theft Auto V. Providing a quick glimpse as to what players can expect from the award-winning and high-grossing game, it is interesting to note that not everything is going to gravitate gamers like the inclusion of a “first-person mode”. For the eagle-eyed video game lover, tweaks such as improved character design, detailed clouds in the sky, or the 1080i-HD look of a car’s interior makes GTA V something worth copping when it drops on November 18th.

In full disclosure, Circle member Kevin L. Clark (@KevitoClark) was attempting to break a few gaming records listed in the 2015 Guiness World Records Gamer’s Edition, which hits stores today (Nov. 6). Game Informer‘s Jason Dafnis lists a few of the newest record holders who have shown to be the “best of the best” in the global gaming community. Names such as Spain’s Rodrigo Santos and Austrian Martin Fornleitner are riddled off with ease. While Kevin L. Clark may never beat records for longest World of Warcraft marathon, it is worth purchasing for the goal-setting individual. The full list of records and their holders is available in the book, which is in stores now.

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 let us know @HaroldGoldberg, @KevitoClark, and @HarryRabinowitz.

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