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.

Also featured in this week’s Roundup, Joystiq’s Anthony John Agnello sat down with three professional artists to examine backgrounds from this collection of famous Street Fighter and King of Fighters backdrops.  Painter-lecturer Jessica Anne Clark explained the use of perspective and narrative in some boards, painter-illustrator Coreen Steinbach explored the background as a player-energizer, and MFA Jon Gourley highlighted the cultural imagery within the backdrops. The gifs and discussion from experts far outside the field of videogames are a treat.

Kill Screen’s Clayton Purdom took notice of Battle Chef Brigade, a game that aims to capture the drama, excitement, and challenge of a fantasy cooking competition. Purdom discussed the game’s major influence: Iron Chef, another extravagant competition.  Trinket Studios‘ (Tom Eastman, Eric Huang, and Ben Perez) fusion of two artforms: cooking and game-making, is somewhat inspiring.  Their Kickstarter reached its funding goal with 27 days to go.

Greg Carter and Cory Dydell are always making humorous and blunt commentary on the latest happenings in gaming culture.  This week, the pair’s comic strip notices the abundance of very specifically named groups and labels emerging these days.

We’re just getting warmed up! 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 leave a note for us in the comments section.

The Roundup: The Circle Speaks

New games, old games, future games, canceled games, indie games, game patches and all things game in this week’s Roundup!

Jill Scharr was at the No Quarter showcase last Friday playing five very unique indie games.  Evan Narcisse was also in attendance, writing extensively on Slam City Oracles.

Blizzard cancels project Titan, their rumored next MMO game.  Jason Schreier talks anonymously to those involved in the project, detailing what Titan looked like during development.

Over on Mashable, Chelsea Stark gave a smashing review of Super Smash Bros. for 3DS.

Frustrated at legendary engrams turning into worthless loot?  Adam Rosenberg has some good news for you in the form of Bungie’s upcoming loot-focused Destiny patch.

Polygon’s Samit Sarkar talks Battlefield Hardline, the game aiming to learn from the troubled launch of its predecessor Battlefield 4.

Anthony John Agnello interviewed three professional artists to examine famous animated fighting game backgrounds from games like Street Fighter II and King of Fighters ’94.






by Kevin L. Clark

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

Andy Baio, the visionary behind Kickstarter, XOXO, Playfic, and Supercut, launched his own project that he had been dreaming about for years. Entitled Kind of Bloop, Baio created an 8-bit tribute to one of the greatest jazz musicians ever to grace the face of God’s green Earth — Miles Davis. Melding the sounds of Davis’s Kind of Blue with chiptune music, Andy Baio presented a culturally relevant and artistic expression with Kind of Bloop, an 8-bit homage to one of Davis’s most impactful work. Download by clicking here.

Forbes‘ Jason Evangelho wasn’t necessarily on-the-fence about the new streaming juggernaut known as Twitch. So, when he wrote about his playtime with Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes for Fatal Hero’s channel, one couldn’t really pinpoint what to expect. The game is ideal for streamers and if you haven’t read Harry Rabinowitz‘s piece about streamingDisney Infinity is a game that will fit in quite nicely with those looking to participate in the creation / adventure lane. For Jason, though, he managed to learn a few takeaways that you’d be interested in reading especially if you plan on making your own Twitch channel soon.

Two high schoolers who attended the 2014 Girls Who Code summer program managed to make throwing tampons look cooler than how it sounds. Andy Gonzales and Sophie Houser, the two New York students behind the game, cleverly replaced guns with the rapid-firing feminine hygiene products in an attempt to make a statement about the gender gap in the tech industry. They also managed to make talking about one’s period much easier to do through a pixelated avatar who must defeat as many enemies as possible while conserving ammo. If you haven’t already seen the press about this game from Time and Jezebel, feast your corneas on Tampon Run.

We’re just getting warmed up! 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 leave a note for us in the comments section.

by Harry Rabinowitz

Lethal League’s design oozes spectatability.  Yes, I am aware that spectatability is not a word.

But the game, more so than any other game I’ve played, seems to be designed with an audience in mind.  Similar to games like Divekick, Samurai Gunn, and Towerfall, Lethal League falls into an emerging genre I like to call the “one-hit fighter.”  As the name implies, these are fighting games where one hit means the end of a round. Lethal League, as described by its developer Reptile Games, “is a competitive projectile fighting game.”  But unlike many of its fighting game brethren, Lethal League can be watched and, more importantly, enjoyed by people who are not experienced with the game.

What gives Lethal League its allure is its simplicity, both in its gameplay and in its viewing. From the moment a match starts, everyone is focused on one thing: the glowing ball, floating center stage.  The objective of the game?  Hit that ball.  Hit it fast and hit it hard.

To get an idea of what I mean, here is a brief video of me playing against the computer.

The game is, put simply, explosive.  When getting hit means losing a round, there is never a dull viewing moment, especially when the ball reaches blindingly fast speeds.  Tension runs high when you see someone slam the ball downwards and it stops, being held there for a few good seconds, building to a new, insane speed, before being let go to wreak havoc.  The crowd has a chance to collectively hold its breath together with the players.  The combination of high speed and nearly paused gameplay makes Lethal League incredible to watch.  And I have no doubt that it was designed this was very intentionally.

With the explosion of game spectatorship, many designers, particularly those designing fighting games and MOBAs, are beginning to think about how much fun their game is to watch as well as to play.  This is not something that happened overnight or after Amazon acquired Twitch.  When the 2012 League of Legends Season 2 World Championship broke 1.1 million concurrent online viewers, everyone took notice.  A year later, the issue of spectatability was a key question during the memorable New York eSports Summit.

On the next page, Harry discusses how Lethal League and other titles can be made palpable for spectated watching…

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The Roundup: The Circle Speaks

Still in that line to get your iPhone 6? Luck for you, Circle members have been busy covering everything from phones to VR to loads of games.  So relax and catch up on last week while you wait with today’s Roundup.

Jeff Bakalar and Scott Stein of CNET answer all your iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus questions in this extensive video Q&A.  Spoilers: the tie comes off.

Chris Plante also recently bought an iPhone 6 Plus.  Then he got rid of it.  It’s a long story.

At the first ever Oculus Connect conference, Game Informer’s Mike Futter got his hands on the new Crescent Bay prototype build.  He proceeded to stand up and walk around with it.

Eagerly awaiting the release of Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor?  Then you’ll definitely want to check out Lucas Siegel’s interview with director of design Michael de Plater.

6 impressive student games were showcased last week at the NYU Incubator Showcase.  Evan Narcisse of Kotaku writes on the games and the minds behind them.

Ever notice the lack of arcade-style sports titles as of late?  Super Mega Baseball aims to fill that void.  Samit Sarkar explores the game and the studio behind it over at Polygon.


We here at the New York Videogame Critics Circle want to have in-depth, colorful, and really cool conversations with personalities within the gaming industry. For our debut installment of the series we’d like to call GIFT OF GAB, we sat down with the head honcho behind Unwinnable Stu Horvath, who’s also been the game critic for the New York Daily News. If you’re unfamiliar with this horror-loving, retro-gaming, metal connoisseur who will  smack the living daylights out of you if you cheat at Monopoly, let us break down his stat sheet for you.

As founder and editor-in-chief of Unwinnable and its digital component Unwinnable Weekly, Stu leads a raucous gang of gamers and illustrators who provide a “new way to read the best stories about video games and culture” to the masses. A New Jersey City University alum with a varied skill set in photography, Stu doesn’t follow the “rules and regulations” of the internet. You’ll see in our sit-down with the New York Videogames Critics Circle member that he, and his Unwinnable cohorts, don’t abide by SEO practices or use listicles to get your clicks.

A true student of new media, this scribe who refuses to be boxed in creates compelling content that allows him and those of his ilk to stand out amongst all the unimaginative clutter.

In our exclusive chat with Stu Horvath, we reminiscence about his games journalism origins; mull over his thoughts of the Twitch and Oculus Rift deals that have flooded our timelines; and inquire about how he lost his “video game virginity”. Enjoy!

For the uninitiated, can you talk about how you got your start in games journalism? What was your first piece that allowed you to standout from the freelancers?
I started writing about games while I was a photo editor at the New York Daily News. This was back in 2008, which happened to arguably be of the very best year, release wise, for the previous console generation. Fable 2, Fallout 3, Grand Theft Auto IV, Gears of War 2, Left 4 Dead, Braid and more all came out that year, so there was no shortage of thought-provoking games to write about.

No one else was covering games there at the time, at least not on a regular basis, so I just seized the opportunity. Looking back, the whole thing was just shy of a con job – here’s this photographer with no formal writing training suddenly slinging ink for a major outlet. I think a lot of people took me much more seriously than they should have because of where I worked. None of the folks at the Daily News took my game writing very seriously, that’s for sure.

At any rate, I met some very kind folks, like Harold Goldberg, Elise Vogel (who ran Crispy Gamer at the time) and Gus Mastrapa out in Los Angeles who were very gracious with their advice and free with their time.

That’s pretty much how I got my start – by accident. I am leery of the term “Games Journalist.” I’ve been writing more about horror in the last year than games, does that make me a Horror Journalist now? Seems silly to pen yourself in like that. I’m just a writer who sometimes writes about games.

I was never much for freelancing. I’ve always been more interested in doing my own thing.

Unwinnable has the distinction of being unmitigated by any mysterious powers-that-be. Can you talk to how establishing your voice within the gaming community gave you creative freedom?
I think it was the other way around. I started Unwinnable for me – when other people wanted to write for me, I let them write how they wanted. Because Unwinnable has always been free form, because we don’t chase clicks with SEO-clad headlines and listicles, because we’re genuinely interested in furthering the cultural conversation – that’s why the community cares about Unwinnable.

Unbeknownst to gamers who are reading this interview, freelancers for other sites aren’t often granted the security of owning their written copy. How has Unwinnable been able to keep Mr. Sticky Fingers from robbing your contributors of their bitcoins?
For most of its existence, writing for Unwinnable was motivated by a desire to write something weird or heartfelt that no one else would publish. Getting paid for it was never really part of the equation (which is good, because Unwinnable was usually broke).

At any rate, I decided early on that I had no interest in owning the rights to stories published on Unwinnable, and that’s that.

On the next page, Stu discusses the obstacles he and his team faced in creating a successful site…

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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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