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Transcript:

Welcome back for the second episode of Full Circle, from the New York City Videogame Critics’ Circle. Everyone in the games world has spent the past few days either at the Game Developers’ Conference in San Francisco, or playing BioShock Infinite. The game is easily the most anticipated of 2013 and already looks like a strong contender for Game of the Year. Without getting into spoilers, here’s what a few of our members think of it:

  • Evan Narcisse of Kotaku writes: “Like Portal 2, BioShock Infinite is a sequel that builds on and maybe even surpasses the original game.”
  • Jeremy Voss is still figuring out how to talk about the game. “Whatever misgivings I might have about the story and certain other aspects of the game’s narrative, one thing I can say with absolute certainty is that Columbia is arguably an even more engrossing place than Rapture.”
  • And be sure to check out Harold Goldberg’s feature in the New York Times Arts section: “The Nerd as Auteur in BioShock Infinite.”

If Twitter is anything to go by, one of GDC’s most important panels this year was “One Reason to Be,” where women in the games industry, including the Circle’s Leigh Alexander, talked about their experiences. The panel caused an outpouring of tweets with the hashtag #1ReasonToBe, a continuation of the #1ReasonWhy hashtag that trended a few months ago to raise awareness of sexism in the games industry. Later the same evening, however, a party cosponsored by the International Game Developers Association which featured scantily-clad female dancers sparked outrage and indignation among members. Brenda Braithwaite Romero, a game developer and another speaker on the One Reason to Be panel, told Polygon “I went home feeling super uplifted by the turnout and support for the #1ReasonToBe panel. I woke up to DMs, texts and links to news of the IGDA party. It really saddens me. I have been a long-time supporter of the IGDA. However, my silence would have been complicity. I had no choice [but to resign from the board]. And just hours after our panel, too.”

Another hot topic among journalists at GDC was the issue of review aggregation. What is it? Is it helpful for readers? This week Gamasutra broke the story that Metacritic, a site that averages review scores from across the web to create a supposedly definitive ‘meta-score’, uses a weighting system that many have found questionable. The system, according to Gamasutra, has six tiers, with outlets like Yahoo Games ranked higher than Edge Magazine. Metacritic has since responded reputing Gamasutra’s data, but the discussion about review aggregation, and what it does for the industry, continues.

There were a lot of journalism-related panels at PAX East this year, many of which our members participated in. There are more transcripts, videos and coverage here on our website. For now, that’s it for Full Circle. Join us next time!

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by Harold Goldberg

Not that we care about the intricacies of marketing that much here at the Critics Circle, but we do care about cross-cultural concinnity, a kind of beautiful harmony between gaming and other pop culture entities.

Recently, what we’ve seen with the gaming industry are co-promotions that lack creativity. Halo and Mountain Dew is an example. Beyond Halo, co-promoting energy drinks with any other generic shooter is another banal exercise, akin to a journalist getting a pizza in the mail to entice us to review a product. It’s old.

So when I saw “The Life of Pi” and “Anna Karenina” with their own Republic of Tea teas, we took notice. One can of Mountain Dew is here and then it’s gone. But a can of 50 teas, well, that stays around for a month or two, constantly promoting whenever it’s placed on the table. For example, wouldn’t the recent Kickstarted game, Sir, You Are Being Hunted, which features tea, benefit from some branded tea?

Certainly, Assassin’s Creed III, which takes place around the time of the Boston Tea Party and offers Tea Party game play
, could have used some leaves to get the word out about this historically accurate yet fantastical game.

You might say, “Well, a lot of this is rubbish. Halo and its marketers are just targeting its proper demographic by using Mountain Dew. You’re not going to see Master Chief drinking tea.” But the gaming demographic is expanding and getting older. Wouldn’t a thinking person’s game like Assassin’s Creed III benefit some tea branding?

More, how about Irrational Games’ upcoming game? BioShock Infinite Earl Grey, anyone?

But the larger point is this: currently, branding for the bigger games can be as boring as the main story in Halo 4 (which is not a knock against its game play). The powers that are need to think harder to bring gamers into their franchises. That means offering a better experience all around – from design to narrative to, yes. marketing.

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