Posts Tagged ‘video games’

This week, we have features, interviews, videos, explainers, and reviews, all from the lovely members of the Critics Circle.

Harold Goldberg published his long-in-the-making, 5000-word cover story on League of Legends, eSports, and Cloud9 HyperX over at Playboy Magazine.

Alex Navarro sat down with Vinny Caravella for another GiantBomb quick look, this time for Duck Dynasty.

Ben Gilbert educates the masses on Google and Oracle’s upcoming (and ongoing) legal battle over coding and Android.

Adam Rosenberg interviewed creative director Jens Matthies about Wolfenstein: The New Order and its incredibly deliberate design choices.

Jeff Bakalar reviewed The Evil Within, Shinji Mikami’s latest entry to the survival horror genre.

Anthony John Agnello reviewed Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, the follow up to 2012’s Persona 4 Arena, which is the fighting game spin-off of 2008’s Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4.  It’s a bit complicated…

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by Harry Rabinowitz

I don’t like playing games in public.  I get self-conscious, embarrassed, like I have a group of critics watching my every move, even when no one is paying me any mind.  I want games to be respected by everyone, and when something inherently silly, childish, sexist, stupid, mundane, poorly written, or poorly designed happens in the game I’m playing, I can’t help but turn around to see if anyone’s noticed.

And half the time, someone does notice.  I have the pleasure (and curse) of playing games around game designers.  Designers can strip a game down in a matter of seconds, either making you look smart for choosing to play that game or look like a tasteless buffoon.

Most days, it’s the latter.  Recently, I was watching a friend of mine play Final Fantasy XIII, a series that I am very familiar with, but an installment I have not touched.  Throughout the play session, I was intrigued by the battle system, character progression, story, and world.  Only an hour or so in, I hadn’t really decided if I “liked” the game or not.  Like many JRPGs, the character designs were easy to poke fun at, but I made fun of Snow’s plaid waist scarf and Vanille’s triple stringed yo-yo staff thing in an endearing way.

That is until one of the many MFA game design students begins to take note of the game.  After watching for about four minutes (and calling a robotic scorpion boss monster “cute”), he stated, “So this game is just walking down hallways, watching cutscenes, and rolling a bunch of dice?”  My friend replied, “basically”.

Final Fantasy XIII, 6 years in development, millions of dollars in the making, broken down into a sentence.  After hearing that, I looked back at the game and it seemed like trash, an utter waste of time.

This is why I don’t like playing games in public.  It constantly feels like I need to defend the game I’m playing, or even my right to play it.  After watching a five minute long cutscenes with shaky dialogue, I feel like I need to explain why this is worth my time to the board of “proper game designers” behind me.

But after playing one game demo in public, I threw all this out the window.  Bayonetta 2 showed me that, if I’m having fun, maybe I shouldn’t feel the need to defend myself.

It helps that Bayonetta 2 is utterly insane.  You can see what I mean for yourself on the next page.

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Held at the Cafe Club Fais Do-Do in the City of Angels, IndieCade 2014 was another resounding success.  Todd Martens’ Los Angeles Times article framed the event nicely, saying that IndieCade proudly hosted bold, experimental new games amidst opposition in the form of #GamerGate.

The award winners, which can be found in full on the IndieCade website, are as follows:

With more than 150 games being shown to the public, the festival served as a central hub to discuss the changing landscapes within gaming culture.

Did you attend? Share your stories and thoughts with us in the comments below!

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by Harry Rabinowitz

Read about last week’s gaming happenings from the best in the East!

Russ Frushtick makes his debut on The New York Times with his piece on the 10 player arcade game Killer Queen.

Over on Kotaku, Evan Narcisse gave his review of the completely over the top action-spectacle Bayonetta 2.

Ebenezer Samuel reviewed an action game of a completely different sort, Disney Infinite 2.0, over at The New York Daily News.

Chelsea Stark and Jeff Bakalar both took a look at Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel and both came to similar conclusions.  It’s a pre-sequel.  You can find Chelsea’s review on Mashable and Jeff’s review on CNET.

Samit Sarkar talked with Remember Me developer Dontnod Entertainment about their upcoming episodic adventure game, Life is Strange.

Anthony John Agnello bring us his impressions of the Resident Evil: Revelations 2 demo, straight from the New York Comic Con.

And for another bonus this week, Jason Schreier has been busy over on Kotaku, writing about the strange “Limbo” that occurs for game devs at Ubisoft when between games as well as tackling the next-gen 1080p kerfuffle.

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With “review season” under way, Circle members have been playing games.  A lot of games! Here are some of our members’ stories in this week’s Roundup!

Jeremy Voss started playing Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor.  About an hour in, he gives us his initial thoughts on his blog Shouts From The Couch.

Chris Plante has been into Shadow of Mordor as well, only when he plays, it makes him feel like a terror-inducing mass murderer.  That hasn’t stopped him from playing though…

If fantasy isn’t your fancy, Dualshockers’ Jorge Jimenez reviewed FIFA 15. He also recorded a video play-session where he attempts to become the greatest athlete ever.

And if you’re looking for something a little…stranger, Alex Navarro reviewed D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die over on Giant Bomb.

Jason Schreier checked on the progress of Nintendo’s recent entry into the world of DLC and how it has affected the company’s recent games.

Over on Gamespot, Nick Capozzoli reviewed Spacecom, the abstract, minimalistic strategy game about one-on-one galactic battle.

And as an added bonus for this week, Evan Narcisse played a Suda51 game called Ranko Tsukigime’s Longest Day.  According to Narcisse, playing it is “probably the most otaku thing you’ll do all year.”


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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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Hello, Gamers! This is the inaugural post for our new franchise entitled ARCADE FIRE.

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.

KILL SCREEN‘s Jamin Warren wrote about how Atli Bollason and Owen Hindley used Pong as an inspiration to revamp concept design. The duo managed to turn the building facade of the Harpa concert hall in Iceland into an open-air arcade. It is not the first time that a major city has been turned into a gamer’s paradise and surely it won’t be the last.

Itching for another fix of some world class basketball after Team USA decimated the global competition? Celebrated modder MGX brings his talents back to the hardwood for an intergalactic, futuristic battle for the ages. In what has become a staple in MkEliteWorksX cap, 2K SportsNBA 2K14 is reimagined with Darth Vader and son, Luke Skywalker, taking on the androids from I, Robot. It’s worth watching and downloading the mod to play against friends while waiting for the NBA season (or 2K15) to start.

8BitGamer always has something fresh and unique to offer when discussing video games and the culture. Enlisting the talents of writer Dragomir Simovic and artist Aleksandar Jovic, the duo take a stab at the not-so-beloved updates made to the popular Call of Duty franchise. If anything, I believe this particular gamer in the comic strip shares too much information.

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.

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