The Roundup: The Circle & Beyond

By Lucy Ungaro

Hello, Circle critics, videogamers and scholars, and welcome to the Roundup–Lucy edition. I will be taking up the mantle for these weekly portals into the gaming world. It’s new and improved with a a special mix of cultural topics outside of our Circle. Without further ado, let’s round up! 

First off, who else feels a little jolt of joy every time Star Wars: the Force Awakens is mentioned? I’m sure it can’t only be me. To tide us over until the movie is released, here‘s a review of Disney Infinity 3.0 by Harold Goldberg in Boys’ Life. A great Star Wars game is rare to find, but this one seems to meet the mark.

Everyone wants a piece of the video game cash cow nowadays. Ben Gilbert writes about Apple’s new version of the “Apple TV”–an attempt to sidle over to the console rush with a heavy focus on streaming games and even playing them locally, while in the previous Apple TV, games were more of an after-thought. Some well-known and celebrated games, like Transistor, will be available on the new Apple TV, as well as an Apple TV exclusive. Check out the article here.

For more news on the Apple TV, and especially its Wii-reminiscent remote, check out a couple articles by Chris Plante: here and here.

Happy 30th Birthday, Mario! This September 13th marks the three-decade anniversary of Super Mario Bros., and thanks to Chelsea Stark we can all celebrate with a compilation of some of the best covers of classic, lovable Mario scores. These talented takes on some of gaming’s most beloved soundtracks are all incredibly heart-warming, and impossible not to dance to–they’re a must-listen.

After you’ve had your fill of Mario music, further the celebration with this article by Matt Gerardi on World 1-1 of Super Mario Bros., explained by the creator, Shigeru Miyamoto himself.

For all you Xbox fans: Dan Ackerman brings you details about the new Xbox One Elite bundle, with a comparison to the original Xbox One release. The bundle is set to come out this November. Check out the article!

Gears of War: Ultimate Edition on the Xbox One gets a glowing review by Ebenezer Samuel–who believes its strength of identity is something we are lacking in games today. Relive the glory of the game, or get pumped about playing it for the first time, right here.

Evan Narcisse provides us with some gorgeous pictures of incredibly detailed Destiny cosplay.

If you’re curious about the new Mad Max game, check out this article by Jason Cipriano. It has an in-depth breakdown of what to expect from the game, and how it is and isn’t related to the movies. This would be helpful for people who love the movies yet aren’t sure whether to buy the game, or for people who are into sandbox games yet aren’t sure whether this one is worth it.

As Fall 2015 approaches, it’s time to stock up on games and gaming gear for the coming winter. Jeff Bakalar shares a list of all the gaming necessities we’ll need in order to survive hibernation.

A new game called Soul Axiom has just been announced for the PS4. Check out beautiful screenshots of the Journey-like desert areas with a camera style similar to Bioshock, brought to you by Jorge Jimenez. 

Madden NFL ’16 has released its first patch. Samit Sarkar gives details of the patch, as well as the scoop on the bugs that prompted it. Ah, bugs. Entertaining and frustrating players in (somewhat) equal measure since 1958. Anyway, here’s the article.

Sara Clemens writes a tale that intertwines her life with games; from rich fantasy worlds to our own, from sharp contrasts to undeniable similarities. We see the games that brought her on the journey from her first computer, to where she is now, a writer and gamer. It is an experience any gamer could relate to.

And now, for news outside of the Circle…

Jane McGonigal is one of the most influential video game writers of our time, and her recent book, “SuperBetter,” is sure to cause a buzz. “SuperBetter” is a self-help book about McGonigal’s “SuperBetter method” for recovery that combines “happiness-research” with video games; she has long been a proponent for something akin to video game therapy. Nathan Heller takes an honest look at McGonigal’s theories in an article for The New Yorker. He points out that her theories are not necessarily based in scientific fact. It is a fascinating discussion that can be applied to any self-help theory, and may resonate with gamers who find themselves unconvinced by “SuperBetter.”

If you are in the New York area and are interested in this subject, the NYU Game Center is hosting a lecture by Jane McGonigal on September 16, 2015 at 7 pm. Information on the event can be found here.

New York University also hosted an Incubator for game designers this summer, who worked intensively on a game in the hopes of reaching commercial release. Information on the games and events are on the NYU Game Center site.

A recent article by Matt Swayne from Penn State claims that as video games evolve to become more intense emotional and narrative experiences, they become more meaningful. This association of expository narratives in games with meaningfulness is a contested one, since people often forget that games can be meaningful in their own ways that are specific to the medium. Read the article and see if you agree.

That’s it for now! Thanks for reading the Roundup, until next time. 

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