The Roundup: The Circle & Beyond

by Lucy Ungaro

Welcome, post-GDC world! The industry game conference has come to a close, and strangely, we go on as before. This week, videogames forge ahead and AI takes over the world. 

I always thought of GDC as an inclusive, classy space for game developers of all shapes and sizes. Turns out, this isn’t always the case! You may have heard that Microsoft hosted an event at GDC that featured scantily clad “booth babes” dancing on pedestals, not unlike a strip club. Chelsea Stark brings us the details on the event, as well as the apology that Xbox gave. It’s a shame that this kind of distasteful objectification still happens at well-established game events.

Meanwhile, Harold Goldberg stayed home to video interview role model/Olympic gold medalist Abby Wambach about soccer, gaming as a release for an athlete and the Mario/Sonic Olympics game for his gig at Boys’ Life magazine. Soon, we’ll post the long version of the interview here so you can compare and contrast.

Zelda fan? Matt Gerardi offers a comprehensive viewpoint on the pros and cons of Twilight Princess-a love it or hate it Zelda game, though I think most people might tend towards the “hate” side, which explains why I love it. The article manages to be opinionated, yet fair, and argues that there are many aspects of the game that future Zelda games should learn from.

Jeremy Voss compiles a list of criticisms of the Division, which mainly center around the discord between motivation of the player and motivation of the character. Jeremy himself brings up a great point about looting, but I won’t spoil it! Check out the article here.

This article makes me angry. It makes me angry because Dan Ackerman writes about a gaming laptop that is better than mine. This ‘predatory’ laptop has a wonderful graphics card and somehow manages to stay cool. Plus, it has a really attractive logo.

Hitman: Episode 1, according to Ebenezer Samuel, is an engaging start to the latest and episodic addition to the Hitman series, but its abrupt ending leaves something to be desired. Read the review here.

Ok, now we get to the “AI taking over the world” segment of the Roundup. First off, check out Jeff Bakalar’s video on a robot defeating a human at Go. Now, he may claim that robot world-domination is just a fantasy, but it’s provocative so I’m going to keep saying it.

Next up–AI learning through our very videogames. And I guffaw at those who said videogames were a waste of time! Michelle Ehrhardt provides a very informative and fascinating article on AI learning through none other than our favorite Italian plumber (and friends). Read about the development of our future overlords here.

Online harassment is scary, I think we can all agree. Now imagine it in a VR setting. It’s almost like a nightmare–it can feel real even when you know it’s not. Allegra Frank writes about VR harassment at GDC, and how it can be curtailed. Check it out here. Update: there’s been some backlash about this story. Gamasutra blogger, Elizabeth Sampet, writes about the lack of consent in the faux-experiment done to prove VR’s potential dangers, and how this incident was far more troubling than the consensual dancing at the Microsoft party. Read the article here.

And now for news outside of the Circle…

If you look up GDC news, most of the results are about VR. So I guess it is relevant and important and therefore my job to share it with you! Here is Wizmag’s summary of the many different VR headsets featured at GDC, as well as their take on which was the “best”.

Here’s a Bioware teaser from GDC–apparently, the company will soon announce a new IP. Hopefully it will have better luck holding on to its developers than Mass Effect 4! Low blow?

I’m going to end on a somber note. Thank You For Gaming is a game that a father made to chronicle the experiences of raising a son with terminal cancer. Read about the game here. As sad as it is, I think the game showcases how videogames can bring people to a level of empathy that is difficult, or even impossible, to reach in other forms of media.

Thanks for reading! See you soon. 





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