The Roundup: Artifact Announced, Letters From Incarcerated Gamers, Mortal Kombat Retrospective, Esports In Olympics, DeepMind AI, and Your Brain On Videogames

By Jonathan G. Lee

Hey! Jon here, bringing you another Circle Roundup. This week’s Roundup features some great thought pieces and discussions. Make sure you read this one on your lunch break with a nice salad and a drink.

And with that, the Roundup!

Joshua Rivera had a debate with his colleague Scott Meslow over The Enemy Within, the latest entry in Batman: The Telltale Series. Despite the Batman mythos being well-trodden territory, Josh was impressed by how Telltale Studios focused on the humanity of Batman and the moral contradictions of his war on crime. It was a nice trick. But can a magician pull the same trick off twice? Read Josh’s thoughts here.

Heather Alexandra reports that No Man’s Sky is going to receive another big patch this week. Atlas Rises will add quick travel and improve the game’s core storyline. Despite the game’s flaws. Read Heather’s report here.

Austin Walker reported on Letters From Incarcerated Gamers, a collection of 13 hand-written notes sent to Electronic Gaming Monthly by incarcerated gamers. The zine was compiled by Alejandro Quan-Madrid and illustrated by Mare Odomo. Austin’s report was part of At Play in the Carceral State, a week-long series about gaming in and about prison, which ran during the last week of June. Read Austin’s piece here.

Chelsea Stark and the other women of The Polygon Show got together to record Show 9: Pop The Wib Wob to talk about their first exposure to games. Sweat is involved. By the way, New York summers are the worst. Listen to Chelsea and the gang here.

Matt Gerardi wrote a retrospective on Mortal Kombat, possibly the one Asian-inspired franchise that has resisted blatant appropriation from white people. When Mortal Kombat hit arcades in 1992, the whole country was swept up in MK madness. The series peaked with Mortal Kombat III, and got a swift kick in the nuts with the release of Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. Read Matt’s retrospective here.

And now for news outside of the Circle. . .

Valve announced a new game at The International on Wednesday, and to the chagrin of many people, it wasn’t Portal or Half-Life 3. Instead, it was Artifact, Valve’s new digital trading card game. Even Dota fans who were expecting extra Dota content were either booing or laughing in their seats. Of course, as long as a company delivers a good product through ethical means and charges a fair price, nothing else is owed to consumers. But it’s still really funny to read through the savage YouTube comments. See the launch trailer (and hilarious trolls) here.

Deep Blue defeated the greatest chess player in history, and the resulting data gave us a wealth of insight into the potential of AI. Now, DeepMind is is seeking to continue the spirit of this mission using StarCraft II. DeepMind has partnered with Blizzard Entertainment to perform further research into machine learning, complex problem solving, and non-human agents. Read more here.

There have been dozens of studies done on videogames affecting the brain, and the current census seems to be that different games change your brain in different ways. According to NPR, one study in Molecular Psychiatry suggests that first-person shooters shrink the hippocampus while platformers cause it to grow. The hippocampus is responsible for spatial navigation, stress regulation and memory. However, first-person shooters may also improve visual short-term memory and hand-eye coordination. If this is true, this actually explains a lot. Read more about it here.

Noah Caldwell-Gervias, a fellow cook turned journalist, reviewed West of Loathing. It’s a neat little 2D RPG set in the Wild West by developer Asymmetric. It’s fun and funny, but most of all, it’s got heart. Heart is something we really treasure here at the NYVGCC. Check out Noah’s review here.

Esports could make it to the 2024 Olympic Games. The Olympic Committee is discussing videogames as possible additions to tournament. Read more here.

And that’s your Roundup for today. Tune in next week for some more reads! Until next time!


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