By Matt Gerardi
Welcome back to The Roundup, the New York Videogame Critics Circle’s weekly look at our members’ writing and news from around the world of videogames. This week, our writers discuss esports firsts, a VR throwback, and The Witcher’s portable debut. Plus, a very special post from one of the young writers in our mentoring program.
The NBA 2K League held the draft for its upcoming season last weekend, with a pool of more than 220 players looking to get selected for teams across the global esports league. At The Gamer, Whitney Meers wrote about Hu “Luck_Yi_Wesley” Yi, who, as the 56th overall pick, became the first Chinese player to ever be drafted for the league. He’ll be playing for the newly founded Gen.G Tigers of Shanghai. Whitney ran down Yi’s history, including his breakout win during the Chinese 2K championship and his surprising voice-acting career. Most importantly, as Whitney points out, Yi is poised to be a fantastic ambassador for 2K to China, where the NBA and 2K are already tremendously popular.
For The Daily News, Ebenezer Samuel dug into the recent Switch edition of The Witcher 3. It’s the same dense, thoughtfully written RPG epic as you remember, Ebenezer said, given new life by the portability the Switch affords it. The only problem, in his eyes, comes when you dock the Switch, and Nintendo’s little hybrid system has to try to keep up with such a huge, lush game. But even that can be overcome with a little help from a new patch, which allows PC Witcher 3 players to transfer their saves over to the Nintendo version and get the best of both portability and power.
Christopher Byrd donned his Oculus headset and spent some time with Path of the Warrior, the latest VR game from the jolly weirdoes at Twisted Pixel. He shared some thoughts on the game as part of The Washington Post’s Rec’d feature, painting it as a silly and endearingly simple homage to the arcade beat’em-ups of the early ’90s. “If you want to add a little color to your shadow boxing or would like to see what a late 20th-century-style arcade game would look like in VR, have at it,” he wrote.
Also this week, the storied music-game developers at Harmonix announced their latest project, Fuser, a music-mixing DJ game that picks up where the studio’s beloved but ill-fated DropMix picks off. Noted DropMix aficionado Jordan Minor covered the new game’s announcement. He notes that “Losing the physical card aspect might take away from the cool, passive, ornamental aspect of just leaving DropMix on at a party. But Fuser being a purely digital video game certainly makes it less cumbersome (and less expensive).”
And finally, we take a trip to the Critics Circle site for a very special post from one of the students in our Lower East Side Videogame Critics Circle mentoring group. The young author, Isaiah, shared with us the story of the night his father left and the game he disappeared into until dawn. It’s a powerful, personal piece from this brave young writer, and you should give it a read.
From Beyond The Circle
Way back in the early months of 2019, Red Candle Games’ horror title Devotion released to a wave of critical acclaim and, after the discovery of an in-game image mocking Chinese president Xi Jinping, was completely pulled from sale. It’s one of the more shocking examples of game censorship we’ve seen in recent years, and while there are still no signs of Devotion returning to sale any time soon, there are signs that academics, at least, are putting in the work to preserve it. Gamasutra has reported that the Harvard-Yenching Library, an arm of the university’s library devoted to preserving and collecting East Asian art and historical artifacts, will be adding the game to its collection. Upon hearing the news, the developers at Red Candle posted a heartwarming message of appreciation to Facebook.
Launcher’s string of vital game-industry features continued this week with a piece by Grant Stoner that takes an in-depth look at the growing field of accessibility consulting. Stoner spoke with several professionals who’ve made it their work to visit game studios and advocate for accessibility options and the players who need them to enjoy their hobby without pain and alienation. This is about way more than just adding an “easy mode,” according to Stone’s sources. “Really good accessibility is inclusive, it doesn’t segregate, and it benefits everyone with disabled people at the heart of it,” Cherry Thompson, one accessibility consultant, told Stoner.
And finally, let’s take a short virtual trip to the Strong Museum of Play, which just this week announced the expansion and cataloging of one of its most fascinating collections. Dubbed the “Don Daglow Papers,” it’s a repository of development and business materials straight from the personal library of Daglow himself, a legendary developer whose work goes back to the first baseball and role-playing games written for college mainframe computers, through the early years of Electronics Arts and the founding of the influential Stormfront Studios. While the collection’s contents aren’t available digitally, the Strong’s archivists published a massive finding aid document that speaks about its contents, purpose, and organization, which is itself well worth poking around. You can also virtually dig and search through the collection on the museum’s website, but if you want to see the actual documents, well, you’ll have to make a special trip to Rochester. Regardless of the availability, this is an important example of the kind of videogame preservation efforts that don’t receive as much attention but are just as vital: the archiving of documents and ephemera from behind the scenes of the business and creation of games.
That’ll do it for this week’s Roundup. Thank you for reading, and we’ll see you next week.
Matt Gerardi is a writer from New York, the former games editor at The A.V. Club, and a member of the New York Videogame Critics Circle.