The Roundup: Check Out Our Video Series, Michelle Zauner Shines, MacBook M2 Pro Debuts, Best Game Openings, Emily Dickenson Game, RIP Billy Kametz, Bernie Stolar and Technoblade

By Ronald Gordon

Hello and Welcome back to The Roundup, the Critic Circle’s chance to take a look at what’s been going on the past two weeks both inside and Outside the Circle. This week we’ve got news from all over, ranging from a selfie from a recipient of one of the gracious Awards given during the Critic Circle’s 2022 Game Awards to a review of the new Apple Macbook M2 Pro, Circle Members have plenty of articles to share this time around. 

To start off, the Circle would like to celebrate the Wholesome Selfie sent by a recipient of one of the Awards from the 11th Annual NY Game Awards. This year’s Tin Pan Alley Award for Best Music in a Game was meant to be delivered to Japanese Breakfast’s Michelle Zauner, however due to some complications her prizes were nowhere to be found when they were expected to arrive. Founder Harold Goldberg took it upon himself to have another Award made and took extra care to hand deliver it to Michelle’s residence. “Two weeks later, Michelle sent over the photo you see above. Photos like these are not simply evocative of fond memories associated with a successful, albeit complex, event.” It’s always nice to have a heartfelt gesture repaid with equal gratitude, and even though it may be one selfie, it’s more than enough to celebrate such a talented person. Congrats once again! 

Another thing to celebrate is the number of engaging videos being published to the Critics Circle YouTube Channel. Our interns Jade Entien and Makeda Byfield have been hard at work conducting interviews with important circle members such as Sherri L. Smith, Christopher Byrd, former intern Elizabeth Ballou. Alongside the brilliant interns and their interviews, there are videos featuring Founder Harold Goldberg exploring various topics with people of interest such as Circle Creative Director John Azzilonna or Ukrainian game executive Elena Lobova. Feel free to check it out if you’re interested in engaging interviews and talks. 

Do check out Isaac Espinosa’s remembrance to Billy Kametz, a fantastic Voice Actor and an even better person. After sadly passing at the youthful age of 35, Billy Kametz’ legacy is something truly unique. As a fan of one of the many characters that Billy Kametz voiced, Isaac had nothing but praise to sing about his career and wished to show how impactful his efforts were on the fans he influenced. Going as far as to interview a fellow fan of Kametz’ work, Isaac’s interview showed him a bleak yet hopeful truth behind the Actor’s passing. “From our conversation, it was very clear to me that even if Kametz’ passing left people to grieve for the person they lost, it also allowed them to remember all he contributed to his friends, his family and his community.” May He Rest in Peace.  

Moving onto news from Members of the Circle, CNET’s Dan Ackerman’s review of the new Macbook M2 Pro talks a lot about the machine and how it may be new, but it’s most definitely dated. Dan’s initial thought was, “What a strange-looking MacBook. That was my first thought when I first saw the 13-inch MacBook Pro with the new M2 chip at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino during WWDC 2022.” There is most definitely something about the design that seems peculiar. In comparison to modern day Apple Products, where everything is built sleeker and more maneuverable, the blocky look of the M2 Pro was something out of the ordinary. When compared to the M2 Air, which will be coming later along the line of Apple sales, Dan had this to say, “The M2 Air, with a bigger screen, better webcam and newer design is said to be arriving sometime in the next month. As both 13-inch laptops have the same M2 chip and a similar price, I won’t consider this a complete review until I can test and compare the two systems side by side,” 

“Whether the developer chooses to throw you immediately into the deep end or slowly tease out a conflict, video game openings can make or break a game,” Says Alyssa Mercante, bringing readers a compelling article about The Best Video Game Openings. I can’t help but agree with her, seeing as how most people would rather have the game that catches their attention sooner rather than later. While it can be hard to find a game that will put you on the edge of your seat in the first couple minutes of playtime, Alyssa comes to the rescue with a helpful top 10 of games that fit this category. “We’ve gathered the best video game openings of all time, from the starkly sad The Last of Us, to the power-tripping wildness of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, to the beauty of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Does your favorite game make the list? Here are the best video game openings of all time.” The list that follows is definitely something to peruse for yourself. 

Stephen Totilo’s newsletter talks about Riders Republic and various other games. Ubisoft’s Riders Republic is a sports game revolving around the BMX and professional bike riding circuit of Extreme Sports. It seems to have a surprise for its current players in the coming months of play time. As Stephen references in his Axios Newsletter, “The in-game wildfire, which the publisher says won’t be announced in advance, is one of several initiatives video game companies are using to raise awareness about threats to the environment.” Possibly several other unannounced in-game disasters may also become a part of Ubisoft’s efforts to raise awareness. “Game companies big and small are increasingly vocal about environmental causes,” says Stephen

Beyond The Circle

Video games and novels don’t often go hand in hand, but in some cases they can end up working great together. As detailed in this article, written by Sarah Shaffi about the retro style shooter, “EmilyBlaster is a real-life version of the fictional game that a character makes in Gabrielle Zevin’s novel Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, out next month,” Made as a way to better promote the book, EmilyBlaster is a lot more than just a simple game with three levels. It’s a part of a much greater story and carries an equal amount of weight behind it. “The publisher has created a website where people can play EmilyBlaster and create their own 80s-style computer game avatar. And when Zevin tours the UK in July, it will install an arcade machine in full book-jacket garb, also equipped with Donkey Kong, in Waterstones Piccadilly in London for a week,” Sarah writes in her article detailing the ways in which those that are curious can play EmilyBlaster. I wish both the game and the book nothing but success.

Former Sega of America President Bernie Stolar has sadly passed away at 75. It’s not often that you see or hear from the bigger names behind the companies you know and love. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have an impact on the company they represent, and Bernard “Bernie” Stolar was most definitely an influential member of Atari, Sega of America, and Sony Entertainment America. Steven L. Kent’s Game Informer article shows many of his close friends retelling their first meetings with Stolar and how his charming personality affected them initially. “He was a gentleman in an industry where there really aren’t many,” said Vince Desi of Running with Scissors, “Bernie was larger than life. At the time, PlayStation was nothing, but he came in with his larger-than-life attitude that said PlayStation was going to be something,” said Rob Dyer, chief operating officer at Capcom U.S.A., Inc, relaying his thoughts about Stolar. Rest in Peace Bernie Stolar, a legend in Gaming to this very day. 

Lastly, famous Minecraft YouTuber Technoblade has unfortunately passed away from Cancer. The most recent video on his YouTube channel, entitled “so long nerds,” features a long and emotional final message to the fans read by his father, who relishes the fact that his son had so much love for his fans, even throughout everything going on. In this article on The Verge, written by James Vincent, you can find the video as well as several tweets from fellow Minecraft YouTubers, such as WilburSoot, Tommyinnit, and many more, who respected Technoblade and cherish their memories of him. While I may not have been his biggest fan, I am still aware of the impact Technoblade had on Minecraft videos as a whole. I wish that he is able Rest in Peace knowing that his many fans and close friends carry on his legacy alongside his family.  

Ronald Gordon is a New York Videogame Critics Circle senior intern. He was the first of our writers – or any intern anywhere – to complete an internship at Rockstar Games.

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