By Ronald Gordon
Hello and Welcome back to the Roundup! It’s he Critics Circle’s method of gathering up the most recent articles from our Interns and Members and spreading the news they all hold. This week we’ve got introductions from our newest Interns, removing the biggest part of Elden Ring, news on gamified learning in Roblox, EVO 2022, and so much more!
First up, the Circle would like to celebrate two new Interns from the bustling Bronx! Give a warm welcome to Karoline Castillo-Troncoso and Valeisha Jackson!
Coming from the program run at the TAPco school, Karoline loved playing interactive and brain enhancing games online when she was young. “But games have always been a part of my life in one way, shape, or form. Whether it’s those cool math/ABCya! games (such as Math Bingo or Math Man) that developed one third of my childhood experience, or console games (such as GTA, games played on the Wii, etc.).” While studying to be a performer, Karoline uses games and literature as her inspiration to create whatever she can think of. The Circle is glad to have helped a mind like hers learn to connect games with her ideas and we are eager to see what she writes in the future!
The next newest intern is Valeisha Jackson, who loved writing her own stories ever since she was young. After meeting with the Bronx Critic Circle thanks to a 12-week course hosted at her school, Valeisha learned about the joys of games journalism despite being a little hesitant at first. “Once my teacher brought up how there would be a competition with me and any other student in the class, I was immediately interested. I love competing with other people so I decided to join the class,” Her love of competition carried her all the way to where she is now. We at the Circle are very excited to see the many interesting stories to come from Valeisha and her inspired mind.
Diving into reviews, Makeda Byfield brings us a review of Gibbon: Beyond the Trees, an impactful game about the environment. “Players swing through a crowd of tall, beautiful trees alongside another yellow Gibbon. There is no goal, no rush, no stress – just swinging and gliding through the air with ease,” While Gibbon may be innocent and fun at first, the truth of the game’s deeper meaning hits a lot harder than one would expect. There are many rampant catastrophes occurring within forests on a day-to-day basis, and Gibbon holds nothing back in terms of how it handles the importance of spreading the word…Forest fires, human-inflicted deforestation, and hunters soon make every move a dangerous chance of death. It becomes more difficult to avoid the threats to the forest (or what’s left of it, anyway). At times, I thought that it would be impossible to progress. Yet the pink Gibbon keeps moving.” Makeda’s review speaks about the Apple Arcade’s powerful game and its infinitely important message. Feel free to give it a read.
Moving onto Circle Members, Alyssa Mercante writes about a surprising way a Modder boosted their frame rate in Elden Ring. For those that haven’t seen much of Elden Ring, the one thing that stands out is the massive golden tree at the center of the game’s map. Known as the Erdtree, it’s almost impossible not to notice such a monument, but Alyssa’s article shows how someone decided it was too taxing on their hardware to stick around. “According to PC Gamer’s Tyler Colp, using the mod and deleting the Erdtree did indeed bolster performance, increasing the frame rate by between five to 10 frames per second.” The mod, created by K4richard, is a hilarious yet helpful addition to your game if you just don’t like the Erdtree or value your frame rate.
Covering recent news on Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision, member Imad Khan talks about Microsoft’s dismissive language towards Activision. In his article, Imad deals with the various notes from interviews, and mentions how “Microsoft’s choice of words underscores its challenges convincing regulators around the world to let the software company, which also makes the Xbox console, to swallow the video game hit maker.” Many companies struggle with the thought of losing access to Activision’s games, yet Microsoft’s use of language ensures that there aren’t many games that would warrant Xbox exclusivity.
Beyond the Circle
The Evolution Championship Series, also known as EVO, happened during the weekend. As one of the biggest events revolving around Fighting Games, EVO 2022 featured a full schedule of games, competitions and much more. But the biggest bit of news comes from the announcement of Rollback net code for various Online compatible games. As Luke Plunkett, longtime writer for Kotaku, sums up in his article about the events, “Don’t know what that means, or why it’s important? I got you!” his energetic words remain true as he gives a simple explanation of what rollback is and why it’s a great thing. Give it a read if you’d like to know more about which games are making the switch to rollback.
A surprising development comes from a recent collaboration between Roblox, and an educational app called Mrs. Wordsmith. Gamified learning within Roblox will soon be reality, indicates a teaser from an EdTechX Summit in London earlier in the year. Users can expect a unique 3D experience to help with improving ELA, fun and challenging gameplay, beloved Mrs Wordsmith characters and a gameshow! Gamified learning is a step in the right direction, and the Circle is excited to see the collaboration happen. We like gameified learning so much, we have used it here at The Circle since we began mentoring almost 10 years ago.