By Khloe Wilkerson
When I looked out the window into my Bronx neighborhood with the bright blazing sun shining on my forehead, I had two things on my mind. 1) What would I write on this almost blank Google doc and, 2) How do I become a millionaire?
My name is Khloe, Khloe Wilkerson. If you couldn’t tell already, I’m not your average 13-year-old girl. I believe your values are everything. Your values are what make you a different individual who is distinguished from the other eight billion people on this planet. The most important value that my parents taught me was how to best utilize two things: money and time. Time is of the essence. As long as you’re still breathing, you have a chance to make a difference, and money affords you the opportunity to live your dreams.
I was born in the Bronx and raised by a father from the south and a mother from Jamaica. Those strong roots shaped me into who I am today. Although I consider myself to be ambitious and determined, I am also very chill, genuine, and caring. Being the best person I can be is what motivates me to work hard. To improve oneself, one needs to always be challenged.
Earlier in the year in my ELA class, I remember that my teacher, Mr. O’Callaghan, started talking about collaborating with a group of professional people to form an after-school program. This program would be a 10-week writing course. This course would teach us journalistic and narrative writing skills using video games. We would learn how to write professional reviews and create narratives for video games. We later found out the group of professional writers is called The New York Videogame Critic Circle.
When I first heard about this offer, I thought it would be a good opportunity to improve my writing skills, and even learn about a new hobby: gaming. The NYVGCC introduced me to a variety of different game genres such as Adventure, Interactive Novels, and unique narrative games. The class was led by Harold Goldberg, Isaac Espinosa, and Whitney Meers. Every Wednesday afternoon, Harold or Whitney would start the class with a slide presentation about writing, journalism and social justice. Then, everyone would took turns playing a video game that would vary from week to week. Some of the games we’ve played in class are the early level in What Remains of Edith Finch, Florence, and many more. Each time we played a game, we would then learn how to review it through thinking about the art, the game play, the writing, the music and other criteria.
The reviewing process was done via Google Classroom. All of the students would write about their experiences with the game that we just played. We wrote about our likes and dislikes, what we would change about the game, and our overall impressions. After everyone finished writing, the class discussed various opinions about the game and the writing they had done.
One of my favorite things we did as a class was interviewing Reggie Fils-Aimé, the former president and chief operating officer of Nintendo of America. Before the interview with Reggie, we had to prepare questions to ask him. Everyone created a set of questions that didn’t overlap with the others’ questions.
It was interesting to hear Reggie talk about his childhood experiences in the Bronx, what it was like to be Nintendo’s president and many other topics. He also detailed different life lessons to take into account. One that stayed with me was about how you could accomplish much more in life as long as you keep pushing for the best.
In the last month of the sessions, we were told that our writing could earn us one of three college scholarships, including a Legion 5 gaming laptop that was part of the top prize. As a final assignment for the writing course, we had to write a video game review, poem, and narrative to earn a chance at winning those scholarships. At first, writing these three things was a bit of a struggle for me because I didn’t know where to start or write about them, but persevering paid off.
The following are some of the topics I wrote about:
As a part of my Video Game Review, I wrote about Nintendo Switch Sports. I had never played the game before, so I wrote about my first impressions. I wrote about my likes and dislikes of the game, the visuals, sound, music, gameplay, and performance. For example, Badminton was my favorite sport to play out of the six that the game offered. However, soccer was my least favorite due to what I saw as poor player experience.
For the poem, we were given the task to write about a social justice issue with a game theme. I wrote about the struggles refugees faced and used the game Papers, Please as the main game theme of the poem. I enjoyed writing the poem because it allowed me to highlight a topic most people overlook.
Lastly, for the narrative, we were asked to come up with our own storyline for a video game that raises awareness on a different social justice issue. I named my game Dread Flight, and it focuses on mental illness. Mental health is a problem that many people struggle with, and this game would examine it deeply. The protagonist of Dread Flight, Bojana, has a hard time getting through an average day. The players will be able to see how difficult it is to live a life with a mental illness(s). Dread Flight also educates people on the different coping strategies in an effort to make Bojana feel better.
After writing the review, poem, and narrative, Harold, Whitney, and Isaac examined them along past assignments to determine which 3 people would win the scholarships, which were.
1st Place: $3,000 + Lenovo Legion 5 Gaming laptop
2nd Place: $2,000
3rd Place: $1,000
A few weeks later, Mr. O’Callaghan gave me a piece of paper before class started. When I received the paper, I didn’t read the whole thing. But, the first thing I saw was The New York Videogame Critic Circle at the top, and “1st Place – Khloe Wilkerson – $3,000 + Legions 5 Gaming laptop.” I could not believe I won first place and screamed in my head with such excitement! The $3,000 would be kept with the Circle until I am accepted at a college. I was able to receive the gaming laptop immediately. I received it a short while after the program ended. It was even hand delivered by Isaac.
I am very thankful for the laptop and eager to use it throughout my video game career. I like that the Legion 5 can play high-voltage games thanks to its powerful processor. It also provides a great cooling system that comes in handy when playing high-end video games.
As I start to learn more about gaming, I find myself interested in a wider variety of genres. The kind of games I enjoy playing are competition games, games with storylines, sports, action-adventure, etc. Some games I will be interested in playing in the future are Turtles Shredder’s Revenge, NBA Live 22, and updates to Animal Crossing. Of course, I can’t wait for the new Zelda.
On the whole, I enjoyed being a part of The New York Videogame Critics Circle class and it was nothing less than a positive experience. This program allowed me to open up my imagination and put it on paper. I’m thrilled to be an intern and play/review new games. I’m still trying to figure out how to be a millionaire, but at least this Google doc isn’t blank anymore.
Bronx native Khloe Wilkerson is our youngest intern after winning a scholarship and completing our journalist and writing class at Mott Hall III. We look forward to more of her stories.