The Roundup: Our New Executive Director, Khloe’s Valedictorian Speech, Karoline on Convergence, Activision-Blizzard, Mortal Kombat 1, Much More!

Hello and welcome back to the Roundup! It’s where the Circle researches stories from friendly faces, members and interns to give them a blast! This week we’ve got some great news, including a new addition to the Circle’s Board of Directors, a Valedictorian Graduation speech, an interview with Colin Kaepernick, and so much more! 

First, we in the Circle would like to give a warm congratulations to many people within the group. First off, we have Ryan O’ Callaghan to congratulate, who recently became the Executive Director of the NYVGCC! As an Educator who loves games and worked hard enough to earn the Circle’s Educator of the Year award, Ryan most definitely deserves his spot on the board as his tenacity has proven to be quite useful in teaching our students about games journalism. I’ve worked with him as an assistant mentor at Mott Hall III in the Bronx, and students really work hard for him because of his smarts and personality.

But of course, a teacher is nothing without his students, one of which recently graduated middle school as the Valedictorian of her class. Khloe Wilkerson is not only talented when it comes to writing reviews, but also when it comes to speeches as her Valedictorian speech to her Class of 2023 was more heartfelt and impactful than one would imagine. Having worked with both of them during the Circle’s recent Journalism class at Mott Hall III, I can wholeheartedly say I’m excited to see how Ryan will help our group move forward in his new position, and just how far Khloe can go with her fabulous mind.  Congrats to both of them on their magnificent achievements! 

To start us off comes a story of Harold’s talk with Colin Kaepernick and how he felt to be sitting on the same couch with yet another legend. With the announcement of Kaepernick’s involvement with the new Wild Card Football arcade game, Harold jumped on the chance to interview the Football star in Los Angeles on what it’s like to be back in the game while in a game. “I had some trepidation because any interview can go south at any moment. And I had a different angle for the quarterback who had dealt with so much strife due to a simple act of protest.” Preparing for the interview was a bit of a nerve wracking experience, but being as cool as he was, Harold had no problem sitting down with Kaepernick to talk about more than just what he’s known for. “During research, I found that Kaepernick was an A student in high school. Even after football, mentoring is important to him. He created the non-profit Know Your Rights Camp which fosters education “to advance the liberation and well-being of Black and Brown communities through education….As it is here in NYC for the Circle’s Playing With Purpose programs, education and social justice are keys to Kaepernick’s life.” It’s an insightful article about more than just football and Colin Kaepernick, and I highly suggest anybody give it a read if they’re intrigued.

Following that, we Isaac Espinosa received an unexpected donation from a fan of the Circle. Joseph Hubbs kindly reached out with the aim to give away his custom built PC, and Isaac was more than willing to take it off his hands. It has specs that can run just about any game and liquid cooling within a sleek white frame. Quite the build, and an extraordinary gift from a kind soul. Thanks once again to Joseph! And Isaac’s current computer will eventually go to one of our interns!

Meanwhile, intern Karoline Castillo-Troncoso has found herself hooked on a League of Legends-based platformer with some interesting mechanics involving time manipulation. Says Karoline, “Think back to fond memories – and regrets. Woe to the words we never meant to leave – and an ode to the moments we often find ourselves reminiscing about. These thoughts beg the question: have you ever wanted to possess the power of rewinding time?” While the MOBA style gameplay of the original League of Legends might not appeal to everyone, the game also allows for many other stories to be told surrounding its characters and world. Convergence: A League of Legends Story, explores just how useful time manipulation can be. “I appreciated this concept because whenever it came time to face Ekko’s adversaries, let’s just say I found myself using it often. Whenever one experiences defeat – they have the option to rewind time a few seconds, regaining the life they’ve lost and granting the opportunity to make different moves which will hopefully result in a victory.” 

Moving onto members stories, we have Stephen Totilo writes about the infamous Activision Blizzard trial and how it reveals a lot more than just a company’s dirty deeds. Writes Totilo, “Gaming is a huge business, but many of its financial details are jealously guarded secrets: How much each title costs to produce and how much it makes, as well as the strategy that goes into making a game exclusive to one of the major consoles.” From talks within Sony Headquarters regarding Roblox to how much games can take to produce nowadays, the purchasing of Activision-Blizzard by Microsoft is still far from a simple process. The court hearings alone have been ruled to need two to three more months of time in order to finish the legal process, and in that time all sorts of news can come out regarding the companies involved and their methods of business. Meanwhile, Totilo (and a number of other outlets) live-blogged the FTC hearings about the potential merger between Microsoft and Activision Blizzard via his Twitter account.

Giovanni Colantanio brings his Xbox Game Pass recommendation to readers thanks to a long time favorite of his becoming a recent addition to the service. While Game Pass has tons of offers for gamers looking for their next possible purchase due to Cloud Gaming, Giovanni wants to make everyone aware of one of his favorite games: “That would be Arcade Paradise, a quiet 2022 standout that’s now available on Xbox Game Pass today. Developed by Nosebleed Interactive, it’s a unique simulation game that balances 90s nostalgia with a thoughtful look at the line between hobby and work. If you spent any time during your youth hanging around arcades, you’ll want to give it a try while it’s on Game Pass.” A Game that channels nostalgia as its main motif is definitely a game many fans can appreciate, and arcades are a part of a dying tradition that needs more focus. “It’s a high-concept idea, but one that’s executed incredibly well. In an age where content creators have quite literally turned play into a job, Arcade Paradise is a smart visualization of that tension wrapped up in a thoughtfully constructed business simulator. Come for the neon nostalgia, but stick around and you may find yourself reassessing your relationship with video games in a healthy manner.” 

Outside the Circle

With Mortal Kombat 1 building itself up for the eventual release, the hype is rising and actions are being made to prepare the players for the brutality this new game seeks to bring. Before the last week of June, there was a small event called the Stress Test where players got to see what the game would look like before the Betas began in August. This article from Esports Illustrated, written by Norris Howard, details the ups and downs of this Stress Test such as what was tested and what cracks might have begun to show as the event happened. If you’re inquisitive about the game or it’s take on old/new mechanics and Kameo fighters, I definitely suggest you give it a read.

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

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