The Roundup: Neil Druckmann At Our NY Game Awards, Lunch With Phil Spencer, Jade’s Thirsty Suitors Feature, Serenity’s Pokémon Love, Connor Carson At NYU, More!

By Ronald Gordon 

Greetings once again and welcome to the Roundup, where we gather stories from interns and members alike to give them a blast! With things in the Circle are gearing towards the inevitable big bang that is the New York Game Awards, we’ve got plenty of new stories covering possible games of the year and, of course, this year’s Legend Award Winner Neil Druckmann! Plus, we’ve got news of Jade’s review of Thirsty Suitors, our time spent with Phil Spencer at the Microsoft Experience, an entire essay about Pokémon and the joy it brings, sales for Steam Decks and mechanical keyboards, and so much more! 

To start us off, I’d like to highlight the amazing opportunity that we at the Circle had to spend time discussing all things Xbox while having lunch with Phil Spencer at the Microsoft Experience in midtown. While Election Day was underway and people were flooding to the polls, we were engaging in meaningful conversation with the CEO of Xbox himself. Many of our interns, and some members, made it to the East Side to meet him, asking engaging questions and receiving insights you might not expect. Phil himself even had some genuine words after our lunch, saying in a Tweet “Amazing group smart about the game industry, insightful about trends they are seeing and inquisitive about the impact they can have. I had a great time listening and discussing an industry we all love. Future of our industry is in good hands.” 

Jade Entien took a step outside of the Circle in order to pursue their own feature focusing on the developer behind Thirsty Suitors, posted on the Game Developer news site. Having been in love with what Thirsty Suitors had to offer with her post for us, Jade learned a lot about the game’s development while talking with director Chandana Ekanayake. “It’s clear that Thirsty Suitors is more than a game about nailing epic skating combos and beating up your exes by getting them horny; there’s regret, growth, and the reality and expectations of being born to immigrant parents,” they write, relating how this new information sheds a light on a portion of Thirsty Suitors they may not have seen before. Adds Jade, “When working with a small team, it’s easier to include everyone and hear what everyone has to say since you’re not fighting for dominance in a crowded office space; and especially since everyone comes from different areas all over the world, there’s a lot of ideas to go around. Besides, it’s important to make sure that the needs of the team are met to reach deadlines and create the product you hope to achieve.” 

Young intern Serenity Cruz is a massive fan of Pokémon, and she refuses to let anyone believe her love of the series will ever die. Says Serenity, “Instead of taking interest in games that are popular among the teens like Fortnite and Call of Duty, I take a huge interest in the classics. Specifically, that’s the Pokémon franchise. Honestly, the four-year-old me wouldn’t even know what Raichu, the cute electric mouse was, but even at four, I had admiration for the cute creature. It was the brightly colored creatures on the cards that have drawn me into Pokémon.” Serenity’s beginnings in Pokémon are like many others, starting with the cards and moving on to its many games, “But now, I have immersed myself so deeply within the Pokémon world that I give lectures to the uneducated players about the competitive scene of Pokémon.” From passing around slips of cardboard and foil to lecturing others on the minutiae of combat within Pokémon, Serenity is much more than just a fan of the game. I, for one, envy her knowledge of the franchise. I can only hope to learn as much as she has in her time studying all she can to be the very best. 

Mechanical keyboards are a luxury I have yet to fully understand, but member Tony Polanco has a lot more to say about the keyboards everyone deserves, and how they’re on sale! He starts off his article saying, “I review the best mechanical keyboards for a living and find them superior to standard membrane keyboards. Sure, the latter are generally more affordable than their mechanical counterparts, but if you want a peripheral that’s more durable and comfortable to type on, you deserve a proper mechanical keyboard. With Black Friday deals going strong, now is the best time to get an awesome mechanical keyboard.” From Razer to Logitech to Corsair, many of Tony’s best mechanical keyboards have had their prices cut and are ready to make their way to your desk. If you’ve been contemplating getting a mechanical keyboard, or simply don’t know which one to buy, Tony offers up insightful comparisons for each of the choices on his list. There’s bound to be a keyboard that’s just right for you! 

Alyssa Mercante from Kotaku brings us another list, this one filled with a handful of hilarious Streamers you should definitely watch. Twitch has a lot of problems when it comes to showing off its talents, as Alyssa mentions at the start of her article, “These days, it’s not easy to stand out on Twitch, the wildly popular game streaming platform. As of writing, there’s more than 7 million streamers who use the service to share live looks at their gameplay, paint a new piece of art, or try to activate viewers’ autonomous sensory meridian responses (ASMR). That’s a lot of competition. Then there are the goliaths, the folks whose names are almost synonymous with the platform itself, like Hasan “Hasanabi” Piker, Kai Cenat, Félix “xQc” Lengyel, and Imane “Pokimane” Anys. How can you get seen in such a massive sea?” Luckily, you don’t have to rely on Twitch if you’re looking for quality choices of who’s funnier. Alyssa’s list has you covered thanks to shining the spotlight on lesser known – but much more amusing – figures. 

Beyond The Circle

If you’ve ever wanted to hear intriguing insights from some of the real superstars within the indie gaming industry, NYU Game Center has you covered. Alongside their yearly No Quarter event, NYU is hosting a series of lectures relating to games, one of which features Connor Carson, sole programmer of Immortality. The game, which we covered extensively, has won a multitude of awards since its debut. With Connor being a former intern of the Critics Circle, there’s no doubt that she’ll have lots to speak on from her experience in games to memories of working on Immortality and the lessons you can take from such an adventure. The lecture happens Thursday November 30th, and RSVPs are open now. So if you’re interested get your free tickets while you can! 

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