The New York Videogame Critic Circle is an official 501(c)3 non-profit organization. We recently added former Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aimé to our board of directors. But when we began as an organization, we felt we needed a group, a decidedly multicultural group, to advocate for game writers, those who are freelance and those who are on staff.
We met that goal early on in our existence.
Now, we’ve become a non-profit organization that sees great benefit in advocating for those less fortunate in our community, everyone from students in the Bronx and Lower East Side to older adults who want to learn about and benefit from games and technology.
And with out New York Game Awards we have a gala awards night each January, something perhaps more mature than what’s out there now, something that we feel helps to lift the genre to the point of popular art. It’s there that we talk about our work in the community. We had nearly 400,000 viewers for the show this year on Twitch and additional viewers on Mixer.
We are looking at various ways to do some very creative things as writers and as community advocates. We are doing workshops with students in the Bronx. We are hiring paid student interns to help them learn about journalism and game development. We are working with homeless middle school students in shelters. We are working with older adults with VR to take them on trips they can no longer take. We are working with the New York Public Library system to hold panels and discussions about jobs in games and how games bring people together.
We want to help, we need to give back, and we’re very serious about that mission. Here below, find much more information about what we do.
-Harold Goldberg, Founder, President, New York Videogame Critics Circle
The Full Scoop
Let’s Begin With Some Links
Here Are Stories By Kimari Rennis, One Of Our Senior Interns:
New York Videogame Critics Circle – Overview
The New York Videogame Critics Circle is a 501(c)3 non-profit, arts-oriented multicultural organization of 40 journalists. Throughout the year, we are dedicated to mentoring students between the ages of 13 and 18, offering college scholarships and internships, and doing community outreach, especially in communities in underserved areas like the Bronx and Lower East Side.
For the last six years, we’ve mentored, offered scholarships and overseen interns from the DreamYard Prep School, an Obama White-House lauded arts-oriented school in the Bronx.
DreamYard Co-founder Tim Lord said, “We believe that the arts and social justice education can help young people build pathways to opportunity. But it is only through partnerships like this, with a respected tech and business partner organization who believe our Bronx youth can be the next leaders in gaming and coding and design, that we can actually connect that pathway to lasting opportunity.” Here’s a New Yorker magazine story about the DreamYard.
As one example of our success, we had a DreamYard student who was on the spectrum and didn’t speak at school. Once he became involved in the game room we sponsored and set up, he began to communicate. Now, he even speaks and participates in classroom discussions.
What We Do:
A) DreamYard Preparatory School
1) Twice monthly in-school mentoring
2) Yearly scholarships for freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors.
3) Paid internship program where we teach writing and journalism and provide half-day access to, for example, CNET for journalism. We do this so interns can see how journalism and games are made.
4) Provide gaming technology and games to schools, including a high tech computer, an HDTV and game consoles.
5) In-class guests have included the president of Nintendo America, the president of Sony Interactive Entertainment, the Vice President of Rockstar games and many more.
B) Henry Street Settlement
1) We teach courses for high schools teens in partnership with the Manhattan Attorney General’s Youth Opportunity Hub program.
2) Teaching courses for the community at large about how to get work in videogames and teaching videogame history.
3) We also help with the Henry Street community events. We set up a table, monitors and game consoles so kids and their parents can play with us journalists. We did this three times this summer.
C) The New York Game Awards
1) For the past five years, this yearly event has showcased our mentoring efforts and helps to raise a small amount of money for our outreach efforts. Over the past nine years, we’ve grown from 300 viewers to 400,000 viewers. The Daily Show with Trevor Noah does the comedy for us. Developers from around the world join us. The Late Show With Stephen Colbert helps with the music. We always sell out.
With the help of award-winning journalists, we do fin editorial work at NYGameCritics.com. Our teen interns from various New York City schools work with us. This year, Ronald Gordon, Kimari Rennis, Isaac Espinosa, Isaiah Soto, Mayia Moore, Jade Etienne and Danny Castillo are some of our contributors and paid interns. They write reviews, personal essays, and interview game developers.
E) OATS, Older Adults Technology Services
We work at their Senior Planet tech center in Manhattan in Chelsea. There isn’t a lot of research on how to mentor seniors with games. We’ve done well so far, and we’ve worked with Walden, the game about the life of Henry David Thoreau, for a deep dive with seniors. It’s a quiet adventure, not a shooter game. We want to teach seniors not only about games, but how to play them and what to make of them. We hope that they’ll stir thought like the stir thought in us. We’ve done two three-week workshops on VR with seniors as well.
F) New York Public Library
Our partnership has groups of critics going to school libraries and to the main branch on 42nd Street to offer workshops, readings, outreach about jobs and a panel discussion of the year’s best games.
G) Bronxworks Shelters
We work with the Bronxworks network of homeless shelters in a partnership with Gateway Housing to mentor underserved youth. We began in mid-2020 during the pandemic and will teach our third journalism and games course in late Spring 2021. Listen to our Talking Games With Reggie And Harold Podcast for more info.
Current And Future Work
Into early 2021, we expanded our work at the DreamYard Project’s Bx Start Gaming Center to twice monthly and to six other schools. When Covid-19 shuttered community centers, we brought a dozen of our best high school writers into Zoom meetings about games. We have three more satellites at: Lehman College, City Tech College and at New York University. With the help of Cornell University, we are looking into an Ithaca location. And we began mentoring at homeless shelters in the Bronx.
We feel our model to help underserved communities can be extended to other areas as well. We want to go beyond New York City to other areas of New York State and possibly Newark and Washington, D.C. with our model of mentoring, scholarships, internships and videogames. We want to engage more educators to create an education model that would work beyond New York.
To that end, we are working with Professor Helen Pfeffer, a journalist, writer and lauded communications educator who lectures at Marymount Manhattan College, Brooklyn College and Manhattan College.
Late this year, we will be post full curricula for educators to use across the country and across the world. Until then, for 2019-2020, some of our general journalism curriculum looks like this:
New York Videogame Critics Circle
Session Formats: 2019 – 2020
|Writing and Reviewing Games
|Students explore the art of writing reviews for games. Students work with members of the Critics Circle to:
· Improve their writing by learning online writing techniques
· Write one 300-400 word review
· Write one 100 word review
· Read and provide feedback for reviews written by professionals and by peers
· Post their reviews on their gaming blog
|Play and Discuss and Create
|Students spend time playing a game pre-selected by the critics circle. After spending time playing and observing game play, students discuss the game in terms of its components. Including but not limited to: story, art, graphics, character development, game play, music, etc.|
|Visitors in different areas within the gaming industry visit and share their stories with members of the group. Visitors include writers, developers, graphic artists, directors, etc..|
|Trips / Outings
|Twice a year, students go on a trip that re-inforce the concept that careers in gaming are possible. Trips are designed to provide learning and growing experiences for students to explore careers in the field|
*Students rotate between activities from session to session
By end of year students will have:
- A one page proposal for a game that they would like to design
- One 300-400 word review on a game of choice, complete with feedback and re-writes
- One 100-150 word review on a game chosen by the Critics Circle with feedback and re-writes
- Blog Posts of game reviews and reflections of sessions
- Design: a game cover, soundtrack or drawings of characters.
- Create a game level.
New York Videogame Critics Circle
High School Session Calendar
|September: Session 1||Intro to Journalism. Writing and Reviewing. Your favorite game|
|September: Session 2||Play and discuss. Intro to writing leads.|
|October: Session 3||Intro to writing kickers. Focus on meat of reviews and clarity. Writing and Reviewing: 300 – 400 words.|
|October: Session 4||Visiting Professional.|
|November: Session 5||Focus on editing and rewriting. Writing and Reviewing: 300 – 400 words FINAL.|
|November: Session 6||Trip|
|December: Session 7||Writing and Reviewing: 100 words. What works in a short review that does not in a long one? Begin process to choose our paid interns.|
|December: Session 8||Visiting Professional|
|January||NY Game Awards – New Interns Announced. They Present An Award.|
|February: Session 9||Students will work in teams to make journalism and poetry-oriented social justice mini-games with LittleBigPlanet 3.
Teach game tutorial + view inspiring gdc mini talks.
|February: Session 10||Work on your game narrative. Play through main game.|
|March: Session 11||Work on narrative & character creation.|
|March: Session 12||Visiting Professional|
|April: Session 13||Work on music + background art.|
|April: Session 14||Final narrative due.|
|May: Session 15||Work on level design.|
|May: Session 16||Finish work on all features except level design.|
|June: Session 17||All level design complete for reviewing by students in game room and by Critics Circle judges.|
|June: Session 18||Trip to Avalanche.|
Board of Directors and Officers
Ted Houghton is the Chair of the Board of Directors of NYVGCC. Mr. Houghton is the CEO of Gateway Housing. Previously he worked for New York State Homes and Community Renewal as the Executive Deputy Commissioner and at the Supportive Housing Network of New York as the Executive Director. During his tenure at the Supportive Housing Network of New York, Mr. Houghton substantially increased production of supportive housing in New York and helped make supportive housing a pillar of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Medicaid Redesign Team initiative.
Harold Goldberg is the President of NYVGCC and a member of its Board of Directors. Mr. Goldberg is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author who writes for The New York Times and The Washington Post, among others. He has been featured in various documentaries about videogames, including one on National Geographic and was one of IGN’s Game People of the Year.
Catharine Soros is the Secretary of NYVGCC and a member of its Board of Directors. Ms. Soros serves as the board president of the Center for Dance Arts in Los Angeles, which has raised $6 million to support The Music Center’s dance programming and educational initiatives under Ms. Soros’ leadership, and remains one of the leading and dedicated advocates of dance in Los Angeles.
Marc Mayer is the Treasurer of NYVGCC and a member of its Board of Directors. Mr. Mayer is a partner at Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP in Los Angeles. His specialty is civil litigation with a focus on intellectual property disputes in the entertainment and technology industries, including copyright, trademark, trade secret, and right of publicity disputes. Mr. Mayer also serves on the Executive Committee for Los Angeles County Bar Association, Intellectual Property and Entertainment Section.
Reggie Fils-Aimé is currently Managing Partner at Brentwood Growth Partners and a Leader-in-Residence at Cornell University. He recently retired from Nintendo of America, was named President and COO in 2006 after leading the marketing organization as Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing from 2003. Prior to Nintendo, he worked in marketing for successful brands like Guinness and Pizza Hut. Fils-Aimé gained internet fame for his theatrical Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) introduction in 2004; from that point on, he was known throughout the gaming industry for being a passionate and visionary leader.
To sum up, the New York Videogame Critics Circle is comprised of 40 multicultural journalists who are members, including those from Pulitzer Prize-winning print outlets like The Washington Post and The New York Times, popular online sites like Polygon and smaller, ardently written blogs like Videodame. Lev Grossman, the author of The Magicians, is an honorary member. All of us help mentor students in some way.
We would love to talk with you more about our nonprofit work in the community.
Harold Goldberg, Founder
New York Videogame Critics Circle
Amber McCollum, Zebra Partners