BY MAX NEOPIKHANOV

In what is one of the first award shows of its kind in New York City, the NY videogame Critics circle, which is made up of more than 20 writers in the video game industry, hosted its first annual game of the year award show on February 2 at the NYU Game Center in downtown Manhattan.

Notable winners in the New-York-City-centric award categories included Bethesda Softworks’ industry lauded fantasy role playing game, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim for the Big Apple Award for Best Game, Crytek’s sci-fi first person shooter set in NYC, Crysis 2 for the Manhattan Award for Most NY Centric Game, and independent developer Supergiant games’ role-playing game Bastion for both the Tin Pan Award For Best Music in a Game and the Off-Broadway Award for Best Indie Game.

Among the assemblage of award presenters and guest speakers was Emmy Award winning Daily Show writer Dan Radosh, whose jocular speech lampooned the past year of events within the video game industry; the Academy Award nominated animator, Bill Plympton; and Darren Korb and Ashley Barrett, the musician duo who performed music from their game, Bastion.

“NYU’s Game Center was really gracious in giving us the Cantor Film Center for the night,” said NY Videogame Critics circle founder, Harold Goldberg. “I’m glad that game developers from around the country flew into town for it.”

Goldberg, a veteran journalist who has written for various publications including the New York Times, GQ, and NPR, and author of the recently released book chronicling the history of video games, All Your Base are Belong to Us: How Fifty Years of Videogames Conquered Pop Culture, said that he “started the group because I felt we (journalists) were given short shrift by the videogame industry. They’re based on the West Coast and we live here in the New York City area… we need better communication between those who market games, those who make games and those who write about games here.”

Despite the lack of equilibrium in the video game industry between the east and west coasts, Goldberg thinks that the industry is growing and thriving here in the city.  “I think it’s a small but vibrant industry, explained Goldberg. “Rockstar Games [publisher of the Grand Theft Auto Series] is based here, one of a handful of truly great videogame developers and publishers. So are some small indie developers.”

New York University is amongst those on the forefront of expanding the industry in the City, currently offering a degree minor in game design at the Tisch School of the Arts in downtown Manhattan.  They are expanding their program to include a Masters of Fine Arts degree in game design and development starting this upcoming fall 2012.

“Our goal is to incubate new ideas, create partnerships, and establish a multi-school curriculum to explore new directions for the creative development and critical understanding of games,” writes Frank Lantz, interim director of the program, on NYU’s website. “We are also active supporters of the New York City game development scene and seek to help establish New York as a place of innovation and creativity within this important field.”

As for the Videogame Critics Circle, Goldberg said that they will get together and discuss the group’s inevitable sophomore award show next year.

Image taken from NYGamecritics.com

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