Interview: Harold Goldberg

We had a chat with Harold Goldberg about his works and the video game industry.

By Admin, Posted 30 Aug 2019

We had a chat with Harold Goldberg and let’s hear what he has to say about his works and the video game industry.

Harold Goldberg


NoobFeed: Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

Harold Goldberg: I’ve written professionally since age 12, writing about sports then music then film and TV, then games. I co-wrote My Life Among The Serial Killers, which is available in 15 countries. I wrote All Your Base Are Belong To Us (How 50 Years Of Videogames Conquered Pop Culture), which is available here and in France. I founded the New York Videogame Critics Circle and the New York Game Awards.


NoobFeed: What are your duties at The New York Videogame Critics Circle? Tell us why you decided to establish The Circle and how is it going for you so far?

Harold Goldberg: We began as a group that advocated for its members. We still do that. But now we’re a 501(c)3 Arts and Education nonprofit that helps students in underserved areas. Our members mentor them in journalism. We hire the best as paid interns. And we also offer scholarships for making game-based narrative and game levels.

I'm the president of the organization and its editor in chief. My duties are multi-faceted, sometimes utterly creative and energizing, sometimes menial. But I hope it's all for the greater good. 


NoobFeed: Tell us about the New York Game Awards which garnered 400,000 viewers on Twitch.

Harold Goldberg: The New York Game Awards is a Trojan horse for introducing the world to our nonprofit work. But it’s so creative and cool because all our members lend a hand to make it work. Add writers and comedians from The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and music from The Late Show with Steven Colbert and you have a super professional event the still retains an indie vibe. And we have so many surprises for January’s Awards. It’s a lot of work for all of us, but it’s all for an excellent cause. We don't search for a giant audience, but we are excited about a couple of new streaming partners in addition to Twitch.


NoobFeed: Your name has appeared in so many well-known publications. What was your main responsibility under those banners?

Harold Goldberg: I’m just a writer who wants to tell a truthful story. I’ve learned to get inside to areas others can’t. I’ve always been interested in how things work, even as a young child.


NoobFeed: As a journalist, what trends have you noticed in the gaming industry recently? Do you support where it’s heading?

Harold Goldberg: I've seen a lot of change in games journalism. I’ve seen it go from an enthusiast press to a press that was obsessed with proving games are art or artful to an advocacy press with shades of an enthusiast press remaining. I’m not fond of the hot take in games journalism and the rush to get hits. At that point, a journalist is in danger of becoming a pundit, a pundit who may not have all the facts - or a pundit who doesn’t care about the facts.

The industry grows all the time, and that's great. But as games are updated more frequently, it needs to make sure its employees are well taken care of. They're the gems of any organization. 


NoobFeed: We are eager to learn more about ‘All Your Base Are Belong to Us: How Fifty Years of Videogames Conquered Pop Culture’. Tell us what encouraged you for publishing the book.

Harold Goldberg: I wanted to show the arc of time through 200 interviews. In the beginning, the games industry was influenced by other forms of entertainment and it wanted to be accepted by those forms. As time passed and the games industry earned more money than other forms of entertainment combined, those media were influenced by the games world. So games won financially and often, artistically. It’s odd but understandable that the games industry still wants to be accepted by other forms of pop culture. In any case, my editor and I felt that arc was a good way to write a book. That idea helped me get inside Rockstar Games for the book as well.


NoobFeed: Esports focuses on its social aspect a lot these days. Do you think there’s a lot more potential in terms of the social aspect of Esports than there currently is?

Harold Goldberg: I think the people inside of esports are as compelling or more compelling than esports themselves. So it makes sense that the social aspect would thrive.


NoobFeed: What is an effective approach to prepare, rewrite and edit copy to improve readability? Have supervise others in doing this?

Harold Goldberg: An effective approach is to have a plan and stick to it. Sometimes, you have to sit there until something emerges cogently. Sometimes, it can be beautiful. Sometimes during deadlines, you have to force it out like vomit. It's always good to get a second or third eye for copy editing. A writer is just too close to his/her copy to find every error. That doesn't mean you can't take a break now and then. I try to get up and walk around for a few minutes each hour. 

Harold Goldberg


NoobFeed: What is the most challenging part of writing, especially when it comes to editorials and reviews?

Harold Goldberg: I think the challenging part is finding the creativity within the structure and rules each publication or outlet has for a review. Also, it's easy to write a negative review, and harder to write a well thought out positive review that aligns with the theory or theories one has for game reviews.


NoobFeed: Have you ever gone above and beyond the "call of duty" for publishing any piece?

The chapters about Rockstar Games in "All Your Base Are Belong to Us" required nerves of steel because the interviews with Sam Houser were on again and off again over a series of months because Rockstar was trying hard to finish and ship a game that had already been postponed. I had to work with my editor to postpone the book's print date. I remember getting a call asking "Are you ready?" A half hour later I was in the office doing the interview. The result was worth it. I got the interview, hours and hours long - and future ones - with Sam, interviews no one else has gotten since then. I hope someone else can get inside eventually.


NoobFeed: Have you ever received negative feedback on a piece of writing? What was your response?

Harold Goldberg: If it's social media, it's often best not to respond. If it's negative feedback that's constructive, I learn from it. I have thick skin, but I don't think anyone's skin should be too thick. I think you need empathy combined with clear-eyed objectivity for your work to shine.


NoobFeed: Can you tell us about a time when you developed your own way of doing things other than following others?

Harold Goldberg: It's always been that way. Yes, I want to please my editors, the smart ones. But early on I knew that writing journalism, books and screenplays independently was the way to go for me. If I didn't have my own company, I probably wouldn't have begun the New York Game Awards and the New York Videogame Critics Circle - and together as a nonprofit they really do help underserved communities. That doesn't mean I don't work with great teams - I do. But ultimately, and through trial and error through the years, I know where I want to go.


NoobFeed: We all have experienced this at least once. Will you share an experience when your ethics and patience were tested? How did you keep your emotions in check?

Harold Goldberg: We have strong ethics rules via the lawyers for our nonprofit organization and I have strong ethics rules at the New York Videogame Critics Circle based on my work with editors at The New York Times and The Washington Post. Sometimes, an email comes along saying "We want to pay you for a post about our company." That bothers me in the sense that I believe the line between marketing and journalism should be a strong one. Once, with our nonprofit, a partner's big time donor asked me to write about their donation to the partner - just because the Circle was helping the partner with a panel. It was hard for me to keep my composure because I felt a sacred line had been crossed. I made sure the partner knew that what was being asked of us was not something we could do - at all, ever.


NoobFeed: What in gaming excites you the most? Outside of work, how much time do you spend playing video games in an average week?

Harold Goldberg: A lot about it still excites me. Great narrative excites me as do new ways of playing. Smart people telling new stories about making games excites me. Telling students about the history of games excites me.

I play about an hour a day when I'm not reviewing a game. I go back to games I like.


NoobFeed: What experiences would you personally like video games to deliver in the future?

Harold Goldberg: Narrative still needs to become stellar, especially in shooting games. I've said it before but I still wish there was a good game experience that involves holography. I thought something good would be here by now. But I'm still waiting.


NoobFeed: As a Journalist, you get a lot of developers trying to get your attention and to play their games, but they may not know the best ways. Do you have any tips that you can impart to make their pitches towards you and other journalists more effective?

Harold Goldberg: I tell indies devs to go get Rami Ismail's PressKit().  It's simple, easy and many journalists depend on it. If you're unsure about hyping your own stuff (as I always am), this will soften the blow and help you understand marketing.


NoobFeed: With so many gaming websites and independent journalists trying to reach the same target audience segment, do you think the correct messages are being spread across?

Harold Goldberg: There are so many messages. One thing I keep in mind is that journalists are often chasing the same rabbit. In any genre - from arts to news to politics - the same story is being told again and again. I think you need to find the entity that feels right to you - and then also read writers whose work doesn't feel right to you - for balance.

Plus, you sometimes have to free your mind to understand. What was that aphorism in Lewis Hyde's new book? "Memory and oblivion, we call that imagination."


NoobFeed: Why is it important for gamers to maintain a healthy lifestyle? What advice would you have for a gamer looking to take the first steps towards a healthier lifestyle?

Harold Goldberg: I mean, you want to live a decently long life. If you look at a day in blocks of time, it's easier to carve our a time for exercise and eating well. My hero here is Critics Circle member Eb Samuel, one of the fittest persons alive. But if I carve out 20 minutes to lift light weights and meditate and 20 minutes to walk, I think that's generally healthy enough for me. Meal-wise, I haven't eaten fast food in a very long time - except for a breakfast sandwich. I still crave Taco Bell from time to time, though.


NoobFeed: How do you think NoobFeed and its Editors can improve and reach further ahead?

Harold Goldberg: Just keep going. Want to get better. Need to get better. It's all we can do. Things do get better over time. You won't get perfection. No one does. But better is enough.

Harold Goldberg


NoobFeed: What are the future plans for Harold Goldberg?

Harold Goldberg: I'd like to write a few more books, expand the mentoring and curriculum of the New York Videogame Critics Circle to a few other cities, maybe do something more than I have done in film or television.


Many thanks to Harold for doing the interview with us. We wish him all the very best with all of his ventures. Keep up with Harold Goldberg by following his website.


Admin, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Publisher(s): Capcom
Developer(s): Capcom
Genres: Action, Adventure
Themes: Hack And Slash
Release Date: 2008-02-05

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