Saturday, July 19, 2008

Good For Nothing

So, apparently E3 blows. Not that I had any doubt of such a revelation upon reading the (too many) articles revving up to this year's not-so-neon-lighted event. There's something magical about unveiling a new game, or a new concept, that somehow was whisked away to some other, alternate fairyland instead of being at this year's, as it is so painfully called, "conference." Remember when it used to be an "expo?" Remember when people wanted to be there?

Not that I was ever a huge fan of the thing in the first place. I thought it was interesting, and would passively read through the numerous previews, screenshots, and announcements each year, thinking to myself, "My, how nice that someday I will see these games made. Isn't that kind of cool." The affair would always offer, even at the printed level, a sense of an exclusive, somewhat-high-brow party atmosphere that I had always wanted to experience just once. To stand at the kiosks and play games no where near completion. To bask in crowds of PR people being nice to me because they have to. And the always fleeting chance I might meet someone who helped make one of my favorite games. Stuff like that would make my heart flutter. But still, I'd only want to try it once.

This year had some, as the youngsters out there would call them, "hip" moments. As each company vied to be more "rad" than the next. And no reporter/blogger/opinionated douchebag there could walk away without claiming to have whitnessed at least one "tubular" moment (alright it's out of hand now, sorry). But their audience was lacking. Like I said, this wasn't so much an "expo" as it was a "conference." And the latter term stinks of the musk of cubicles and humming fluorescent lights. There were obviously less attendees there, as most were well aware of. And Nintendo seemed to have no fucking clue what, exactly, they should do there. Pretty much everything can be summed up by this extensive, and well-written article here. I find it a shame to have an announcement party only to then announce that which is already known.

I don't know. E3, something that was kinda cool every year is now, well, lame. Companies will have to show off their stuff privately now, I'd imagine. But is that such a bad thing? Blizzard seems to be able to get along with that just fine. Publishers like EA, Activisition, et al have enough under each of their belts to display a smorgasbord of content. Maybe not for a week straight, but who cares?

The bottom line is that E3 existed for the sake of previews, really. Announcements and previews. It'd essentially be the same as going to the movies and, instead of seeing the next best thing starring Ed Norton, you watch two and a half hours of previews. Upon exiting, you're left feeling both anxious and incomplete. I think this system is somewhat flawed. Previews will always be displayed. That's fine, I guess. I just find it pathetic that, in some cases, their existence is so....expected...that they can manifest into sheer pointlessness. And then, too, companies will present them eons before said game will ever be completed. I'm all for being on the edge of my seat, but for eight months? Two years? My legs start to burn and I lose all feeling in my midsection.

But gaming is a business, and hype is a key part of its structure. I wish it weren't so irritating. And I'm sure that after this year's E3, lots of people wish it could be executed correctly. But that rarely, if ever, happens. I remember the days when games were announced with a demo. A playable demo. Not screenshots and months of subtle changes to an official website. Companies, in my mind, should say, "Look at what we're working on, and here, see where we are," to the world, not a few "lucky" journalists. Hmph. In a perfect world... in a perfect world.

In other news, Rock Band 2 has all but been released, with the song list, peripherals, and even a concert pushing the hype meter into the stratosphere. It all looks great. Can't wait. That rhymed.

Till next time (rhymed again, sorta).