Today marks the start of the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo – otherwise known as E3. This massive trade show in California sees the big platform holders and publishers announce new wares to get the industry, retailers and gamers excited. I’ve attended the expo in Los Angeles, played the games, asked the usual questions, been given the same bullshit PR-okayed answers, drank the free drinks and flew home again. And you know what? The whole thing was a complete waste of time.
Attending the expo is pointless for anyone who thinks they are a videogames journalist. There are no stories there, no scoops. There’s nothing you will read over the next few days that is anything other than carefully managed ouput from the PR department of major electronics and software companies. For the fanboys there will be some excitement, yes for those who somehow pin their self worth on a major corporation, but when all is said and done E3 is just glorified multimedia press release.
Many of you will watch the live feeds, read the achingly pointless and self-important liveblogging streams and devour every movie and screenshot being shat out of the giant glass anus that is the LA Convention Centre. But you are wasting your time. There’s not actually going to be anything really exciting announced. Every publisher will be showing off more third/first person shooters that either rip-off Modern Warfare or Gears of War. Most of the stuff on display at E3 will be based on the Unreal Engine, the bland face of modern gaming. You’ve seen one Unreal-based shooter you really have seen them all.
And what of the platform holders? Oh you are excited about Nintendo are you? Here’s how it’s going to go. Nintendo will open the show to much excitement, you may even let out a little bit of wee when Miyamoto-san takes the stage to pretend to be Link or something. The company will announce some new gimmick-based console that you’ll get ridiculously excited about. In a year it will be collecting dust under your sofa next to all the crappy cynical cash-in shite that Ubisoft flooded the format with. And you’ll be back to playing Modern Warfare 5 on you sixth replacement Xbox.
The games industry will announce so much junk this week and it’s all your fault. It’s your fault that even the very best and most ambitious games have you wandering around waiting for your pad to vibrate so you don’t have to use your eyes, ears or God forbid your brain. How sophisticated? Lab rats get to play more complex forms of entertainment. But you folks buy this crap. You didn’t buy the complex games, the ones that require thought and intelligence, the games that came complete with a lovingly produced manual for you to enjoy. No you wanted the same old crap every time, a first level – some £5 of your money – that teaches you how to walk, how to crawl under a pipe, how to leap over a barrier and a quick test of whether you know which direction up is.
One of the saddest experiences I’ve had this year was completing Portal 2. Sad because it was an amazing beautiful experience that got everything right and was now over. But sadder that it felt like a small oasis in an enormous dry dead desert. Some have held up Portal 2 as the sign of how far games have come, how artistic they can be, how the industry holds up against other forms of mass entertainment. But I think those things are only true for Portal 2. The game is more of an example of a very rare jewel. It shows all the rubbish peddled to us by publishers and platform holders for what it is. And today we’ll be sold tons more of it.
For the first time in years I won’t be watching.