Game Changer #20 – Things I Noticed Watching E3

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My name is Jared Whittaker, one of the hosts and Audio Chewbacca of the Super-Fly Podcast and PCW! Welcome to Game Changer, a weekly burning missive about all aspects of video gaming with a little bit of opinion thrown in for fun. Proceed with caution and tread lightly, gentle gamers. It’s going to be good time. Like the first time you saw Super Mario 3 good time.

So the Super Bowl of gaming, E3, is over and all the dust has settled. One thing I noticed going into E3 is that I really wasn’t sure what was going to happen or be reveiled at the big show. The amount of news being leaked before E3 this year was pretty minimal. Sony, pretty notorious for having their E3 announcments spoiled before the show, had their news locked down this year. After E3 however, I feel overall that we didn’t really hear that much in the way of big news that we didn’t know something about already. So this week, I’m wrapping up E3 as whole and giving my feelings on what I thought about the show.

The Big Three didn’t being the heat. One thing that seemed to run through the Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo press confrences was the lack of magic in the air. None of the holders of the current-generation consoles showed much content that the general public didn’t know something about already. All three were pretty by the numbers. Microsoft gave us the first looks at Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3, as usual. The Modern Warfare series always gets showcased at Microsoft’s press con and the 360 always gets the Modern Warfare map packs before the PS3, so that makes sense. Microsoft also reminded us that we should have a Kinect by now because everything would be using the device. Sony hit all their marks at their event: Apologizing for the PSN outage again, showing of their markee games for the rest of the year and showing off the new PSP. The only real surprise at Sony’s show was that the new handheld was priced well and the rave party that happened at the end of the show. Nintendo surprised people at how awkward and badly paced their presser was. Everyone that was on Nintendo stage seemed way too confident in their lineup of games and announcements and it showed. The way that the Wii U was rolled out was the biggest surprise of Nintendo’s show. All the console possibility videos and the giant new controller failed to really win over the live crowd, that audibly groaned at some of the features suggested that the Wii U could possibly do whenever it comes out. All and all, none of the big three had the blockbuster moment to define that year’s E3 as a big year in gaming.

Every Console Wants To Make Everything Easier For You. Another big thing coming out of E3 is how all the console holders want to make you do less while your console does more for you. Microsoft wants to take away that pesky 360 controller that’s holding you back from you and your console by making it possible to controll the Xbox Dashboard with your voice. Sony wants you to really experience your entertainment by bundling their new 3D HDTV with popular PS3 games and pimping the Vita. And Nintendo spent much stage time showing you how the new Wii U controller will redifine the way you experence video games. (read: make you do things that you’d never want to do with a video game controller. Ever.) None of which really makes anything that much easier, but they REALLY wanted you to think that it would. While talking to your 360 to get to the Netflix section doesn’t sound like less work to me, I’m sure millions of people will be having an easy time shouting at their gaming console this fall when the new dashboard update goes down.

Everyone Is Showing Off Gameplay Videos. In a surprising and awesome change of pace, game devolopers were gung ho about showing what their game looks like playing real time. Batman: Arkham City, Bioshock: Infinite, Starhawk, Gears of War 3, Modern Warfare 3, Battlefield 3, and a host of other games all got showed off with long, in-depth demos on the show floor, which is a great thing to see as a gamer. Nothing is better than watching 16 minutes of The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim and marveling at how many hours of productivity I’m going to be losing playing that game. It helps gain the good kind of hype that a project can’t get from marketing dollars and having your main character plastered on the side of Slurpee cups.

Game Executives are Less Funny Then They Think They Are. While no one really expects the suits that work at major companies to be Dave Chappelle funny, game developers and other video game higher ups seem to think that because they work in an entertainment industry, that they have the comedic timing of a Cosby show sketch. Aaron Priceman at the Ubisoft press conference made that particular event monstrously difficult to get through. References to Wayne’s World and poop on toothbrushes surprisingly didn’t didn’t go over as well as people might have thought. It didn’t help that Ubisoft didn’t really have anything all that interesting to show off at their presser, but some of that stuff was downright abombinable. While most of the gaming exces didn’t try and fail as hard as Priceman, E3 proves that most of these guys should stick to making and managing games. Somewhere, Dane Cook is sighing is relief.

So E3 is in the bag. Even though it wasn’t as exciting as past year’s showings, we as gamers were treated to a lot of content and have a lot of new ways to lose hours of our lives in next 6 months. And overall, with all the new games and services that companies are announcing at the biggest stage in gaming, E3 is always a reminder that now is a great to be a gamer.

Keep gaming.

Jared Whittaker plays a lot of games. Not as much as he’d like, but as much as time and money will allow. If you want to play some games with Jared, you can find him on Playstation 3; PSN tag: JFX. He is also on Steam and Battle.net as JFX316 and while he doesn’t have an Xbox 360, he has the coolest Gamertag in the world: Obiwan Jaborni. Feel free to add him as a friend or email him at [email protected]

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Jared Whittaker is a contributing writer/columnist for PanelsOnPages.com. He acts as co-host and producer for the Super-Fly Podcast and PCW. He lives in Yellow Springs, OH and is generally awesome at most things.

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