Excellence in Idiocy at E3

There is still a bit more to go on the spectacle of gaming that is E3. A place where the biggest companies and titles compete in a dance to the death with the flashiest effects and unimaginable inane buzz words. I always get excited for these events drawing close. I’m as cynical as most, maybe even more but it’s hard not to get wrapped up in the excitement of new games; new characters and stories, new experiences and new advances in whatever is in vogue.

Unfortunately after watching the main conferences of the big four I get an overwhelming feeling of disappointment. The same bullshit as the year before, and before … and before that. But no, I think it’s actually getting worse as with each consecutive year they seem to try and top the stuff they did the year before, and this means excelling further at the same pandering bullshit. DUDE BRO games, perfectly rendered mutilations and a wealth of smarmy douchebag male protagonists.

DUDE BRO market

A wealth of silly shooters once more, trying to outdo themselves in terms of explosions. Shoot and stab with a new coat of paint and maybe a new mechanic if your lucky. They still look like the  same blockbusters you would expect. A new Call of duty franchise, scripted shooter with big giant cgi effects. A cross between Payday and battlefield, far cry dude bros, supernatural fighting dude bros (moustached guy in the order was actually pretty cool), and the seminal dude bros Nathan drake and Solid snake… hmm, I’m sensing a naming policy now too.

Then to make it worst most of these guys are just such insufferable prats. The hyper masculine stereotype took a wrong turn back there at the ego trip aisle and now it’s usually someone I’d rather punch than play. Its a trend that’s been going for a while now but I really don’t understand it’s prevalence. Is that really what characters people want to play or is this just the easier way to write personal pain as some sort of plot device to spurn on action.

Of course, as usual there was a distinct lack of female characters in most of the presentations. A few roles here and there to get excited about like SPLATOOOOOOOOOOOON  and returning series like Mass Effect and Dragon Age but I want more options. It’s expected unfortunately but nothing you really get upset over… that was until a slip up by a creative director for Assassins Creed about why it would not have a playable female character for the multiplayer function. A function that contains customisable characters. There are many different areas to the issue now across multiple sites but Rock Paper Shotgun has a good link collection and recap.

I am a bit disappointed in this as well. I have always really enjoyed the Assassins creed franchise and having that playground to explore within. The story was average, the controls a bit frustrating at times but they were a lot of fun to play. I’ve always thought it would do really well with having a female character, or a more fleshed out one or even the option of playing either because… would it really even matter to the story. And then this is a multiplayer mode where the series has typical had a selection of female characters. I just wish this was no longer a “feature”, just part of development instead.

Gorging on Gore

Another theme that seems to get consistently worse with each passing game conference is the focus and attention to detail on gore. It sometimes seems like the main way they sell the next generation of graphics is by depicting the most realistic possible mutilation they can. Last year people roared with applause while a head was blown apart with a shotgun, this year it seems we are supposed to cheer at severed heads. Seriously, bring me more awesomeness like the CATZILLA benchmark tests rather than this silliness.

There were so many more occasions of this with a variety of body parts to google over and it all just makes me rather… hmm, not nauseous, more disgusted. Disgusted really that this is what our industry stoops to in order to get some sort of shock factor into their games to sell more titles to.. I don’t know. Who is the market for realistically portrayed corpses? Personally I like my murdering to have more artistic flair to it, something that’s been thought over and works with the flow, gameplay and general aesthetic. This just seems to be there because the Man children the industry is composed of think it’s “cool”. You know what has a better shock factor… actual emotional connection to characters but first we need these companies to move beyond the hyper masculine and seeing character development and the emotional as something effeminate.

Sure have your ridiculously mortal combat finishers, that has always been the trademark of the franchise but when it is a standard practice to realistically depict such things the shock factor is diminished. You ruin a factor of games that could create a more emotionally engaging moments and instead create many that depicts our whole industry unfairly in the eyes of popular media. Not all of our games are gore filled murder-houses, and that doesn’t even come close to the more interesting elements so lets stop presenting them as such.

Indie Accolades

At least the good thing with this same old bullshit though is that the titles out there trying something new; the ones that try to create and imagine, to broaden the horizons of what gaming is and could be and those attempting to provide new experiences. The ones that are actually innovating instead of using a buzz word while refurbishing the old, or stolen ideas from the past are beginning to get noticed for the amazing experiences they can provide.

We’ve seen the same for so long now that it seems people are becoming satiated and after a greater variety of games to play. This year, even the big conferences had a great collection of indie titles with a wide variety of gameplay styles. No man’s sky had to be my game of the show, the idea there is just magnificent. I said it before but it really is a sign of the times that an indie studio is producing something far beyond the scope and imagination of what the others even think is possible and many higher up, those producing and investing are taking notice.

To me, looking at the increased visibility of what many of these studios that are outside of the larger corporate beast are doing gives me hope; hope for the industry and the future of gaming. There is a definable trickle down effect to the industry and it takes a while for them to incorporate what the smaller games are doing. With this increased focus on them and further incorporation into consoles and as part of the big game line-ups maybe this trickle down effect will lessen. The time between changes and cycles shorter and we can get a richer more diverse gaming industry.

Maybe… but not until those idiots grow up.

 

#E3 #Diversity

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10 thoughts on “Excellence in Idiocy at E3

  1. I just don’t understand the point of E3 anymore. Today’s gaming news industry is 24/7. All E3 gives are pre-rendered videos or scripted demos and the majority of the games are labeled “series iteration x”. I wonder if dudedros even pay attention to this show.

    I prefer the PAX platform of “if you can’t play it, don’t show it”.

    • I don’t understand that much either.. all these videos get spread so quickly anyway.

      Maybe for the media it’s a good place to be able to try a selection of new games but I’m very skeptical on these demos they play now

    • E3 is supposed to be aimed at professionals of the field, hence why only game devs can attend.

      It’s the same as a conferrence for doctors or managers, it is mostly there to network and connect with other people in your field, which is why the trailers in E3 are mostly what they are today: they are there to impress the suits.

      In the previous years the information about the big companies was scarce, so the hobbyists flocked to the event simply to catch a glimpse of the new titles, however over the last few years there are numerous Expos (PAX etc) the provide pure gameplay, that E3 is simply redundant for the gamers.

      • yeh, that’s what it began as but it’s increasingly just becoming a media spectacle for gaming in general. It’s heavily reported on around the web, heaps of videos and photos about a multitude of things and even quite a bit of it being streamed out to gamers. While the general population might not have too much of a place there it is far more orientated towards them then it used to be.

        I still think it is becoming irrelevant though. The way of the net lets things spread extremely fast anyway, as a company I would think it would be better to release news of your I.P outside of the event, before or after so it doesn’t get as drowned out by all the noise. We did see that a little too, certain games being shown, vids released and even announcements beforehand.

  2. There are female characters and NPCs in AC, right? It baffles me how a successful company like Ubisoft (I mean come on, AC games sell really well) can claim that they don’t have the resources to put in female PCs. Games from the stone age of gaming had gender options. This is 2014, not 1970.

    -Ursan

    • I think with the amount of animations nowdays it hasn’t gotten harder to do multiple characters properly but for a mutliplayer game it should be a requirement. The pvp modes in ass creed had it before too but now it’s absent… weird

  3. There was at least one win out of E3: Final Fantasy XIV will allow for pairs of any gender to get married in-game soon (they already had male-female marriage in-game for quite some time). It’s funny how FFXIV was already relatively progressive compared to other MMOs with respect to gender (many of the main story characters and city leaders are female), and though it took some prodding and time, this. So my hat off to Square Enix.

    via Kotaku (http://kotaku.com/final-fantasy-xiv-will-allow-same-sex-marriage-after-al-1588933399):
    “Quoting from a translator here, Yoshida said that upon the arrival of the 2.4 patch, “people within Eorzea will be able to pledge their eternal love and or friendship in a ceremony of eternal bonding. And this will be open to people regardless of race, creed, and gender. Two players…if they want to be together, in Eorzea, they can—through this eternal bonding ceremony.”

    “We discussed it,” Yoshida added, “and we realized: within Eorzea, why should there be restrictions on who pledges their love or friendship to each other? And so we decided to go this way.”

    The team is also considering things like “special mounts that only people who pledged their love and friendship can ride.”

    • yeh i saw that.. good decision really and it’s nice seeing the way they think about it. Does the restriction really make sense for a fantasy world.

  4. I think these conventions show us just how entrenched this mentality is. These are the same dudes who genuinely do not think the industry does a poor job with diversity. The message I take away is that they just don’t care. When your reasoning is down to “we dont have the resources” — yeah, that’s just marketing speak for “we don’t care”. If only they had the backbone to say it.

    What do you think of leadership in the industry? It seems to me there are so few leaders. Most companies appear to be riding the tide of the ideas of others before them no originality. I get the feeling that when we say theres more game variety than its ever been, all we’re really saying is you can play last years games in 256 new colors now.

    • That’s where I think the rise of kickstarter and indie games will be a great benefit to the industry. It’s an obvious clue that there is a large market out there for different experiences. AAA has usually been a place of pure iteration and, up untill now have never had decent competitiors. now they’re are being showed up by a lot of new and different i.p’s so maybe they will take notice

      I seem to remember devs somewhere saying space games didn’t sell and now we ahve 45 million crowdsourced. It’s the same with female protagonists… oh no they don’t sell but once the get the same budget, resources and marketing treatment that do just as well if not better (tomb raider). Oh and the adventure genre is dead… except when people do it right.

      I think now there are more options for people to pick and choose what games they do play without missing out too. Maybe people will boycot ac a little after this. maybe.

      I’m more hopeful for the future now,

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