June 7th, 2012

technical difficulty

The Extra ‘E’ is for Extra ZZZzzzz

As you may have heard from the non-giant-squid-related portions of the Internet, the E3 show has just wrapped up in Los Angeles.  E3, which is an abbreviation of convenience for “Electrical Amusements Jamboree and Fun Fair”, is best described as similar to the Consumer Electronics Show, only all the prostitutes are imaginary.  Normally, we do not feature video game news here on this site, as we gave up on the medium after being unable to get past the kill screen in Duck Hunt.  However, in an attempt to create a youth outreach program and attract readers under the age of 50, we have decided to provide this recap of the industry’s largest trade show, where casual fans and hardcore gamers alike can get together and complain that everything has gone to shit since Ocarina of Time.

Nintendo continued its E3 tradition of making everyone confused and angry by continuing the centuries-long rollout of the grammatically challenged Wii U.  Best described as a Sony PSP whose marketing is based on wistful nostalgia rather than murderous sociopathy, the handheld console device is apparently so difficult to explain that the company (via its spokesman whose name I did not make up, Reggie Fils-Aime) has been attempting to tell people about it since summer of 2008.  No one will be allowed to purchase the device who has not passed a 50-question test, combining multiple choice, true-false, and essay questions, about whether or not they properly understand and appreciate the wonderful thing that Nintendo has done by manufacturing it.  Once they have done so, they will be granted a non-transferable license to play Lego City, a sandbox game for people who are unable to relate to technology unless it is filtered through plastic children’s toys they recall from their fading childhood memories, or Batman:  Arkham Asylum, a game that has already been available for nearly a year to owners of less philosophically complicated game systems.

Sony’s big announcement at E3 this year was Sony still exists and manufactures video game products that you can purchase and, presumably, enjoy.  Continuing a long tradition of innovation copied directly from Nintendo, the company announced its new PlayStation All-Stars:  Battle Royale, which is markedly different from Nintendo Super Smash Bros. insofar as it features only characters that no one has heard of or cares about.  Most of the buzz at their press conference revolved around The Last of Us, an upcoming post-apocalyptic nightmare hellscape catering to gamers’ well-established desire that everyone else in the world would just die already, and Beyond:  Two Souls, a game in which a digitized Ellen Page contributes to the media over-saturation of the real-world Ellen Page.  Finally, some perfunctory attention was given to Sony’s Move and Eye motion peripherals; executives suggested that they could have value beyond their normal function of taking up space in Wal-Mart discount bins by being used to help children simulate the experience of going outside, moving around, and looking at things.

Microsoft became one of the biggest and wealthiest corporations in the world by being terrible at everything, and this year was no exception.  Ever since they convinced a generation of gamers to invest in the Xbox, their attempt to take over the world of video gaming they way they did personal computer, Microsoft has built on the fruits of their labor by pretending they don’t remember what video games are and hiding under a desk whenever somebody asks.  Most critics came to E3 with just one question for Microsoft executives:  ”Will your ostensible video game console feature additional services where I can pay money to watch things that are available for free on television?”  Happily, the answer was a resounding ‘yes’, and the MS bigwigs moved on to more important issues, such as how they have no information on video gaming and are not even sure what it is.  They did, however, explain how loud-mouthed drunks can use the Kinect to accidentally order a pizza; how the new SmartGlass system will allow you to have all the boring and pointless content you ignore on Xbox transferred to your phone or tablet; and how yes, there will be more Halo.

There were plenty more big stories from E3.  Indie games are still enjoying a renaissance, providing the annoying IT kid at your office with endless cultural references you will never understand; the South Park guys are still out there doing stuff just like it was 1999 or something; and Curt Schilling is a big asshole.  But the takeaway this year is the exciting news that, what with nobody having jobs or money anymore, none of the big manufacturers are going to make new consoles until you sign a contract saying you will absolutely positively buy one even if it costs a kajillion dollars.  See you next year, everybody!