Just came back from a few days at E3, the massive video game conference that happens every year in Los Angeles. As usual, it was an experience in sensory overload that left me exhausted and slightly depressed by the end. A few things of note:
First person shooters are getting a little boring. Sure, the realism of these things is incredible now, and the Xbox 360 demos were almost cinematic in quality. But frankly, I’m getting kind of tired of gritty, dark visions of the future (or of 1940s Europe, or of the fantastical Age of Elves and Monsters) where all you do is blast people and things into oblivion.
One thing that would make me sit up and take notice: Corpses. In every one of these games, your enemies just evaporate after you kill them. I have yet to see a game where the bodies just pile up, and then you have to climb over them to get around. Now that would be gritty and dark. It would also add some realism to historical command & conquer strategy games. (A slight exception: in Grand Theft: Auto San Andreas, bodies lie there until an ambulance comes and carts them away–but they don’t present any kind of obstacle.)
The Nintendo DS, despite being a distant second to the Sony PSP in terms of console quality, is everywhere. They’ve sold 5 million of the things to date. I see them everywhere, and at the show, there were dozens of people — grownups — downloading Nintendo’s free games at the wireless kiosk, using their own DS systems. I have yet to see anyone in the real world playing a PSP.
The U.S. Army has its own video game–with more than 5 million downloads, it’s an incredibly popular one–and it was promoting the game with a big camouflage tent, and actual soldiers, stationed in front of the convention center. Talk about blurring the lines between fantasy and reality. Hey kids! Hone your skills playing first person shooters–then join the Army and get a real gun!
The crowd at E3 is surprisingly diverse. Sure, most of the attendees were men, but there were more women than I expected (and I’m not counting the booth babes), and there were people of nearly every color, class, and style of dress. It was way more diverse than any computer convention I’ve been to. Cause for optimism.