Back in the middle part of June the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) took place to both the delight and anger of millions of gamers around the world. And like with every year there were good showing, bad showings, and a dash of controversy. So how did this years E3 go and what does it say about the state of modern gaming and its community?
As I have said before I have never really considered myself a “Gamer”. While it is true that like most millennials I grew up playing video games through the various Nintendo, SEGA & Sony systems over the years, outside of my undying love and admiration for the Big N I have never really obsessed over video games to quite the same degree I have comic books. That said like everyone else I do enjoy tuning in to E3 this year to see what’s up, and I always find at least a few surprises to enjoy. So here is my take on this years presentations.
I will be honest, I like Microsoft’s computers but I have never cared for their video game systems. The XBOX and the culture around it has always felt off to be, ranging from juvenile frat boy to techie elitists, XBOX has always seemed from both a corporate and community perspective to be the brand equivalent to that jerky kid in high school that claimed to be your friend but still treated you like crap. The fact that the main selling point of their overpriced XBOX-ONE X is just simply “how powerful it is” doesn’t help things much in this regard either. Xbox also like to tout the “Exclusive” title to many games that will also end up on Sony systems, albeit on a later date, but still, a timed exclusive arguably isn’t really an exclusive as it will eventually be playable on other consoles and outlets. Microsoft is a tech giant so I understand them focusing on how advanced or powerful their hardware is, but for me a video game should be about fun above all. What can I say, I’m just old fashioned like that.
I will give Microsoft some positive progressive points though for being cool and adding more diversity to their avatar creation with the ability to make your avatar have a wheelchair or prosthetic. It is important to make players of all types feel welcome and included in your community.
Nintendo has had a rough couple of years. The WiiU despite being a solid system didn’t do as well as they had hoped and took a bit to long to get a solid software lineup. And despite the continued success of the 3DS they needed something big to help them get back on top. Thankfully with the advent of the Nintendo Switch the company seems to be on their way back to the top of the mountain. The system launched with the highly anticipated Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild and has had a nice steady trickle of enjoyable 1st and 3rd party games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and PuyoPuyo Tetris since its release and March. And with he release of games like Splatoon2 & Mario+Rabbids right around the corner and Mario Odyssey coming this Fall the system seems like it will have an excellent first year overall. As for Nintendo’s E3 showing, it was a pretty solid one, we got what we expected as well as a few surprises with the announcement of new Metroid games for 3DS & Switch as well as some more info on things like Fire Emblem Warriors and confirmation on Kirby , Yoshi and main series Pokémon games coming to The Switch in the near future.
Nintendo is also doing a great job improving on the diversity in their properties. Gen 7 of Pokémon has many new characters that are their world’s equivalent to native Hawaiian/Polynesian, BOTW gave a more bigger role to the Gerudo by making one of their own, Urbosa a great hero, ARMS gave us Twintelle, though there was some arguably justified minor controversy surrounding her hair and her sexualized character design. And most recently Splatoon gave us Marina who is not only a woman of color but also an Octling who is bandmate and friends with the white mouse-like Inkling Pearl showing that even fictional rifts like the ones between the inklings & octlings can heal over time. Nintendo’s new stance to widen its audience and promote more diversity in its titles is a good one and one that I hope people will support so we can get more diverse and creative characters and titles in the future.
Though on the downside I will say it stinks the Big N didn’t hire actual women of color to voice Twintelle & Urbosa.
Honestly, not much to say here. They gave a solid conference, sure I may have found it pretty boring myself as very few of the games were of personal interest to me, but overall I am glad that like Nintendo they made the big focus the actual games as opposed to just bragging about how strong their hardware was.
Though I will say at this point I am starting to believe the human race will go extinct before Kingdom Hearts III or the Final Fantasy VII remake actually get around to coming out.
So apparently some people got mad that Wolfenstein, a game about killing Nazis is about well, killing Nazis…. There really are no words to describe how ridiculous this is or how equally ridiculous being offended that backwoods evangelical rednecks are the villains for FarCry 5. And lets not forget people are still mad you can play as a woman in Star Wars: Battlefront II.
Overall the thing that bothers me the most about all this is it shows how completely insane/sexist/racist/etc so many people in the gaming community are. Yet another reason I am only into games to have fun and not get super serious about something that is meant to be interactive art & storytelling for fun, frolic, & fantasy
At the end of the day, gaming has its fair share of problems but we have seen the industry is willing to move forward not just in technological advancement but also while admitingly slower than many would like in accepting a more diverse audience for its products. And well if that makes some people angry, then maybe its fine for the industry to leave you behind.