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Space for Rent: E3-Exposed to the Lights and Mirrors


 

 

Tweet of the Day: The Racism Beat

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Once again E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, the biggest event in the video game industry calendar. A lot of noise and fury signifying…very little actually.  It is a parade of industry spokesmen in front of thousands of fans and game journalist onto a stage backed by giant speakers, titanic screens, hurricanes of white smoke. And what is on display on these screens?

Nothing.

Or should I say almost something.

Most of the show is filled with CGI trailers for upcoming games. Now, you might be wondering, aren’t video games made on computers? Indeed they are, oh gentle reader, indeed they are. But these, “Cinematic,” trailers are not (usually) made with in-game assets. It is like watching a hand drawn trailer for a live action movie: very pretty, full of colors, glimpses of possible characters, but apropos of nothing connected to the actual movie, actors, sets or anything else. These trailers hint at what the game might be, once released, but show nothing of actual story or game play. Not only that, but many of these trailers are for games that may be a year or more away. In other words, they are selling an non-existent product.

Kind of the way movies are sold, except that unlike movies, games today can change wildly from teaser trailer to actual product and even when the game is released, it is often not finished. It is very common for games to require a half a dozen patches (post-launch updates) just to get them working properly. Features promised a year ago either get curtailed, delayed or even erased. Plus there is a push to pre-order games, sight unseen, from favorite local or online store. In any other industry these combination of tactics would be labeled fraud.

And if certain sectors of the internet are to be believed, these tactics work wonders. Already hundreds of post on Twitter and Tumblr are going gaga about games that won’t be released in a years time (so at best they are in the middle of their development cycle) and characters with nothing to go on but a picture and a basic write up. The willfully gullible among the press and fans gush over every little morsel of ephemeral data they can glimpse from a few milliseconds of screen time. While the average movie goer would see a trailer and go, “Looks cool,” the average commentator or fan is trowing buckets of dollars at the screen like a twenty-five year old man who woke up from a ten year comma in a strip club.

And the cherry on top, these phantoms get, “awards,” just for showing up! That’s right, show nothing, do nothing, win best in show!

Ain’t gaming grand!

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For more on the state on the video game industry I leave you with these three distinguished gentlemen. (NSFW)

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