games and videos of games we were shown at the press briefings by Microsoft,
Nintendo, and Sony, plus what was on the floor in the big stands like
EA, Activision, Ubisoft, and others, had four things in common:
• Very loud and overdriven subwoofers
• Outstanding complex and beautiful 3D models of the world (in
which the game is played)
• Incredible and shocking violence and destruction
• Ridiculous objectification of women and their chests
Of all the major game developers and publishers, only Nintendo had
a mix of games that truly were for everyone and not just young wanna-be
tough punks with eating problems. (The obesity factor in the young attendees
at E3 was startling and appalling.) And it seems the fatter the gameboys
get, the skinnier (except for certain notable parts) the booth babes
The themes of the games are getting narrower every year. I commented
two years ago that six years before that E3 had a ratio of 25% FPSs
to other games (racing, sports, fighting, puzzles, and fantasy), and
two years ago the ratio of games displayed was reversed with 75% being
FPSs. This year I could hardly find any puzzle games, only a couple
fantasy games, and dozens that depend on a shocking amount of violence.
It’s no wonder family organizations, religious groups, and others are
reacting to the games being offered. Wait until they see the crop of
killing, head-smashing, machine-gunning, slashing, and in general destroying
games that are offered this fall.
As mentioned, the 3D models are amazing; the level of detail and the
complexity are just wonderful. The characters in many of the games are
much better looking and more realistic, too. But their actions of being
thugs, gangs, and the glorification of war are deplorable. Is this really
what we want to feed our kids?
The good news is that themes besides baseball-bat-swinging hitmen pissed-off
brothers monster gun-toting super-Marines and knife-wielding butt-kicking
princes and princesses aren’t the only games in town. Based on data
from IGN and NPD they aren’t even the best selling, thankfully. NPD
says the Nancy Drew series have been number one in unit sales in 2004,
and IGN reports that the Mario franchise is still a leader (“The
Legend of Zelda” is number one by their count).
Some of the games are a real waste of pixels and dollars, not to mention
the zero ROI by the player. But with the game market now the number
one entertainment industry, lots of money is going to be poured into
lots of game while the publishers search and pray for a hit title.
Interestingly, Nintendo is taking a totally different path. Yes, there
are some fighting games in the Nintendo suite, but mostly the company
seems focused on family-friendly games, almost an innocence buried in
a market and show floor of over-steroided monsters, huge explosions,
and rivers of blood.
Probably the cleverest game, if it even qualifies as a game, is Nintendo’s
Who doesn’t like puppies? And these puppies can be played with, given
a bath, taught tricks commanded by speaking to them, and taken for a
walk through a maze.
And they can have friends come over to play. This is possibly one
of the most brilliant game ideas ever. Everyone likes puppies, and the
fact that you can play with them and socialize with them is genius.
As Lotus 1-2-3 was the killer app for PCs in the early days, I predict
“Nintendogs” will be the killer app for DS, followed closely
Nintendo has done another brilliant thing by announcing that the entire
Nintendo library of games will be downloadable and playable on the new
Revolution. Sony is going to try to emulate that moveÑso far they can
run some PS2 stuff on the PSP (but with different formats), and the
PS3 will be backward-compatible with the PS2, which in turn was backward-compatible
with the PS and PS1, which means the PS3 can run PS and PS1 games.
So if you want game, we got game. In a year from now we will have
six main consoles (PS1, PS2, PS3, Game Cube, Revolution, and Xbox2)
and four handheld game machines (GBA, DS, MicroGB, and PSP), plus some
other possibilities like Gizmondo and N-Gage, and over 1,100 games actively
for sale, not counting the mobile phone games.
Surely a business this big and this dynamic can produce something better
than “Doom16” or “Grand Theft Auto: The End of the Civilized