It feels weird to say that E3 officially starts today when in fact four of the biggest names in the videogame industry conducted their shows yesterday: Microsoft, Sony, EA and Ubisoft. I am not going to go on about who the winners and losers (*cough* Microsoft *cough*) of day one were–you can find that information elsewhere, what I would like to do instead is highlight some of the more controversial moments in the show as well as some of the most frustrating. Thus I would like to hand out some tongue-in-cheek awards of my own. So I give you the Game Church E3 Day One “Awards.”
Most Guns and Violence Award: This was a close one that went down to the wire between literally all four of yesterday’s presenters. So before I announce the winner, let’s all take a moment and thank the videogame industry for confirming the stereotype that it has an unhealthy affection for hyper violence. That said, the most violent E3 show of yesterday goes to Microsoft simply based on its ratio of violent to nonviolent games. Microsoft showed particularly brutal videos of Spinter Cell Blacklist and the new Tomb Raider game as well as debuting video of Halo 4 and announcing another sequel to Gears of War. It’s probably unfair of me to single out Microsoft on this point as all of yesterday’s press conferences confirmed what we already knew deep down inside: the videogame industry still has a lot of growing up to do and assuming yesterday’s presenters did their marketing homework, we the consumers do too.
Lamest Announcement: Microsoft announced yesterday that the Internet Explorer will soon be available on Xbox Live! I have managed, quite successfully, to avoid using Internet Explorer for the last 8 years of my life. I don’t personally care to surf the web on my television but for those poor souls who have been waiting 8 years for something as simple as a web browser, Microsoft is pleased to let you know that soon you will be getting one of the crappiest.
Most Shocking Moment: Ubisoft’s demo of Far Cry 3 could not have surprised me more. Call me a prude but I wonder if perhaps they could have done more to warn the audience that the video was going to open with a bare chested woman straddling the player. In any case the demo then proceeded to showcase a series of violent executions that the player will be able to enact on enemies. There were stacks of TV’s with cryptic messages from Vos, the game’s main villian, reminiscent of Lost. There were tigers mauling people, at one point a flaming knife is stabbled into your chest, and it was clear that your character is going insane similar to Tyler Durden in Fight Club. The demo ended with Vos saying, “You are me and I am you.”
Lead writer Jefferey Yohalem claims that all this insanity has a point–not just violence and sex for the sake selling more units. “This game is about killing in games, but it’s about killing in games,” he emphasized. “It’s not about killing in the dark, gritty, realistic Schindler’s List way. The player’s joyful experience of playing a game and killing, and the player becoming a killer – Jason’s journey mirrors that.”
As a massive fan of Far Cry 2 due to the way it depicted the futility of violence, I am hopeful that there is a method to the madness, but given what Ubisoft Montreal chose to showcase yesterday, the stakes couldn’t be higher.
Worst Hosts: At one point, I told myself that I was going to turn off Ubisoft’s press conference if Aisha Tyler used the phrase, “girl wood,” one more time. After a rather amazing presentation of how Rayman: Legends would work with Wii U, Tyler said that she had no idea what was going on because she only plays first person shooters but it looked like fun. I will admit to knowing little about Tyler, but I have to wonder if someone at Ubisoft was paying her to put a positive spin on every unfortunate stereotype about gamers. I think she failed but good try Ubisoft.
Tyler’s co-host Toby Tobuscus Turner was FAR worse and put the cap on Ubisoft getting the worst hosts award. Apparently Tobuscus is funny on Youtube but I don’t recall anyone laughing at his many awkward jokes. Here are some shinning examples of the awkwardness:
After the ZombiU reveal trailer, which includes a decapitation via bayonet: “He just cut off a head with a gun sword!”
Coming out on stage: “I dropped my mic!”
???: “I came out of the womb with an Xbox controller [. . .] It was strange because it hadn’t been invented. I must have invented it while I was in there.”
Well there you have it. Those are my cynical awards for the first day of E3. Don’t get me wrong, there is much to be excited about. I cannot wait to get my hands on Watch Dogs, Rayman: Legends, Beyond, and The Last of Us. Today belongs to Nintendo, so we will be keeping our eyes open to let you know if there is anything else you should be annoyed about!