Holy moly. I haven’t done a personal update in forever. E3 was well over a month ago and I am finally starting to feel like I am caught up.
Or I thought I was. One of the largest things I learned from E3 this year is that when everything is said and done, it’s not really said and done.
I mean that in the most positive (but also exhausted) way possible. In the three (or four) days that embody the Electronic Entertainment Expo, I met more people than I could have ever imagined. Networking with others was a simple greeting with the exchange of business cards, a concept that was strikingly similar to collecting Pokemon. It was fantastic to see some of the bigger names in the industry–meeting people like Greg Miller and the charming Troy Baker made me realize that these people actually do exist outside of the realms of media and the internet. That they too are just people who share a passion for all things gaming and chicken wings.
But what was even more charming, to me at least, was getting to meet the people we don’t normally hear about–small indie developers who made it to their first E3, gaming charities, people who work in marketing, financing, and public relations; the gears of the industry. It’s fascinating to get an insiders view of just how everything works, and it’s something that gives me an even bigger respect for how the industry runs. As gamers, we don’t see the sweat and blood, rhetorical decision making, arguments, writing, programming, level design, and marketing strategies involved with the games we play. We see persuasive commercials and perhaps an interview with the lead game designer… then glance over the credits of the hundreds of people who work on titles.
Ultimately, E3 helped to put things in perspective.
In short, we networked with so many fantastic people. And networking is a good thing. But as an extroverted person who enjoys strong connections and communicating, I felt the need to reach out to everyone I met at E3…. directly after E3. The problem with that? I am in graduate school, am a graduate teaching assistant, and also have a job. So post E3 meant returning to work, planning my classes for the fall semester, attempting to go on a brief vacation with my family, and writing ALL of the things from E3. Literally all of the things, because the insanity that is E3 did not merit a single second to actually write up articles or transcribe interviews (which takes forever), and writing articles was the reason I was sent there in the first place. Whoo planning a ahead?
If I learned anything heading to E3 as a journalist, it’s that you should save time for write-ups at the expo. However, I do not regret my lack of writing whilst there, as I had some amazing experiences that would not have occurred if I stayed in my hotel bent over my laptop. LA is a city of magical events that are not to be missed; let’s just say there was honeysuckle wine from New Zealand and a facebook party involved.
But now… now I am suffering through the hangover of it all. Of catching up with what I was supposed to do while I was there and stepping back into the reality that is graduate school, and what I am supposed to do while I am here. The there and here of it all makes me feel like I trying to live two lives. With this being my final year of graduate school I need to throw every trick I have into the job market of the industry, but I also have to actually graduate. And as much as I love video games, I also love teaching, which is something I am insanely blessed to be able to do during my time as a Master’s student. Basically so many absurdly awesome things are happening in my life at once. I cannot believe how lucky I have been, and rather than complaining about my commitments I am simply going to stop for a moment, look at how incredibly awesome everything is, and learn how to juggle it all.
To this day I have either been frantically throwing out articles, preforming and transcribing interviews, scheduling more interviews, writing more articles, getting my freelance legs sprinting, working with gaming charities, rescuing small animals, or exercising some lazy horses. At last, I think I have found some semblance of a finish line to continue my research into the positive side effects of gaming…. and to plan the classes I am teaching for the fall… and to get our YouTube channel going again. I still have some fantastic interview features coming up with the charities Operation Supply Drop and Able Gamers. I’ll also be chatting with Tommy Tallarico, Ali Hillis, and Greg Kasavin in the coming months. Luckily all of these amazing things are spread over months no days or weeks, or my sanity would be on the line. I’ll also be at PAX PRIME this year, so all of these events will probably reoccur in about a month. Whoooo coffee!
Anyways, back from my stream on consciousness and onto the overview of E3.
This is how E3 works, in chronological order of events:
In my previous posts about E3, I mentioned what it was like to wander aimlessly amidst the massive West and South halls that closely resemble Time Square. But I never really mentioned what games I found to be the highlights of the expo. Luckily I have already written many articles about them and I’m sure by now many of you have heard of them. TitanFall struck me as something that has the potential to actually beat out Call of Duty as the next massive FPS multiplayer game. In the behind-close-doors preview we saw an absurdly well-rounded and balanced game based on team work. Many people seem to fear that in a mech based gamed, the possession of a giant domineering robot means automatic victory; however, in the demo we saw a solider single-handily down a said robot. Hello game balance, how I have missed you. We also saw some kick ass finishing kills that evoked unprofessional ohs and ahs from the viewers in the audience. Professionalism is overrated anyway. Color me a total fan-girl.
Bethesda’s the Evil Within scared the heebie-jeebies out of me during their demo. I have an article coming out on that which I will soon post on here, but I have to say that Shinji Mikami is bringing back old-school survival horror in the best way possible. I get scared absurdly easily, but this title evokes memories of the original Silent Hill and Resident Evil.
As far as MMOs go, WildStar captured my heart with it’s WoW like style and original humor and design. Combine that with some absurdly smooth game play and this nostalgic wow-player has her wallet ready to throw her monitor. As much as I loved the Elder Scrolls Online, there is something about the feeling of WildStar that screams playability. I am, however, also looking forward to Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. Good lord, so many MMOs are coming out this year. Goodbye life.
Speaking of massively online multiplayer games, there is of course Bungie’s Destiny, which looks like a mixture of Halo, Borderlands, and enter a random MMO title here. First of all, can I just saw how much I ADORE team Bungie? As we sat there watching the live game play demo, the team would constantly look up at the game with a massive smile on their face. You can tell they are both passionate and proud about what they have done with this title. From what we have seen, it is blatant that there will be a loot system, live events, party systems, and other aspects that combine to make a fantastic multiplayer experience. During the demo the team pointed out the game’s completely open world, which looks stunning. That, and the voice of freaking Tryion Lannister is in it. Bungie. I love you. Take my money.
Transistor and Rain get my indie title vote, though I must say, get Octodad when it comes out as well. Playing Octodad was unlike any gaming experience I have EVER had. Seriously. The goal of the game is to not let anyone know that you’re an octopus (umm.. what?), and it’s a goal that is absurdly charming and difficult. Trying to control the eight clumsy and flailing limbs of Octodad while trying to avoid getting noticed is ridiculously fun and the controls are fittingly fluid with Octodad’s motion. As stated previously, both Rain and Transistor are beautiful games that are not to be missed.
Probably one of the titles I am looking most forward to is Quantic Dream’s Beyond: Two Souls. David Cage’s script for this game was near 2,000 pages, and the hour or so I played at E3, though revealing little of the story, was already emotionally heart-wrenching. If you’re a fan of Heavy Rain, you will love this game. Even if you aren’t, the new combat and the ability to control Aiden is enough to draw in people who were perhaps aggravated by Heavy Rain’s quick time events. More details on the game can be found here.
I honestly thought this list of highlights would have stopped by now, but the more I write the more I realize how many fantastic games there were at this year’s expo. We also had Watch Dogs, the Witcher 3, and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. Now before you pull the whole, “Ugh, they are doing another XII!? Why!?” you should check out my article on the game. As big as a fan as I am of the XIII series, I have to admit I was apprehensive, but the game play is fantastic and the combat is engaging, a promising combination that sparks my curiosity. I think Square Enix will have the XIII series go out with a bang on this title. Plus, it’s Lightning, who is a total bad ass. Watch Dogs looks absurdly fun, a fresh premise for a game in a sea of what feels like the same game after the same game. Watch Dogs also has a multiplayer, and unlike games who throw on multiplayer to make money through DLC, this multiplayer looks rather addicting. And I think the Witcher 3 can speak for itself in how freaking awesome it is going to be. If you missed it, check out my E3 feature on it.
I also got to meet some fantastic charities and companies at E3 this year. Blue Marble Games works on making video games that aid those who suffer from traumatic brain injuries or diseases like Alzheimer’s. They are also working on interactive games for seniors that can help them maintain mobility and function, things that are often lost with age. Operation Supply Drop and Get-Well Gamers are also two charities I came across. Operation Supply Drop sends video games to the troops fighting downrange and Get-Well Gamers sends video games to children at hospital pediatric centers. For us video games are a form (albeit, for many of us, a passionate form) of art and entertainment. For the kids in hospitals or for the troops overseas, video games are an interactive and engaging way to mitigate physical and psychological ailments. Now what other forms of media have the power to do that?
Contrary to popular belief video games are awesome.
Now that E3 is over and we are entering into the next generation of consoles, what titles are YOU most looking forward to? Better yet, how have games positively influenced your life?
*Speaking of positive influences, we are doing an Extra Life marathon for the kids that are part of the Children’s Miracle Network. If you missed the 32 hour livestream this past weekend and still want to donate, we will be playing Final Fantasy XIII each night this week until we beat it. This beautiful game has had such a fantastic influence on my life, and I hope that it brings joy to you as well. Every single dollar matters and 100% of proceeds to the Children’s Network. Our live stream can be found here http://www.twitch.tv/invizzyb and you can donate to our cause here http://www.extra-life.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&participantID=46751.