[Guest Post] They’ll Blow Us Away Next Year: My Reaction to E3 2012

Today’s guest post is brought to us by John Schmidt, who arguably has one of the coolest Twitter handles on the interweb. He’s talking to us today about the elephant in the room: what all of us were thinking about E3, but didn’t really want to admit.

I’ve been around video games for as long as I can remember. Every year since I first played Super Mario Bros. on the NES, I was aware E3—the geek version the NFL Draft.

I sat though the announcements of the PS2, Xbox, GameCube (or the Dolphin as I remember it being called), Xbox 360, PS3, and the Wii, analyzing the specs and looking at the titles being released, just being blown away by what these pieces of hardware can do.

I remember owning all of these consoles and playing all of their major titles. I remember enjoying them, too.

However, with the current generation of consoles nearing an end, I completely understand that companies aren’t putting out their best stuff. After all, the past couple of years have been a kind of awkward period between console launches, and developers have to save their best stuff for the next generation.

Unfortunately, all this mediocrity creates an unhappy fan base.

Chatting with friends and looking around on the Internet, I see a lot of disapproval from gamers. Many claim that gaming is dead, or that originality is no longer a virtue. And who’s to say they aren’t correct? Rehash after rehash keeps getting pumped out, and DLC is no longer considered supplemental content—now you have to buy the endings to games you’ve already bought!

It’s marketing strategies like this that encourage the not-quite-positive fan reactions to E3.

The Future of Gaming?

Not too long ago, renowned film critic Roger Ebert wrote an article in which he submits that video games are not art. He states that in their present state, they are far from an art form and that it will take almost an eternity for them to become so.

After seeing the way people reacted to the various press conferences at E3 this year, and if seeing how fans inhale video games were my only view into gaming culture, I probably would have agreed with him.

But even though I was left unsatisfied and wanting more out of E3, there were still some awesome takeaways that excited me more than enough about next year–when the major players will hopefully announce new console lines (and the amazing lineup of games to go with them).

Games like The Last of Us, Watch Dogs, and Beyond: Two Souls are all great looking games, and may be the highlights of this year’s E3. At least those are the three that stuck out the most to me, which means there are three major titles that I will buy on launch. The Wii U is an impressive piece of hardware that I will consider once it gets closer to release.

But other than that…

Those announcements are pretty much what I took away from E3, which is unlike most previous conventions. Now, there were some smaller things here and there that I enjoyed seeing, but at the end of the day it was only those three titles that I consider highlights.

The concept of creating a Top 10 of E3 2012 just isn’t worth it. Even a Top 5. There just isn’t enough to choose from. This lack of options was the likely case for the general consensus that E3 was lackluster.

At the same time, however, I realize I can’t just demand that companies at E3 produce great content all the time, especially if this year marks the end of this platforms lifespan.

Demanding a great game that is all new and not just a rehash isn’t me. It’s not the kind of fan I want to be. Crusading for companies to craft the games of the future to the masses just leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and it certainly does not contribute to solidifying interactive entertainment as an art form.

If the word and force of the mainstream gaming population controlled what companies put out and announced at E3, then the video games industry would be like that episode of The Simpsons where Homer’s long-lost brother gives him the chance to make a car of his dreams. And that car ends up bankrupting the company.

Fans and consumers aren’t developers, no matter how much we want to be. It’s hard to accept sometimes, but that’s the way things are.

With all that out of the way, let me say this: Stay positive, people! Gaming isn’t dying. It’s just going to be reborn so it can knock us all on our butts.