I know the fun game to play on Twitter during E3 is to out-snark the next guy, and I'm as guilty as anyone, but this year, it felt more and more like beating up a disabled child. It was like watching a machine designed to produce snark-worthy comments do exactly what it was designed to do, and we snarked just as much.
I am 32 years old, and I've played video games for most of my life, and worked on building them for most of my adult life. And I'm becoming bored with video games.
This revelation comes to me maybe once or twice a year, typically around the time the industry makes some concerted effort to "show us the future", but I'm never numb to it: The feeling that a cultural medium I've put so much of myself into and have allowed to define myself since childhood is actively repellent is genuinely heartbreaking.
I am so tired of violence.. I'm so tired of it. I'm tired of cars and dubstep, I'm tired of hopelessly overengineered sports simulations, I'm tired of social media hooks, I'm tired of open worlds full of hovering icons the origin of which I am 100% is an automated algorithm, I'm tired tired tired of watching immaculate cutscenes with hovering symbols for which button to push to make the animation play out, and most of all I'm tired, oh holy hell am I tired, of watching guns bob around in the bottom right corner of the screen while French-Americans stammer Black Hawk Down quotes at eachother, XP counters popping off the heads of whatever minority the industry has decided it's time to culturally shaft.
From the biggest players in the game, this E3 was full of this shit. Just chock full. It felt end-to-end. More graphic murder, more technology, more money, more licensed music, more bobbing guns, more immaculate cutscenes, more sequels. You could see the money dripping off everything. It was like having your eyes marinated in molten gold for all the cash rubbed in your face. When Battlefield Hardline was demonstrated, I felt utterly dismayed. All this money, time, will, talent and technology, spent on THIS? Is THIS what we're supposed to be excited about, to the point that they put THIS much money in it?
Certain people I follow on Twitter beat me to it. "I guess games just aren't for me anymore." At the same time, from listening to the multitudes of podcasts and youtube channels out there, this is apparently what we want.
There was, it would seem, never any doubt that Sony and Microsoft would be okay. But mention Nintendo to anyone, what hope does Nintendo have anyway, right? They don't have third parties, the same third parties that obsess to no end over pouring endless money into formulaic slaughterhouse franchises and sports sims, so what hope does Nintendo have?
Yes. This is a world in which "we", the players, the press and the industry, are apparently clasping our hands together, praying to holy hell that we'll have yet another year of cover based shooters, Pakistani civilians yelling in Saudi, open world busyboxes and free2play skinner boxes. I don't see why Nintendo needs these hacks, judging by the quality of the content, and the nickle-and-diming damage they are doing to end users, users who are now so terrified of putting money into a product on the off chance they may get it for free that MMOs are dying and free2play has utterly buttfisted the mobile game market. Somehow I don't think these third parties are worth keeping.
There are always smaller self-publishing houses on PC that produce interesting if flawed work, there's always the few unique developers that seem to have coerced enough freedom out of their publishers to actually craft good things, and outside of the shithole that is Steam early access and the onslaught of asset-store driven Unity prototypes foisted on players for exorbitant sums of money we can pretty much trust small teams of independent developers to keep pushing the form.
But I swear to god, AAA publishers like EA, Activision and Ubisoft, the industry represented by E3, and the press that still orbits E3 as the definitive industry-defining event? As far as I'm concerned, they can leave.