During last July’s Electronic Extertainment Expo, I witnessed a young men dressed as Final Fantasy VII villain Sephiroth. Within a few steps on entering the convention center, he was accosted, and quickly escorted out the front doors. I approached the man, and asked him what he had hoped to see. “The new games”, he replied, “but all I got to see what a bunch of guys in suits.” Alas, Sephiroth spoke for us all.
As many other journalists have noted, the ESA effectively created a sanitized, business environment with this year’s E3. We met in sterile meeting rooms, watched as PR reps played, and missed the spectacle of noise, booth babes, and crowds that often made the event feel like a carnival midway. Sure, we didn’t have to wait in line to play a game, but without the crowds, the experience felt a bit lifeless.
E For All’s goal is to create a all-inclusive show where media, vendors, and fanboys can cohabitate. The show, in its second year at the Los Angeles Convention Center, came across as a disjointed mix of large corporations, vendors selling Red Bull variants in Mario Bros. cans, and lonely exhibitions of already released games. Sadly, the cosplay was limited to the exhibitors. Here are our impressions:
These eyes have seen a million frags.
Fatal1ty: We found new reasons to fear gaming extraordinaire Jonathan “Fatal1ty” Wendal. Sure, he trains eight hours a day, creating drills for himself, and is amazing dedicated. That we would ‘pwn’ us in any first-person shooter is no secret. However, we were surprised to find out how business savvy the guy is- Wendal is a just as skilled with a marketing plan as he is with a mouse and keyboard. His knowledge and confidence ensure that he will be a name in the industry for years to come. Who would have guessed that Fatal1ty relaxes to Mario Kart Wii?
Super Energy Apocalypse: tower defense with a conscious
Indiecade: Whereas most booths would garner your attention for minutes, we spent more time at the Indiecade than any other section of the show floor. We lost Unlickedcub about halfway through the exhibit as he become addicted to Super Energy Apocalypse, Lars A. Doucet’s wonderful tower-defense game that incorporates concepts about sustainable energy. Off-Road Velociraptor Safari looked amazing; players run over dinosaurs and perform trick to score points. If it was a XBLA game, they’d have my 800 points, already. Gamers will be able to play Mario 64 clone, Mushroom Men, as Gamecock will be publishing the Wii title. Overall, the Indiecade was the highlight of the show.
Electronic Arts: EA’s presence was limited to setting up about ten kiosks featuring previously released games like Mercenaries 2, Boom Blox, Battlefield: Bad Company, and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09: All-Play. Sadly, three of the kiosks crashed and there were no representatives to reset the consoles, so the game sad unplayed for hours.
UbiSoft: Tom Clancy’s EndWar, a RTS with voice controls, and Fry Cry 2 were on display and looking in fine form. Sadly, representatives from Ubisoft were unable to tell us anymore above the release dates of the games. Of the two PR reps we spoke to, neither had actually played the games on display.
A render from fLOW. Now tell me games aren’t art.
Into the Pixel/AIAS: Next, we spoke with Joseph Olin, the president of the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences. The AIAS’s mission is to elevate interactive media in the same way film, television, and music is recognized by its respective academies. On display were some beautiful renders and concept art from current and upcoming titles. Olin proved to be quite a consummate gamer; his appreciation and knowledge of the industry was a highlight of the show.