Thanks for stopping by – today I’ll be discussing the idea of video gaming conventions. Are gaming conventions considered overrated in this day and age, considering that a lot of these events could be live streamed on a television or computer screen? Are these events and the resulting hype solely driven by sheep-minded individuals?

Side story time – this year was my first year being able to attend the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles, CA. It was an incredible experience, I will have you know, and being able to sit in on the action at a live conference (with Microsoft, who delivered a spectacular showing this year) is infinitely better than watching it on a live stream that plays on YouTube or Twitch. The sound effects are insane, the people are hyped up like crazy, me included. The thing that I found crazy was that I was getting extremely hyped out over events that I did not think I would be interested in; worse yet, I found myself coming back from the convention and realizing how uninteresting some of those announcements were in the long run. And being at a place like E3 made me realize how easy it is to get dragged into propaganda and the mindset of just following people, you know what I mean?

E3 is an event surrounded by blissful euphoria. You have over fifty thousand people, mostly involved in the video gaming entertainment industry, running on extreme amounts of caffeine, getting a bit unshaven on the third or final days of the show, all hyped together in a convention center that can be nothing short of a theme park. It’s Christmas Day in June for gamers. Anyone who has been on the game floor has said the same thing – it is an event that cannot be forgotten. The noises, the visual sensations that hit you for the first time when the curtain draws back and you are granted access to the showroom floor… impossible to forget. But at the end of the week, once all the games have been packed up and shipped back to their respectful companies, there comes a time when the convention needs to be looked at again, and with a more critical eye.

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This year’s E3 saw Nintendo take some giant stumbles, it saw Microsoft making some huge strides, and saw Sony drop some incredible bombshells with Final Fantasy VII remakes, Shenmue III, and The Last Guardian. We saw people jumping over the new strides in virtual reality, a technology that had a great deal of prominence on the show floor this year. But at the end of the day, there were not many new intellectual properties that got revealed to the world. There were no new console strides that could be amounted to more than whispers, like the mysterious Nintendo NX. There were big title reveals, such as a new Halo, Assassin’s Creed, and a new Star Wars Battlefront. And while I may have suffered from a dead jaw after the week ended, I came home and I feel like gaming has just… stagnated with more of the same stuff. We’re getting another Call of Duty, another Halo, maybe another random RPG type of game, but there hasn’t been anything really unique that screams “must have!”

These massive video gaming corporations are just stringing us along, and every year we get so intensely absorbed in the hype (I’m totally guilty of this) that at the end of the day, we do not really look into what we are getting our hands on. A lot of the titles may as well have been glorified cinematics, considering their release date is years out. Final Fantasy VII? Probably not going to be ready for quite a while, and yet, people were losing their minds over it. I get the idea that there’s a sense of nostalgia involved, but that just cannot cut it. I am not going to lie, Adam Boyes slayed the crowd at Sony’s E3 conference this year. He did, and people had every right to be hyped for some of those titles considering they were rooted deeply into their childhoods, but after coming home and actually digesting it all, I could not really see all (that’s the key word here – I see the picture but it’s not all of it!) the hype behind it, except for the fact that it was E3 week. A lot of those titles were expected to be released, and not a real and genuine surprise. Come on, people have been bemoaning a new remake of Final Fantasy VII for years now, and although the reaction was entirely justified, especially after the mighty trolling of the Playstation Experience event in December of 2014, it’s really nothing groundbreaking at the end of the day.

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Consider me a jaded gamer, a boring old crone who spends too much time on the textbooks, but I like it better when games are out there, innovating. Games have fallen into a degree of stagnation that seems so focused on gathering money. The sad part is that people are willing to pay for the “same old thing,” year after year. The same old shooters with a new reskin, the same franchises are getting milked over and over again. What happened to the titles that genuinely had people interested, like Super Mario Sunshine, or The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time? These groundbreaking titles are not quite as present anymore in today’s video games industry, an industry that focuses more on gathering money on short term by rehashing things. The fall of the video gaming industry is completely evident and we need to look no further than the plight at Konami, once one of the most respected gaming developers in the industry. Reading about their current situation is nothing short of dire, and hearing about their working conditions, how they let go of Hideo Kojima, who may as well have been the face of the company, to focus on cheap mobile games that pull in money, is that the way our beloved video gaming industry is going to go? Are we gamers nowadays just sheep, satisfied with these endless rehashes, while the gaming corporations just saturate their pockets full of money?

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When we go back to Electronic Entertainment Expo, or Gamescom, or Game Developer’s Conference, we go there to find the latest and the greatest, but lately, in the long run, there hasn’t been anything that has screamed “great!” in the past several years. I feel that the last big innovative generation was during the era of the Playstation 3, XBOX 360, and the Nintendo Wii. Motion gaming finally became an idea that had traction, and it sold in droves. HD gaming finally started to take off. But with this generation, it’s like the “S” generation of Apple iPhones – slightly better stuff, more HD, minor incremental upgrades in a new package. I feel that at this point, we gamers have gotten so jaded with the video gaming world that we do not even realize it… they are giving us less actual innovative games. And it is starting to feel like we gamers are nothing more than (I hate to say it) ignorant sheep, just blindly following the herds. And for all fifty thousand of us who managed to make it to the conference, we just end up nodding our heads, making the necessary loud cheers for that next shooter in the franchise. Are there those random golden nuggets that we find at the show? Sure, but overall, these gaming conventions are nothing more than a place for us to put on a pair of blinders.

I am not saying that gaming conventions are a bad thing. It is a great way to get the public concerned and interested about what is coming in the future. That cannot be denied. But I am pointing out that we as gamers are getting way too complacent with our lives and we are basically clamoring over nothing lately. We need to get out of that sheep mindset and start looking to get the industry to make new and innovative technologies for us. Do we really need the fifth Halo game, or that shiny new Battlefront title that is quickly looking to be just a reskinned Battlefield? Think about it, guys.

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-Brandon

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  • ThatOneGuy

    “The sad part is that people are willing to pay for the ‘same old thing,’ year after year.”

    What is sad about this? It’s sad that people are spending money and enjoying things that you don’t because they don’t seem innovative enough to you? There are many sequels these days, and perhaps there isn’t a whole lot of innovation (though I’m not sure I agree but I’ll concede this point for the sake of argument), but if people are having fun that isn’t a bad thing. Innovation can be good, but only if the resulting experience is fun.

    • Michael Spiteri

      I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be asking more from the gaming industry. It can’t really be disputed that there’s still entertainment to be had as it stands, but there’s always room for improvement. Innovation can occur in any real number of ways, and I personally find that rather exciting to think about. Mistakes can and will be made, but if the end result is bigger, better games and new experiences, then perhaps that’s all worthwhile.

    • Nicholas Williams

      But its this mentality to stick to safe IPs that are already popular that is what is leading thus industry into a slow state of stagnation. But it will come to bite these companies in time, even though it pulls big numbers, gamers are showing less and less interest in something like the assassin creed series because of its degrading quality and desire to pull big ore-order numbers

      • Michael Spiteri

        While you’re certainly correct, it’s important to note that not everything can be innovative. Yes, it’s important to continuously develop and keep moving forward, part of the market will always be dedicated to the tried and true. This is the same for any industry, not just gaming. Regardless of whether talking about film, music, movies or gaming, there are going to be winners, and there are going to be losers. Both parts are equally important in the industry as a whole.

  • Nicholas Williams

    I think one of the main problems for alot of game developers is as games become more and more advanced. The cost of development starts becoming really expensive, so it is alot safer is to stick to franchises that are already popular with gamers and yes this mentality is pushing gaming into a state of stagnation, like alot of other industries. This is probably the reason we are seeing a rise of strategies of mirco transactions and a shift to mobile gaming.

    • agreed. thats a fair point! Thanks for stopping by! Glad to meet you!

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