The End of E3

I was having trouble telling whether my inability to find anything interesting about this year’s E3 was because a) I don’t have the patience or industry clout to see what’s going on behind closed doors; b) since I’m not actually working in videogames anymore, I’m just not that invested in it; or c) there’s really nothing that interesting about the show. After hearing some other people’s recaps, I’m inclined to think it’s the latter.

The bar has been raised pretty high, and pretty much everything you find on the show floor is fairly polished. But nothing stands out. “Katamari Damacy” is the only game I can think of that truly invented a new style of gameplay, and its release this year is a sequel. There were plenty of games that looked interesting — “Sly Cooper 3” and “Kingdom Hearts 2” for example — but of course they’re sequels too. I’ve got a feeling that whatever becomes a hit from this year’s crop of games is going to be just due to random chance. Mac and I waited around the Square-Enix booth for a while to see if they were going to release any details of “Final Fantasy XII,” but it was another behind-closed-doors trailer movie. Again, it would’ve been easier just to stay at home and download all the movies from videogame websites.

But even when I was more interested in games, I was down on E3 as just marketing nonsense. The best part has always been getting to hang out with friends after the show, and I got to do that tonight. It was a nice, fairly low-key time with friends from the Sims 2 Console team, with the reassurance that people are still passionate about making good games, and it’s just not what “drives” me anymore.

Also, Anouk described part of what is so awful about LA, something I’d forgotten because I always drive into the city. She said as you fly into LA, you can see nothing from the plane except for a perfect square, paved grid that stretches out as far as the eye can see. And that’s totally true; it’s just depressing. While it did make it relatively painless (except for traffic) to drive from place to place tonight, it does tend to suck the soul out of a person. My geekified reference is that it’s like seeing one side of a Borg cube buried in the middle of a desert.

Most exciting bit of the day was that I got to go on a mini-tour of the Disney Imagineering facilities. I had either gotten so jaded, or it’s been so long, that I’d forgotten how that’s been a lifelong dream of mine. And it’s damn cool just to be able to see it, much less to have the opportunity to work for them. I was so excited by it that I’m thinking about heading down to Disneyland tomorrow and pushing my way through all the 50th Anniversary crowds by my lonesome. I’ll see tomorrow morning if I still feel like it, or just drive back to San Francisco.

Cool! My blog’s first cliffhanger!