Thoughts on E3 2013: Day 3 – A Tangent on Great Games Journalism

Now that no new information is going to be revealed over the threat of the graphical plateau driving development costs to destructive heights, we can officially say that the drama of the press conferences is finally over. On that note, let’s talk about  games journalism! Here are a number of channels and newssources whose thoughtful content I enjoy substantially. If you like the kind of stuff I write here or on The Artifice, check these places out, its likely that they do what I do way better.

  • Super Bunnyhop – This is a very intelligent Youtube channel giving smart, well researched, and highly interesting (if not a tad cynical) criticism and analysis of games and gaming news. Check out their Critical Close-Up of Metal Gear Solid 2, its the most accessible and creative analysis of its kind.
  • Errant Signal – Excellent and educated analyses of recent games, I think Campster is a game studies scholar. Check out his videos on Spec Ops: The Line and Kinaesthetics, they informed a lot of the research I did on the game.
  • Rev3Games – Youtube channel made out of TechTV and X-Play expatriates, including the fantastic Adam Sessler, who states that being freed from the time constraints of television has allowed him to go more in-depth with his criticism and previews of upcoming games, incorporating elements of game studies and critical theory shockingly missing from mainstream games journalism. Not to be missed is his weekly rant series Sessler’s Something, where he opines on recent news each monday.
  • Extra Credits – Almost everyone I know at game school watches and loves this show. Smart, terse, and very funny, this not only the best educational series for game-students around, but an excellent introductory show for people who want to study and understand games from a deeper level.
  • Kill Screen – Fans of Tom Bissell’s Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter take note, as this is essentially a response to that fantastic book. Going above and beyond the medium, Kill Screen discusses games with a distinct and unique voice, going into many fantastic places in terms of society and culture.
  • PolygonThis online magazine gives scintillating coverage of current events in the game industry, giving host to some fantastic opinion articles and journalistically-ethical reviews.
  • Gamasutra – Everyone in the gaming industry already reads this, but for the unfamiliar, this publication is managed by the people behind GDC and gives host to wonderful writers and critics such as Leigh Alexander and Ian Bogost, as well as yours truly.

Well, I hope you like those sites, check them out. They’re my conduit for what’s going on in the industry right now. If you have any recommendations, share them in the comments.

Thoughts on E3: Day 2 – Creators of Childhood Memories

All the press conferences have wrapped up and all that’s left for now is for each of the companies to exhibit their upcoming games. Nothing quite as eventful or dramatically over-the-top as yesterday, just some really impressive games, especially from Nintendo.

Super Mario 3D Land

Let it be known that I love Nintendo. My first console was a N64, and if it wasn’t for that gateway to the medium, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Nintendo is this industry’s most valuable asset because they’re the last big company out there that specializes in the creation of childhood memories. Consider the offerings from the other AAA publishers, violent action games targeted at young adults, no wonder why the mainstream media has such a negative perception of this medium. As wonderful and impressive as they are, Metal Gear Solid V and Watch Dogs aren’t going to be any kid’s childhood memories as they simply don’t exist to serve that young audience. Heck, consider the beloved Naughty Dogand their constant shift to appeal to a grittier, more adult audience with their progression from Crash Bandicoot and Jak to Uncharted and The Last of Us. Consider iOS games, will their simplified design, ample micro-transactions, and lack of a defining brand identity create the kind of treasured childhood memories for upcoming generations of gamers? Nintendo brought us out of the Great Crash of 1983 and were responsible for the Casual Revolution of 2006, an essential step that took us where we are now as an industry. To see Nintendo continue to flounder as they did this past year would be devastating to our medium.

And that said, Nintendo’s upcoming lineup is the strongest it has been in ages. Pokemon X and Y transition to fully rendered 3D worlds, a first for this beloved series. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is a sequel to A Link to the Past, which happens to be the very first Zelda game that I completed alone, making it a seminal and important game in my life. Super Mario 3D World is the series’ prettiest looking game in years, and the possibilities of a portable Smash Bros. that fits into our busy daily lives sounds incredible beyond words. Five year olds of the world, get excited, you’re about to join this great medium via the same treasured and beloved series that were part of our lives as youth. And in all our bitter cynicism towards the future of AAA, our ire towards the puerile and misogynistic members of our community, and all our giddiness over the possibilities that the indie shift can create for our medium, just take comfort in that there will remain a space for that innocent childhood wonderment.

Oh yeah, and this I guess…