June 14, 2014
My E3 Confession – I’m Not a Gamer
This year I skipped the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) for the first time and I’m fine with it. I watched the press conferences online and they seemed longer than ever. I slept in my own bed and filed my show coverage from my home office. I’m sorry I didn’t see a few of my industry friends, but after all the years of going to E3 something hit me this week.
I’ll admit it proudly: I AM NOT A GAMER.
Maybe in my youth I was a borderline gamer. I’ve played hours of strategy games such as the various Age of Empires and Civilization titles; I loved Battlefield 1942, Medal of Honor, Battlefield 2 and even Battlefield 3. Over the years, I played some Tomb Raider, picked up a console control from time to time, but the truth is that gaming wasn’t really ever my passion.
Today, I’d rather read, watch TV or actually get outside than sit in front of a console. Gaming lost me and the game industry is why.
They don’t make the games I loved – there are no real-time strategy games any more. Back in 1997, I remember writing a piece and seeing no less than 20 such titles. OK, some were NOT very good but it was the 1997 E3 in Atlanta (the first of two years the show was there) that I saw the original Age of Empires. It was a game that truly raised the bar for the RTS genre.
Back in the late 90s and up until 2001, there were actually attempts to innovate. The game companies today talk about innovation, but really is there true “gaming innovation” when the consoles are just set-top boxes that can stream Netflix and much more? This isn’t a dig at Microsoft‘s goal to be an entertainment system, but let’s face it, gaming suffered along the way.
We’re in a golden age of TV again, as Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, House of Cards and even The Big Bang Theory draw in viewers. And yet where are with games? Innovation isn’t another Assassin’s Creed title, another Battlefield title, another Tomb Raider title, another Call of Duty title.
I’m not a gamer because the truth is that I’ve finished those games in more ways than one. I completed them many times. I played online if that was possible and I’m just finished with it.
There is the old saying that if the music is too loud, you’re too old. Maybe if E3 has become too loud (it did many years ago) and it became too violent, then perhaps I am truly too old.
This doesn’t mean that games are dead to me. I’ll still check out some of my old favorites, I’ll boot up Civ V, a game that is almost perfect, in my opinion. And I sometimes even play other old games like Age of Empires II, but my PlayStation 3 is really just a Blu-ray player these days. Kudos to Sony for winning the Blu-ray war over HD-DVD. I think the better format won, even if it did make the PS3 one of the most expensive systems to date.
So E3 will come and go this year, but only a small part of me is sad to miss the excitement of the show floor.
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