Monday, June 10, 2013

Empty Three 2013

What the phrase "hardcore gamer" means to me, the morning of E3.

Starting today, most of the major players in making expensive, traditional videogame experiences will be speaking about their newest product. (Spoiler alert: Those newest products will likely be pretty fucking awesome.) That said, most of the developers I'm interested in are either so idiosyncratic or so large that they can either have their own conventions, or will announce things on their own time for their own reasons, that E3 seems like a colorful parade every year of which I have no very strong interest in anything being shown. I think "oh, that looks cool," for  three days straight. There are worse things.

If I'm honest, half the reason I'm here is to see Giant Bomb or Revision 3 talk about games. Those folks know what they're talking about and they seem pretty charming as they do it.

And that's probably a good thing, me passing out of the target demographic for "hardcore gamers." Depending on your definition, of course. I play Diablo 3 with my friends roughly every week and I've got the Humble Bundle open on a tab in Firefox as I write this, so I'm probably still a hardcore gamer, in the sense of James plays videogames and not just the ones that everyone else does, too. But my most recent console is a PS2 and it's staggeringly unlikely now that I'll get a new one for a couple years, ports being fairly easy to do and Steam and Humble Bundles being a fairly reliable line for excellent authored experiences. E3 isn't for me. It's for "hardcore gamers."

Here's the thing: I'm not sure I know any of those "hardcore gamers." I know persons who have been playing videogames since around the time they've been in lower school, but I don't know any "hardcore gamers."

Every so often, you'd hear about "the hardcore," and usually with that phrase precisely, talking about how they were underserved by their console or publisher of choice. I remember it coming out of the Xbox 360 guys most heavily, though that could be my approaching senility. Mostly, it was around the time of the Kinect or Netflix or any of the announcements that Microsoft was making that they might just maybe want their console to do other things in addition to the videogames it already played.

"Is Microsoft paying enough attention to the hardcore" and etc etc. One must understand, this is in a console cycle in which those gamers were delivered the Mass Effect trilogy, the Gears of War trilogy, tree Street Fighters, the Orange Box, six or maybe seven Call of Dutys, Dishonored, two Borderlands, two Batman games, Grand Theft Auto 4, Portal 2, Red Dead Redemption, Spec Ops: The Line, four Halo titles, a couple Rock Bands, two Forzas, two very different Far Crys, a three BioShocks, two Fallouts, Skyrim, two Saints' Rows, a new Deus Fucking Ex, ninety Assassin's Creed titles, L.A. Noire, and oh by the way, this was the first console cycle when DLC was integrated into the experience and you had a direct line into indie games like Braid, Bastion, Limbo, Plants Vs. Zombies, the Penny-Arcade stuff, Shadow Complex, Castle Crashers and anything else you can care to name.

Given all this, they felt underserved.

Politely, I want to ask Geoff Keighley or Adam Sessler, who are nobody's fools except of course their wives', who are these "hardcore gamers?" Because I look at that murderer's row of content and the only word I have is sufficit. It is enough! Does the hardcore have nothing else to do? Do they have literally no other interests in this life that they can pursue?

Do they not read? Are they uninterested in music or television? Is the only thing they do for leisure videogames and are they completely incapable of playing a game again?

E3 is for them and all of the businesses in their orbit. And the excitement, at least on Twitter, is palpable, (An aside: Watching Twitter during the conference feels like I'm waiting for the news to come in from the wire) but it's hard for me to get excited about a bunch of cutscences with carefully scripted gameplay sequences that'll end up on YouTube in a matter of hours. I shouldn't front, though: Those cutscenes and scripted gameplay sequences look fucking cool. The trouble of course, is that it always looks fucking cool. And that's no longer enough.

I think hardcore gamer means that I can wait to be all excited and bothered under the collar about videogames after I get back from work tonight. I think hardcore gamer means if you need me, I'll be playing Diablo 3 or Torchlight 2 with my friends and their fiancees. I think hardcore gamer means despite "hardcore gamers," I still love videogames.

It is enough.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.