A Few Steps Forward, a Few Steps Back: E3 Stumbles at Reclaiming Connection with Non-Industry Audience

Rin: Maybe it’s something that comes with age, but going into E3 no longer has the hype it used to. In the years before, there was at least one game I was interested in hearing about. This year, though, I came in at a hard neutral: what I knew was going to be shown I wasn’t interested in, and I had no hope about the things I didn’t know about. Yet, maybe it was this neutral stance that led to me being pleasantly surprised in some cases, and saved me the disappointment in others.

As industry veterans struggled to remember what they should even do on the E3 stages, the year’s themes of inclusion and the importance of the gamer community were surprisingly not entirely off-base. I’d even hazard to say that companies may even be starting to care about diversity, likely in no small part due to the success of other diverse titles like Overwatch. And overall, the presence of non-male, non-white people on stage and in the games shown was much higher than I was anticipating. There’s a lot to cover, so thankfully this year I’m joined once again by BrothaDom. You ready to jump in?

Dom: Yep! I was feeling a little bored and jaded going into the conference, but it definitely had some pleasant surprises sprinkled in. Let’s do this.

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A Long, Slow Climb: E3’s Tentative Chips at Breaking the Mold

e3logoGoing into another year’s E3, a shared sentiment around the gaming community seemed to be one of disenchantment and exhaustion. The landscape of gaming is in a position where some things are trying to change, but other things are staying the same more than ever. People are tired of seeing the same old thing, yet there are so many complaints when new things are tried. It’s a game no one wins, and yet both sides keep trying. From the looks of things, the call for inclusion is starting to be heard. Nevertheless, the status quo is trying to hang on harder than ever, and it in turn produced some of the most lackluster entries in E3 that I’ve ever seen.

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Trailer Tuesdays: Mass Effect: Andromeda

With E3 coming up in less than a month, I figured I should maybe start thinking of things the various developers might be showing off, just so I can avoid as much disappointment as possible. Although Nintendo has already gracefully declined to show up this year (well, there goes the fun) and I have my doubts that Bethesda is going to show up with anything worthwhile after blowing their load last year, there still sure are some games that are coming out. So, to remind myself what I’m doing here (“at” E3), I’ve been keeping tabs on one of the games that I’ve been in love with for a long time: No Man’s Sky Mass Effect: Andromeda.

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Transformation and Stagnation: E3’s Claim on the Future of Games

e3logoRin: Honestly, this year I wasn’t sure what to expect from E3. Sure, we had the old stand-bys of another Call of Duty game and another Mario game to look forward to (if you’re into that), but for the most part, viewers were going in blind. In lots of ways, I was pleasantly surprised, and even in some cases I got to revisit the emotions that E3 should give its audience: whimsy and unmitigated excitement. In other cases… uh, not so much.

Since this was such a jam-packed year, I’m pleased to be joined by my fellow games enthusiast, BrothaDom!

Dom: Hi Rin! Yes, I’m in agreement with you there: this year definitely brought some enjoyable highs, and some disappointing lows.

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Rin Plays Dragon Age: Inquisition: Initial Thoughts

Don't tell me how to live my life.  via redredribbon @ Tumblr

Don’t tell me how to live my life.
via redredribbon @ Tumblr

Due to technical issues and personal events, I have not been able to play Dragon Age: Inquisition to the lengths that I had expected. Yet even without these setbacks I wasn’t foolish enough to believe that I’d be anywhere close to done in time to write this first article (oh yes, there will be another one). Twenty hours into the game and having only really explored the Hinterlands—the very first area—I’m getting a good sense of what I’ll be in for, and I have to say that some problems aside, this is exactly what I wanted from this game.

Inquisition allows players to choose from four races this time around: humans, elves, dwarves, and the newest addition, qunari. Each race is reacted to differently within game so some inquisitors may be treated better if they’re human, others may gain certain notoriety if they’re qunari, and so forth. As is my MO with games that allow me the option, my first playthrough is as a Dalish elf rogue, so I’m looking forward to walking through the game with all that barely restrained prejudice coming from every human, especially from the Chantry, because who needs to believe in the Maker when you have your own set of cool Dalish gods. Just the person that should be leading the inquisition, right? Or, rather, I’m not the leader yet.

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Rin Plays: Star Wars: The Old Republic

There are certain points in one’s life where you get grandiose ideas about where your life is going, what you’ll be doing, and what you need to do to get there. Points where the world becomes your oyster, and all you need to do is pluck the pearl of opportunity. Points where all of this is laid in front of you… but then you devote yourself to a time-devouring game and you lose an entire week in the blink of an eye. Guess which point this post is about.

SWTOR BannerAnyone who talks with me on a semi-daily basis knows that I’ve given my current life away to an otherworldly force called SWTOR—that’s Star Wars: The Old Republic for those who haven’t been typing “swtor” into their search bar what seems like every half hour. I’m actually kind of surprised that I got into the game as much as I did. I wouldn’t call myself a fan of Star Wars, and even after reading through some of the lore, I still can’t remember shit besides my hazy recollection of The Empire Strikes Back (which was the best film out of all of them). But then again, this game has more than just the ‘verse going for it and is one of the best “free to play” MMOs available right now. I’ll explain the quotation marks later on.

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The Good, The Bad, and Then There’s Sony: An E3 Summary

Just as soon as it started, E3 has come to an end, leaving us with fantastical highs and long side-glances of apprehension. But what was good and what was bad? Certainly I can’t speak for everyone, but I’ll give my opinion on the games that I think should be watched with much interest.

Unfortunately, my fears about Microsoft and the Xbox One were not alleviated, but neither were they exacerbated. It seemed like there was a general sense of hopelessness about the whole conference, and really, not too much stuck out to me. At least nothing that made me want to buy the damned Xbox One. Though the controversies I brought up last time weren’t exactly mentioned, they were more than content to make some new ones. During a play demo of the upcoming re-vamp of Mortal Kombat, one of the female developers, who was losing the match (playing a fighting game on a touch pad against someone using an arcade stick isn’t exactly a fair playing field), was told to “just let it happen” because “it [would] be over soon”. Something I absolutely do not watch game expos for is rapey side-comments about women losing games. It was gross, and it was clear that the developer wasn’t having any fun—which, when people already don’t like your system, is not the best way to go. All around, Microsoft came off as extremely unsupportive of their female playerbase. No one is amused.

However, Microsoft did have a couple good games at their showing. The ones I’m most excited for are Sunset Overdrive, a Borderlands-esque shooter which takes place in Titanfalla futuristic setting that almost reminds me of Jet Set Radio, and Titanfall. People are already getting excited over Titanfall for two reasons: it’s developed by a sect of people that left the Call of Duty camp (people who were the good part of that camp, some would argue) so it’s clear they already know their way around the genre—and it stars a non-sexualized female in a position of power. Unfortunately, from the gameplay it doesn’t seem as though she will be a playable character, but I’m happy that she’s there, at least. In such a male-dominated genre, baby steps are definitely the safe method to integration, but we’ll see if it’s more than just a novelty in the coming years.

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