E3 2011: Nevermind who won…the question is: "Where are we going?"

I realized I’d been on Twitter way too long when I started fuming on this one, single tweet that read: “Hands down, Sony won this year’s E3.” What is that…36 characters? Hardly worth losing a night’s sleep over. Yet there I was…just absolutely incensed and wondering what gave that person the right to say such a thing.

I watched all three media presentations from Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo. But honestly, who cares who wins in E3 anymore?

These presentations ran like the Academy Awards. Different game developers got up on stage, read their cheesy lines, showed the videos, and filled the remaining, awkward silence with a “joke” or two before the eerie woman with the answering-machine voice introduced the next guest. Rinse and repeat. That’s what these presentations are.

Of course, the audience is mostly interested in the products, and I’m not sure what to make of most of those this year. Microsoft largely focused on Kinect, and, specifically, voice recognition. I don’t have an Xbox 360, so I might not be seeing the entire picture here…but why should video-game experiences be based on voice-controlled menu navigation or gestured-driven gun construction? Like Adam Sessler had previously said in his soapbox podcast, why is gaming constantly trying to push the envelope to where it doesn’t need to be pushed?

Same thing with Sony’s presentation, where they pushed 3D in a very big way. Every 10 minutes or so, they told the audience to “please put on your 3D glasses now.” They’re even releasing a PlayStation branded 3D television. Yet in all of the gameplay videos and demonstrations, I have yet to see any evidence why 3D gaming is a must-have instead of a nice-to-have.

And then there are the hardware announcements:

  • The PlayStation Vita. It’s basically a Wifi and 3G enabled PSP, but with better graphics, a touch screen, front and back camera, and…a rear touch pad? Again, Sony has failed to answer why I need a rear touch pad. To make the mountains go higher? How is that taking gameplay to the next level?
     
  • Nintendo announced the successor to Wii, named the WiiU; except, is it really a successor? Or is the new controller the only feature? This device has a 6.2″ screen, which provides players with a place to view secondary information or allows them to switch the output from T.V. to controller. But why does any of that matter if I can’t use the controller as a portable, iPad-like device? And just who asked for these very features? Why should we care?

These presentations are like watching Lost. Instead of providing answers, I’m left with more questions. “Who won E3 this year?” I honestly don’t care because I’m too busy trying to find out where these E3 presentations are taking us.

Update: This post has since been featured on Bitmob.com front page!

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