June, a month traditionally devoted to that gaming madness known as Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). A show that this year achieved record numbers thanks to admissions from the public plus the press and professionals, and that saw the PC triumph as the most complete gaming platform – and of course the most powerful one – where in the upcoming months the finest gaming software will land. But June 2017 also saw other mad stuff related to video games, like the cassettes baked in the oven (at 45°) in the effort to recover the source code of old textual adventures by Magnetic Scrolls, or like the very expensive on-line auction by John Romero, id Software co-founder that sold one of his Doom 2 copies for more than $3,000 on eBay. Rather than madness, in this last case, we can safely talk about a theft.
In the years gone by, when the arcades were still out there, I tried more than one “immersive” gaming experience among mega-screens, light guns and various simulations. A nice thing but nothing more. Personally I couldn’t care less about this new craze of virtual reality helmets, simulations beyond the limit of silliness and new technical solutions to avoid puking while you are in the virtua-world. Not even Half-Life could persuade me: I do not want stupid and sickening immersive simulations, I want stories. A new Loom maybe, now that the original one was released again digitally on GOG.com.
Every transition period brings both risks and opportunities, and the constantly-evolving videogaming world is especially prone to this dual nature: the platforms that were open and free from remote control until now, like Windows (pre-8), are risking to turn into closed ecosystems, even though technology evolution isn’t stopping not even for a second; the historical on-line services are shutting down glaringly showing the risks coming with reliance on an Internet connection, but software optimization is getting new speed from the old bones in the old-gen graphic cards. The endless promise of virtual reality is attracting millions-worth funding, while the PC as a gaming platform is as dead as ever.
In this period there is a lot of talking about the new ways of interaction with entertainment devices and about the fact that things like Microsoft’s Project Natal would be destined, on the long run, to replace traditional controllers be they joypads, keyboards or mice. To me this seems more of an advertising nonsense than any other thing, the mouse lasted 40 years and there surely will be a valid reason to justify such a longevity. Of course, we’re all open to the future and tech evolution, but seeing myself playing to a remote descendant of one of the titles included in this videogaming compilation without a physical controller in my hands seems an unlikely perspective to say the least.
This is a recession period and the videogaming industry suffers too, with a sales drop of 23% during May (for USA), a thump unseen since 2007. And yet the executives from the major companies in the field talk about sustained growth for a business that, in 2012, will be 55 billion dollars worth overall. Meanwhile market researches describe a “new golden age for entertainment software” and videogames permanently reside in two third of the American households. That’s an ideal condition, I say, to gather some relevant contents in what should be the last installment of videogames highlights’ old cycle before the new, more minimalistic setup.
Ok I admit it, I’m a certified liar because if my personal review of old classics goes on tirelessly the amount of time required for a post of the series Videogames highlights is always the same, nay it’s getting worse. That’s the reason why I’ll change formula here, and instead of a monstrous and rebellious blob (at least for me writing it) containing any sort of thing I return to a less rich but more selected collection of videogaming stuff of the past month. Hoping that the June post won’t be on-line on September :-/
Are videogames art? Personally I’m not convinced at all, and after 20 years of this hobby now become mainstream I think that the medium need different categories, and that in any case it is too much young to be defined with standards layered through the centuries. Besides this, what is sure is that the amount of promotional videogame contents released by software houses hasn’t lacked even in March, so I end the introduction right now and get on to dealing with the aforementioned contents.