Game on! Thoughts of E3 2013

Loud, crowded and pretty spectacular would best describe the annual E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Massive booths, video walls, robots, mechs, and yes, pretty models spice up E3, where new games premiere and new products launch.

The last time I had the privilege of attending an E3-related event was the launch of Microsoft Xbox Kinect in 2010. (Thanks Stacey Soleil.) That day I was a hero to my husband and two sons for getting them into the super exclusive launch of the game-changing (literally) Kinect.  We walked the blue carpet and were led to an interactive Cirque Du Soleil-like experience.

Since that first taste of E3, my own family has mostly moved from playing games on a console (we have a PlayStation 3, and a Wii) to playing almost exclusively on a PC.  Call of Duty, Diablo, Skyrim, and currently, Team Fortress 2 are favorites. We do watch DVDs on our PS3, though.

So when I told them I was attending a day of E3 this year, as a member of the press, there was much excitement in the house.

The big news at E3 2013 was the launch of two new-ish gaming platforms from Sony and Microsoft. Like evolving Pokemon, the XBOX 360 is now the XBOX One and Sony PlayStation 3 is now PlayStation 4. I will not go into detail about the controversies and comparisons of the two systems but you can read this great article on CNET.

Entering the West Hall,  I was immediately immersed in gaming world with the massive booths of Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo. I only took photos with my phone so if you want to see pictures, please visit the site Gamefront.  I was unable to try out the new Xbox One and PS 4 but at the PlayStation Mobile lounge, I got an inkling about how they plan to create games for PlayStation-certified mobile devices, like the Z tablet, some HTC phones and PlayStation Vita.  The catalog is limited at the moment, but the Sony guy told me this was to encourage independent game developers.

While the West Hall was all about the big 3, the South Hall felt like being transported to different movie sets. Here are photos by Gamefront of the South Hall booths. The South Hall lobby had a mech from Titanfall towering in the center and in front of the halls, ladies dressed in retro military costumes invited guests to visit the Wargaming booth. EA, Activision Blizzard had massive modular displays showcasing their full line of games.
Capcom, Konami, Ubisoft, and Bethesda were there too.

Since I write for a family magazine, I spent some time trying out the Disney Infinity game. In my opinion, the game play looks interesting enough as you can change avatars with actual Disney figures like Skylanders, and change skins like Minecraft, with actual physical discs, but I can see that it can get expensive for parents since the figures and discs are sold separately.  Also, you’d have to really love Disney to get into it.  I was more excited to see a Kingdom Hearts 3, Kingdom Hearts Remixed, and Final Fantasy XV.

In my search for children’s games for the magazine, I found an iPad app called Zorbits Math and a Lionel Trains (yes, as in toy trains and model railroads from your youth!) app. I was a bit disappointed not to see more independent games but I understand these booths are expensive – but to be sure,  the Indiecade was there next to the low key but impressive Videogame History Museum.

Over all, E3 was an amazing experience.  The gaming industry will continue to thrive – there was so much talent at the convention center that day from all over the world – which is probably why there were so many talent recruitment calls at the booths.  After watching game previews and testing out games, while graphics and technology help games do well, I believe that ultimately, the most successful games are those with a great story!