E3 2017 Will Be Open to the Public

The ESA has announced that their annual conference to all things gaming will be open to the public in 2017.

The ESA will make 15,000 tickets available to the general public on Monday, February 13 for E3 2017. However, at $250 a pop (or $150 if you buy on day one of the sale), these tickets are not cheap.

E3 has been struggling to stay relevant the past few years. Game companies have become more keen in having their own pressers prior to E3 and many of them have pulled back or pulled out of conference entirely. E3 simply doesn’t have the same pull as it used to. This move is just a way for the ESA to recoup some of their losses from the shrinking list of exhibitors.

Game Protagonists Are Old Farts Now and That’s Okay

Getting older is not as bad as people make it out to be. Take it from me, as someone who has been on this merry-go-round called earth over thirty-six times. Complaining about it is so cliché anyway.

Sure, my muscles ache a bit more than they used to, and my peaches hang down a little lower, and my beard has a touch of grey here and there, but you learn to deal.  Perhaps the worst part was the thinning of my long beautiful mane of hair, but I just started shaving all that shit off. Now I’m a sexy bald man, like the late great Telly Savalas.

I’m also wiser now.  I know stuff just because I have been alive longer than other people. Want proof? Read my 100 Blog Post Fapstravaganza AMA and be enlightened.

Know what else is great about getting older? I now have more in common with the protagonists in the video games I play. Believe it or not, many of the main characters of games are getting older, and the reason for this is because apparently the people who are creating the games are getting older.

This was brought to my attention awhile back in a promo from Sony for Unchartered 4, where Nathan Drake is no longer a spring chicken destroying future UNESCO World Heritage Sites, but rather a 30-something who destroys future UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In the video, which I embedded below, there is some interesting commentary from the game’s makers on how they grew up designing Nathan Drake and in turn, Nathan has grown up with them.

However, games protagonists have been skewing older for some time now. I first noticed this awhile back when playing Max Payne 3. When I think of Max Payne, I used to picture a young man with a perpetual “who farted face” with questionable style choices.

Boy was I surprised when I first started up Max Payne 3 to see a man that looks surprisingly similar to me, with a shaved head and beard. It’s eerie, like looking into a mirror.

However, I would never be caught dead in a Hawaiian print shirt. It’s obvious that Max Payne still suffers from questionable style choices.

Then, towards the end of the last generation of consoles, the amazing and in my opinion, groundbreaking The Last of Us was released, featuring a protagonist that’s touched with a bit of grey, just like yours truly.

Joel is a little worse for the wear, and has a greying beard, which I can relate to. But, look at that thick head of hair he has. FUCK YOU JOEL! Why do you still have so much hair? What is your secret? I HOPE ALL THAT BEAUTIFUL HAIR FALLS OUT AND YOU BECOME A BALDIE LIKE ME!

Getting back on track — I especially liked Joel, because he’s a father figure, and as a dad myself, I empathized with his struggle in this game and can understand the reasons for the actions he takes. That’s a powerful thing for me and it’s one of the reasons why I enjoyed and remember this game so fondly.

On a side note, The Last of Us was developed by Naughty Dog, the same folks behind the Unchartered series, so they are apparently attempting to corner the market on games featuring older, aching, grey haired male main characters.

Grand Theft Auto 5 also has its fair share of more experienced leads. Matter of fact, two out of three of the main characters can be considered old farts. Trevor Phillips, reminds me of that crazy uncle that every family has and tolerates during extremely awkward conversations around the dinner table during the holidays.

Michael De Santa (nee Townley) is a well-to-do man, who’s married to an attractive woman that may be porking her tennis instructor and a father to two pain in the ass kids.  It’s obvious that he’s undergoing some sort of midlife crisis, and going back into a life of crime is both a necessity in order to pay off debts, an outlet for his internalized rage, and a longing for his younger days full of excitement.

According to some armchair hack psychotherapist on Wikipedia individuals experiencing a mid-life crisis may feel:

  • A deep sense of remorse for goals not accomplished
  • Fear of humiliation among more successful colleagues
  • Longing to achieve a feeling of youthfulness
  • Need to spend more time alone or with certain peers
  • Heightened sense of their sexuality or lack thereof
  • Ennui, confusion, resentment or anger due to their discontent with their marital, work, health, economic, or social status
  • Ambitious to right the missteps they feel they have taken early in life

Now, tell me that doesn’t essentially sum up Michael De Santa’s story arc.

Speaking of people having a midlife crisis, I think it’s pretty safe to say that Bruce Wayne/Batman can be diagnosed with this condition.

It seems that for the past few Batman movies and games, the story has centered around how Wayne/Batman is getting old and his decrepit body can longer hold up to the stresses of being a winged vigilante detective face puncher.

One of the main frustrations of getting older is noticing that your body is not able to perform in the same ways as it had in the past.  It takes a little longer to get loosened up, after workouts you stay sore a little longer, and when you get banged up, it takes a little longer to heal. This is my experience as someone that is in relatively good shape.

Also, let us not forget that in Arkham Knight, Batman was rolling around in his fancy new Batmobile. This is important, because everyone knows buying a fancy car is the first thing a man does when he’s suffering from a midlife crisis.

It’s getting obvious that this is not a coincidence that game characters are getting older. Another recent example is Big Boss from Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain.

If memory serves, Big Boss was the main character in Metal Gear Solid 3: Sneak Eater, where he’s a relatively young man. The Phantom Pain takes place in 1984, approximately twenty years after the events of Snake Eater takes place, so of course Big Boss is older, wiser, greyer, and worse for the wear.

He still has a thick head of hair, so I hate him. No way he still has all that hair after years of stress. I say it’s hair plugs or a really good toupée. Look at the technology that he has it his disposable. They are probably light years ahead of everyone in toupée technology.

And yes, I do realize that Big Boss is an integral character in many Metal Gear games, but on this case, I’m referring to playable old Big Boss.

When I first started writing this blog, my plan was to stop at Big Boss, but recent develops have required me to make one more addition. Thanks to Sony, we are in store for a new God of War game, where an older, grumpier, and bearded Kratos battles Norse gods.

This time, Kratos will be accompanied by his young son, and if the E3 gameplay trailer is any indication, Kratos is the type of dad who yells at his son during Little League baseball games. I imagine he’s like that dick dad from the original Bad News Bears.

So as you can see, this trend of older lead characters in games is going to continue and I think that’s brilliant. Sorry young whippersnappers, but the people who make games are getting older along with the people who play games and we like playing as old people and it’s only going to get worse.  Soon, Batman will be in his Batmobile doing 25 mph in the fast lane with his left turn signal on, Kratos will sit on his porch yelling at Norse monsters to get off of his lawn, and Nathan and Elena Drake will settle in a nice condo in Boca Raton, Florida. I can’t wait.

 

Why do we still care about Backwards Compatibility?

E3 2015 has come and gone. The big corporations had their pressers, the unwashed masses got to try out the latest wares, and the Los Angeles area is free of game industry marketing reps and journalists, to concentrate on more important things, like not dying of thirst.

Out of all the big press events, Microsoft won, in my humble opinion, by a nose,  by slightly edging out Sony. So congratulations Microsoft, you win the Spieler Dad’s Sicilian Donkey Cart for Best E3 Presser – 2015!

donkey cart
To all the Sony fanatics out there, put your pitchforks and torches down. Sony had the thing won, up into the very end, when Andrew House starting talking about the Playstation Vue and Spotify of all fucking things. That’s an automatic disqualification.

Also, if Andrew House was to get a PhD, he can be called Dr. House, which would be neat.


dr_house

Microsoft had shown so many great things at their press event. Plenty of good looking games, cool looking exclusives titles, a new FANCY controller, and HoloLens, to name just a few. However, the thing that got everyone excited the most was the announcement that the Xbox One will now be backwards compatible with the Xbox 360.

Yay?

Yay?

For reasons that escape me, people deeply about backwards compatibility. On the surface, I can understand why this is a feature that would make sense—games are expensive and it would be nice to continue playing your older titles when a new generation comes around. Personally speaking however, I could care less.  I’ve always been about the new hotness. When a new console is released, I go all in. Sorry last generation, time to take you behind the shed and introduce you to Mr. Shotgun.


oldyeller

I thought we were finally passed the whole backwards compatibility debate. Microsoft released the Xbox One without backwards compatibility while Sony hitched it’s wagon to game streaming, by purchasing Gaikai for $380 million so one can pay through the nose and poorly stream PS3 games on the PS4.

Deep down inside, I can’t help but feel that the Microsoft’s plan to make the Xbox One backwards compatible is an elaborate form of corporate trolling.

...We then light the bag of shit on fire, ring the doorbell, and run.

…We then light the bag of shit on fire, ring the doorbell, and run.

In short, if you bought digital games on the 360, you’ll be able to download them again to your Xbox One, if they’re added to the compatibility list.  The same will apply to disc-based games that are added to the catalog. You just need to insert the disc and download the game. And the best part is that this is all free.

In one fell swoop, Microsoft made Sony’s Playstation Now streaming service look like a $380 million turd. This is quite remarkable, as Microsoft had dug themselves quite the hole after the initial Xbox One launch, but they are slowly starting to pull themselves out.

I doubt that Microsoft will be able to fully recover though, but it sure is fun watching them try. They also did something that I thought no one would be able to do, and that’s make me excited about backwards compatibility.

The one caveat is that not every title released for the Xbox 360 will be backwards compatible. It’s safe to say that many of the hits will be, but what about the niche titles? What about the crap titles?

Microsoft has stated that they are listening to their consumers and have created a site where people can vote on which titles get added in future updates. Not surprisingly, the list currently shows last gen AAA mainstays, with Red Dead Redemption rising to the top.

That’s why I propose that we have a little fun at Microsoft’s expense. I went ahead and did a little research on what is the worst Xbox 360 title ever released and propose that we all vote to have Ride to Hell: Retribution added to the backwards compatibility list.


RtH

Let’s ensure that future generations have the opportunity to play one of the shittiest games ever made. Together, we can do it.

CLICK HERE TO VOTE

Sharks Can Thank Sega for Their Two Penises

Sega, a company that is responsible for molding me into the gamer I am today has been hit by some hard times. The reasons for this are numerous, but in a nutshell, one can say that Sega has not made a sound decision since 1994; the sole exception being the short lived Sega Dreamcast.

Dreamcast

I’ve written a lot on how much of a fan I was of Sega growing up, so it makes me sad to see the company going through such hard times as of late. Things have gotten so bad that for the first time in its history, Sega will not have a booth at E3 2015.

As reported by Game Informer by way of Ars Technica, Sega claims the lack of presence has to do from moving from the long time headquarters in San Francisco to Los Angeles.

“Over the next months, Sega of America will be focusing on the restructure and relocation to Southern California, and we have decided to not attend E3 with our own booth this year… With the majority of our bigger titles launching later in 2015/2016, particularly those from our AAA studios Relic Entertainment, Sports Interactive, and Creative Assembly, we are concentrating our efforts for some of these major announcements after our relocation.”

Well that sucks. I always considered Sega of America to be a Northern California company and here they are, going off to LA LA Land, with stars in their eyes, looking to start off on a clean slate, like a naïve and young Axel Rose.


Or Pat Benetar, boob menacing a rat faced pimp in the greatest music video of all time.


Moving to new digs in SoCal aside, Sega has also been in an extreme restructuring mode, shifting away from console and PC development and towards smartphones so bowing out of E3 after attending for twenty years straight is not all that surprising, since they are obviously struggling as a company.

Interestingly enough, one can pinpoint where it went all to shit for Sega and it was at the very first E3 in 1995, exactly 20 years ago. In Los Angeles on May 11, 1995, then Sega of America CEO, Tom Kalinske announced that the upcoming Sega Saturn will cost $399. He also announced that even though they initially stated that the Saturn would be release in September of 1995, Sega had already shipped 30,000 consoles to Toys “R” Us, Babbage’s, Electronics Boutique, and Software Etc. for immediate release.

Now, Tom didn’t say that all other retailers not mentioned can go fuck themselves, but that’s how Walmart, Best Buy, and various other retailers took it and returned the favor by dropping Sega from their shelves.

Later that day, Sony Computer Entertainment America president Steve Race took the stage, said “$299”, and then walked away. I would have dropped the microphone, but Steve Race has class.

So at the very first E3, in 1995, Sega was cast into a death spiral in which it could never recover. It’s a fall that it’s still experiencing today—a perpetual fall from grace while it fights a Balrog into a precipice.

Personally speaking, I will always have found memories of Sega. My first console was a Master System and my favorite console of all time is the Genesis (aka Mega Drive). From 1984 to 1995 Sega was intertwined in my memories of holidays and birthdays. I had invested countless hours with some of their most memorable characters, like Sonic.

Poor Sonic has been dragged through the dirt for so many years. Sega has never been able to recapture the magic from his early days on the Genesis or even the Sega CD. Sonic holds a special place in my heart however, and it is evident that he is firmly entrenched in the hearts of others as well.

Take the geneticists who discovered the SHH gene. The SHH gene is responsible for creating a protein vital in the development of eyes, limbs, spinal cord, among other things. I’m not a scientist, but the way I understand it, this gene appears to be the reason we have two identical eyes, rather than one large eye like the cyclops of Greek antiquity.

cyclops

Genetics can be such a dry topic however, so the cheeky geneticists named the protein that SHH gene creates after the fast blue hedgehog as in Sonic the Hedgehog, because why the hell not.

As it turns out, Sonic the Hedgehog is the reason why many sharks, skates, and rays have two penises. Scientists at the University of Florida actually confirmed this, because they apparently really into shark penises.

So they next time you’re watching Shark Week or some other nature show and you see a shark with two cocks swaying in the ocean current, you can go ahead and thank Sonic the Hedgehog for that. In a way, Sega will continue to exist regardless if they succeed as a company, because Sonic the Hedgehog will forever be associated with shark dick, and that is a good thing.

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