We saw some nice stuff during E3 2012, but to be honest I viewed some of the press conferences with embarrassment. Brown-grey shooters are still hot this fall, and - I have to admit - I had some difficulty to see where the Battlefield 3-presentation ended and where Medal of Honor: Warfighter began.
Crysis 3 and Far Cry 3 looked nice - the colours! - but the latter one presented us with a ‘first-person sex scene’ (with a whole group of NPC onlookers, no less!), bare boobs, an exploding tiger, voodoo magic, hallucinations, 100 F-words and more silliness. Meanwhile, Dead Space 3 made some steps towards becoming the next Gears of War, actionwise, while the protagonists swore like sailors with inflamed hemmorrhoids. ‘Get the f*ck away from the f*cking drill! F*ck!’
E3 2012’s running theme, more than other years, seemed to be explicitly violent games. The apex was found in the carnage showed in The Last of Us. One crook lost his teeth colliding forcibly with a night table, while another one got decapitated by a point blank shotgun blast. ‘No, please don’t…’, he muttered, before his brain gave the floor, the walls and - presumably - the ceiling, a nice new colour.
I found the lack of non-explicitly violent games a bit surprising. If I ignore the sports, karaoke and dancing games, that leaves us with Rayman, Pikmin 3, Super Mario Bros. U, Sim City and Need for Speed: Most Wanted. There were some more of them, ofcourse, but in the press conferences - the events everyone can see, which should be the showcases for the entire event and industry - blood was spilled like it was cheap lemonade. Viewers were bombarded with images you would expect at ‘cult film gatherings’ like ‘The Night of Bad Taste*’. Scenes that would make Quentin Tarantino blush were plentiful, and - apparently - meant for the mainstream, for everyone.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not against violent games per se. It’s just that I would like to have more of a choice in digital entertainment. Based on this E3, the choices seem to be limited to: shooting in space, ‘f*cking shooting a giant f*cking drill’, shooting Locusts, shooting each other, shooting Afghans, shooting zombies, shooting robots, shooting redcoats (or strangling/stabbing them - what a relief!), shooting with bow and arrows, shooting ninja’s, shoot with Sam Fisher, shoot some aliens, helicopters, Russians, monsters, tigers, a SWAT-team, ships, deer, mechs, a different species of aliens, cars, ghosts, indigenous people, tanks, cops, more aliens, in a jungle, in a city, in a cave, on a boat, from behind chest-high walls…
This is *not* the choice I meant earlier. What if I don’t like shooting at all? We’ll hear lots of gunshots coming out of speakers, mingled with phrases like ‘F*ck you, cocksucker!’ or ‘Die, motherf*cker!’ Will this be the moment we’ll rejoice: “Hooray, gaming is now finally mature!”?
Ultraviolence, cursing and sex are not meant for children. But to assume a game that features these elements is automatically ‘mature’, seems to me like a grave error of judgement, ‘M’-rating be damned. To be fair, a lot of the images at E3 failed to show some context to the violence, nonetheless E3 2012 has proven to be a very sinister showcase for the games industry.
*Loose translation of ‘Nacht van de Wansmaak’, a Dutch festival for cult movies.