Every week, when Kenjujuu sends me these little whimsies that she has created with her hands, using actual drawing implements, I am impressed. Few people may be aware of this, but the content of the comic is entirely up to her. I, your humble columnist (and the not-so-humble President and Editor-in-Chief of this journalistic enterprise), have no directive capacity at all, apart from some initial starting points as to what sort of ways the staff might be initially portrayed. Oh, and the inclusion of Bod–I am quite inflexible on that point.
Contrast Kenjujuu’s artistic expertise with something from our benighted industry: E3. Both are created presumably with the best interest of the entire at heart. The comic rewards podcast listeners and serves up surprisingly accurate renditions of our staff to readers who would not otherwise have the faintest idea what we look like or what our place of business resembles. E3, for its part, rewards industry wags for being patient and having an incredibly high tolerance for the spin-filtered bullshit put forward by overpaid marketting gurus. In a Penny Arcade comic this week, a fictional CEO describes his (also fictional) company thus:
Our shop is Disruptive, because, you know, that’s what we are. It’s in our DNA to have our buzzwords go viral.
This sort of nonsensical doubletalk is, admittedly, fictional. It is also an accurate representation of the sort of crap which some game developers say about themselves. It is usually a sign that
1) Either the company represented has nothing to show and wants to deflect attention from this, or
2) The company has so much money that they do not have to show anything, because people will buy whatever, whatever.
The latter case is the one which we see most at E3, because the whole event is deliberately set up so as to prevent the attendance of any company so small that it actually needs media coverage. This is why the fatcats of the industry waddle out to California once per year, there to lay an egg about which the greatest minds of gaming journalism will prognosticate. Last year, the egg came in the shape of the Wii–except with a shitty piece of plastic stuck to it with a rope, and an attended by an even more dopey name.
This year probably will not top that legendary presentation, which was impressively delivered with the memorable quality of a thunderous fart erupting forth from a grotesquely obese housewife’s shattered undergarments during the tender, quiet moment of a child’s lingering (but heavily foreshadowed) death in the cinematic premiere of a heart-rending foreign-language drama at Cannes. But we should not be surprised–Nintendo have become masters at delivering press events which look like they have been written by our greatest absurdists and surrealists. Who can forget the sight of Miyamoto and company bravely soldiering through their WiiMusic performance of the Mario theme? What Sony possesses in the form of shameless bravado (“Five hundred and ninety-nine U.S. dollars!”), Nintendo has in the form of categorial amateurishness and ineptitude.
Earlier this week I Tweeted some questions to my paltry band of followers. I wanted to know what people primarily used their PS3s for, and what they primarily used their Wiis for. 90% of the responses said that they used their PS3 for PS3 games. Only 10% said that they used their Wii for Wii games.
Perhaps we should be sad about this. Perhaps this is the deathknell of what used to be one of the titans of game development. Perhaps Nintendo will not triumph at the death of Sega, as we might have thought it would back in 1987, but will rather follow it into hardware oblivion, at long last to develop games for systems made by someone else.
Yes, as I said, perhaps we should be sad about the passing away of a certainty about what gaming meant. But are we? Is there a single person out there who can honestly read the words, “And then, Nintendo will make games for the PlayStation and the XBox360,” and not feel, deep within their heart, a little jump of hope and joy? I know I do.