For once that doesn’t mean “violence in video games”. No, this years E3 expo is being taughted by experts are being a “turning point” for the industry. The debate this year centers around consoles, their achitecture and what that will mean for you and I, the gamers.

All of this is completely opinion based mind you, but from what I can see, the battle is really over the living room as a whole. Both the XBox360 and the PS3 are supposed to be “hubs” for digital entertainment in the living room. I won’t mention Nintendo since they’re sticking to their “we just do games” routine and won’t be unveiling a console this year. Both Sony and Microsoft have increased the power of their machines, made DVD playback standard, increased the online capabilities, improved visual proformance, added hard drives (to the PS3), have voice/video and data capabilities and both see themselves as a weird DVD-VCR-Game-Phone-Computer-Radio hybrid thingy. There’s a quote I’d like to share from a video game journalist and game developer guru Chris Hecker:

“I worry that the game industry is constantly grabbing at the lowest-hanging fruit, and that turns out to almost always be ‘make the graphics look better. Multiple-core processors like Cell are excellent for graphics code, which is “fairly simplistic in its flow. It’s relatively easy to make that code run on multiple processors. Gameplay code, on the other hand, is usually a mess of interacting systems. That feedback and interdependency” does not lend itself well to parallel processing. In short, we’ll see even more derivative, simplistic crap. We certainly make plenty of money right now as an industry, but we don’t have anywhere near the level of creative control or understanding of the tools of our form to thrive and experiment, as opposed to just doing sequels and licensed properties from those other art forms.”

Now, contrast this with a quote from Peer Schneider, senior editor at IGN, who, quite possible, might be in league with Satan… or a marketing department from either camp. Either way.

Gamers expect more realistic visuals, but also more star power in games and more licensed everything. New gamers, especially, will have to be “lured in by a movielike experience”, big name licenses and recognizable talent from both the music scene and Hollywood.

Please tell me no one honestly thinks like that. If they do I’m not buying a new console ever. Yes, what I, the hard core gamer wants is more licensed products! I CRAVE more bad movie tie-in video games (matrix video games anyone), more shitty plot-less games based on old tv-shows (oooooh, starsky and hutch 4, the hunt for the plot device!). What I really want though is every video game I’ve ever loved, remade into something borring and unplayable. No, strike that, I want it remade twice… no, three times. Yes, I want Resident Evil 14: More Zombies From Somewhere. Then, when we get sick of playing those, remake the originals, only with new graphics. Turn Mario into a FPS. Yes!

I mention all this because it makes me mad. I play video games to have fun and enjoy the actual act of playing them, like a sport. I like “to be entertained” as much as the next person but what I don’t need are video games pretending to be movies. I don’t want a “movie like experience” because in a movie, I try to let everything go and enjoy wants being presented to me. There’s no interaction there. In a video game, I like to think. I consider myself a fairly intelligent person and every so often I like to put it to the test. That could mean solving a puzzle, commanding my troops in battle or building a civilization from the ground up. I can’t do that if all I’m doing is “enjoying the experience” because thats all it is. Basic interaction to advance the plot to get to the next cut scene is not my idea of a video game. Maybe I’m alone in this, you tell me.

Anyway, the next big battle will be over the living room. Mark my words. Each console will try and become a “family” device. Sure, we’ll be able to share pictures, talk over the internet, record TV, watch movies, play audio CDs that have been properly encoded so we can’t steal from them AND play video games… but will those extra features be worth the marginal improvement in video gaming as a whole. We’ll have to see.

Actually, consoles only slightly interest me. What I’m really down for this year are the computer games. It’s going to be a fantastic 3rd and 4th quarters this year. Obviously, after mentioning it so many damn times, I’m incredibly excited about Battlefield 2. That goes without saying. Whats great is that it’s not the only title thats going to completely own my free time. Civlization IV, FEAR, Elder Scrolls IV, Age of Empires III, Guild Wars (already out), Call of Duty 2, SNOW, Unreal Tournament 2007, Quake 4, and Rise of Legends to name a few.

I can’t wait for post E3 movies, demos and screenshots. It should be a good season. Game on.