It's almost time for E3, the annual media extravaganza that heralds upcoming lineups for the video game industry. I've been attending E3 off and on since 2000 and I've seen the rise, fall and recent re-rise of the event's prominence with exhibitors and gamers alike. Mobile phones and the age of social media now gives non-attendees an unprecedented look into the industry-only, three-day spectacle that is the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles.
According to newly released research of violent video games published in a special issue of the Review of General Psychology, Dr Patrick Markey of Villanova University concludes that most kids are unaffected by playing them. Those that are affected often have pre-existing personality traits that make them susceptible to violent media in general. Sort of like a small subset of the population that's allergic to peanut butter.
Could this give older kids, bored of other free, virtual worlds (like Club Penguin) a run for its money? Star Wars Clone Wars Adventures is focused on creating a fun and safe online environment for kids and families. Launching this fall, it promises exciting minigames, dynamic activities, lively social events and thousands of customization options. Players can even battle it out with friends alongside iconic Star Wars characters like Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, and Ahsoka Tano.
OK, I'll admit it -- until I downloaded Mahjongg Artifacts 2: HD, I'd never played a Mahjongg tile game. Strolling around Chinatown in San Francisco, I've been tempted to pick up a real (non-virtual) set of Mahjongg tiles, but figured it would be too complicated. Or boring.
If you're a parent like me, you've probably got a list of games to buy your kid this holiday season. And if said kid is under the age of 11, you've probably spent some time online or in Best Buy trying to determine which Lego or Mario or Potter or whatever game on his list might actually be age appropriate and entertaining. You read reviews. Talk to other parents. Check the the ESRB ratings. All good, but -- even with an "E" rating, it's still a video game, right? Pangs of parental guilt.
A few years ago, I worked on the advertising launch of the PS3 console. I remember being briefed by the PlayStation brand team, and a question was asked of them: how does Sony view the Wii -- is it a competitor, like the Xbox? Sony's response was confident, and a little condescending. Basically, as Japanese electronics companies, the rep explained, Sony and Nintendo were "like family." Microsoft was the real enemy. Sony, she said, didn't want to put Nintendo out of business. Heck, Sony was rooting for the little guy. In fact, Sony didn't view the Wii as a competitor at all.
While we didn't exactly jump on the board, Wendy and I watched quite a few folks try their hand (er, feet) on Activision Blizzard's new skateboard controller. It's a potential reset for the venerable Tony Hawk franchise, which has seen renewed competition to a genre it once created and dominated, thanks to EA's SKATE franchise (excellent in its own right).
Our first stop today @ E3 was the Sony pavilion, where the upcoming massively multiplayer online game, DC Universe Online, was prominently positioned on a multi-screen end cap display. The first MMO set in the world of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman (and a whole host of Justice League heroes and villains), DC comic creatives -- Jim Lee, Marv Wolfman and Geoff Johns -- were intimately involved in crafting a narrative authentic to its roots. This is not the DC universe of the Hollywood movies. It's pure DC.
Straight from the press release: "JumpStart will be unveiling the first of its kind Wii learning game for pre-schoolers at the upcoming E3 Expo in Los Angeles. The game, JumpStartÂ® Pet Rescue, marks Knowledge Adventureâ€™s entry into the Wii market, targeting kids ages 3-5, as the company continues to evolve the JumpStartÂ® brandâ€”and its rich, trusted educational contentâ€”to multi-platform."
Hoping to get a hands-on demo of this tomorrow!
We're off to E3 tomorrow, that annual pilgrimage to gaming and geekdom in Los Angeles. Our plan is to focus on kids' games and offer some insight to what video games parents might be looking forward to later in the year. We'll snap a few pics of the glitz as well, and walk until our feet hurt and our heads are pounding from the noise... See you on the inside!