E3 2006: Peripherals From the Year One Million
Technology so advanced mankind's entire future is obsolete.
Every year, E3 showcases what games we'll be playing for the next year. At least that's what I hear. I was given a stack of insane press releases and told to go to the convention's dark abandoned corners and see HOW we'll be playing games for the next year. While everyone else gets assigned a Gears of War preview or a "We Get Our Hands On the PS3!" feature, I get an appointment to travel forward in time to see the brain controller and the game that smells. Sweet.
Pyramat wants you to think they're hippest company ever to fill a rocking chair full of speakers and vibrators.
Most gamers raised on irony will find any reason they can to hate Pyramat's chillin'-like-a-villain image, especially since a home theatre built into a single chair's headrest firmly implies that your home will never be used to entertain a second person. They're gamers, Pyramat. They don't need trendy style. They need a candy bar dispenser you can shit in during an emergency.
Let me tell you where I run into problems at my job. I look like a frat boy whose haircut lost a bet and if I'm not holding a beer, I've probably recently spilled one on myself. So even in an industry where the main qualification is knowing where the subject goes in a sentence and what a Donkey Kong is, I come off as unprofessional. Every PR person either thinks I'm in the wrong spot or fucking with them. Often times, he or she may have been specifically warned to hate me by their marketing department. So I knew getting information on Dance Praise, DDR modified for sensitive Christian sensibilities, was going to be a stealth mission. I should also add that I get bored filling out forms, and my press badge said that I'm a "Timecop" representing "Hank's Timecoppery Warehouse."
If Dance Praise had a booth, I never found it. I had to approach their PR guy while he was in line for a pork sandwich with this tragic thing sticking out of his backpack. Now remember, his product is Jesus DDR. That's something that maybe like 3 people on the premises wouldn't make fun of. I'm not one of them. So when I asked him about his God game, it was one more sarcastic reminder that he mixed the wrong hobby with the wrong diety.
Put yourself in this guy's dance shoes. Say you made Dance Praise and a Timecop with no acting skills is interviewing you and asks if your game works near the blood of cloven-hooved animals. Would you give him a press kit, or would you know he was mocking you? I swear to Christ and His exciting rhythm action games that he gave me his last press kit. And let me tell you of my spiritual awakening-- this game about dancing to Christian music did not come from the hands of man. Or, I guess it could have if that man's hands were flippers and his head was up his ass.
eMagin 3D Visor
"The eMagin 3D Visor miniturizes the latest in cutting-edege display technology and drapes it across the fluid membrane of your cerebral cortex, chunks of which are dripping out of my ears while I scream! Yours for only one ludicrous payment of $549!
Trimersion VR Helmet
In theory, this amazing combat hat featured a gun attachment for total immersion into any FPS. In reality, the screens inside the helmet were only visible when perfectly aligned, so it felt like playing a game in the rear view mirror of someone else's car. The only use I found for it was that it completely blocked out the outside world, so when girls wear them, they have no idea you're comically looking down their shirt for a picture. Which now that I think about it, is probably the best PR campaign Trimersion could ask for.
However, given my job, I liked the idea of one day writing jokes about what games would smell like. In fact here's one now: "To make your That's So Raven GBA cartridge compatible with the Philips amBX, jam 3 cans of cupcake frosting into the intake port."
Genuinely curious, I asked their PR rep to tell me everything he could about this incredible stink technology. He seemed tired of answering that and told me, "It's easy to do, but we don't, because it's too hard to get rid of the smell afterwards."
What? Do you think European explorers restrained from strangling the godless inhabitants of the New World because it would be hard to get rid of the smell of loosened bowels? No! Pioneers don't let a mess can't stand in the way of progress! So this guy was telling me that he has speakers with squirting scent glands, but the technology is being held back because no one's figured out how to clean smell? Make an air freshener game, dumbass. Here, I'll write one: You're an air freshener and you race other air fresheners in a race. What'd that take, 2 minutes? Fuck this thing.
S.M.A.R.T. Brain Games
Here's how it went. First, the S.M.A.R.T. Brain Games velcro sun visor was applied to my head. Apparently, in order for your brain to control games, the skull around it has to first be properly humiliated. Next, several electrodes were scooped out of a cup of water and slapped to my head, still wet. While this bacteria farm licked my face, I was given a Playstation 2 contoller and put in front of a racing game. Let the future begin.
Their rep told me to press the X button to accelerate, and depending on how well I concentrated, my car would go faster. By the way, X is the only button attached to my mind waves. All other controls were still performed with thumb waves. When I couldn't get my F-1 racer over 55mph, I asked what I should concentrate on. The answer I was given: "Whatever I want!"
"This is stupid, this is stupid," wasn't working, and in fact I was losing speed, because I was also thinking of a polite way to tell this asshole he was wasting his life. He sensed my wandering thoughts, perhaps with his own impossible mind device. So he gave me the tip that he, personally, visualized a car going very fast. Then, in the same breath, he told me that this technology may change the way parents view video games-- that it will make them more intellectually stimulating. Intellectually stimulating? Driving in a circle and tricking your brain into thinking it's autistic-- yeah, all those parents will go crazy for that. The balls on this guy. I couldn't tell if he was conspiring with me about his plan to trick these stupid imaginary parents, or if he was trying to convince me that meditating at a gas pedal was educational. Either way, have a fun pedalling your car back to Fantasy Land with your brain, dipshit.
By this point, I'm hungover, dripping electrode juice all down my head, and the only thing I can think about is how someone could get so self righteous when all he did was glue a damn EEG to a Playstation. I admit I felt a little stupid that I couldn't ruminate my car much faster than the speed of park. But I think Einstein's theory of relativity states that everyone is a genius when they sit next to someone trying to convince a consumer market to pay actual money for crap like this.
Novint Falcon 3D Mouse
Novint Falcon wasn't on my original list of probably-terrible peripherals to check out. Here's the story of how it happened:
I really enjoyed this booth featuring nothing but a man in a chair.
So I was proud to ask him to accept the award for My Favorite E3 Booth, 2006.
I got the feeling all the sensitive equipment could withstand up to one gamer tantrum, but while Pyramat is busy figuing out ways to jam a speaker in your ear, these guys invented a way to incorporate an entire other human sense into video games! Novint Falcon makes the vibrating controller look like the PC speaker. For those not nerd enough to get that, PC speakers are from back when computers had two sound settings: Off and Fire Alarm. Like all new technology, it probably won't make it until the porno industry gets attached. Imagine a game about grabbing boobs where you could actually feel the chest hair!
My My Box
After many years of writing for EGM, they shut down the magazine. I figured it was appropriate to include my farewell next to this article from E3 2006 since that was the year we said goodbye to E3. Or at least the E3 where game publishers invested money into 500 foot letters and bikini girls. At that time, the convention had grown so big that it could accomodate an entire floor of the LA Convention Center to Kentia Hall, a collection of mad scientists and foreigners that mocked entertainment with their terrible gadgets. Sort of like how this game magazine had grown so big it could devote two pages to me mocking the shortcomings of the industry every month.
EGM ended at a pretty strange time. The company who bought it threw it away before we could put together a proper final issue, plus 1up.com and I were having issues. I do a web show with them called Broken Pixels where they film us getting drunk and playing bad video games. Controversy arose when I called Spider-Man 3 the "faggotiest" of the Spider-Men films. What was science fact to me, was apparently very shocking to their sponsors and media watchdogs.
I understand them being fussy. Spider-Man is a big fan of the show, and had to have seen it. What's weird, though, is that no one ever officially contacted me about it. No one ever called to say, "Seanbaby, your words were offensive. Please issue an apology on behalf of our sponsor, Kotex for Men." Maybe they knew what I'd say to that. Like for example, kiss my ass, that wasn't a live show. If I'm ad-libbing for three hours and drunk on liquor the director gave me, standards and practices isn't really my job. If it is, what made you think I was qualified for that position? The fact that I drew tits on your white board? Whoever is in charge of what you can or can't say could have asked somebody to edit or beep any keen observations I might have made. I'll give you the same argument if I ever forget to turn my mic off and leave to sing Bon Jovi at the urinal. If you choose to leave that in the show, it's not my responsibility to pay the licensing fee for Bad Medicine.
But my argument goes deeper than "That's not my department." Spider-Man 3 really was a gay movie, and since that can mean so many things, I didn't want there to be any mistake that I was insulting it. There's a scene in Spider-Man 3 where Peter Parker explodes into a Broadway dance number. It's like someone dropped the script at a dick sucking contest and some pages got mixed in. That 90 minute movie was already three fucking screenplays hammered into one, and this prick wastes ten minutes of it just to prance around? If he expects me to take back what I said, Spider-Man 3 can kiss my ass, even though that means finding a way to explain why my ass smells like spider mouth and dick.
Anyway, from the rumors I heard, the Spider-Man incident started a Seanbaby blacklist and even a discussion on digitally removing me from past and future episodes of Broken Pixels like some kind of Star Wars monster. These rumors were apparently as dumb as they sounded, because they just posted the Wirehead episode of BP, and I'm totally me and not Jar Jar Binks.
Back to the article, Peripherals from the Year 1,000,000, this was my sixth E3 and kind of the one year anniversary for me and Natalie. It was a year before that she came up to me at the Microsoft party and said, "I'm a big fan of your website." And I replied, "I'm a big fan of how hot you are," because that's the kind of game I have. I make her tell that story all the time. If I could give myself the Power Glove Award for advanced poontanging, I would. And I can.
I receive the Power Glove Award.
While I was doing these reviews of stupid peripherals and drawing the awards to give to them, I was also doing a seperate article on the biggest tragedy of E3-- the loss of booth babes. Part of it involved dressing Nat up like the capoeira chick from Tekken. As a joke probably only the two of us enjoyed, I had her do stupid karate blocks in every photo instead of capoeira poses. Sort of a nod to how all these girls they get from the spokesmodel agencies have no idea what they're dressed as, and pose in strangely unrelated ways. Also, I have fond childhood memories of trying to use karate in my first fist fight and being truly shocked that karate blocks are much slower than incoming face punches.
Since I have plenty of space over here in the annotation side of the page, here's an excerpt from the feature I wrote simultaneously with this one called "Battle Against E3 Babe Oppression."
For many attendees, this year’s E3 game show was a chance to wave around the Wii for the first time and wonder what happened in their life that made them into an 11-month-old baby. But for dozens of hot, hot girls, E3 was anything but Wii. In an effort to kill as much joy as possible, the convention initiated a new dress-code policy for booth babes. This year, bikini bottoms and midriffs were made illegal, and gestapo monitors were hired to patrol the show floor to make sure that no one’s music was too loud and that no one’s models were too arousing. I say: To hell with that.
When faced with crushing oppression— like a rule forcing women to wear pants—we all have a duty to fight back. I decided I could do my part by sneaking in my own booth babe. Since modeling agencies no longer return my calls and I make a terrible Bloodrayne, I could only do this by convincing my girlfriend, Natalie, to dress up in a tiny Christie Monteiro outfit. And despite what you’ve heard about women loving to be sexually objectified by their own boyfriends, this was harder than you might think.
There are three types of people who criminalize sexiness: parents, Quakers, and ugly people. But E3 is an 18-and-over event, Quakers were poached to extinction by oatmeal hunters, and ugly people are too busy letting insects crawl in and out of their mouths to lobby against anything.
So who knows how this new policy came about? Maybe all the booth babes' fathers suddenly came back home. Whatever the reason, a handful of game companies like Sony Online decided to ignore the rules anyway and just pay fines. And at $5,000 per violation, the least Natalie and I could do was take a picture with some naked wizard Sony spent so much money to show us. I took this moment to reflect on the braveness of my and Sony’s struggle to promote the goingwildness of girlkind. It's like a bizarre reverse gentleman's club where strippers are the ones who pay.
For the few booth babes there, the crushing stress of lifting so many spirits with only their own tiny pants was wearing on them. The isolated pockets of nudity just weren’t enough. And without sex appeal, E3 is just 20,000 noisy TVs playing in a mosh pit. Here's the lesson: Never let people with chemically removed genitals plan your convention. Beautiful women have it hard enough already with every man trying to fuck them, every fat girl trying to destroy them, and every book not making any sense to them. Don’t oppress them further by taking away job opportunities. The Dead or Alive girls didn’t put their lives on the line in lingerie so you Communists could forbid some poor hot girl to dress like them!
Originally appeared in EGM #206.