that last week’s annual E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo)
will be remembered in the annals of gaming for introducing radical new innovations. Yet as consumers await the arrival of groundbreaking hardware in the spirit of Microsoft Kinect or the original Wii, video game engineers and designers have introduced several innovations and titles to tide gamers over in the meantime.
The Second Screen:
The ‘second screen’ concept
has already proved a boon to television engagement, and now console manufacturers and game publishers are applying it to games. Microsoft’s SmartGlass
software leverages the touch screen devices that many gamers already own by transforming them into game controllers or screens that display complementary content for Xbox 360 titles. Similarly, the forthcoming Wii U
console will be accompanied by a GamePad touchscreen controller
, an invention that Nintendo is heralding as the advent of “asymmetric gameplay”
. The function of the 6.2” display varies depending on the title it’s used with, but conference demos
included auxiliary maps and superpower toolkits.
Gaming consoles have become home entertainment anchors that encompass not just video games but also music, television and movies. Microsoft revealed a slate of multi-category apps
for next year’s Xbox 360 roster; among the 35 new content partners are Nickelodeon, Univision, the NBA, and the National Hockey League, while existing partner ESPN is adding live feeds of all its channels. Meanwhile, a Spotify-style music network, Xbox Music
, will also give the console jukebox capabilities. In a reverse trend, electronics manufacturers are incorporating gaming, as Samsung’s new Smart TV partnership
with streaming game service Gaikai
The big studios still dominated at E3, with all the flashy blood-and-guts titles
that gamers have come to expect. However, some of the more innovative games came from a booth set up by gaming’s answer to Sundance
. Johann Sebastian Joust
, one such underdog title, is a music-based jousting game, played with motion controllers. There are no graphics; rather, the game is played entirely in the physical realm. Though last month’s launch of Papa Quash, a new game accused of ripping off JSJ
, on iTunes stretches the standards of integrity in the gaming world, the brazen imitation of the screenless concept suggests that it won’t be the last we’ll see of it.