Hindsight: Tokyo game show 2012

The dust has settled over the Makuhari Messe convention centre, home of the Tokyo game show. An event to showcase new ideas and ingenuity; the creation of the future and the unimaginable. In hindsight the future was nothing but deja-vu; reminiscent of a prosaic E3 earlier this year. TGS’s main floor was replete with the sequels and micro extensions of franchises found in previous years, all vying for consumer attention. The obliging crowds queued feverishly, not for the creative thinkers however but for the imitators; games already played in some incarnation or another. The lack of basic self-questioning from attendees was bewildering, a simple ‘what am I playing and have I played this before?’ would have redirected hour+ queues to the creative integrity of something like The Unfinished Swan.

Thankfully TGS’s outlet for lionizing innovation was the presentation of SOWN (Sense of wonder night); it brought some much-needed originality to the event and stood as an advocate of individualism.

Objectives of SOWN:

  • To introduce games with a game design and ideas that are experimental and creative, and that cannot be called conventional or traditional
  • To heighten awareness of the importance of creating a game that gives people a “sense of wonder”, a sense that something will change in their world, and to invigorate the game industry
  •  To offer people creating experimental games opportunities for the future
  •  To create new domains in the game industry

Those objectives would make an exemplary template for the whole of the Tokyo Game Show and for E3 for that matter, rather than the plagiarism that filled 95% of both spaces. For that to happen a different mind-set would be required from both the developers and the consumers; where ques were formed for ideas not seen before, rather than the incredulous fraud that seems to be blindly followed each year.

These were the visions of developers that were unique and offered something neoteric

TENGAMI

A company made of former Rare developers delivered understated elegance in the form of Tengami; a paper engineered pop up adventure capturing the tranquility of Japanese romanticism.

MEMORY OF A BROKEN DIMENSION

Ezra Hanson-White’s superlative first person work, proved to be the most unique of the show which can be read in a previous feature here.

THE LIGHT SHOOTER

A Tokyo University of Technology project designed by Masasuke Yasumoto. The work earned an award from Microsoft Japan for its stunning light based interaction.

UNFINISHED SWAN

Shortly due for release by Giant Sparrow, this unalloyed wonder captures the imagination through its paint throwing mechanics.

BREAKS

Takayuki Yanagihara’s visceral lazer show delivers hectic ball play through a touch pad interface.

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E3: Superlative opportunities?

This year’s E3 delivered predictable franchise sequels and not much in the way of originality. Is the developer reproach misplaced however, highlighting insentient consumer support for more of the same?

New IP: Watch Dogs (Ubisoft) and The last of us (Naughty Dog) helped to refresh the lacklustre event. They inadvertently emphasised however that we still traverse the same obstacle courses, littered with the same generic thugs with the same missions. There is no doubt both games will be entertaining, but there is a feeling that we have witnessed the inauguration for myriad sequels at future shows.

The games that offered us superlative opportunities were predominantly for Sony Platforms and inventive content at the IndieCade booth. The unveiling of Nintendo’s new Wii U software failed to capture imaginations with only Platinum games offering something refreshing (arguably usurping Pikmin 3’s announcement).

In an ocean of generic content, these were the games that offered us something inventive:

UNFINISHED SWAN (PS3)

Giant Sparrow’s experimental adventure of throwing paint, turning negative space into tangible assets.

SOUND SHAPES (PS3/PS Vita)

A phonic tool that amalgamates sound and 2D objects in unison, developed by Queasy games.

LANGUISH (PC)

Designed by Erik Loyer, Languish is a journey through the mind by interacting with collective ideas.

A MOTHER’S INFERNO (PC)

Students at DADIU created this vociferous First person horror that aesthetically reminiscent of Suda 51’s Killer 7.

BEYOND: TWO SOULS (PS3)

David cage and Quantic dream tease their next project after the successful Heavy Rain.

CHASING AURORA (Multi)

Developer Broken Rules origami enthused dream of flight.

PROJECT P-100 (Wii U)

Platinum games, creators of  Bayonetta and the upcoming Metal Gear Rising bring this exclusively to Wii U.