I came to E3, the video game industry’s annual convention, with the hope of having my mind blown. The tag line of this year’s event is “The Future Revealed.” This is the year that the promise of virtual reality was going to be revealed.
Even before I entered the convention hall in Los Angeles, people were raving about VR goggles. “It’s crazy! You get a little bit of motion sickness, but wherever you look you are in the game,” said a very enthusiastic Skylar Harper.
I was excited to try on a pair of VR goggles, and I did, and it was cool, but it didn’t blow my mind, and I wasn’t alone.
“I think VR is really cool and closer to being a thing,” said Justin McElroy, managing editor of the gaming site Polygon. But he also found VR to be a little scary. His great fear of VR, and fear of video games in general, is that they can be an isolating experience.
“When I look at something like VR, it is not a social experience. Almost by definition you are closed out from the rest of the world, and there is a place for that in gaming sure, but I worry about the effect and the cost of that. I don’t know that we need to be more cut off from everybody and everything.”
Polygon managing editor Justin McElroy posing in his makeshift E3 work space with Paris Hilton and Brandy.
My next stop at the convention was a giant, 180-degree, wraparound movie screen. I was there to see the trailer for “Destiny,” the most expensive video game ever made. At $500 million, its budget is nearly double that of “Spider Man 3,” which holds the record for the most expensive movie ever made. The trailer had lots of cool alien monsters but nothing mind-blowing.
Afterwards I wandered over to a giant poster of Jesus holding an Xbox controller. It was an ad for gamechurch.com. “We really think that gaming is more than just a fun thing to do,” said Gamechurch.com founder Michael Bridges. “It speaks to the human condition, and we’re speaking through a Christian lens, but we’re not doing it in a judgmental way. We’re not the morality police.”
I asked him what he thought Jesus’s favorite video game would be. “Your favorite game,” he said without hesitation, “because he wants to play with you. You know, he just wants to hang.”
After talking to Bridges I heard a rumor that the videogame “Gauntlet had a food truck” parked outside and was handing out free turkey legs. The rumor was true. I watched a man devour a piece of charred meat about the size of his head. Next to him, a life-size tank was rolling over a taxi cab.
It was kind of mind blowing.
Much of E3 now consists of watching other people play video games.