Saturday, March 12, 2011

PAX East, Day 2

So day two at PAX east ended up going a little differently than we intended.

We arrived back at the convention center a little before noon and after finding out that the wait time for L.A. Noire was about an hour and a half with the demonstration itself being 30 minutes we decided to kill some time in the freeplay areas since the “Females on Female Characters” panel was at 3. After an always-pleasing game of Left 4 Dead 2 we headed over to the theater only to find an enormous line waiting to get it.

I’m talking, HUGE.

While we were pretty bummed that we couldn’t get into the theater we were also pretty excited that such a topic would elicit the response it did. I’m curious to see if similar amounts of people show up for the “One of Us” panel tomorrow, which has a similar theme – gamers who break the gamer stereotype. Regardless, perhaps we’ll be treated to more “minority” panels at future conventions considering how well the one today did.

Slightly downtrodden, we headed back to Rockstar’s booth and got in line for the L.A. Noire demonstration. After waiting for 90 minutes we walked into their closed off booth and were treated to a fantastic preview of the game’s mechanics, plot devices, graphics and overall theme.

The level of detail in this game looks incredible. We watched the protagonist kneel over a dead body and meticulously examine it – from a head wound to broken fingernails to a cut on the arm – and the surrounding crime scene. A flick of the analog stick would cause you to turn the victim’s head to the side or even gently move a bloodied wrist. Every little action is put in control of the player.

We saw the main character interrogate suspects: asking them questions and judging the truth behind the answers from the way the character acted and spoke. I really enjoyed that in order to successfully accuse someone of something malicious you had to have hard evidence - not just a hunch - or things could go quite bad for your character.

Overall, the demo left the kind of impression that we’ve all come to expect from Rockstar: I went in knowing little about L.A. Noire and left thinking that I’m probably now going to pick it up day one.

Shortly after we left Rockstar’s booth (with two free posters and two t-shirts) we decided to head out to appease our growling stomachs but not before we caught a good long look at the Duke Nukem Forever booth and its rather interesting promotional tools:

Enter the booth babes.

What I find the most curious about this is that following PAX East last year the guys from Penny Arcade decided to enact a ban on scantily clad models at their conventions and that this ban was met with overwhelming support from the 6,313 attendees surveyed. It would appear as though a large amount of men as well as women didn’t really care for watching half-naked women who know nothing about the product their bodies are advertising prance around. However, it would also appear that despite the ban on these types of models being used to promote games, Gearbox got under the wire.

Which, yeah, on one hand it’s obnoxious and sexist. I mean, why not have a shirtless butch dude who resembles Duke standing there to take pictures with people?

But on the other hand, I saw plenty of female attendees cosplaying in less than what these women were wearing and those women were dressed the way they were because they were pulling from the female characters currently appearing in video games. Hell, I’ve put in about 10 hours so far with a Dragon Age 2 with a main character looks like this:

So while at first I was pretty annoyed with the Duke Nukem booth, I have to say that on reflection I find that the majority of my irritation stems from what has always bothered me about video games and that’s that female characters generally aren’t taken seriously and are hardly ever presented as a character first and an attractive, sexual woman second.

Man . . . I really wish I had been able to attend that panel.

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