Do you think people remember the Survival Horror genre? Cause I know the developers behind Dead Space 3 and Resident Evil 6 don't. From the looks of it, I don't think they've ever played a survival horror game.
Do you remember Resident Evil? The first one? If you play it now you'll come to a startling realization; It kind of sucks. Poor controls, silly voice overs, and clunky interfaces. The modern gamer is appalled by these things. But I remember playing it when I was younger, and I also remember playing it last weekend. Both times, something came over me. It wasn't anger at the poor controls, or frustration about the graphics. It was fear. I was genuinely scared.
The lack of a reliable defense , the absence of information, and the overbearing sense that you are alone and helpless. That's what survival horror is to me. Playing Resident Evil, I didn't know what to do. I explored a mansion filled with creators that could easily kill me. I didn't know if or when I would be getting help, or if there were stronger weapons waiting around the corner. Instead of blowing up everything in my way, I had to run. I had to think about my actions instead of just shooting things and hoping for the best. I feel like that's what survival horror is to a lot of people. Except for modern game developers. Except for the people actually making "Survival Horror" games.
Also I find there to be a disturbing lack of sharks in so called "scary" games.
I blame Resident Evil 4, and for good reason. It's the cause of all of this. The real problem is that Resident Evil 4 is a great game. Its thrilling, well paced, and deserves all the attention it gets. Its impact can be felt in almost every 3rd person action game you've played since it came out. Gears of War, Arkham Asylum, and Dead Space all owe RE4 a little something. RE4 showed that you could take a well known game series and reinvent to spectacular results. What it didn't do is change the RE franchise (or its genre) for the better.
Really, RE4 is barely fits into the genre. It is almost entirely made of shooting everything in the face and upgrading your weapons to kill as many things with one bullet as possible. But it still had good intentions, it had a good heart. The opening sequence is a perfect example of why I still consider it a survival horror game. You are thrust into a situation that makes no sense, you become surrounded by screaming people who don't seem to be zombies, and then your head is in immediate danger of being chainsawed. Its the feeling of hopelessness that gamers should feel in this genre. Even though you can do flips and suplex enemies, you're always afraid of the enemies around you. It struck fear through overwhelming you. It gave you greater fire power, but it also increased the tension. You never knew if you could really shoot your way out of the situations you got yourself into.
After RE4, you can see where the horror genre started to mutate. Each following "horror" release focused more and more on action and intensity and less on mood and subtlety. Even the Silent Hill games, which are all about mood, became more about "BOO" type scaring and what disgusting creators they could force the player to deal with. The whole genre began to lack substance.
Right now, survival horror lies almost dead on the floor. Its sitting there, staring up at us, wondering if we'll allow it to be revived and scare us once more. It seems the majority of gamers are willing to look down and whisper "No..." and go on with their day.
But not all is lost. The survival horror games of the past are still here for us to play. Silent Hill 2, Fatal Frame, and Resident Evil may continue to age, but the amazing ideas they brought to the table remain amazing and fun to experience. Games like Amnesia are showing people that the survival horror genre can still survive in our modern gamer culture. Things will be ok. The genre will survive. But as of right now, things are just a bit foggy. There is a hole here, but one day it'll be gone.
Well, really, when I start to think about it...it doesn't. None of it matters. Its just one bloated press release from the biggest companies in gaming at this point in time. It is a snapshot of gaming's current state, and something that will be over-analyzed and talked about for the rest of the year. Its kind of like the Olympics, except there are no clear winners. Its as if they showed you the contestants, let you see the start of the race, and then you had to figure out who won by carefully watching them for the rest of the year. It's a slow race, and even in the end you're not sure who won.
But if E3 doesn't matter, why do I care so much? Why is this such a big deal to me and thousands of gamers like me? Why this event?
Because it has to be. It's the only thing we have like it. Gamers don't have theme parks, they have conventions. Gamers don't have festivals, they have conventions. Gamers don't have holiday retreats catered to them, they have conventions. This is where a massive amount of like minded individuals gather to show off and spread news that is more relevant to them than it is to anyone else in the world. This is when we sit glued to our screens, to see what surprises Kojima has in store or what silly thing Reggie is going to say. This is our festival, this is our theme park. For a few days, this is our vacation.
When it boils down to it, E3 is just one big business meeting. Its bunch of people who run companies talking about their products and how they're going to distribute and sell them. But I don't think most of them fully realize how powerful such an event can really be. This is their chance to represent us, the gamers, on the worlds stage. This is when we show the world that we are representatives of a new and beautiful art form that is growing faster and faster each year. This is the chance every gamer looks for. To break the social norms and establish gaming as not an outsiders culture, but as a brand new culture that should be embraced just like any other form of entertainment.
Now...I don't think this revolutionary moment has happened. I don't know if it ever will. But it seems like each year the stage grows bigger, and with that so does our platform for showing the world just what gaming is about.
Too bad we've got Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony as representatives.