10 games at E3 that made a lasting impression

Todd Martens, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

LOS ANGELES -- The Electronic Entertainment Expo has never been subtle.

But the event, hosted by the trade group representing the video game industry -- the body designed to present the community's best image to Congress and the public at large -- got right to the point this year in its on-site messaging at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

It was even selling the slogan on $20 branded T-shirts -- "Hype AF," for a phrase that is not printable here -- with the logo for E3, the Electronic Software Assn.'s most esteemed event of the year.

With a proposed bill in Congress that would severely limit in-game purchases -- and with the Federal Trade Commission to look at the ethics surrounding said practices in August -- perhaps it's not the best time to advertise that the biggest video game trade show in North America is all smoke and mirrors.

But the industry knows the E3 audience, and it's not the 66,000 or so who visited the L.A. Convention Center and L.A. Live over the show's three-day run that ended Thursday. It's those watching and playing at home on dedicated game devices such as PCs and consoles, this even at a time when the association's own data cite the smartphone as the most popular place to play.

Thus, the flash and noise of the E3 show floor is designed to sell rather than to encourage thought. Imagine the internet sprung to life, where a giant militaristic fortress heralding an Avengers game was a head turn away from the "Fortnite" booth, which hosted a quiz show in which players stood behind platforms fashioned to look like llamas -- which itself was near a digital corridor that flashed with fictional "wanted" ads from the Nazi-killing game "Wolfenstein: Youngblood."

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E3 is designed to disorient and to get you to click "pre-order" before you come to your senses -- or remember that the industry is struggling to navigate many hot-button issues, including the conditions of its own workforce.

But the joy of play can't be thwarted by massive marketing endeavors and carefully crafted media statements. Below, a look at 10 games that still managed to make a lasting impression amid the cacophony that is E3.

"Beyond Blue" (E-Line Media)

From the studio that published "Never Alone," a game that introduced players to little-known tales of native Alaskan culture, comes an exploration designed to showcase the intrigue and mystery of our oceans. "Beyond Blue" is being developed in conjunction with the BBC and the researchers behind its "Blue Planet II" series.


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