I Want a New Drug: Kaz Hirai’s TGS Keynote

Have you heard of those video game addiction centers popping up in some parts of the world? For the beleaguered and unfortunate souls that get sucked so deep into a computerized fantasy world that seeking mental help is the only recourse? When you hear the news of a Chinese man dying after three solid days of whacking rats for experience points, you suddenly realize,”Hey, there might be a use for these things after all.” Maybe in some sad, twisted way he got what he wanted. He was looking for an escape and found one. Maybe he’s off in some other realm, whacking rats in the afterlife.

But hey, I don’t know what the true nature of the soul is. What I do know is that there’s a much more insidious addiction related to the games industry. One that, although has yet to claim any lives, already ruined many of them. It’s a drug that has the potential to crush your very interest in actually playing games, but it keeps reeling you back in like any good questionable substance. Why there hasn’t been some center, foundation, or charity set up to rehabilitate the addicts of HYPE yet, I’ll never know. Maybe they could send those gaming zombies over and stick ’em in a room with hype junkies as that would surely break their will. Listen to my idea concerned friends and family, I promise you they’ll never law their mittens on another controller for the rest of their days!

I speak of it very seriously for I am both user and supplier. I deal in hyperbole and drink in the distinct stench of excitement found only in the most damaging and deadly of threads. Tonight I did a very bad thing. As I was selling spin to unwitting Junior Members over at NeoGAF, I happened upon a metric kilo of grade-A snuff. TGS fell in my lap and I didn’t have to pay a damn thing for it. All I had to do was distribute and reap the profits. And it payed off bigtime, to the tune 45-plus pages of overwrought anguish, love, excitement, and disappointment. As good as the high is, it’s one helluva downer, though. If you could plot the progression of a thread like this, it’d rise and fall faster than Top Thrill Dragster. Hell, it’d make Dragster look like a speed bump.

Of course, it killed me, too. Sure, it was a keynote, not a true conference. Technology and industry would take the forefront just as it always had at these sorts of things. But the faith is still there. Hype’s the kind of drug that makes you think you see God when it’s really just Kaz Hirai clad in nothing but a healthy beard and the whitest sheet he could jack from his hotel room.

Clearly, he’s a charlatan. He’s Andrew Ryan and this is Rapture. There are no gods or kings here, only man. But can we blame the guy? We can thrust out our pointers and declaim Sony for not catering to our every whim, for not living up to the fantastic version of events we’ve cooked up in the darkest wilds of our imagination, but we must at least acknowledge this as our own doing. When we plant the seeds for a Final Fantasy VII remake or a new controller with TouchSense technology, we will reap what we sew.

“It’s a keynote, not a conference.”

If that needs to be repeated a hundred or a thousand times, so be it. It’s a nuance in terminology that I don’t think too many people actually get and information moves all too fast these days for it to be fully absorbed, even by the clearest of minds.

Kaz did not give us the megatons we so desired, but can we really say that Sony failed? We failed our own expectations. Sony is doing everything right, just not right enough. They give it to us straight, but we can’t accept it. They’re striking out in bold new directions, but not doing it as fast or to the extent that they need to for a real, lasting impact. That part, at the very least, is their fault. Is the ambition of HOME worth the delay. Does pushing the Dual Shock 3 all the way back to next Spring for the US take the wind out of the fact that games coming out this Fall will make use of it? Hell, even Japan is getting it in the more timely month of November.

The good news always seems to be tempered by the bad. I mean, some very exciting things are happening. Afrika looks fantastic. Do check out the new video footage. Remote play with the PSP is a very intriguing technology that can only get better the more that Sony pushes it. Being able to go so far as to turn your PS3 on and off from anywhere outside your home is incredible. Anybody would be hard-pressed to leave that behemoth on 24/7 just to access remote content, but if you can toggle it at your leisure, it instantly becomes more accessible. It also further justifies the PSP’s existence in the spectrum. This so beyond any kind of lame “connectivity” that company’s like Nintendo have attempted before (hey, hey, use this cable to hook your GBA to your GameCube and unlock a new costume for your character or something equally asinine). It’s more than just media, you’ll actually be able to some of your PS3 games wherever you might be in the world whenever you want.

But Sony needs to follow through and that always seems to be their problem. Perhaps that’s why we, as fans, are so prone to getting addicted to the hype. Promises are made, but rarely kept. It’s like an abusive relationship, but it’s all our fault when we’re the ones that start making things up. That high feels good, so it’s not going to stop (as long as we’ve got these conventions and meetings to look forward to), but we need to be able to meet Sony halfway. Likewise, they need to do the same for us. Concept is only half the equation and even if the Playstation 3 has the capability to do a million different things and do them better than the other consoles, it won’t mean dick if there’s not someone there continually pushing forward.

So there you go, folks. Don’t get too discouraged. Sony’s got the software and despite the fact that I and others really want them to be able to accomplish so much more, there’s an absolutely stellar software line-up already in the works. The keynote gave us a few nuggets worth talking about. More Afrika, Remote Play, Dual Shock 3, and some vague hope for the future.

Relish it.

P.S. Before I forget, if anyone wants to buy, I’m sellin’. There’s still that little matter of announcing the “game that will save the Playstation 3” yet to come. 😉

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~ by Cavin Smith on September 20, 2007.

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