One of the most striking scenes of yesterday’s E3 press conference gauntlet didn’t take place on a stage or a screen. It wasn’t rehearsed or pre-planned, and it most certainly wasn’t expected. I sat in a jam-packed arena-sized auditorium and watched a game demo unfold on a screen bigger than my hometown. OK, that wasn’t the surprising part. I’d been doing that all day. This one, though, came to a rather abrupt halt when – mere inches away from the camera – a man’s head erupted into a volcano of hyper-detailed gore after a point-blank shotgun blast. And then: deafening applause from hundreds of people.
This was the blaring exclamation point on the end of a day of gleefully grotesque neck-shanking, leg-severing, and – of course – man-shooting. I can honestly think of maybe five games – in four multiple-hour press conferences – that didn’t feature some sort of lovingly rendered death-dealing mechanic. And oh how show-goers cheered. So then, have we all become brainless barbarians with a lust for blood bordering on fetishistic? Hardly. That’d be a simple black-or-white (or, I suppose, red) answer, and this issue’s a whole lot messier than that.