Let's be blunt. Last week’s Consumer Electronics Show was a flop and, from a gaming perspective, a full-on, colossal letdown. An expo that once played host to some of the most important events in videogame history – such as the legendary moment when Nintendo turned its back on partner Sony, thus creating its own archrival – is a completely different experience today.
Apparently, "consumer electronics" no longer includes our beloved pastime, and the gaming industry appears to have only a passing interest in exhibiting at the annual tech show. What’s left to write about, then? Only disappointment, desperation and depression. To prove this to you, here are nine compelling reasons – with photographic evidence – why you should just avoid CES altogether. We wish we had.
Finding a demo you actually want to try in the desert of CES is difficult enough. Get stuck behind one of these and you might as well move on. Nothing holds up a line like the overly intense geek, frustratingly completionist creatures that will take dictator-like control over a station and refuse to budge until they have exhausted every last potential ounce of gameplay. PAX, E3 and other industry shows have them too, of course, but in a more scattered distribution. At CES, they concentrate in the exact – and probably only – place you want to be.
Note that the overly intense geek comes in multiple varieties, not just the clichéd stereotype. We witnessed a relatively average-looking guy play two entire nine-inning games of MLB 2010 before relinquishing Sony’s booth to someone else, placing him firmly in the overly intense sports geek sub-genus.
You’re (probably) not a failure in the real world, but after spending just a single day at CES, you’ll certainly feel like one. CEOs and executive businessmen chat at every corner. Self-made millionaires mingle in every room. Still proud of making assistant manager at GameStop? $12 an hour still seem sufficient? Not so much.
After the full three days, you’ll be a self-conscious wreck. Your sweet graphic tee from Target and ratty jeans with frayed ends may enable you to blend into regular society, but they won’t cut it at CES. If you're not dressed in a designer suit and dual-wielding BlackBerrys, you might as well wear a sign labeled “Couch-Surfing Slob.”
Consider yourself a gadget guru? You won’t anymore. The halls of CES are littered with hundreds of products that only those with years of experience in that exact technological niche can ever hope to comprehend. Walk up to a display, listen to the hardcore junkies discussing “the possibilities” and immediately subtract two self-esteem points when you realize that you can’t even pronounce the thing’s name, much less understand its purpose.
Sure, you’ll find plenty of high-tech cell phones and GPS systems, the basic practical purposes of which any layman can grasp. Stray just a tad off the beaten path, though, and you’ll be embarrassingly humbled by semiconductors, ferroelectric materials and more.
If you’re expecting CES to be all brain-boggling technology, however, you’re wrong. Whiz-bang gadgetry, both comprehensible and not, occupies only a tiny portion of the show floor. The rest consists of aisles upon aisles of extraordinarily ordinary products, ranging from endless rows full of smartphone gel cases (none of which are remarkable in any way) to a Korean company that was promoting a series of extension cords. Really? You traveled from South Korea to Las Vegas for household extension cords?