5 Things I Learnt at EGX 2022
I was lucky enough to attend EGX this past weekend, and I have to say it was a great experience. This was my first time attending the show, so I had little idea what to expect. In my mind, I pictured endless rows of gamers sitting in front of monitors playing demos of the latest AAA games. Don't get me wrong, there was that, but I was surprised to discover the variety of other things to see and do at the show.
In no particular order, here are five things I learnt at EGX 2022:
The Future Looks Bright for the British Games Industry
One thing that struck me about the show is the number of universities in attendance promoting a full range of degree courses in various video game-related disciplines. It's a stark contrast from when I went to university many years ago, and I hope it's only the start.
Not only that, but a couple of unis were at the show to demonstrate some of their students' final year projects, and I was blown away by the quality of their work.
The games industry has long suffered from the stigma of being just a pastime "you know, for kids", but I think the tide is turning. The current generation of students have parents who grew up playing video games, so I think pretty soon game creation will be taken as seriously as other creative arts such as filmmaking or musicianship.
With the creative industries being so vital to the modern British economy, if we can attract the right talent, there is no reason we can't make the UK the global capital of video game development.
The Steam Deck Looks Great
When the Steam Deck was announced, I must admit to having my reservations. As much as the ability to play fully featured PC games on a handheld device sounded great, I was dubious about the claim it would be able to play AAA games in high quality. It didn't help that getting your hands on a Steam Deck to try out was next to impossible thanks to massive demand and limited supply.
So when I saw the Steam Deck at the show I was keen to try it out for myself and see if it lived up to the hype. After spending some time playing Elden Ring with no noticeable drop in quality, I’m pleased to say the answer is a resounding yes.
The graphics were crisp and high quality, the frame rate was stable and the controls were responsive.
The Steam Deck is a bit of a chunky beast, at almost 12 inches wide it feels a bit like carrying a pizza box home from the pub. It's certainly a handheld device in the broadest sense of the word. Also, much like the infamous Steam Controller, the button configuration will take some getting used to. But overall it's a quality bit of kit that I'd love to get my hands on eventually.
Ryu is Getting Old
Street Fighter 6 was on show at EGX, and I got to spend some time playing a demo release with a few levels and characters available.
I have to admit I've not played a Street Fighter game for over a decade, so I had no idea what to expect. I didn't recognise most of the characters, but I did see that Chun-Li, Guile and Ryu were still on the roster, which made me feel more at home and less like a confused Daily Mail reader getting angry that things aren't the way they used to be.
Despite my initial fear that I'd lose every round and humiliate myself in front of the cool kids, I managed to hold my own. I even managed to style out a couple of Hadoukens and Dragon Punches, which left me quietly pleased with myself.
It’s also worth noting that much like us gamers who first met them in Street Fighter 2, the characters haven't managed to avoid the relentless passage of time. Ryu is starting to look like a divorced dad who's hit the gym, and Guile is more Techno Viking than 90's Van Damme. I kind of like the fact that these characters aren't stuck in a time warp and have aged with the series. It makes me feel better about “tacking on mass”, as Mac from Always Sunny would say.
Goat Simulator 2 Never Existed
Goat Simulator took the world by storm a few years ago with its ridiculous premise and sandbox destruction. The premise of the game was pretty simple; you were a goat with nothing to do other than destroy everything in your path. It was the kind of game best played with friends to laugh with, and as a result, it was massive with the streaming community.
Goat Simulator 3 is the highly anticipated sequel, and yes, to clear up any confusion, there is no Goat Simulator 2. The official story is that someone put a 3 on the box art by accident and nobody from the team wanted to correct them, but I have a feeling I was being spun a line...
Apart from new maps and opportunities for mass goat destruction, the most important change is likely to be the four-person multiplayer option. I can almost guarantee that this is going to make the sequel an even bigger deal for social gamers and streamers. Expect belly laughs galore as you discover new worlds and rewards with your friends, and then mercilessly headbutt them to death.
Lack of Representation in Gaming Is Still a Major Problem
I have to admit it's something I never thought about as a straight, white, able-bodied man. I'm just used to seeing video game characters I can identify with, I've never thought about how other people playing games might never see a character that they can associate with in video games.
Like many other people of my demographic, I thought that since a handful of games feature female protagonists we had reached peak equality.
But I was interested to see that the beauty brand Dove was at EGX to launch their new campaign for "Real Virtual Beauty" alongside Epic Games, and it made me think about things from a new perspective.
I had no idea, but there are 1.3 billion female gamers out there. Yet 60% of female gamers feel misrepresented and recognise a lack of diversity as a key issue in video games.
Worse still, 35% of young girls feel their self-esteem is negatively impacted thanks to a lack of diversity in characters and avatars. As video game characters are slowly turning into the new movie stars it's really not hard to see why. After all, more often than not female characters in games have completely unrealistic Barbie Doll-esque body types, usually squeezed into a completely impractical outfit designed to reveal as much skin as possible. How is anyone going to feel good about themselves when the “ideal” woman is portrayed in such an unrealistic way?
I'm fully on board with the campaign and think it's really important to get the future generation of game designers and creators thinking now about representation in video games. When they start making games, I hope we’ll be able to see a wide range of characters that represent everyone fairly.
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