Video Game Renaissance: ‘Beatles: Rock Band’, ‘Avatar’, & ‘Project Natal’

June is not even two days old, and already it’s been one of the most exciting months in recent memory for video games. I know this because I don’t play video games, and yet in the last hour I found myself watching three separate videos previewing three very different but very exciting new weapons, from three different pop culture giants, to be used in the horrific and devastating console wars. The big reveals came at the E3 Expo in L.A., the annual Mecca of gaming culture. So, between the upcoming Beatles Rock Band, James Cameron’s Avatar video game, and Steven Spielberg’s mysterious “Project Natal”, which one of these is the most exciting for non-gamers?

The Beatles: Rock Band: The two surviving members of the fab four, Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, made a surprise appearance at E3 to unveil their version of the absurdly popular Rock Band franchise. Unfortunately, they seemed a lot less excited to be there than the crowd was to have them. Their best sales pitch: when Ringo said, “The game is good, the graphics are very good, and we were great.” Luckily, he’s probably right, but in case you don’t believe him, take a look at the game’s awesome trailer below.

Avatar the Game: After James Cameron’s almost-15-minute speech at E3, we now know more about Avatar the video game than Avatar the movie. While he prefaced his speech with a brief introduction to Avatar the film, much of what Cameron discussed was what went into creating the game with Montreal-based designers Ubisoft. Cameron hailed the game as (what else) revolutionary, as it’s “the first major stereoscopic video game title developed in 3D from the ground up.” While that might send tech geeks into forum-overdrive, what struck me most was when Cameron said it was the first time he’s ever been scared while playing a video game. This means two things: one, that James Cameron has never played Kirby’s Dream Land, and two, Avatar the movie, with its three-dimensional, photo-realistic, “terrifying” creatures, is going to be a living nightmare.

Video GamesE3 2009E3 ’09 Live

Project Natal: Leave it to Steven Spielberg to take all the attention away from James Cameron and the Beatles with the biggest reveal coming out of E3 — his long-in-gestation collaboration with Microsoft, “Project Natal.” Since Cameron has repeatedly beaten Spielberg in the “revolutionizing cinema” department, and will probably do it again with Avatar, Spielberg is setting his sites on being a game game-changer. He says of PN, “”This is a pivotal moment that will carry with it a wave of change, the ripples of which will reach far beyond video games.” What could he possibly be talking about that is so seismic? Let’s go to the tape!

And if all this wasn’t enough for what is now the most momentous month in video game history, did I forget to mention that The Sims 3 just happened to be released today? On the iPhone?

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