(Below is the beginning of my latest GameFile column. For the full thing, check out MTVNews.com)
Late last year I had dinner with a publicist for a major video game company and offered him what I thought was a terrifically modern suggestion about how to enhance gaming consoles. It was a solution, I thought, to the widespread neglect many video games suffer. And my idea, offered between bites of my gourmet burger, was shot down, for a reason I still have trouble accepting.
I suggested that video game consoles should no longer just support the playing and purchasing of games. They should support sharing. Just so the publicist didn't think I meant that his company should let their customers upload and download their games for free, I clarified the kind of sharing I meant: showing off stuff that's in the games.
I was talking about the kind of thing that "Halo 3" has been letting me do since September. That game allows a player to take a screenshot of anything they see in the story-driven campaign and multiplayer matches. The game also lets players record and share video of what they experience, which they can share with other "Halo 3" owners. The system isn't perfect. The videos can't be seen by people who don't have the game. The screenshots aren't as easy to snap and share as they could be. But it's a good step, one that feels right in the age of online-connected consoles.
The "Halo" system is a rarity among console games. Only a few others have similar features. "Super Smash Bros. Brawl," due February 10 on the Wii, will let players capture and share a couple of minutes of fighting footage. Last year's big skateboarding games allowed video capture. "Metroid Prime 3: Corruption" had an unlockable screenshot tool for use via the Wii's Photo Channel. But the ability to share, to show off what you've done and let your friends know how cool or funny or interesting the game you're playing is by just zapping them some sort of visual, is far from universal. I told my dining companion that is wrong.