Didn’t Go? It’s OK, Here’s Why I Stopped Following and Covering CES

By Todd Russell Jan14,2024

Throughout the late 90s and 2000s, I followed the yearly Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas and also the adult show that runs concurrently. Personally, I found the adult side way more interesting and engaging than CES to write about and cover, but I’ve already done that and left that behind well over 10 years ago.

No, this article isn’t waxing sour grapes of the past, but rather what was learned, what CES is largely about, for those that wish they’d attended in 2024. Here is what CES is about, bold, bright and sobering:

Selling us stuff we likely don’t need.

It’s a gigantic tech advertising wonderland. It’s the two minutes when your favorite show goes to break and shouts various products and services. There, keeping it very real.

I don’t want to fly, stay in a hotel that now absurdly charges for parking, and for “resort fees” in addition to a nightly hotel fee, where food prices that used to be inexpensive are overpriced (you could get steak and eggs for under $10 once upon a time, now you can barely park a couple hours for that). Traverse a city that really only wants us there to gamble and spend a ton of money and doesn’t give a crap about us except for anything other than blind, rampant, excessive spending.

More, more, more.

This isn’t a screed on Vegas. My wife and I enjoy Vegas, have flirted (strongly, realistically) with the idea of buying a house and retiring there. The draw isn’t when Vegas is bursting with shows and events (which if you are on the strip, is nearly every freaking day, all year long). Instead, to live in the outskirts of Vegas, rather, so we can venture into the city when we want to, not when some big show is on.

If we lived in Vegas, I’d attend one day, maybe. And certainly not every year. So, if you feel like you missed out on something in 2024, this article is for you. You didn’t.

Taken from a 50+ year old gaming and tech guy: time, not stuff, is what matters in life. You spend what you want where you want, when you want with those you love and care about, because nobody in Vegas cares about you/your family – unless you have friends and family that live there — no, only dollars you can spend now or tommorrow.

Our grandchildren live here, in WA state, so we stay here and enjoy life with them more than we would enjoy if they had to fly a few times a year to Vegas to see us. When they get older, then, maybe we can move to this gaming paradise (don’t throw up on that last word).

My wife and I also enjoy gambling, and Vegas is a mecca of gambling. But here’s the thing these days, in most areas, there’s a tribal casino within a short drive. Where we live? There are nearly a dozen of them within a short drive and more than that in a long drive. We have the money to waste gambling, and “waste” is exactly what gambling is. The vast majority of time gambling you lose, so why play? It’s the lights, the scene, the circumstances — but it’s all silly when you think about it.

These days, we’d rather drive to the Next Level Pinball and Arcade.

In fact, we’re going there today, as I write this and think about how glad I am that I avoided attending another CES. Sure, I would have liked to walk around the show floor — one time — see what’s new, but here’s the good news: we don’t have to. There are a boatload of publications that will shout in clickbaiting headlines “best of CES!” and cover the event ad nauseum.

You don’t have to attend CES to see what’s there, you only need to visit your favorite newsreader. Or rather, as I did, try to avoid being barraged by too much CES coverage, because it permeates what is otherwise a slow news cycle after the holiday season.

That’s the other thing: we just got done spending a bunch of money on holidays, spending a bunch of money and what does the technology sector think we should do again? Pump us up to spend more money. No thanks. I don’t need the Alienware M16R2 for another $4,200 after buying the Alienware M16R1 last year. That laptop is still every bit as good and can run any game I want to run at the highest settings.

The tech cycle is a wallet burning exercise to keep up with what’s “new” and being on the cutting edge of it. If any tech-related person/pub gave a crap about you or I, they would tell you this reality: you don’t need any of this stuff. Very few to none will do that, but we will. We just have told you: there’s no earthly need to attend CES every year.

Attend CES once every 5-10+ years, or maybe never, and you’ll have the experience in your memory. It’s one of those things to be glad to experience through others, trust me.

What about CES and games, since that’s what we cover at Play Games More? Admittedly, there are a bunch of games at CES and some are definitely worth checking out and seeing what’s cool. There are more specialized shows like if you are into pinball and arcades, there are various other conventions that specialize on gaming versus the CES smorgasbord.

But, again, how many more retro consoles with emulation do we need? Not speaking for you, friendly gamer readers, but do you really need another portable emulation device you probably won’t play very much? You might want one, or think you want one, but do you need any more? I don’t.

2024, for me anyway, is all about catching up on the UNplayed games (related: 2024 Resolution: Play ALL My Unplayed PC Games + How To Create Dynamic Unplayed Steam Collection), not about buying more stuff that won’t be played any time soon. This doesn’t mean I’m not going to buy any more games or game-related hardware in 2024, so don’t get too crazy here lol,but am planning to be super picky about what will be purchased in 2024.

A trip to CES 2024 would likely make me want to have some FOMO on something likely to be barely played. No, thank you. At least in 2024. Maybe my wallet is more open in 2025 and beyond. Heck, maybe I’ll check out CES again in 2025, as it will have been at least 15 years since I was last there. Maybe, some of it will have changed.

Or maybe it’s still the same tech hamster wheel.

If we have one multicade control panel with games (Atgames, Pandora, etc) and for mobile, a Steam Deck and Switch, what other portable gaming can we realistically play? Then there’s the console gaming systems and everything you already have plus all those Steam, Epic Games, Prime Gaming and the cloud gaming streaming.

We have enough to play for multiple lifetimes already.

But that doesn’t mean something new might be cool to check out. New games will always be exciting to at least think about.

And, yes, Stern Pinball had a booth where you could play Jaws and it looked amazing, albeit confusing with Jaws with a pinball in its mouth when that never actually happens in the game.

Oh, and a creepy wax figure of a great actor, Robert Shaw, that has been dead since 1978, not even three years after the first movie, the best and really only good Jaws movie came out.

The reality is the CES show floor is a terrible place to play games. It’s not even a great place to look at tech. Tons and tons of people, lines, usually, the games setup if you can even play them, like, er Jaws, are not setup for optimal play (over slanted to speed up the game), they’re setup for herding people through like cattle, not the way anybody other than greedy operators on location would sanely setup a pinball machine to, you know, play and enjoy.

The truth is the truth when it comes to CES. It’s the same show every year. You go once, maybe twice, and it is the same we want you to buy this, buy that, or even better: this and that. And that. That.

Year after year, I noticed a disturbing pattern with technology. While I would be excited about things that seemed so cool at the time, in the end they became dust magnets, additional desk crap, technology that usually wasn’t adopted in any large scale or overpriced, way too expensive computers I would likely never buy (finally spent more on computers in 2023 than any other year ever, including when regularly attending CES).

Physical stuff that once acquired either becomes something you have to sell, give away or throw away someday. CES is tech hoarding paradise.

The reality is the technology we truly need is, well, 99% none of it. It’s making us spend money on things that are luxury and wish items. It’s one giant advertising vehicle that is something like the death march of cattle for the bolt in the head — and us figuratively, and literally our wallets and purses — are the cattle.

The same thing is happening online. Websites littered with ads everywhere and trying to infect us with viruses and malware so they can spy on us or steal information, identity, time and who knows what else and/or encourage at every step to buy something from somebody.

I walked away from that world of CES in 2010. Intentionally. Because it wasn’t a healthy world that I enjoyed being sold to all the time. And it was worse when I participated and promoted the whole farce.

No, I’m not here on this earth to be sold more tech stuff.

This doesn’t mean everything at CES is bad, heck no, nor that I’ll never attend one again. We were there in 2023, ironically, during CES, but we didn’t go for CES. Instead, we visited the Pinball Hall of Fame. We’ll be back to Vegas in 2024, hopefully, to earn a 2024 badge.

It’s good to get out and travel, but this article is to help make you feel better about not attending CES.

The moral to this story is the reason you didn’t see much coverage of CES here is because, dear readers, everybody else is flooding you with it. Everybody else is being pulled by that chain. Personally, I have little to no desire to cover what everybody else is writing about, making videos over, talking about and doing unless we can have some kind of fresh take.

The fresh take in 2024? Not going! Not covering! Not being part of the system. Not being another cog in the wheel. Or cow for the slaughter, if PETA isn’t reading.

(How many CES-related articles have you read like this?)

That said, if there are a few really cool game-related things to talk about, we’ll share and discuss them here. Am glad this publication exists, ad-free in 2024, where you can read how you want, when you want, where you want, and nobody, especially myself, is telling you or making you think want to buy more tech gadgetry. At least not during CES 😉

It’s my understanding from what little coverage read was the biggest deal of CES 2024 is AI. Now we’re going to get computers advertising to us and telling us to OBEY (They Live reference, Google it).

We’re already covering how AI is impacting gaming and didn’t need to spend $$ to travel to Vegas to see what’s new in the world of AI. We’ll see it in games we’re playing this year and beyond. We’re already talking about AI and how it impacts gaming.

There are multiple reasons why we aren’t called “play MORE games” and instead play GAMES more, although it’s easy to mix up the two, there’s a huge difference. It’s not about playing a zillion different games, it’s about finding games you like and can experience and enjoy completely. That’s the “more” part of what we do here. Score chase, complete those games you’ve wanted to play and, of course, play the games you already have waiting for you to play. Just imagine how you’ll feel when CES 2025 comes along if you’ve played through your backlog?

You might even be in the buying mood by then.

Raising the glass for happy gaming to all of you in 2024. May we all avoid as much advertising and spend that wasted “hey, buy me!” time achieving even higher personal best scores with family, friends and the ones you love and care about.

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