While I still retain a little of that childlike excitement for E3, it is increasingly becoming a showcase of the very worst things about the video game industry. Yes, we get to see a selection of new games and the people who are in attendance get to try these games out in the sweaty confines of the Los Angeles Convention Center, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with people of increasingly poor hygiene as they patiently await a turn on Game With Good Graphics But Little Substance 2, but in recent years it’s been little more than industry buzzwords and hyperbole spouted from the mouths of men wearing ill-fitting jeans in order to convince us they’re just as cool, hip and casual as the rest of us.
E3 is first and foremost a press event, and as the relationship between the press and the gaming industry continues to shift, so too does the expectations for each console manufacturer and publisher’s E3 showcases. The press conferences are tarted up to the point where they no longer serve only to highlight the new games coming out for each platform over the course of the next few years, but they’re designed to grab as much attention as possible, seeing every participant jostle for the spotlight and, in turn, the most coverage.
Nintendo has ducked out of the race in recent years, choosing to instead host digital events rather than taking to the stage and insincerely informing attendees about how they’re going to change the industry forever. While the company has been criticized for doing so, Nintendo can’t really be blamed for doing so, as while it may be what’s best for business, the whole affair is actually pretty dumb.
With that being said, here’s a look at some of the dumb things we expect to happen at E3 2015:
Businessmen trying to connect with the audience on a human level.
Tell us about your games, show a trailer/gameplay footage and then get off the stage. It’s that simple. It’s not that your audience is humorless, but it’s that rare that any jokes forced from out of the mouths of publishers/developers do anything other than fall flat. These people aren’t comedians. Games industry folk with charisma are few and far between, and not everyone needs to be Tim Schafer.
Unfortunately, E3 2015 is bound to contain several awkward moments in which a developer tries to insert a witty pun into their speech, only to be met with universal groans and a cough from someone sitting in the back row. We don’t need jokes in our press conferences. Stop it.
Think of how much money celebrities have been paid to show up at E3 and awkwardly pretend to know what on Earth they’re doing over the years. It’s a saddening thought, isn’t it? Presumably millions of dollars, funneled into the pockets of already grotesquely wealthy people in order for them to stand on stage and claim that they absolutely love this video game, and yes they have definitely played it, and no they haven’t been told exactly what to say 30 seconds prior to making their way onto the stage.
You can’t really blame them for cashing in the easy paycheck, even if it was disheartening to watch Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr to venture on stage to advertise The Beatles: Rock Band while clearly having a very thin grasp of what a video game actually is (McCartney said “I love this game” during the appearance, immediately followed by “I can’t play it”), but you have to question why any publisher thinks star appeal will work with those attending E3/watching it from home. The most unintentionally hilarious example of this was Usher’s performance at E3 2012 in order to promote Dance Central 3, with the R ‘n’ B singer telling a crowd of mostly weedy white game journalists wearing plaid shirts to “GET UP ON YOUR FEET.” No one got up on their feet.
Aisha Tyler gets a lot of stick for her presenting during Ubisoft’s past few E3 press conferences, but I am mostly pro-Aisha. Yes, she bands the word “fuck” around as much as a 14-year-old who’s just discovered the value of cursing, but being a comedian, she knows how to entertain a crowd. On the other hand, the presenters frequently paraded out by the other big companies mostly have no idea what they’re doing, with very few exceptions. Take Aisha’s one-time co-host Toby “Tobuscus” Turner, for example, a YouTube personality whose success on the format didn’t really translate well to a live studio audience. Apparently talking loudly over your co-host despite having nothing of worth to say isn’t entertaining. Who knew?
However, no one in the history of E3 presenters has provided the same amount of awkward moments as the infamous “Mr. Caffeine.”
Mr. Caffeine, named as such because of his boundless, almost terrifying level of energy, burst onto the stage at E3 2011 and immediately forced his way into our hearts with his weird pronunciation of Tom Clancy, his insistence upon making a “dooblee-dooblee-dooblee-doo” noise whenever turning to the screen behind him and his insistence that we hold his “joywand.” Cocaine: not even once.
Failed onstage demos.
The problem with live demos of games is that, no matter how much preparation you put into them, something could always go wrong. We’ve seen that happen many times over the years at E3, from the PS4 crashing during the demo of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag at E3 2013, to the excruciating demo of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword by none other than Shigeru Miyamoto at E3 2010, which saw the visionary game designer struggling to control Wiimote due to the high number of wireless devices in the conference room. Most of the time these issues don’t actually represent flaws with the game, but rather backstage tech issues or problems with the environment that the game is being played in, but regardless it’s still absolutely the worst thing you want to happen when you’re showcasing one of your biggest upcoming releases.
There’s no way this E3 is going to slip by without at least one company facing the humiliation of having one of their game demos come to crashing halt onstage.