There’s something so animalistic about E3. Many of the presentations are performed like birds in some far-flung corner of the globe, rustling their plumage to attract a mate. Cavorting with its prospective mates with not so subtle inflections. If you could mute what was being said and replace it with a David Attenborough narration the whole spectacle would be infinitely more interesting. The only difference between these birds of paradise and the human parallel is that all this cordial gyrating is replaced by fallacious expressions, imbued with extensive automated vernaculars that make less sense than this sentence, gestural posturing with excessive hand movements, interlocked fingers and flourishes like a magician going “taa daa!”. Not to mention an exuberant audience applauding every single mundane feature purely out of courtesy, as if they need to take long cold showers afterwards. Because who doesn’t want to touch themselves in all their sensitive areas after watching an assortment of CG trailers? It’s a huge, commercialised endorsement for products, accessories, software and hardware, integrated into theatrical posturing as choreographed as any ballet. Perhaps I’m just getting old and this kind of emphatic performance, one in which rationalising inhibits your ability to enjoy it is just too much pantomime for my taste. Personally my biggest gripe has been the way the industry comprises all of its heavy artillery into one giant bazooka and just fires sporadically with a cacophony of noise and explosive nonsense, without ever really clarifying what they are demonstrating.
It’s certainly targeted at a very suggestible audience, generating hype rather than fact and is much more culturally viable for an American audience. It can be very shouty, very flamboyant and grandiose. Not that that’s a bad thing as such but it does leave much of what is shown open for interpretation. The games themselves aren’t finished so don’t accurately represent the performance stated by the makers. And that’s even if there is any game-play to demonstrate. I’ve never had a natural immunity to the oftentimes overwhelming influence of hype and E3 has a tendency to exacerbate this volatile emotion. It’s something I’ve had to condition myself against having been erroneously beguiled by inflated expectation, constructed by my own encouraged ambition and farcical presentation that belies the subverted mediocrity of the product. Exhibitions such as E3 revels in the duplicitous falsities of hype, the ruse that every game exhibited is the best. Its captivating advertisement, but one so fiendishly manipulative you simultaneously curse them for deceiving you and reprimand yourself for falling for it. Developers are granted a platform to showcase new concepts they’ve been working on, presiding across the stage like Steve Jobs announcing the iPhone, wielding propaganda with terrifying precision. And man do some of these presentations go on?!
Brevity is concept rarely utilised at these events, exemplified by the incessant discharge of information that goes on longer than a Sloths foreplay. You could cut 3/4 off the Sony press conference and still have your butt bored into atrophy. Then you have the inevitable inert contest between companies, adjudicated by the opinions of observers that must assign a definitive victor to the event. Comparing their prospective ideologies and moderate a “winner” based on technique, presentation and most importantly the approval of bias. Why? The only real winners should be us. “Oh Nintendo definitely won E3”. Yeah! Congratulations. What do they win? The respect and admiration of the gaming community and their peers? “Anything from the bottom shelf sir”.Oh, well I’ll have the goldfish then my fine fictitious carnival proprietor! Proclaiming a victor seems redundant, garnering all the prestige of a fat kid finishing a race at sports day. And yet in spite of its jumped up, “look how awesome I am!” exultation, it’s still a largely captivating event.
I love talking about games, I could discuss any number of gaming related utilities all day. I particularly enjoy other people expressing their own excitement for games. Just a brief stroll (scroll?) through Twitter reinforces my adoration for the subject and community that embraces it. Whether it’s people excited about the new Xbox, the new Spider-man game or the wealth of opportunity available for the Nintendo Switch. Just observing gamer’s optimism for whatever it may be feels my spirit with delight. Really it’s an enjoyable farce with all the depth of a puddle, yet it always has the potential to be energetic, kinetic and even fun. E3 is a commercialised institute for the exposure of lavishly augmented trailers. A demonstration of potential rather than actual quality. You don’t get an authentic indication of what the game you will eventually play within the next year will be like, not really. So the cynic in you is always fearing the worst as opposed to hoping for the best. Because that’s what the show is all about, exhibiting content that inspires. Sure it doesn’t always succeed, intentions can be dubious and innovations sceptical, but it’s always earnest if not honest. It’s the not knowing whether a game will be good or not that is kind of the attraction and that affixing a level of expectation, derived from what we’ve seen that ultimately defines the success or failure of game.
As much I loath E3’s procedural, gaudy sensibilities and conceited self service, without it gamer’s would have nothing to get excited about. We need the assurances of spectacles such as E3 to nurture and sustain a sense of hope, even if ultimately it fails. Because when expectations are met or even bettered you can look back on it’s discovery with joy and it’s presenter with affection.
What games/hardware were you most excited about at this years E3? Let me know in the comments below. Cheers.