I’ll never forget my first E3. It started with Nick Chester, Aaron Linde, Chad Concelmo, Tiff Chow, Dale North, and I’m sure some other folks I’m blanking on (sorry folks) all piled into a hotel room, planning for the start of the show the next day. Nick and Dale were industry vets at that point, and though the real work hadn’t really begun yet, they were already exhausted. I remember them telling me something along the lines of “The first year is great Holmes, but after that, E3 makes you want to die. You’re going to hate it soon, just you wait.” I thought they were nuts.
Now I’m pretty sure everyone I was in that hotel room with that night has gone on to be hugely successful in different parts of the industry. I also know they love video games very much, to the point where they are talking about them more today than ever. So why would any of them hate E3, the supposedly supreme celebration of the best that games have to offer? I don’t want to put words in their mouths, but if I had to guess, it’s because E3 represents all of the most shallow, manipulative, ugly and stupid parts of the industry. It’s just a massive commercial dressed up as an “important event” where game bloggers, journalists, and general enthusiasts are made to feel like certain games have more value than they actually do.
Rounding up a group of people and yelling at them that they are special because they get to see a commercial, and therefore, their special-ness is intimately tied to that commercial, is a great way to brainwash them into thinking that they need to love whatever that commercial is for. When it comes to E3, the commercial is for video games and it only serves to instill bias, a race to the bottom in terms of ethics in marketing, and a totally unhealthy glorification of “hype.” The same thing happens at PAX every year, but to a much lesser extent. PAX, at least, is much more focused on humble panels rather than massive live multi-media marketing blitzes, and it gives indies equal footing with the big money publishers, allowing games that don’t have huge budgets behind them to organically find their audience.
There is nothing about E3 that couldn’t be done better via live streams and/or more fan-directed events like PAX. I hope it dies and never comes back, but maybe CJ disagrees with me. Lets find out!