What was your reaction to the recent E3? Did you see many games that excited you? Wasn’t long ago so it’s hopefully still fresh in your mind. I have been happy to see more footage of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. I’m very curious now of Death Stranding, despite Kojima’s trailer being little more than a music video. I’m very pleased with what I saw of Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild. We Happy Few also caught my attention and I’ll want to see if the game doesn’t end up being more than a series of scripted events. My excitement wasn’t intense though.
As they say, I wasn’t hyped. I noticed a lot of people weren’t hyped either. That was different. I usually have to caution people not to get too hyped during E3 but this year it felt like being snarky was more popular than previous years, despite E3 not being particularly silly or embarrassing.
I made this tweet.
If snark is the common response now to E3, I have to ask myself, why? Why now?
People are aware of how shallow E3 has become. They know the media is lying to them.
The section of the games media that was close to the Indie Game Industry got it’s humble pie served when many of their demagogue mouth pieces burnt out or walked away, and while the AAA PR folk were probably glad this particular group who had embedded in the media were quieted, they are just as much at fault for the cynicism the gaming public feels.
As the hip gaming press was eager to try and rebrand gamers as some sort of intellectual group and shun anyone who disagreed, the media that works closer in conjunction with big publishers and devs would sooner say that we’re all dorito eating, adrenaline junkies who can’t keep ourselves from throwing money and shiny new tech… or we are also hipsters. It’s really a matter of how high or low brow the game they’re promoting at the moment is.
It seems there are four kinds of games journalists. There are the previous two mentioned. There are hobbyist reporters like myself who do this out of their own passion, and as a result have a host of different motives but are generally well intentioned. Then there is the last group which feel like a minority, at least because they are hard to spot in the endless clickbait driven noise.
They are journalists who strive to be ethical and care about trying to inform their audience. Their proximity to the industry means they may have forgotten how things look from the outside but these people probably feel as trapped as the consumer.
If we simplify all this even more, we get two classifications in the games media; those who are anti-consumer and those who are not.
Any entertainment based journalism will over time reveal a series of scandals and corrupt individuals. Go look at the movie and music industry then consider how old those mediums are compared to games. Multiply that by how lucrative games are and I’m sure you can imagine how bad things can get beyond what little has broken the surface of social media.
So what we’re left with is a tense situation where we’re all stuck with people whose greatest concerns is looking out for themselves rather than creating a healthy industry and market.
It’s a feeling of helplessness. It’s probably even a feeling of frustration when we engage in snark at the games media. Then of course the media likes to emulate it’s audience to appear as if it’s current and in the know so it also acts like an unbearable smart ass while sprinkling in buzzwords like epic or anything else that’s lost all meaning.
That’s the source of the snark seems like a begrudging acceptance. It’s as if to say “Hey I know this is bad, but it’s all we’ve got.” The over bloated E3 productions pretend to be on the same page as the consumer, and maybe unintentionally, come off as mocking. Go check out people’s reactions to the release of Mighty No. 9 if you want to see this frustration fueled snark in full effect.
Nintendo and Sony’s conferences were nice to watch. Both companies mostly showed the audience and the industry what they had made. Sony had more trailers whereas Nintendo showed off a few games but neither one was bogged down with talking heads.
Which really, shouldn’t it be this way? E3 is supposed to be an industry event and I doubt people in the industry want to spend endless hours trying to absorb every detail. These productions can be expensive as well.
People might mock Nintendo for putting less and less stock into E3 but I feel they’ve got the right idea. They already get slammed by the media so they just offer Nintendo Directs. They don’t play the perpetual race that Sony and Microsoft engage in. They just show a game and then call it a day.
I did not attend the last E3 (and I doubt I’ll ever be invited back) but I’ve heard that the overall trend is that things are in decline. A lot of big publishers didn’t have booths this year. Anyone who had big presentations opted to have them elsewhere than the convention center. I even heard there was noticeable empty space in the South Hall.
It feels like things are changing, but slowly and painfully. The awareness in the gaming audience will carry it a long way and ignoring games coverage that offers no real worth is a way to do that. Rather than be part of feedback loop of sarcastic tweets I’ll just choose indifference.
Lukewarm indifference or cautious hope might be a good outlook to have these days. It seems like now more than ever is the time to be stern but sincere with people in the media. Don’t want to risk undoing what little progress has been made.
Until next time