To many people in the games industry the yearly E3 convention is an opportunity to wax lyrical about the successes and evolution of a continually progressive medium. To others it represents something more of an entertainment spectacle with a variety of eloquent and not-so-eloquent speakers hyping up their title amidst a sea of new and traditional games media. And then there are the minority who wince every time someone mentions the phrase E3, as a colloquialism for a week of wholly excruciating technical issues and personality disorders.
Regardless of where you stand on the event, it’s undeniable people stop playing games and pay attention to the trailers on offer. It’s an extravaganza; the Superbowl, the Stanley Cup, the Olympics of games discussion. It brings the industry to a stand-still as the creme de la creme of the biz descends on the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Yet E3 is for the gamers, those who instead of furiously writing or vlogging about the intricacies of the technology on show just enjoy soaking themselves merrily in the waters of high-quality gaming. Who can blame them after all when graphically we’ve reached a point where Cuphead meets Far Cry 5 meets David Cage showing off his newest interactive ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ movie?
Which is why the minority decrying the abysmally put-together segments – mostly involving a number of slightly nervous online stars – are absolutely wrong. It’s part of the package for the fans. We have more astutely journalistic conventions which focus on the nuances of games as a technology like Games Developers Convention (GDC) – E3 exists as a Cirque du Soleil of meme-worthy speakers introducing cinematic drool-fests for fans to proverbially lick their lips over.
This menagerie of socially awkward developers, overly-eager YouTubers and everyone in-between serves the very spectacle that is E3. At its very heart are the games and trailers which are the very reason we continue to flock to the convention center. But there will always be room for Mr. ‘Caffeine’ and Mr. ‘Cocaine’ because they inherently represent the oozing passion and over-eagerness of the people watching.
The games industry started as a young, fledgling, VERY nerdy infrastructure that shared a close relationship with its fans. That hasn’t changed necessarily – and it’s important in this day and age to remind ourselves of this. The children who reveled in the blissfulness and serenity of coming home after school to chow down on PaRappa or Sonic are the grown-ups now. Yet, everybody needs reminding of their roots once in a while and E3 seems like the perfect place to do so.
We can sometimes get caught up in technical jargon and overly analytical quandaries on the ‘essence’ of gaming but sometimes we need to take a step back. The dictionary definition of a game will involve a synonym for enjoyment and so we need to create a space for enjoyment and analysis to co-exist. Given the climate for over-analysis it’s refreshing to see dodgy presentations, technical glitches and Miyamoto, Reggie and Iwata puppetry.
A healthy balance of fun and seriousness is what will drive the games industry further and further, inspire developers to continue to diversify their games and allow the fans the opportunity to engage on a level of their choosing. E3 accommodates all of this and more – long may it continue.