More corporate grins, fewer games: what I want from E3 2020

By Mike Drucker, Wednesday, 26 June 2019 13:33 GMT

It’s been an exciting year for video games is a phrase these articles are supposed to start with.

At this year’s E3 we saw some exciting titles, obviously because that’s what it’s here for, and some disappointing absences, which literally happens every year. The future of video games is looking brighter than ever, probably, who knows.

While the undying corpse of E3 slouches towards Bethlehem, I just have to say that the more I type E3 into this article, the more it’ll hit that SEO sweet spot and get people to click on this. That all said, let’s look forward to what I want from the next Electronic Entertainment Expo.

No E3 article is complete without a photo of the Hotel Figueroa take-over

1. More Lists

Is there anything better than a list? It’s the opium of game articles: it may not be good for you, but you can relax into a cushion and just let the lazy writing and reading flow right over you. Do you agree with the list? Do you disagree with the list? It doesn’t matter because nobody will ever read anything but the bolded type after a number. Sound off in the comments below until we lock them for death threats!

Ever since the beginning of time, Webster’s Dictionary has defined lists as the best way to talk about E3 content. They help us all reduce development teams’ thousands of hours of hard labor into a shrug and a comment on whether a character model looks good or not. Art should always be a competition between completely unrelated properties, so lists help us all know which game is a must-buy and which game is a probably-buy when we’re depressed.

Lists are often criticised as clickbait by people who post threads that are also clickbait, but they really bring home the E3 experience. In fact, we could use more lists! Let’s move beyond “Who Won E3” and “Who Lost E3” and “Who is a Multi-Billion-Dollar Company I Go to Bat for Even Though They Would Eagerly Burn Me Inside a Wicker Man to Boost Their Stock Prices.” What about new lists like, oh I dunno, “Top 10 E3 Games That Had a Bathroom Nearby So My Experience Was More Pleasant” or “Top 10 PR People Looking Over Your Shoulder As They Worry Their Entire Job Depends on a Review Score, Which is Often True.”

2. More Executives Wearing a Blazer with a T-Shirt Underneath

(Photo by Casey Rodgers/Invision for Microsoft/AP Images)

What I love about video game executives – uh, haha, besides everything! – is that they’re not like other business people! They don’t wear a tie! That’s your dad’s job, lol! No, man. They’re cool. They’re with it. When they lay off 10 percent of their workforce to please investors, they don’t do it like a chump – no, they’ve got a cool ass t-shirt on. With a blazer.

Executives wearing a blazer with a t-shirt underneath are the eye candy of E3. When they walk out on stage, you know you’re about to hear convincing language like “arriving this year” and “this AAA game is definitely coming out on a current gen console despite us just announcing a next gen console.” You know everything they say is true because they’re just like you and me – normal gamers who wear tailored business casual clothing.

And as long as we’re getting more executives wearing a blazer with a t-shirt underneath, we as an industry should push just a little harder for those t-shirts to be more overtly branded. Don’t get me wrong – I love that these companies force their internal graphic designers to create off-style-guide fake fan art to give the illusion of an IP being “loose and fun.” It’s great. But let’s really spread our wings in 2020. Maybe combine two brands together? Eh? Eh?

I’m saying, let’s go all the way: We should see these t-shirts for sale on company websites so we can all wear them to conventions to show that we’re true fans because we spent more money than those filthy casuals.

3. More Tweets About E3 Parties

One of the great joys about attending E3 is tweeting about the parties. If you haven’t been to an E3 party, you are missing out. Think open bar, sweet free tote bags, and the best musical talent that 1997 had to offer but is very affordable now. You like crowds of 90 percent identical-looking people trying to meet other identical-looking people for a desperate shift from games media to games PR to games development? Stop drilling because you hit business card oil.

But these parties would be nothing without E3 party tweets. Shoot them straight into my veins. There’s a style behind them – first you tweet something along the lines of, “Anyone going to any E3 parties tonight? Where my friends at?” The “where my friends at” part is to show you’re being casual. Throw in a wink emoji and maybe add you “don’t even want to go to a party!” but – okay, twist your arm you’ll go! Then tweet out-of-focus photos of other people you vaguely know so you can snag eight or nine of each others’ Instagram followers.

And do not forget that fans just can’t get enough photos of free things that people received at these parties. No need to tell anyone that those free things will likely just clutter people’s desks until the company downsizes and forces everyone to have even smaller desks. It’s far better to make people feel like they missed out of the experience of carrying a 2-meter-wide poster for three hours while feeling trapped in a neon, alcohol-filled cattle car.

We need more party tweets because E3 should never be about calmly presenting and writing about games, but about making people who didn’t have the opportunity to get into games feel both jealous and as if they’re living a life by proxy to those that did. But if we can’t get more party tweets, let’s at least shoot for the moon and get some more livestreams from a bathroom with minors in it.

4. More Fawning Interviews

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a AAA developer in possession of a hyped game must be in want of a fawning interview. These are wealthy artists promising to change your existence by charging you £49.99 for a title developed under sweatshop-like working conditions – of course they shouldn’t be questioned about that! Also, I want to confess that I had to Google, copy, and paste the pounds sign or whatever you call it because my country won in 1776.

Fawning interviews are the bread and butter of E3. The way they work is you sit across from an executive wearing a blazer and a t-shirt underneath and you kick it all off by asking how great they are. Don’t make it a “Yes” or “No” question – leave it open-ended so they can talk about their genius or merely blush, clearly bashful. If anything, try to ask about the game as little as possible. It’s not like E3 is about looking forward – it’s always safer to compliment games that already came out so you know where you’re standing with fans that will tear you the fuck apart.

Some people might say that E3 needs tougher interviews that holds the feet of developers to the fire regarding issues such as labor conditions, loot boxes, and toxic communities. But seeing outlets try this approach is extremely disappointing. Asking tough questions may make you look “woke” or “professional” or “like an adult” but what it won’t do is give you a chance to take a selfie with a famous developer who will forget you ever existed once you walk out of the room.

Game developers are gods who grace us with their presence and they should always be treated as such. No notes.

But I think we can all agree that there’s one thing E3 needs that would genuinely improve it for the better, and that’s:

5. Fewer Games

Games are the worst part of E3.

Mike Drucker is a television writer and comedian living in New York City. If you happen to be in New York on July 19th, maybe come out to his show “Shit Arcade” at Union Hall. Comedians and games writers play some of the worst games ever made and then give them away.

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