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Why E3 Is Bad For Previews: Shove-y Swag Guy

Posted on Thursday, May 23 @ 20:00:04 Eastern by
In this (brief) series of articles leading up to gaming's Electronic Entertainment Expo, we'll look at why E3 is terrible for previewing games, even if its the first opportunity to go hands-on with the most anticipated titles for the rest of 2013.

Video games have uniquely transportive powers. They can take us to unseen worlds filled with dragons and magic, or they can introduce us to an incredible swath of memorable characters and cast us in the lead role. Sure, there's lots of shooting as well, but no matter the genre, big triple-A blockbusters suck hours from your life with ever increasing fidelity, high-definition surround sound, and engaging controls. None of which comes through in the middle of an unrelenting sea of people, all hoping to rend the controller from your hands in the hopes they'll have hands-on time for themselves.

I've never felt more self-conscious playing a game than when I've been hurriedly ushered to the front of a three-hour line so all the fans that fought tooth and nail to get into E3 can keep waiting. While we're fortunate enough to get hands-on time and access by appointment, media often get to play games on the show floor, which is everything nothing you've imagined and more.

The show floor has lots of games, but it also has pushing and shoving, stereo systems that drown out your demo's sound, flashing lights and massive screens, and an ever present threat that you'll get bumped from your station for any reason, maybe even just dude-with-a-camera. Then there are the booth babes that make anyone with a professional bone in their body cringe with self-loathing. Just consider for a second your ideal game-playing environment.


When I play a new game I like to take my time, experiment with controls, turn up the sound, and settle in for a few hours. Some E3 demos last as long as five minutes, force you down a set path, or offer up the least possible amount of interactivity required to qualify for a prestigious E3 Judges Tour award. We do our best to put the experience of a Skyrim or Call of Duty into words, but it's never 100% consistent with the way consumers will find the title on launch day.

Instead our impressions and hands-on previews are colored by the environment around us at E3: loud, sweaty, and at times poorly managed. I'm not saying there's no point to previewing games at tradeshows like E3, but I am saying the situation is so far from ideal (for both media and publishers) that even the International Space Station would have a better connection to what's real about a game months from release.

Why does it seem like E3 is always fading from relevancy, even after springing back from the Santa Monica years? Why does it seem like E3 is bad for games and the market? It's because people in the business hate it and see no point in staffing a booth full of people just so a Gamestop manager can check out God of War III before release. E3 is great for consolesmeetings, maybe interviews, and it played an integral part in bringing the industry to millions and millions of consumers, but you couldn't find a worse environment for previewing video games.


OK, sure maybe outside of the ISS would be bad for previewing games. Jeez.
Related Games:   The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Tags:   E3


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