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Daily Reaction: E3 Q&A – Press Pampering, Showdowns and the Expo’s Fading Relevance

June 4, 2013 Written by Sebastian Moss

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With E3 less than a week away, the Daily Reaction dynamic duo of Seb and Dan discuss all things E3 in an all-out E3 special Q&A made up of community questions that were sent in too late for yesterday’s Bad Gamers.

Q: Is E3 good or bad for the industry? [Robin H.]

Seb: As a journalist, I love E3, it’s our biggest time ever and gives us a chance to crash our servers. But it also makes the weeks and months before and after E3 rather dry as everyone saves up their announcements for the big show – luckily, this year has been better due to the pre-E3 next gen press conferences, and will be better in Q4 with the big console face off this Christmas.

Because everyone is focused on E3, something that costs a huge amount of money to have a booth at, let alone a presentation, it’s hard for smaller studios to get any attention. It’s a battle of the giants, and the little guys are ignored.

Not only that, but generally games steer clear of releasing around E3 because all hype and attention is directed at the show. Studio Ivent Games, who are about to release the PSN exclusive Strength of the Sword 3, told us: “Quite frankly, we messed up the release date BIG TIME-with E3 starting THE SAME DAY we release.” It’s obviously hard to get noticed among all the big reveals, so it can end up making the summer period a tad dull. Again, however, this year is the exception, with the stellar The Last of Us coming out on the Friday of E3 week, after it was delayed.

I’m for E3, and absolutely can’t wait until it comes around, like a kid before Christmas, but I do think more focus should be given to smaller developers, where possible.

Dan: E3 is my favorite time of the year, there is so much chaos and are so many announcements that it is hard to not love it. But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a number of issues that come along with it sadly, as we do run the risk of having to wait all year for a show that could potentially bomb – leaving that year feeling more like a tailspin than a step forward.

Centralizing the focus of the world on the gaming industry (even if only partially) does allow the mainstream to realize just how big the industry has grown since its meager roots. News sites like CNN, Fox and the BBC can now justify increased coverage of gaming news, and expand the reach of any industry developments outside of the hardcore market it would normally only find. This is beneficial, but also comes at a risk of having them misinterpret the news and convey it to millions, much like CNN, who originally thought the Wii U was a controller for the Wii (article was stealth edited, read comments for background). Then there’s the problem that the mainstream only focuses on the big titles, so there is a glorification of all first-person shooters out there, leading the rest of the world to only take notice of the more violent titles, and not the growing trend in non-violent experimental or indie creations.

Q: What is it like to be a member of the press at an event like E3? [George Young]

Dan: While very few events play out the same way, as some can have almost everyone at your disposal for quotes, questions or interviews, while others are packed with people and barely leave you much more than a chance to play the game, let alone talk to developers, E3 is pretty much a mixed bag of these moments. Press can sometimes get the red carpet treatment from some publishers, and other times stuck in line behind the unshowered masses hoping to play the game until the lights come on.

Trying to cover a game properly for the sake of fans and developers is a complicated issue when you have to do it back to back with other assignments, especially if you have to get around the fans in the first place. Many people might not see the reason for press to get any special treatment, and some would prefer that we didn’t, but if we couldn’t fast track and get some face time with developers, our ability to cover so much material would be cut down significantly, and the smaller titles would suffer.

Beyond all of the benefits of being a games journalist, like playing games early, free games and talking to developers, there is a special mentality that is needed to be truly successful. Trying to get past your inner-child screaming from all of the excitement, you need to remember that you are not there for yourself, you are there for the people who can’t make it. Much like anyone who works in a professional environment, the ability to keep your eyes on your task and not get distracted by your own interests can make all the difference.

Seb: Oh god, being the press at an event can totally ruin playing a game as you have to constantly be working and thinking about what to write about the title, rather than just sitting back and enjoying it. Plus the whole poorly ventilated place stinks of nerd sweat and is as humid as a sauna powered by 1st gen 360s.

Like you said, the press often get special treatment, but that generally comes down to how big the site is. It’s a huge penis measuring contest where the biggest sites get all the interviews and fast tracking, and the smaller blogs are ignored, which is awesome/terrible depending on which you are. It makes sense that PR companies operate like this, because their job is to ensure maximum coverage for their products, and getting on a big site is a great way to do that, but it is certainly galling when you’re just trying to be a good journalist and queue nice and early.

Going to these events is certainly exhilarating, and a great way to meet developers, but it can also be pretty confusing. As you’ll have your head down playing a game the whole time, you can end up missing out on a bunch of announcements, so if you’re planning to cover an event for your site, bring as many people as possible. There’s no such thing as overkill.

Q: How would you change E3? [Jeremiah Keeler]

Seb: First off, better servers for the livestreams, because we all know they’re going to crash. Next up, more Kaz, because we can’t go wrong with Kaz everywhere. Then, like I said before, more indie areas and a greater focus on those small titles that actually help the industry innovate.

I’d also like to make it a rule that when Sony or Microsoft show off multiplatform games during their conferences they have to admit the games are on competing platforms and openly say it, so that way they won’t stuff so much of their shows with multiplatform filler, and idiots won’t think that Call of Duty is an Xbox exclusive.

Also, if we’re going to have booth babes, a decidedly misogynistic affair, then we should have lots of hot booth dudes too.

Dan: Well I probably wouldn’t add booth dudes to E3, as I don’t agree with the issues of having booth babes. I do think that the event itself has started to lose its relevance with so many other shows popping up, allowing publishers to announce more products throughout the year instead of being forced to wait for June. With PAX having three conferences of their own, gamescom, TGS, Eurogamer, GDC, VGAs, singular publisher shows and platform holder events, it really does seem that E3 has more competition than ever. Fixing this would require a bit more work, but maybe stretching out the date or even having more E3s around the world could keep the of the show relevant.

Another idea would be to have presenters do live Q&A sessions to allow the media or public to get better clarification on announcements, much like Steve Jobs used to do while he was at Apple.

Lastly, I think the best way to actually improve the show would be to have all scripts for the presentations edited by Seb and myself to let them know that we don’t want to sit through more guys with mohawks air drumming, Dance Central, Wonderbook and drunk/high celebrities who really couldn’t care less.

Are you excited for E3? What are you hoping to see? Let us know in the comments below, send us more questions to DailyReaction@PlayStationLifeStyle.net, and follow our official E3 accounts at Seb and Dan.