The gamer in me has always had untouchable expectations when it comes to E3. It comes from reading about historical surprises like the Saturn launch that fueled a desire in me to want to be a part of the biggest stores in technology. This desire actually pushed a lot of my initial interest in the internet and its ability bring me the news and media I wanted exponentially faster than my magazine subscriptions. At the time I was waiting impatiently by the mailbox just for the chance to see one more screenshot of the N64 launch games that my brain still couldn’t picture in motion. That of course all changed once I was first able to download a few seconds of 160×120 video footage that absolutely blew my mind. How could this get any better?
Answer: Live streaming E3 press conferences.
All of my first major video experiences online can bet tied back to E3. Multiple trailers in one day, large video downloads, live video, and even dabbling in video subscription services were all experienced for the first time for me due to my need to see video game news as soon as it was available. E3 delivered enough content in a week to keep my eyes busy for an entire month.
As soon as the video technology itself became old news, console developers began pushing technology innovations at the show itself. This is epitomized by Nintendo in its surprising ability to raise confusion and doubt about all of its technology prior to its E3 demonstrations. I have been outspoken against the last three major Nintendo console releases. Two screens? Motion controls? Glasses free 3D? Completely ridiculous on paper. Witnessing it in action thanks to E3? Sold me on all three pretty much immediately, and the rest is history with the DS and Wii.
My stand out E3 memory: Along the lines of my talk of seeing technology debuted live, I was very skeptical and somewhat confused by the promise of Rock Band when I first read about the concept. How would it all work? Would it be fun? The press conferences didn’t answer my questions that year in 2007, but the gaming press had started to really blow out their coverage of the event. Livestreams all day just sounded tiring though, and admittedly I was worn out and about to tune out when Gamespot started their last live stage demo. Harmonix showed up to demonstrate Rock Band. Not only was the demo itself incredibly entertaining, but it only took one song for me to “get it.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjrhM1Nh7PI I was pretty much a Rock Band shill for the next 4 years. It also revealed the passion of the developers/designers behind the game and opened me up to seeking out interviews with other developers that I wasn’t familiar with.
What happens when the innovation revolution slows down? Well, that’s where we are right now with E3. While it still has plenty of new toys to show off, it’s more like watching a technology train wreck than a showcase. Admittedly, I find myself awaiting the next awkward E3 demo moment as my source of entertainment between the games I care about.
That’s the real point though, as much as we complain about the hits or misses, we tune into E3 for the big moments. I don’t care how many years it takes and even when I know better, I keep coming back to E3 thinking “this is the year that we see the thing that changes the industry again.” I block off my schedule and take in the pressers live because I don’t want to miss that big announcement of something that I’ve never seen before. Whether it is the next Virtual Boy or the next PlayStation, I want to see it and I want to see how they reveal it. Following along may not be the most interactive game in the world and it won’t be around forever, but I still enjoy playing along while we have it.
The prediction that I know better than to expect this year: Nintendo or Microsoft announce a brand new franchise that assuredly will be their next big thing. Original ideas are out of style for 2012, everyone is just laying in wait to see for the next consoles. The third parties seem to have all the creative energy lately, but they want to kick off new franchises on new platforms. That’s true for everyone but Sony and Naughty Dog because The Last of Us has me pretty excited.
Giant Bomb (images)