“I’m pleased to announce…” These are the magic words of E3. They stoke excitement and they inspire the imagination. They are the prelude to much of what the audience is there to see. The show’s relevance has been getting called into question with increasing frequency over the years, and it’s understandable. Thanks to the internet the need for large shows as platforms for announcements has been greatly reduced. However, E3’s value hasn’t been derived from its functional purpose for a long time now. Instead, it’s become important as an institution of video game culture. It is and has always been the one event capable of getting the entire gaming world talking about the same thing even if only for a short time.
Excitement abounds whenever E3 season rolls around. Media sites light up with hints of what might be at the show. Forums are all but permeated with all manner of speculation. Conversations are dominated by everything from what one’s excited to see, to what mistakes they hope will be avoided. Though it may not really be necessary for the purpose of making these highly anticipated announcements, it’s hard to deny that E3’s existence is huge part of what turns our collective interest towards them every year. Without an event to focus attention, it’s not hard to imagine most of these announcements being met with only mild interest as gamers scan the headlines on their Facebook feeds and favored games media sites. Beyond that, one wonders if the reveals being made would receive the same sort of positive reception typically seen for announcements made at the show.
E3 has the unique ability to inspire optimism in all but the most jaded of gamers. What’s obviously bad will always be seen that way, just look at the disaster that was the initial reveal of the Xbox One. However, everything else shown off at E3 will always be met with cautious optimism at the very least. It’s a show that has always been about possibilities after all, and most gamers would like to continue to believe that. When we watch E3, we want to think that everything is awesome. We want get hyped for the trailers, and we want to let our imaginations run wild. Broken promises and misleading trailers have dulled the show’s trustworthiness over the past few years, but it is still entertaining nonetheless; That’s all we really want from it.
Much of what we see come out of E3 may indeed all just be for show, but that’s okay. It’s the idea of the show that we like more than the reality of it. It’s fun to see trailers and imagine that they represent the actual experience, even though we know that they probably don’t. It’s fun to see the developers get on stage and enthusiastically describe their games to the audience. It’s fun to think, even if only for a moment, that even the publishers are genuinely excited about the projects they’re handling. Some of it may be genuine while much more of it may be fake, but the positive energy is 100% real and that’s what makes the difference.
E3 has become more than just a platform for the industry to deliver its most important pieces of news. It’s become just as much about the excitement video game culture as it is about the actual news being delivered. It’s an event that draws all eyes to it and creates the illusion, however brief, that everyone involved in games is excited about what’s coming down the pipe, not just those of us in the audience. It’s a show in just about every sense of the word, but that’s okay. E3 is still fun, still highly entertaining, and still manages to remind us that it’s still exciting to be a gamer. It may not be strictly needed anymore, but it’s hard to imagine video gaming without it.
What do you think of E3 as an institution? Do you see it as something important that’s worth continuing or would you see it replaced with something else?
Image by Flickr User: Major Nelson (cc)