Is E3 Still Relevant? [VIDEO]
I love E3. I love collective excitement. The Electronic Entertainment Expo’s primary purpose is hype. Hype is good. And as long as hype is good, E3 will exist in some form or another.
But, I understand not everyone agrees with me.
What are your thoughts?
Hey future Caleb, is E3 still a thing in the future? The electronic entertainment expo, once considered the ultimate gaming showcase, now thought of by many as the kinda cool gaming showcase, and in the future I assume as the thing Future Caleb says was “way better than these modern day spinal information drip feeds where gaming news goes straight from the developer’s head to your head with no need for the game to actually exist.” Hey Future Caleb, I get it. I’m at the age now where fear of the unknown is starting to set in. I don’t think I’m going to suddenly turn racist or start shouting bible verses when two men kiss, but should game development ever get to the point where the ceremony of production, marketing, and hype is removed and developers are direct injecting concepts into consumers’ heads, I’ll be sad. And I’ll blame it on all those damn minorities. Kidding. Future Caleb, if you are racist. Please stop it.
I think we’ve got more than a few years until all that happens though. See, it’s one thing–it’s a good thing–to remove friction, to streamline distribution of news and information. Most arguments against E3’s existence are variations of support for this. Those arguers see E3 as an archaic distribution vehicle, friction incarnate. “Why have E3 when publishers have their own events and distribution mechanisms?”
But, it’s an entirely different thing–a bad thing–to hold distribution vehicles hostage to themselves, especially as they adapt. See, E3’s purpose may once have been information distribution. But it’s not anymore. E3s purpose–and it’s a purpose I argue is still very much needed–is to create hype for the industry. E3 hypes the industry, not specific developers (as least they try, there’s only so much floorspace and there are many, many developers). E3 raises the tide, and a rising tide raises all boats. E3, as an event, creates collective excitement unlike periodical style distribution like magazines, blogs, and youtube channels.
And collective excitement–that ceremony that’s created by production, marketing, and hype–is good for business. That’s why sports team owners have live games and why people go to live sports events and live music shows. Collective, shared excitement (and the cult of celebrity, sure, but that I would argue is only a thing because of shared excitement). And all of this is why I assume E3 is still a thing in the future. Maybe it’s not called E3. Maybe it’s now E4 because rather than try to correct people who redundantly say E3 Expo, everyone has just embraced the redundancy and now counts all 4 of the Es in Electronics Entertainment Expo Expo.
Some people crap on E3. But I love collective excitement. It’s my version of the World Series where my team always plays. My team doesn’t always win, but again, the rising tide thing. I happy to see other teams not drowning…I’m mixing metaphors, here. But I think what I’m saying is E3 is for fans of gaming, not for fans of specific games.
E3 is, if anything, adaptable. I hinted at this above when I said E3’s purpose has changed from information distribution to hype creation. E3 used to exist by exclusion. Only credentialed members of the press need apply. Everyone else gets excluded. But as total gaming audience has grown along with fragmentation of the industry (youtube channels and independent blogs, for example), rather than restrict what constitutes proper credentials, E3 has expanded the term. If you are a YouTuber with a reasonable level of influence, you stand a chance to enter the hallowed halls of E3. That’s because E3 knows it won’t survive by keeping people out. The whole purpose of an expo is exposition. To expose the public to something. With a camera in everyone’s pocket there’s no way to logically keep the goods from leaking. And why fight against low-quality, hurriedly recorded camera footage, anyway. E3 has decreed: Invite the hungry and their tongues eager to brag. Invite the fursters and there yearning to early adopt. Invite the populace and their profession recording equipment.
But this this exact kind of hype cannot last forever. Why? Because everything is fresh and exciting for a finite amount of time. This concept of every person being capable of having their own brand, their own audience, they own remarketing hoard refreshing subscription feeds every few seconds is not yet ubiquitous. Youtubers newly bestowed with credentials are excited by the chance to be a part of something that has for almost its entire existence actively separated itself from heretofore plebeian Youtubers. Everyone is a willing correspondent. Everyone is a wanna be pundit. And if they aren’t a correspondent or pundit, they are an audience member equally excited to see what’s inside Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Imagine if Wonka let Charlie and his suddenly, and mysteriously, able-bodied grandfather live-stream the entire factory tour (given, of course that such technology had already pervaded society, so that when a pocket camera revealed itself citizens weren’t jumping out of windows War of the Worlds style), if the tour were live-streamed, do you think Wonka would have sold fewer candy bars? No. For a small window of time Wonka would be selling the product and the experience behind the product equally. That’s where we are with E3.
Remember, E3’s primary purpose is hype. Hype is good. And as long as hype is good, E3 will exist in some form or another.
Back in the early 20th century we developed a business relationship by first exchanging business cards. Then sometime in the early 21st century we exchanged audiences by exchanging selfies. But what happens next? What happens when babies are given YouTube URLs at birth? What happens when every person’s name ends with LLC? The simple dilution of importance–the extreme loosening of what constitutes a credential–means that what E3 is doing now won’t be feasible long term. But E3 will adapt. I am confident of this.
Future Caleb, what does E3 or 4 look like to you? Assuming it’s still an event and that the “expo” part of it hasn’t manifested literally into a exposition narrative devoid of all dialog. “There is a group of people. They are talking about video games. They seem happy. But also they seem mad. Some are disguised as characters from those games. I would tell you want they say, but this is exposition, not dialog.”
Current viewer, what do you think E3 will be in the future?
Lastly, Future Caleb, say hi to your grandkids for me.
Clips from the following videos have been used per Creative Commons reuse license:
8bit Dungeon Level Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com), Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/