Friday, August 8, 2008

Whose fault is it really?

Today’s post is less about the art of the game form and more about the culture which surrounds the art form. Specifically the ongoing whining about E3 and how it is not the overpopulated and bloated digital geek-fest it used to be. In this context I am using geek in its more traditional linguistic definition of chicken-head biting, but I can see how that may be confused. I am also very aware that I am letting my bias show a little bit in this statement.

No one in the industry of gaming seems to understand that E3 is not a gamer convention. It is an industry trade show. E3 is supposed to be a platform by which different aspects of the industry can come together to market themselves and their products in a comparative forum so that industry, as well as the consuming public, can more easily see industry trends and markets for more functional and profitable forward movement.

It is a comment on the overall maturity of the industry that E3 is not up to snuff. While 2007-2008 hasn’t been the most revolutionary and forward of years in gaming, the reason E3 is not up to snuff is more because of the attitude developers are taking to it than because of any huge failing of the event organizers.

Game Journalists express annoyance at the lack of big flashy expensive lights, reporting that this just demonstrates how weak the show is. Developers who bother to show up at all lounge around their presentation booths / areas like apathetic lumps ignoring all opportunities to explore the event, attend seminars, and communicate with their peers. Surely they realize by their very efforts of not attending all they can or doing all they can at this event when the opportunity arises (an opportunity that is incredibly frequent by current reports) they are inherently causing the lacklustre atmosphere of E3.

Hence the lack of excitement can be placed squarely on the shoulders of the culture at large who are more concerned about pouting about recent changes to E3 in an effort to prove that it is a dead event. They are angry that they are being treated like mature and skilled.

EGM, I recollect had a regular “E3 scavenger hunt” feature in which they went looking for unimpressed girlfriends, fat smelly fanboys, booth babes who would direct foul gestures at the camera. The reason they got away with that. Because these people they were photographing weren't members of this industry, they were jokes that would be the inevitable population of an industry event; guys with websites about video game drinking games, Walmart Electronics employees, high school kids whose Mothers worked in HR departments at local studios.

That's fun? That's professional? That's mature? That’s respectful? That’s the image we want associated to our field, to our professionals, to our consumers? This is what we aspire to:

I, for one, am not impressed. The game's industry can be professional, mature, self-respecting and still have fun and still be "out there". And when gaming culture starts accepting this fact and growing up a little as opposed to throwing the little E3 hissy fit it is now, not only E3, but everything about the industry will get better.

I'm just going to chalk the bad attitudes this year up to growing pains.

As an aside I would like to congratulate the ESA on enduring the rather rough and unfair treatment of its event and goals, I'm glad to hear there will be an E3 2009 and I hope to see many more in the future.

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