by Jed Pressgrove
The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) proves the game industry drives the conversation of many game critics. During E3, the fan and the critic are often indistinguishable. It’s arguable whether a negative reaction to a specific bullet-point announcement of an unreleased game is valuable or insightful. Ultimately, the industry sets the table for hype and controversy and dictates the topics of interest for media experts. The game industry says, “Look at me. Talk about me.” The critic says, “With pleasure. What should I speak about first?”
No wonder lovers and haters of E3 are as likely as the other to call the event exhausting. Even in an age where we supposedly have more tools than ever to whip up a crowd and inspire unique discussion, the collective obsession with E3 shows a willingness and a desire to live in the past, to do things the way they’ve been done and to look good doing it. The innovation of a media forum or technology (like Twitter) certainly does not guarantee resistance to tradition. At this point, it seems to amplify capitulation.
Is this adherence to tradition all in the name of “fun,” a word that some critics side-eye when an honest simpleton uses it? I’m not sure about that. When I began writing about games and attempted to “change game journalism” with a project called Fate of the Game, E3 was an obvious and seemingly essential starting point for me and my business partners. Nintendo gave us Cat Mario to dissect. Sony pretended to be our protective big brother. Capcom puzzled us with its lack of imagination. Ah, an indie coming to a console. All of this seemed new and fascinating, but looking back, it’s the same as it’s always been and always will be. Industry speculation ensures 24-hour advertising for upcoming product.
Last year in “Why Critics Are Important,” James Murff said we need critics who “rub elbows with creatives.” No, we need critics who are creatives, not part of the dog and pony shows.