Next year E3 will celebrate two decades of influence on electronic entertainment and gaming in the modern era. It's current incarnation is both maligned and feverishly anticipated within the gaming community. With the big events out of the way, the dust is settled and we can try to take an objective look at gamings biggest yearly event.
A History Lesson
E3 as it's known now started back in 1995, after games decided to cut loose from the Consumer Electronics Show. It was brought from the minds of IDG Infotainment World and co-founded by the Interactive Digital Software Association. The start of a E3's time in gaming coincided with a new era in gaming. Sega was ready to unveil the Sega Saturn, Rumblings of the Nintendo 64 were about, and Sony burst onto the scene with the original Playstation. Gaming history was made from May 11 through May 13, 1995 in L.A. as keynote speakers Sega of America, Inc. president and CEO Thomas Kalinske, Sony Electronic Publishing Company president Olaf Olafsson; and Nintendo chairman Howard Lincoln. It was the biggest opening to a trade show in history, giving a public face to modern gaming and a place for gamers to exchange ideas and excitement.
Two Decades of Highlights
E3 is more than just a game show, it's a show of gaming personalities, controversy, tech demos and of course hype, hype, HYPE! Reggie Fils-Aime has been a staple of Nintendo's showing for ten years now, after bursting onto the scene with an unforgettable introduction, and has since been the subject of many perennial memes. Sony will undoubtedly take a pot shot, and it's always fun to see how people react. E3 has been a staging point for issues in gaming diversity and any number of -ism's in gaming.
In 2005 Nintendo revealed the then-code-named 'Revolution', eventually known as the Wii, and would revolutionize gaming since it's release (I attribute the term 'Shovelware' to it's time on the market)
In 2006, the ESA (Electronic Software Association) announced two major changes for the following year: a ban on scantily clad booth babes, pushing forward a conversation that gamers don't like having to this day. That same year E3 was turned invite-only in hopes of reducing crowd size, shutting off access to a large part of it's key audience.
It's Time to E3-volve
In the past couple years we've seen E3 start an awkward period in it's life. Journalists and gamers alike have questioned it's importance, trying to figure out if it's relevant in the digital age. Last year's conference was bloated and awkward, but maybe that was because of the focus on hardware instead of games. This years presentation was substantially more streamlined. All of the major players brought their A-game, but some showing went much more smoothly than others.
Microsoft showed a constant stream of games, but heavy on CG and light on gameplay. Sony suffered less so from that, but it's showing was severely hampered by pacing (and a lot of market talk), a new speaker who didn't really understand how to energize an audience, and a few technical issues. If there is one company that seems to have a vision of how to keep E3 relevant in the future it's Nintendo. There showing might not have had the energy from a live audience, but it didn't need it. They manufactured the energy themselves from fun video segments and fantastic editing. They then underlined their games with events that involve the community rather than just speaking to them, like the Smash Bros Invitational tournament.
I think the digital event is the way forward. It gives the company so much more control of message and pacing. We'd lose out on some of the fun that a live show can provide, but maybe companies can supplement their digital showings with simultaneous events that involve the community. As the saying goes, show don't tell.
What's your take on E3 as a whole? Is Nintendo's digital event the best way to present? Would you miss a live event? What are some fond E3 memories you have that might be lost if the format changed? Remember this isn't about who won or lost. Try and stay polite and objective!