It’s safe to say that E3 is largely fabrication. While there are certainly demos to play on the show floor, for a lot of people, the point of the show is the hype derived from CG trailers and speculation about the future. It can be difficult to find a moment of truth in all the noise.
Authenticity. It is easy to define, and easy to identify. The creative director for Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle being moved to tears at the game’s reveal a few years back was startlingly authentic. Same with Cory Barlog after seeing how well the most recent God of War was received. I think as a society we crave authenticity and seek it out as often as we can. It’s why we love Tom Holland and how he can’t keep his mouth shut, and it’s why certain E3 moments go viral.
There’s something to be said for being “in the room where it happened”. I’ve been fortunate enough to attend E3 this year with my freelance job working for a YouTube channel. We attended Microsoft’s conference on Sunday, and for the most part I was struck that for all the glitz, there wasn’t much of substance being shared. Trailer after trailer, world premier after world premier, few things made any kind of a lasting impression.
Then the Cyberpunk 2077 trailer happened. It’s a pretty boilerplate video game trailer. There are moments of violent action, and a betrayal that’s obvious a mile away. It looks pretty in that same-y way that video game trailers do. At the very tail end of it, a mo-capped Keanu Reeves takes off his sunglasses and despite ourselves, everyone in the crowd lost their minds.
And then, to top it all off, Keanu himself showed up onstage. It was hype as hell, one of those cool E3 moments that will be on every YouTuber’s “Top Ten Moments of E3 2019". But the best part of his brief appearance was the instantly iconic “you’re breathtaking!” exchange. Keanu, who had been reading off a teleprompter a bunch of talking points about the game, specifically that the environment was breathtaking, was interrupted, and called “breathtaking” himself.
Rather than keep plowing through his talking points, he stopped, laughed, pointed, and said, “you’re breathtaking!”. The crowd went wild, and my new favorite GIF was born. It was authentic, and easily the best part of Microsoft’s conference.
I guess it does seem like a shame that nothing after that moment felt as interesting or even real as that brief back-and-forth. Project Scarlett? Halo Infinite? Just buzzword soup.
I’ll be enjoying my time at the show, and I’ll follow back up with moments that struck me.