An Idiot’s Adventures In Gameland – Steve McNeil

#4 – MerrEEE Christmas

If you’re not that into games, you might be oblivious to the fact that next week is Nerd Christmas. E3, or the Electronic Entertainment Expo to give it its full title, sees all the big-hitters in videogames converge on LA to give the world the first glimpses of the latest things they’ve created, in order to empty my bank account. Again.

The first E3 was 20 years ago now, coming into being as a response to the lower-class status afforded to videogames at broader events such as the Consumer Electronics Show. With the boom of home gaming, the main players didn’t feel inclined to play second fiddle to clocks and kettles any more, so setup their own gang, the Interactive Digital Software Association – four words which seem to have been chosen specifically to make playing games sound as un-fun as possible.

E3’s an unusual event in that, unlike many others, it’s not open to consumers – it’s solely a trade show attended by people in the industry, which means it can sometimes come across as a massive, self-congratulatory, dick-measuring contest. Whilst in the past E3 has been the place where we first heard about iconic consoles such as the Playstation 2 or the Nintendo Wii, more recently companies have increasingly been pre-revealing things, reducing the impact of the event itself. For example, Bethesda’s Fallout 4 was announced last week, despite the fact they’ll be having their own conference at E3 on Monday. Which, incidentally, is itself happening BEFORE E3 even begins.

Whilst a casual observer might not realise it from everything going on next Monday, E3 actually runs from Tuesday 16th to Thursday 18th June. Yet, on Monday, we’ll be seeing live conference streams from Bethesda, Microsoft, EA, Ubisoft and Sony, with only Nintendo and Square Enix holding back until the first ‘official’ day.

For gamers, all of this means the build up to E3 can increasingly feels like you’re getting some of your Christmas presents early. It’s initially exciting, but it also reduces the impact of the big day itself. Whereas Bethesda officially announcing Fallout 4 last week was a lovely piece of news for fans of the franchise, it now means that when they do their live stream on Monday and Fallout 4 pops up again, we’ll all collectively just go “…Yeah…We know.”  In fairness to Bethesda, they’ll no doubt have a lot more to tell us that we DIDN’T know about (both about Fallout 4 and other titles) but some of the potential power of their presentation is undoubtedly lost.

Having said that, I LOVE E3. In fact, I love it so much that I’m going to be banging on about it live on telly for 9 hours on Monday night. If you’ve got Virgin Media, I’ll be on Ginx TV (channel 286) from 8pm Monday night until 5am Tuesday morning. We’ll have all the big streams from E3 (crucially, without ad-breaks I believe), and a great mix of games industry peeps and comedian chums in our studio, to mull over the night’s announcements.

I “think” it’s going to be on Ginx’s twitch stream too, technology permitting, if you don’t have Virgin Media. If it isn’t, but you don’t have Virgin, you should be able to check it out by signing up to the Beta of their live streaming and on-demand service here.

If you can’t stay up all night on Monday, we’ll be doing another hour each day.  Tuesday to Friday, 9pm-10pm where we’ll be discussing whatever else has popped up during the week, so we’ll hopefully catch some of you then.

If you don’t watch it though, I won’t be offended. I’m sure you’ve all got stuff to be getting on with. Either way, see you back here next week, if hosting nine hours of live TV doesn’t cause me to have a total mental breakdown on-air.


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