An Idiot’s Adventures In Gameland – Steve McNeil

#5 – What Am I Going On About?!

As regular readers of this column will know, this week I’ve been all-consumed by E3 – the Electronic Entertainment Expo. Sadly for me, I’ve not been sent to Los Angeles, where all the action is. Instead, I’ve been in an incredibly well-heated TV studio in Shepherd’s Bush (read: “pit-stains”) where I’ve been anchoring the live coverage for video-gaming telly-box channel Ginx TV.

On Monday, our show ran for 9 whole hours, thankfully with regular breaks for us as we threw to live coverage of the day’s conferences: Bethesda, Microsoft, EA, Ubisoft and Sony. In between, back in the studio, we banged on with unabandoned self-importance about our reactions and predictions. The banging-on-ers were a lovely bunch, ranging from excellent comedians such as Nish Kumar and the Podshambles boys, to industry bods like GamerDisco and Bossa Studios’ ‘YouTuber’ Oliver Age 24. We even had ‘Gaming Haikus to order’ from the wonderful Danny Wadeson, in what we believe was an exclusive seen only on our broadcast. No doubt next year the copycats will be out in force.

The thing that struck me in preparing for these shows was that, as someone who until recently only had a relationship with games as a consumer, there were a lot of games I had little or no experience of; many, in fact, that I’d never even heard of. In short, dear reader, I am a fraud.  However, as the ever approaching scream of ‘…and we’re live!’ from the show’s producer got nearer and nearer, I came to realise that actually, for almost all gamers, this is the case. Sure, I might have loved and devoured key franchises such as Uncharted, but I’ve barely spent an hour on Halo. That might seem ridiculous to someone wondering how on Earth I managed to end up fronting a live TV show about E3, given I’ve not played more than a couple of hours of one of the most successful series of all time but if, like me, you never had an Xbox, why – or more importantly, how – would you?!

In contrast, it’s easy to see how some who work in the games industry become blasé about these experiences – access to so many games (often for free), can skew your value of them. They become disposable. Not enjoying Far Cry 4? Say it’s rubbish (it isn’t) and move on to the next one on the pile. Videogame consumers simply don’t have this luxury. Their experience is narrower, and the titles they choose are bought with hard earned money –they’re more invested and, as a result, value them more. This is by no means me saying the opposite is true of all games industry peeps (the guys at Ginx for example are, without exception, passionate about the medium and considered in their criticism), but I’ve already noticed my relationship with games change. If you’ve got to have that review ready by tomorrow, it’s a battle to ensure you sit back and soak up the smaller flourishes, distractions and incidental details, which are often a huge part of what makes a specific title special.

A couple of guests on Monday’s show hadn’t owned consoles since their University days, and there’d understandably been some discussion over the relevance of their bookings, but they added as much, if not more, to discussions during the evening as those whose knowledge of the industry is virtually encyclopaedic. Seeing the footage of The Last Guardian through the eyes of someone who hasn’t played games since Crash Bandicoot only made the evening more special, and my appreciation of the medium greater.

If you’re asking (and you’re not), the highlight for me has been Star Wars: Battlefront, which seems likely to deliver on everything fans have been hoping for since it was initially teased. If you removed the various overlays from the screen, you could easily walk past this playing and assume it was footage from the movie, not a computer game. YOU’RE DOING A STAR WARS. If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look immediately, then pre-order the game. If you haven’t got a games console, get one of those too. It’s that good.

It’s by no means a rare jewel though – consensus from the whole team has been that this is the strongest E3 in a very long time, and it’s still not over. As you read this, I’ll be frantically preparing with Chris Slight for Ginx’s final live show, broadcasting from 9pm-10pm (UK time) on Ginx TV (Virgin Media 286) or online at We’ll be attempting to at least touch on all the main announcements from the week during our 48 minutes on air (adverts, innit) so, whether you’re a passionate gamer or someone who’d like to find out more about these ‘computer games doohickies’, we’ll try to make it as fun as two chubby blokes banging on about dicking around with buttons can be.

If you’re a real glutton for punishment, you can check out all the live shows from this week, and loads more of the channel’s content, on Ginx’s Youtube Channel .

Lastly, apologies if this week’s article is riddled with spelling mistakes and/or utter gibberish. At the time of writing (Thursday morning) I’ve only had 13 hours sleep since Monday. Not that I want you to think for a second that I’m complaining. I LOVE this job. I mean, I still don’t really know what this job is, but I seem to be getting away with it and I’m loath to screw it up. They keep giving me games!

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