It was day three of E3…or day four, if you were counting what I’d coined “the press conference day from hell.” Most importantly, it was the last hour of the last day of the Expo. As I entered the Sony private preview area, a space a third of the size of the Sony offering on the show floor, but with 95% less people, I saw journalist after journalist with the same look on their face. It was the same look I had on my own face.
Our faces showed fatigue, stress and a lot of disappointment.
Microsoft didn’t take any risks. Sony was much the same. Nintendo showed us the same stuff as the year before. The consensus of video games press echoed through the hallways — E3 this year was a bit of a letdown.
As I slid up to the PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale booth, careful to watch my mouth after seeing what happened to the guy who casually mentioned, “oh, this is a bit like Super Smash Bros., isn’t it?” I started making another set of notes, going through the motions whilst watching the clock on my iPad slowly click towards 6.00 pm.
I just wanted to be done with it all and head back to my hotel room so I could pump out another couple articles.
A squeal of delight caught my attention; in the midst of all the weary journalists, a boy was laughing his little head off. He couldn’t have been much more than seven or eight years old. In his hands was a PS3 controller, gripped tightly by two heavily bandaged hands. Sprouting from the bandages, his arms looked like they’d been caught in a very bad fire. When another journalist accidentally bumped into one of those arms, you could see the boy wince in pain. Luckily, Tokyo Jungle‘s various animals distracted him straight after, and he was right back to laughing with delight.
I stopped watching Battle Royale and instead fixated on the young boy clearly having the time of his life. He didn’t care if Tokyo Jungle didn’t make sense, or if When Vikings Attack was mirroring gameplay of a thousand other games before it. Instead, he was losing himself in the game and having insane amounts of fun doing it. He ran up to Sports Champions and went nuts with the Move next, and with each game he visited, he drew a bigger and bigger crowd of spectators.
Each journalist in the room went from jaded to elated in the course of a few minutes.
Yes, it’s true that we didn’t see innovation in leaps and bounds this year. It’s true that this year was more of the same. Of course we need to be critical of the industry at times to keep it progressing. But, let’s not forget why we want to go to E3 in the first place, or why we stay up at 3 in the morning in Australia to watch press conferences if we can’t make it to Los Angeles: we love gaming.
As I finished up in the private Sony room, where I got to bypass ridiculous queues to get the inside scoop on new titles, I smiled and remembered to thank my lucky stars for the opportunity of a lifetime.
Then, I picked up a controller, chose Nathan Drake to the boy’s Sly Cooper, and immersed myself in a silly fighting game.