It’s 2:30am. The usually bustling road outside the window is a shadow of its former self, granting only an occasional lonely grumbling of a cab engine. Barring the persistent hum of the fridge my immediate vicinity is near silent; even my wife who had heroically tries to stay awake well past her operating window has succumbed to the night. The only signs of life inside the room come from the bright light emanating from my monitor, a cat stretching in-between marathon naps and myself, fighting the sleep and staring into the glowing world on the screen ahead of me. My brain hurts. Why didn’t I take a nap? I really should just go to bed, will it really be worth the wait? Suddenly the ambient noise in my headphones recedes and the screen fades to black. This is it. All my concerns of the past few hours vanish as I wake up my wife to watch a press conference about games that haven’t been, are not and possibly never will be released. And it’s brilliant.
Next week marks the biggest event on the gaming calendar, as publishers and console makers try to show why their company are the only one making games that you want and how these games will make everything they’ve done before obsolete. This year marks probably the biggest E3 conference season ever, with 8 different pressers occurring over a 48-hour period; Bethesda, Microsoft, EA, Ubisoft, Sony, Nintendo, Square Enix and even a dedicated PC Gaming event are scheduled in and I couldn’t be more excited at the prospect.
People can be disparaging about these events and they do have some valid criticisms. As mentioned, some of the things mentioned might never release, others will be tarted up to try and sell them to you and then be rather different on release while another few will just be delayed repeatedly and the hype will kill any excitement. And yes, this is an event more for shareholders than fans as companies try to show why their the right horse to bet on for the upcoming year.
I get those points and I understand them, but I still love E3. I was talking to someone on twitter recently who I think perfectly summed up E3 as Christmas for people who like video games; sure there will always be disappointments when you get bought the black power ranger instead of the red one but then you open the next box and it’s an N64. I love the anticipation of the events, I love the gaffes and hiccups that befall unwitting hosts on stage and I love the games, even if they’re not on your platform of choice.
Most of all though, I love the potential for surprise announcements. In this day and age it’s almost impossible for 90% of a press conference to not be correctly predicted or even completely leaked but there’s always room for a surprise. Even ones for smaller games that would get little attention if it wasn’t E3 are great because they’re completely unexpected – ‘oh, by the way, this game is downloadable from our store right NOW’ is a sentence I love hearing at any conference.
Most of all though, it’s about the games. I want to be excited about these games, even if there’s a chance I’ll never get round to playing most of them and I want to see the industry do well. We all want good games and here we get the first glimpse of our gaming future; the teaser trailer for what we’ll be doing at real Christmas, and I love sneak peeks.It’s a shame we don’t have any E3 carols to sing but I will be hanging up all the CD cases I can to see what gaming-Santa leaves in them.