This is how the Penny Arcade Report will cover E3
E3 can be surprisingly non-interactive despite being a show about video games. Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony all have their large press events to try to one-up their competitors, revealing games, hardware, and services. The press is ushered into the cavernous rooms to watch videos on screens that are too big and listen to music that is too loud as company executives awkwardly try to put their best face on their own successes and failures in the industry. Dozens of sites will live-blog these events, saying basically the same thing about news that you can watch via any number of video streams.
These sites have teams of people waiting to write up each and every tiny bit of information as their own news posts, so you can read about the news while you watch the news and read a live version of the news. It becomes a flood of information but, since everyone is merely watching the same thing and reporting on it, it’s incredibly redundant. This is a game I’m not interested in playing.
How we’re going to cover E3
People wondered how we’re going to cover E3, and that’s a good question. The Penny Arcade Report tries to do things differently, and my goal is to provide a little more meat on the stories I run. I’m also one person covering a huge show, so the amount of things I can see and do are limited. It’s important to realize that while we can’t hit everything, we can make sure that the games and news we do write up and share with you is worth your time.
Let me be clear about something: A trailer is not news. It is a commercial.
Many publishers set up “meetings” during the show where the press is packed into a small dark room, someone from the game’s development team gives a very short speech, you watch a prepared video, and then you’re ushered out. You are often given a T-shirt and a USB stick with screenshots as you leave. These meetings are empty calories. There is nothing to be gained for me simply repeating a play by play of a video I watched in cramped, sweaty conditions. It’s a waste of everyone’s time; the same information can be conveyed with a Youtube video.
When you write stories about trailers or the hands-off, eyes-on meetings that are so common you are not acting as the press, you are simply becoming a cog in a marketing machine for that particular title. It’s time to act like reporters, and not freelance PR.
The best meetings take place when you are able to sit down and play a game for a non-trivial amount of time, and then you get to sit down with someone who is actively involved in the creation of that game to talk about it. That’s where you get interesting stories, insight, and something to say about the game. You can form an opinion, get a sense of what the game is about, and then turn that into an interesting story for your readers. If a publisher won’t let me put hands on a controller or speak to someone, my job becomes impossible.
That being said, most publishers and developers are better than that, and we’re going to be running at least two stories every day during E3. That may not sound like much to the sites that run 10 stories during a single press event, but it’s a huge increase from the number of articles we run during normal weeks. I have an amazing schedule of games to play, people to interview, and people to meet. I have no doubt that we will find 10 stories that are worth your time.
I love E3, and I can’t wait to learn about new games, play as many as possible, and talk to people I admire in the industry. The show is a much more positive experience for me than negative, and I’m far from being cynical about attending. I think we’re all going to learn much about where the industry is going in the next year.
To sum it up
If you’re attending E3 and you want me to cover your game, it’s a simple process: Give me a controller, and someone to talk to. Allow me to explore your game and talk to the people who made it. Remember that I’m a member of the press, not a mouthpiece for your marketing message.
If you’re going to read our E3 coverage, I promise that I won’t waste your time. There are other sites that will write about everything, and they’re going to do a great job of providing an exhaustive, and often exhausting, look at the show. But for the Penny Arcade Report, it’s important to keep our mouths shut until we have something to say. And every story we run next week will, for better or worse, say something meaningful.
I can’t wait.