Jumping the Shark Podcast #76

No High Scores
Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

With E3 freshly behind us, we used this week’s Jumping the Shark to talk about E3 the show. What we liked about this year’s show. What we think is changing about it, for better or worse. Why you know more about what’s going on there if you just stay home. Etc. In the what we’re playing segment, Bill dispenses with Hunted, Brandon finds Greent Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters to be surprisingly enjoyable, Danielle digs out Costume Quest and Saints Row 2 from her back catalog, and I lament that my “early” copy of Dungeon Siege 3 refuses to install (due to a Steam activation issue)…

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(More E3 thoughts, and the embedded feed included after the break.)

For the first time in what feels like months I did a multi-track edit for this show, so if you notice an improvement in overall audio quality and polish, well, there you go. I truly would like to get back to editing this way more often, it always was the default, but when it comes down to it, it takes much more time and I seem to have precious little of that of late.

With regards to E3, the issue I keep coming back to is one of taking questions. It used to be you got a personal demo (hands on or otherwise) for most of the games you saw (assuming a press appointment, of course) and you could really interact with whomever was giving it, be that a developer or PR rep. This year the majority of stuff I saw was in the form of what I think of as the “herd demo,” where they bring in a mass of people, give them a narrated hands-off demo, and move ’em on out in order to repeat it for the next throng.

I’m sure publishers and developers find this an efficient model, but it’s terrible for press coverage as you typically get either no opportunity at all to ask questions or you might be lucky enough to answer a question or two while they set up the next group. This does not lead to better coverage of E3, since the only thing that really can distinguish one site’s coverage form another’s is asking different questions that get reps off the script. Even when you can ask a question or two, half the time the answer is, “We’re not talking about that yet.” The bigger sites, particularly ones with a video team in tow, tend to get more opportunities to get people on the record, but when you’re there for a smaller site with a notepad and pen in your hand, it’s pretty clear the bigger publishers there want you to move on to the next thing.

Making press coverage all the more futile, we’re seeing more and more of these demos recorded and posted online for everyone to digest. That’s great for you guys in the sense that you do get to see what we see, but at that point, do we even need to be there? Are we anything more then stenographers desperately trying to find some kind of angle, some niggling detail in the background that everybody else somehow missed? Sadly, the answer is, “no.” It doesn’t stop me from having a fabulous time, because I go for the company and not the job, but it’s still unfortunate that the biggest players in this business have so little interest in anything but the safest of finely honed presentations.

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Todd Brakke

Todd was born in Ann Arbor, with a Michigan helmet in one hand and a mouse in the other. (Never you mind the logistics of this.) He grew, vertically anyway, and is a 20-year publishing veteran as an editor of books on consumer tech and professional development for educators. Because that wasn't enough of a challenge, Todd was a 20-year part-time snob about video games, writing reviews, features, and more for multiple outlets from 1997-2015. Follow him on Twitter @toddsfoolery.

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