Do you enjoy being fed your gaming information through well-rehearsed prepared remarks? If so, the Electronic Entertainment Expo is for you! During this week in June every year, executives from Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, and others get up on stage in grand fashion and read pre-written speeches, delivering on-message remarks aimed at getting you excited about their upcoming games and products. This happened at every presentation this week, but there was one notable exception, and it came from an unlikely source.
During Microsoft's briefing Monday morning, South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone emerged on stage to talk about their upcoming role-playing game with THQ and Obsidian, South Park: The Stick of Truth. Instead of reading off a teleprompter and delivering planned out lines, the duo ad-libbed, and even poked fun at the event host, Microsoft. Parker mocked Microsoft's super-connected Xbox approach just minutes after the company officially confirmed the Xbox SmartGlass tablet. Here's what he had to say:
"How many times have you been watching an episode of South Park and thought:
'I'd like to be able to watch this on my television while hooked into my mobile device, which is being controlled by my tablet device, which is hooked into my oven, all while sitting in the refrigerator?' Parker jokingly asked the audience. "Well, we're not doing that. We're just doing this game."
This brief respite from the ongoing barrage of prepared remarks from executives like Phil Spencer, Yusuf Medhi, and others during Microsoft's presentation was more than enough to make me smile throughout a presentation that kept me largely stone-faced. Parker and Stone may have had that line planned in advance (they are, after all, comedic geniuses), but it didn't come across that way. It came across as spontaneous and genuine, two adjectives I never thought I'd associate with E3.
I understand why publishers and developers want to be on-message. They have a product to sell. And delivering a consistent message to fans and press is a means to that end. But being so strictly tied to a message can be problematic. In doing so, these people become corporate robots. They make me feel like I'm a consumer, rather than a gamer. Whether or not that's an issue of semantics is irrelevant, because I want executives to talk directly to me, a gamer. I understand that they have a boss to answer to, one who demands increased profits year in, year out. But I don't care about that. I care about the games. And I have a sneaking suspicion, you do, too.