Electronic Exclusion Expo
Think about the best discussions you’ve ever had, whether with friends, family, or colleagues. Were they great because everyone agreed on the same points, as if only a single voice was speaking, or were they memorable because everyone had a point of view and contributed to the conversation? For me, more people involved in any conversation serves to strengthen the arguments presented. You have to fight for your position, listen to and evaluate other people’s point of view, and ultimately walk away with a stronger sense of what you believe in and an insight into other ways the situation can be viewed. This is the essence of progress and now one of the greatest forums for discussion in video gaming has begun its transformation into an ivory tower.
E3. A single letter and number that for years has signified the greatest neutral ground in all of video gaming; where hundreds of games are shown off to the press, from corporate sponsored outlets like IGN to independent sites with smaller, but no less invested, fan bases. The great thing about E3 has been that everyone gets to see the games and give their fans the coverage they deserve. I use the past tense because that E3 no longer exists. I was informed last week that because of “the tremendous number of requests for media badges” E3 has to institute “caps” on the number of media badges issued to each outlet, based on that outlet’s visibility – how many unique hits they get per month. What this means in basic terms is that we at psnation.org cannot get as many people to E3 as we would like – for the sake of full disclosure I will probably not be able to attend because of this. This sets up a dangerously closed loop. The larger sites that garner more hits per month will have more people at E3, this will allow them to cover the event more thoroughly and generate more content, thus driving more hits to their site. It is the video game equivalent of “No Child Left Behind.” Essentially if you are not one of the larger sites you are going to get pushed out, and if you are at a larger outlet, then good news because your presence at these events is only going to get larger. This could lead to an E3 in the future where it is only covered by a handful of large outlets, with the independent video game media minimized at the event and left to fight over scraps of information already released by the larger sites. This would effectively silence a great number of voices in the conversation that is video game journalism.
I understand that there are certain realities to a large media event – only a certain number of people can fit in a convention center. However, the way that E3 attendees are being chosen this year sets up a dynamic that could have long lasting effects on the future of independent outlets that write about games and the fans who read their words. I leave it to you, the readers of psnation.org, to tell me I’m crazy or paranoid, but I truly believe that the wonderfully chaotic nexus of information that E3 generated in the past may be gone. In its place will stand a clean, singular ivory tower with only a handful of voices proclaiming their message from its peak.