E3: A Conversation Between Charly Shelton and Jake Bowman

Charly Shelton is a travel and entertainment writer. For the last 16 years, he has covered many aspects of the entertainment industry. Now CV Weekly’s newest writer, Jake Bowman, will be taking on the video game review beat. They both attended E3 – the Electronic Entertainment Expo, the biggest video game convention in America – and had different thoughts on some aspects of it. Charly has been attending E3 since 2004 and Jake attended for the first time this year.

Recently, they sat down and had a conversation about their experiences at the show. This is part two of the conversation that started last week.

Jake Bowman: Now we talked about this before but going forward I was concerned that E3 was going to die or is dying because it’s not necessarily needed anymore. Most of the hype of E3 comes from the press conferences that the big publishers do, which is actually done before the physical E3 happens, and you don’t need to actually have anybody there; you can just put that online.

Charly Shelton: They stream it all on Twitch and YouTube.

JB: Exactly, and I think that’s going to be ready and that’s going to be where the industry will start going. If that’s the case then it’s my opinion that the E3 conference needs to shift away from being a trade show and more towards a … whatever you want to call it. Like a hype show.

CS: I think it already is dying because every time I would get in line for anything –“Cyberpunk 2077,” for “Avengers” or whatever it is – the guy in front of me would always ask, “What are they giving out here?” It’s less about the game.

You know, when I started [attending] this show in 2004, it was a bunch of developers and a bunch of press who cover this kind of stuff. Everybody was in the know – more than just “I enjoy playing video games;” they were part of the industry. They thought about it, they were excited about the games, they were excited about the technology. Like Unreal Engine updates; when that came out it was a big deal and they cared more about the games. Now I feel like it’s more about the swag. So I think it is becoming a hype con.

JB: I don’t disagree with you but I guess, on the business side of things, it’s still not in full acceptance of that. What I mean is we know from personal experiences that only large publications are invited to the press conferences before E3. On top of that, you have the tickets; the price just for general admission tickets is really high, like $1,000. And the [industry badge holders] are generally allowed in about three or four hours before the regular general admission people so if you really were going to turn it into a hype machine instead of a business tradeshow/media coverage thing then you would reduce restrictions on when general admission was allowed in, lower the pricing on general admission and sell more tickets. You see what I’m saying?

CS: Yeah. It’s what they do at Comic Con [International in San Diego].

JB: Exactly. I think this year attendance was down [about] 3,000 people from last year. You could easily make that up and more if you just had a price point of like $250 per ticket and then you just invite anybody. Now you’re just showcasing and getting people hyped for games that are coming out, which [E3] works in that aspect because I was excited for games like “Cyberpunk 2077.” Then I saw the demo and now I’m more excited about it. I’m definitely getting that game because of what I saw at E3, whereas before I might’ve been on the fence about it. There are other games, too, I had the opposite reaction that you did. I saw the “Avengers” game and have no desire to actually play it.

CS: Really? You saw it on YouTube?

JB: Yeah, I saw what they were previewing at E3.

CS: That was the preview that I waited for, that people were waiting three hours for.

JB: I have no [interest] …

CS: Really?

JB: The character models are weird-looking to me.

CS: You’re weird-looking to me.

JB: And the voice actors were weird. I liked Thor’s voice, but the other ones were a little off to me.

CS: I’ll give you that. Thor and Hulk were the guys who do the voices in the animated series, and Black Widow. Iron Man was someone else.

JB: Yeah they sounded okay, but Iron Man was really off. The other part of it was that it’s not even multiplayer. I can’t just jump in with you and play through a co-op campaign. That’s going to bother me because it’s set up perfectly for that. There are four to five Avengers.

CS: Yeah but it’s done in a different way. You’re used to [Marvel “Ultimate Alliance”] but this is a wholly different game style.

JB: Right. I wanted a more linear story but in the Ultimate Alliance fashion. Like it may not be couch co-op, but where multiple people with the same game – like how we play “Far Cry” – with two different consoles, two different people can still join in and play. “Ultimate Alliance” had couch co-op, which was nice, but even if you were to take that away, because of limitations, I still think they could have done a multiplayer-centric co-op game with it.

CS: I’m really excited for it. I think it’s the first cinematic Marvel game that we’ve had and I’m very excited. I like the Cinematic aspect of games because I am more into movies than games and … I like the Telltale games, I like something that’s hard to lose at.

JB: But there are other games. I would never have known there’s a new “Contra” game coming out unless we had seen it and gotten a booth tour of the actual game. Then when I did, it I was like “I’m sold.” This game is amazing so it definitely works in a lot of ways. You just have to, I think, focus on what does work and stop focusing on what it used to be. Change it in order for it to survive, if it’s going to survive, as a big gathering point for like-minded people every year.


Photos by Lillian SOGAR