Henry Jenkins on E3


Henry Jenkins if the Director of MIT’s Comparative Media Studies Program and the author of a new book, Convergence Culture, Where Old and New Media Collide. He keeps a blog on media culture, and gaming at www.henryjenkins.org.

I recently interviewed Henry for an upcoming episode of Escape Radio, and I asked him what he thought about the news that E3 as we know it would be coming to an end. His response was, as always, insightful and inspiring, and I thought it would be a good thought to share with you as this tumultuous week draws to a close.

I’ve written several times in the past that I though E3 was onto pf the biggest, most disastrous things to hit the games industry. I like a lot of people who are involved in running E3 but I think the floor at e3 was exactly what is wrong with the games industry.

Imagine, if at Show West (which is a film industry trade show) we simply put up one big auditorium and projected every film to be released in the next year in that auditorium on the wall at the same time. Which films would make it through right? The biggest, the loudest most spectacular films. The films that were quiet subtle, the best picture nominees, those films would simply be drowned out if we tried to watch every to release next year in the same room at the same time. And that’s exactly what’s been happening at E3.

You go on the floor and its like sensory overload. I’ve seen people pass out. You’re so bombarded when you go on the floor of E3 and all the planning of the games goes to what’s going to make the biggest splash on the floor, what’s going to do it big on the big screen, what’s the most memorable moment, what’s the image that’s going to drive this thing? The result is that games have gotten bigger and louder. It’s like being in marketplace in Hong Kong and I don’t think that serves the games that are more subtle, more innovative – that are doing interesting things.

You don’t see innovation at E3; you see eye candy and you see explosions. And I think that’s where, if all the effort of the game company comes to designing for E3 and if all of the people who are buying games for various chains see those games on the floor at E3 and decide what to book for next year, you’re going to have a really loud, really dumb game industry and you’re going to have a lot of problems with innovation.

I’m actually exited that E3 may be ending and that people are forcing themselves to think about new ways of publicizing and getting games out in front of people. Because I think E3 was simply the wrong model for games as they emerged to think about promoting really innovative and creative products.

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