E3 Isn’t My Scene Anymore, and That’s Okay

When I was a teenager, I had a cousin around my age that I would hang out with sometimes during the summers. We would stay with my grandmother and great-grandmother for the whole weekend. On Friday night, my great-grandma would make two full boxes of Hamburger Helper, and when we got there multiple cases of Sprite Remix would be chilling in the fridge. My cousin and I would put away two pounds of ground beef and macaroni, wash it down with our trendy soda, and stay up til three in the morning playing video games together. On Saturday, we would sleep until noon, and when we finally stumbled out of bed we’d do it all again. We were Gamers™, and those days were the peak of our summer experience.

Fast forward ten years. These days my heart races if I eat too many tacos at dinnertime. Sprite Remix hasn’t been on the market in ages. As I write this article at 10:30 PM, I am up way past my bedtime. I no longer game for hours in a single day – heck, sometimes multiple hours in a single week is an accomplishment. I’m still a gamer at heart, but the definition of what that means to me has changed drastically in my adult life. And the reality of that settled in deeply over the past couple of days as I experienced what is supposed to be “gamer Christmas” – the Electronic Entertainment Expo, AKA E3.

I started my E3 journey on Sunday afternoon by watching the Microsoft conference. That evening I live-tweeted the Bethesda conference as well. Yesterday, I worked a full day at the office and so missed the Ubisoft show live, but I was able to catch up during dinner and then I stayed up late to see what Square Enix had in store. I retweeted memes, listened to reactions and discussions, texted my friends, and generally engaged in the hype machine that is E3. But as I dove in further and further, what I found is that each show left me feeling disappointed. Now I could sit here and wax poetic about how this hasn’t been a particularly impressive expo year, but in my experience there’s something deeper happening, a realization settling in that whether gaming has changed or I have changed, this world doesn’t hold the magic for me that it used to.

A look through my tweets over the past few days should pretty quickly reveal my sentiment towards the various conference. I’ve dunked on mobile games, zombie games, military shooters, cloud streaming, remakes, battle royales – most shows had maybe one game that caught my eye, but even then my excitement always came with a caveat: I don’t have time for this. We live in a world that is full of video games, and just playing the ones where my hype level is 10/10 barely scratches the surface of the experiences available to the avid gamer now. I can’t finish every game that makes me shout with excitement, let alone the ones that earn a quick beard stroke accompanied by a “hmm, that’s kind of neat.” Combine that with the fact that so many of the titles shown don’t appeal to my particular gaming tastes, and it seems like the hobby that I once loved has grown quite distant from me.

And you know what, adventurers? I am okay with that.

The way I see it I have two options. I can write a 2000 word blog post saying “woe is me” and complaining about the fall of the game industry, or I can shrug my shoulders and acknowledge that this world – or at least many aspects of it – are not for me. There is no written rule anywhere saying that I have to go “all in” in order to be a certified Gamer™. If all I want to watch is the Nintendo conference and spend the next two months talking about nothing but Fire Emblem and Pokemon, that’s a valid approach. That’s being a gamer. So is loving every single Tom Clancy game shown at the Ubisoft conference. So is playing nothing but Tetris and Candy Crush on your cell phone on the tram. So is being unabashedly in love with Fortnite. None of those things are for me, but that doesn’t mean they’re bad. Because for someone else – lots of someone else’s, in fact – those things are all fantastic and it’s what connects them to the amazing community of gamers.

I think what I have learned about myself this year is that I still allow myself to get sucked into things I am “supposed to do” as a gamer or a blogger. I have to cover E3, right? If I’m not posting about that then how am I supposed to grow my brand? But it’s helpful here to remember that my goal with Adventure Rules is not to grow a brand at all, but to have an outlet to write about the things that make me happy and excited. A place to share my thoughts with the amazing friends I have made across the world, and to read what they are excited about too. The moment that something I am doing stops serving those purposes, it loses its value. It becomes a burden that must be shed rather than an opportunity to be embraced.

The one part of E3 left is the Nintendo Direct, the part I am most excited for. In all likelihood, something will happen in that Direct which inspires me to put pen to page again and share my thoughts on the world of gaming. But there’s a chance that it won’t, either. And if that’s the case, I’m not going to force myself to write. I won’t do a top ten games of E3 or a breakdown of my least favorite parts of all these disappointing conferences. The folks who love those things can write about them and share their passion. But for me, I don’t want the negativity that I feel because something isn’t my scene to cause other people to feel as if their scene isn’t welcome here.

The version of me that stayed up all night playing games isn’t around anymore. But the version of me now can still be a proud gamer in his own way. E3 doesn’t have to be my scene for me to love this hobby, or for me to want to talk about it on my blog. Understanding that will help me to approach this whole event in a way that’s healthier and more positive for everyone who interacts with me – at least, that’s my hope.

22 thoughts on “E3 Isn’t My Scene Anymore, and That’s Okay

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  1. This is such an important point. Gaming is so broad now that it’s impractical and undesirable to stay on top of everything. The thing to remember with E3 is that for the most part — definitely these media briefings, anyway — it’s going to be the high profile stuff that they expect to make the big bucks.

    The interesting stuff (for me, anyway) comes out when the show floor opens and people start specifically seeking out smaller developers and publishers. And Nintendo, of course; a Nintendo Direct never disappoints! Looking forward to watching it later, followed by NIS America’s stream later in the evening.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally agree with you on the smaller devs – I’m very excited to see past the fog of AAAs to see what cool stuff we’re missing under the surface. And as you said, Nintendo rarely disappoints – I basically only play the Switch now so in all likelihood there will be something in today’s Direct to get me excited again.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel you on this. In a similar vein, I feel like I’m a little harder to please than I used to be because I don’t have as much time anymore. I don’t necessarily want to waste my time on games that are only mildly interesting.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This! Anytime people start the whole debate of whether or not a 7 is an “average” score, my perspective is that 7 is above average but I don’t have time anymore for above average. I play through maybe one game a month, so if it’s not a series I’m already hyped about it’s going to have to hit “great” level for me to take a risk with it

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you so much for writing this, Ian. You’ve pretty much explained exactly how I’ve been feeling during all the E3 hype over the past few days and it’s a relief to hear it’s not just me.

    The only presentation I’ve managed to watch was that from Microsoft, and I came away with that feeling slightly disappointed and wondering what that meant for me and my hobby. But you said it: it doesn’t make me any less of a gamer and I’m proud to be one. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Kim! That’s a big part of why I wanted to write this, feeling like I’m not the only one who’s going through this experience this year. Lots of my friends seem disenchanted with the whole thing and I think we’re all having to come to terms with this in our own way. Just because this isn’t our E3 doesn’t mean this isn’t our hobby, and we can still love games even when we barely get to play them anymore.


      1. Yes! I know I’m going to show my age by saying this but I miss the days where expos were about the games rather than the ‘spectacle’. It just means that E3 isn’t for me any longer – not that I’m going to stop playing.

        Maybe next June we should do nothing-at-all-to-do-with-E3 collaboration. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  4. A lot of this resonates with me quite fundamentally. The last few days on Twitter have been a bit of a nightmare in terms of people being negative about stuff. Even people who I like and respect have been really quite negative about it and that itself has left me feeling a bit down. I have for a long time been someone who won’t say anything about a game (or music or films) unless I have something good to say about it. I feel making negative comments is a waste of my life when I could be talking about something I love.

    However, my experience of E3 is that I actually love the spectacle itself, no matter what games are announced. I find the idea of there being surprises super exciting (which is obviously spoiled by the number of leaks that are occurring.) It is an event I look forward to each year and will continue to do so, but at the same time, it isn’t a big deal to me, it’s just a bit of fun (if that makes sense)!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It sounds like you’ve got the right perspective on things! Enjoying what you love and letting other people do the same without getting all worked up about it certainly sounds like a more peaceful way to do things. I’m going to try to be better about that sort of thing moving forward – grumbling about too many online shooters or whatever isn’t doing anything for anybody!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I hardcore relate to this. Before Switch, I had basically fallen out of video games all together. I hadn’t even beaten Ultra Sun like 6 months after I bought it. Switch culture made it easy to be excited about what Nintendo is doing, and the Switch itself made it easy to pick up a game and play. I realized very quickly there were so many games to play through, and my budget really only afforded me like a AAA title every 6 months or so. (I think to date I own 4 AAA titles, though one of them I started with, and the other one was on sale for Mario Day)

    So I basically decided, hey, the Switch is an amazing system, and I could stay entertained by this thing for a long long time. So why don’t I just play through all the games I want, at the pace that I can get them, and if someday my console is dated, who cares as long it’s still fun? I think everyone has to adjust to what being a gamer as an adult means for them.

    Though poor Joseph, during lunch he’s been trying to get me excited for E3 things that aren’t Nintendo for like a month to no avail lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha, that sounds like Joseph alright! I fully agree with you – each of us has to discover for ourselves what it means to be a part of this hobby when we don’t have as much space to give to it as we might want. As long as you are happy with what you are playing, then that’s what matters, regardless of whether it is only indie or only AAA or only one console or only one series or whatever else. Gaming is varied enough to embrace us all!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I enjoy watching it where I can, but a lot of what comes out of it doesn’t really interest me. Everything seems designed to have as broad an appeal as possible (not necessarily a bad thing) or to be chasing the current flavour of the month. I miss seeing the genuinely interesting/surprising stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For sure. I think those of us hungering for something a bit more unique may find more to love in indies than we do in the AAA space now.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I like seeing E3 and everyones excitement around it all. I have to admit that I don’t particularly care about who “wins” E3 as my answer is the same every year as I think gamers win. My main point there is I realise that everything announced won’t suit me but they will excite someone. There is something quite special about that. Games exists for all gamers, and whether there is someone only interested in one type of game but can play loads or someone who has a varied taste but little time to play both are equally gamers. There is also room for everyone in between. Only a small portion of games will be shown at E3 and we can find out about the others over time and some as a surprise if we stumble across them.

    Being an adult can really change your perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Sorry I’m late to the party on this. Was out of the country when you posted it and I’m still trying to catch up. This part of your post really resonated with me:

    “I think what I have learned about myself this year is that I still allow myself to get sucked into things I am “supposed to do” as a gamer or a blogger. I have to cover E3, right? If I’m not posting about that then how am I supposed to grow my brand? But it’s helpful here to remember that my goal with Adventure Rules is not to grow a brand at all, but to have an outlet to write about the things that make me happy and excited.”

    Glad to see you make that choice for yourself. Everyone’s motivations for writing are different, but I’m glad to see you focus on what you want to do versus what you think you should be doing. It will probably be more gratifying for a longer period of time with that approach.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I think it is easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing and lose track of your own goals. Taking the time to remember what I actually want has been really helpful for me and has me a lot more excited about blogging than I was when I was focused more on “growth” or “being journalistic.”

      Liked by 1 person

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