Don't you dare look away
Amidst a sea of jaded members of the media, we'd like to think that GamesRadar harbors the precious few that still look forward to E3. Late nights spent writing articles, attending press conferences on two hours of sleep, running from booth to booth till our feet bleed--it's all worth it to see upcoming games and share our thoughts and excitement with you. But there is one thing we dread each year. It's an entirely different E3--the kind of excruciatingly embarrassing events where onlookers can only stare dumbfounded, bewildered at the insane ways in which companies choose to promote their games.
We expect goofs during E3 press conferences to some degree, and most audience members have the decency to shrug them off. But then there are times when a million-dollar presser turns into a three-ring circus of awkwardness. It's these moments that will stay with us, long after the upcoming releases they're hyping have come and gone. Prepare yourself, dear reader--you're about to experience the most wince-worthy discomfort that a social situation can produce.
7. Battle Tag (Ubisoft, E3 2010)
Video games are often classified as such because they let you directly interact with something on a screen. D&D, Magic the Gathering, truth or dare--these are not video games. And no matter how much you try to gussy it up with technology, neither is laser tag. That didn't stop Ubisoft from ensnaring a room full of the gaming media into a completely unwanted demonstration of Battle Tag. Without warning, Joel McHale's disinterested hosting was brought to a halt by robotic taunts, followed by a parade of models prancing around and trying way too hard to blast each other with laser pistols at point blank.
McHale then delved into unfunny banter with producer Gael Seydoux, forcing Seydoux to speak between exasperated gasps from the exertion of the aforementioned laser tagging. Choice Seydoux lines include "I just played with my kids before coming," calling Joel "James," and "You've seen us running everywhere...but...the content you can create and share it with the community and your friends." McHale and Seydoux then proceeded to shoot at an unarmed woman on stage. They put a cap on the segment with an obesity funeral joke. Good night, everybody.
6. Kinect (Microsoft, E3 2011)
Listen: If you told the ten-year-old versions of us to perform on stage in front of thousands of viewers, we'd no doubt crap our pants. Portraying an inanimate fern in the school play is one thing; demoing a game for the press and shareholders alike is something else entirely. But just because we would never have the courage to play the Kinect on an E3 stage, doesn't make the motion-control performance of child actors any less cringe-inducing.
If you have a younger sibling, you're probably familiar with how skin-crawlingly irritating it is to hear them squeal "GET THE SPECIAL COIN!" while you're playing a game. It's even less endearing when said kid is a stranger who's being paid to feign excitement. And not to rag on him too hard, but the Once Upon a Monster tyke has a lot to learn about acting. Typically, when we see a child enjoying a game, their response is definitely more gleeful than a world-weary "Nyaaaaaaaaaaah." The whole thing would be a wash were it not for Tim Schafer's off-script witticism of "Unleash the simulated family! Very lifelike!"
5. The PlayStation 3 (Sony, E3 2006)
There's no doubt in our minds that, on some nights, Kazuo Hirai screams himself awake from a tormented sleep, drenched in cold sweat at the thought of E3 2006. It was then that he took the world stage to usher in the PS3--but instead of drumming up hype for the imminent release of the console, Hirai eclipsed it with a cavalcade of awkward lines and stilted enthusiasm. It was then that he uttered the phrase which would tarnish his career like feces on a clown costume: "It's Ridge Racer! Riiiiiiiidge Racer!"
Hirai wasn't the only one belly-flopping, mind you--though few know him by name, none can forget the words of Bill Ritch during a demo of Genji: Days of the Blade. After boasting that the game recreated "famous battles which actually took place in ancient Japan," Ritch then proceeded to hack and slash at a giant crab and its beach-ball-sized offspring. Not only did Ritch deftly attack his crustacean foe's weakpoint for "massive damage"--he also did massive damage to the PS3's image as anything other than a crab battle simulator.
4. Jamie Kennedy (Activision, E3 2007)
Jamie Kennedy is not a man of many talents. In fact, he barely seems able to maintain his supposed day job of making people laugh. Regardless, Activision decided to hire the star of Malibu's Most Wanted and Son of the Mask to host their E3 proceedings, perhaps in the hopes that he would resonate with the younger crowd. Kennedy responded to his contractual obligation by showing up to the conference with all the wit, tact, and preparedness of a toddler who just smoked a bowl.
Perhaps Kennedy was trying to push the envelope, delving so deep into an abyss of anti-humor as to invent a new form of comedy. Or maybe he's just an unfunny a-hole, whose repertoire includes and is limited to boner jokes and praising the people who give him pity laughs. Whatever the case, he alienated every single person in the room that day, both on stage and off. The only amusing thing to come out of the presentation was Kennedy's response to criticism on Twitter years after the fact. His slew of impotent comebacks read like they were plagiarized from the LiveJournal of an angsty, misunderstood teen.
3. Wii Music (Nintendo, E3 2008)
Hmm, that's odd. Nintendo said they were showing off a new game, but all we see is an Indian gentleman with a crazy hairdo, sitting on stage and sweating profusely. Ah, interesting--seems he's creating an unimpressive drum solo using a Wiimote-Nunchuk-Balance Board combo. That was cute, but--OK, he's still going. This no longer sounds rhythmic in any sense of the word. Woah, he's really starting to rock out; look at this guy gooooOH GOD HE'S HAVING A SEIZURE, CALL A PARAMEDIC! HOW CAN YOU ALL SO CALLOUSLY STAND IDLE AS HE--Oh. It's over.
It's safe to say that not a single person, whether in the audience or watching from home, was excited by the idea of Wii Music (save for a handful of clueless executives). But the true disgrace of this presentation is that it painted professional musician DJ Ravi Drums as a spasmodic, bumbling fool. Those who witnessed his on-stage, Wii Music-induced aneurysm may go their entire lives not knowing how skilled a drummer Ravi actually is.
2. Mr. Caffeine (Ubisoft, E3 2011)
If you gathered the world's greatest scientific minds and asked them to determine the purest form of annoying, their results would all point to one man: Mr. Caffeine. Aaron Priceman's lame, unexplained stage name would live in infamy after 2011, where his hosting credentials were put to the test by an audience who wanted him dead within seconds of him opening his mouth. Mr. Caffeine took a smirk-worthy bit from Wayne's World, ran with it, then brutally murdered it onstage. When he wasn't poorly pantomiming time travel, Priceman was crashing and burning his career with ill-timed dick jokes and talk of "Tom Ka-Lancy's" Ghost Recon.
Priceman's website claims that Mr. Caffeine "effortlessly works a room and skillfully motivates an audience to action." One then wonders how, when asking his increasingly irate viewers to join him in the umpteenth "Doodily doodily doo," Mr. Caffeine was met with a deafening, somehow hostile silence. It seemed that even crickets couldn't be bothered to chirp for this severely irritating ham. Ubisoft, you done done it again.
1. Ninety-Nine Nights II / Dance Master (Konami, E3 2010)
"...Hi." Such a timid utterance is the start to so many of life's most awkward moments: asking your crush out on a date, starting an intimidating job interview, calling your parents to tell them you're in jail. With this one word, Tak Fuji ushered in what would be the most excruciating, toe-curlingly uncomfortable E3 moments in industry history. And by God, was it glorious. Konami opted to forego a trained host and just let the game developers speak for themselves, in a language they were not yet comfortable with. The result was a Holy Trinity of awkwardness.
With Tak Fuji, Naoki Maeda, and Thomas Nagano's powers combined, they created the Captain Planet of incomprehensible presentations--one filled to the brim with quotable lines like "Extreeeeeeeeme hack-'n'-slesh tattle," "You will be sucked," and "One million troops...WOW." We would quote Maeda, but--no disrespect--we have no earthly idea what he's saying. Cut to Maeda and Nagano kneeling before a virtual Lady Gaga doppelganger like cultists worshipping their dark lord. If there was any justice in this cruel world, all three presenters would've left the stage to a standing ovation.
More to come?
There's no telling what kind of painfully uncomfortable moments will transpire E3 2013--but we'll be there to find out firsthand. These seven aren't the only cringe-worthy moments, mind you; depending on how sensitive you are to on-stage awkwardness, every E3 presentation has something for you. Which E3 moments made you recoil in horror from your monitor, or gave you a full-on panic attack?