Drink in the spectacle
E3 is happening next week. That's exciting, isn't it? Who knows what will happen? Well actually, I do. You see while this year's show will undoubtedly be full of new games, announcements and innovations, the fact is that we already know how things are going to play out. Because, like any long-standing event or institution, E3 is now dripping with its own tropes and cliches.
That's not necessarily a bad thing, of course. Particularly to the dedicated fan, there's a certain reassuring regularity, even an endearing coziness that comes with the recognisable behaviours and personalities of the big three platform holders. E3 cliches are to be celebrated as much as maligned. And what better way to celebrate anything than with a boozy toast or 30? So I've put together a drinking game in preparation for this year's conferences, allowing us to do just that in spectacularly ebullient and self-destructive style. Just one note though. Do not under any circumstances attempt any of the following if you are under the legal drinking age for your country. Or have any sense of self-preservation whatsoever. That out of the way, without further ado, let's start with Microsoft...
Drink whenever a conspicuous emphasis is placed on games
Because everyone is still smarting from 100 E3s in a row focused on smug TV deals and awkward-looking singers and sports stars. And even Microsoft must know that ESPN and Star Trek: Into Darkness aren't going to keep us going until Halo 5 turns up in 16 months.
Drink whenever TV sports content is mentioned
Because they're going to keep touting those deals regardless. Drink twice if they mention a new TV initiative tied to a game. Because interactive entertainment is only going to become more exciting the more passive it becomes.
Drink whenever anyone puts a euphamistic, positive spin on Microsoft's earlier screw-ups
Because the Xbox One's early days weren't a PR car crash. They were a valuable learning experience, during which MS really heard the fans.
Drink whenever someone describes the development of the Xbox One or its games in vague yet epic terms
Watch out for words like 'journey', 'mission' and 'adventure'.
Drink if Phil Spencer wears a game t-shirt under a suit jacket
Because he always does. Everywhere. Drink twice if it's an indie game. Because Sony aren't the only ones with indie friends, you know.
Drink whenever someone euphemistically skirts around the recent dumping of Kinect using positive PR spin
It wasn't a failure. It was a valuable learning experience that allowed them to really give fans what they want, with the value they deserve. Drink twice of there's a furious-looking Harmonix developer in the vicinity.
Drink whenever a new feature is technically impressive, but will never be used in your home
We do what we must, because we can. Whether you really want to play Halo while watching Star Trek: Into Darkness during a Skype conversation while Googling a players' guide or not.
Drink whenever there's an expectant pause for applause
Because if Microsoft think something's incredibly cool, you will too. Because they're never out of touch with what people in the real world want. Drink twice if the eventual applause is weak. Drink three times if it never arrives.
Drink whenever an on-stage demo goes horribly wrong
Drink twice if it was nightmarishly scripted and acted before it even went wrong. Finish your drink if Kinect is involved.
Drink whenever it feels like they're padding out the line-up
Drink twice if small-scale downloadable games are getting a disproportionate amount of stage-time. Drink three times if an HD remake turns up. Drink four times if they focus on a multiplatform game for far too long. Finish your drink if they announce timed-exclusive DLC.
And now onto Nintendo...
Drink whenever Iwata invites you to "Please enjoy" something
Drink twice if he does the old "Direct salute"--pictured above--when introducing it. When this occurs, all must stand, a shot in each hand, and perform a reciprocal gesture before drinking, as if being handed the beverages by Iwata himself.
Drink whenever a Nintendo exec 'casually' mentions playing a game with another Nintendo exec
Drink once more for every executive Mii that appears on-screen in relation to such a statement.
Drink whenever Iwata says something complimentary or appreciative to the audience
Because he's an utter gentleman, and you must toast his warm and respectful etiquette.
Drink whenever the focus shifts to a game that's already out
It's not filler. It's important information about the continuing value of the Wii U.
Drink whenever someone yells "FALCON PUNCH!" in the chat window attached to the video stream
In fact drink on any occurence of hardcore Nintendo fans flooding the chat with Nintendo memes. "Hey, listen!". "HYAR!". "It'sa him!". "My body is ready". Drink for all of them. However much your kidneys hurt.
Drink whenever Iwata stumbles over the autocue but carries on through it like an absolute trooper
Because he is both a gentleman and a goddamn professional, and you must show your appreciation. He is doing this for you, his friends, so bottoms up.
Drink whenever an exciting bit gets prematurely curtailed
"We will bring you more information on this exciting title in a future Nintendo Direct"
Drink to drown your sorrows.
Drink whenever an executive cosplays
Twice if they look really awkward doing it. Finish your drink if they get really into it, and perform an impression of your own before you put your glass down.
Drink whenever an exciting-sounding announcement turns out to be an obscure Japanese game with no fixed release date
And not say, the Zelda or F-Zero or Starfox or Metroid that the preceding hype implied.
Drink whenever a custom tie-in 3DS is announced
Actually maybe only drink on every other one. Otherwise you'll die, and then you'll never get to play Bayonetta 2. Whenever it arrives.
Anyway, steady your livers and follow me to Sony!
Drink whenever you see a pie chart
Jolly Jack Tretton may be gone, but his love of pie (the graphical kind) must surely live on. Pay tribute to his cheery William Shatner spirit by downing some spirits of your own.
Drink whenever you hear a non-too subtle jibe at Microsoft
Screw it, drink to the subtle and really obvious ones as well. Look out particularly for references to innovation, price, power, PlayStation Plus vs. Games with Gold, and "NYERR, BIG STUPID POO-HEADS".
Drink whenever a third-party dev speaks intensely and earnestly about the power and potential of Morpheus VR
Drink twice if he says that using it instantly changed the whole way he sees game design and the player experience. Finish your drink if he doesn't actually confirm any projects in production. *cough*KenLevine*cough*
Drink whenever a Project Morpheus stage demo goes wrong
Because however good the tech, the eldritch powers of the E3 stage will make it collapse at some point. Remember the Move archery demo? The Wii remote archery demo? Needless to say, finish your drink if it's a VR archery demo that screws up.
Drink when you hear "But let's not forget about PlayStation Vita"
Drink twice if you had already forgotten about PlayStation Vita. Drink three times if the Vita line-up is sparse. Finish your drink during any video montage used as a flashy dumping ground for portable games.
Drink whenever anyone uses the word "presence"
It's Sony's new buzzword for VR. You're going to be hearing it in your dreams by the time the E3 week is out. Drown its incessant proclamations with booze.
Drink if David Cage walks out to talk about emotion
Particularly the kind of powerful, highly nuanced emotion that can only be evoked by high-level pixel shaders. Drink twice if the character in his demo cries. Drink three times if he himself bursts into tears.
Drink every time an announcement isn't The Last Guardian
You ate before you started playing this, right?
Drink if The Last Guardian does appear
But ensure that you have a bottle of Champagne ready on ice. You need to make this one count.
Drink whenever an indie game is mentioned
Actually, don't do that. At all. You'd die, and we'd end up with no readers. And probably a fat lawsuit. I repeat. Do NOT do this one.
Hangover, man! Hangover!
Here's where I'd usually drop in a topical conclusion and invite you to add your own entries and ideas for rules in the comments, but as none of you can probably see this by now, let alone read it, there's not much point in me doing that. But on the off-chance that you can still focus, and maintain the required motor control to successfully operate a keyboard, you know what to do.
And if you are one of the lucky few still capable of using the internet, why not celebrate that fact by checking out one or two of our related features? The obvious place to start would be The most anticipated games of E3 2014. And then why not join Justin, as he asks "Who kept their E3 2013 promises?"