Can’t We All Just Get Along?
By Matt White(Chtulu80)
A few weeks ago the Electronic Software Association had put out new restrictions on the amount of people from independent sites can attend E3. This started an uproar in the indie side of gaming “journalism”. While some went off the handle one way or the other, I got to thinking, why are we fighting? Everyone that does this on the indie side doesn’t do it for money. They do it because they have passion and love for gaming and the industry. It was said that for the folks that do not get the chance to send anyone from their site to E3 to “work harder” instead of just covering the same things everyone else does. While I do think that this is correct to an extent, I do also think that there can be good coverage from the smaller sites or blogs. Going back to passion, it reminds me of a local sports talk personality who has a tag line that is “Bring it hard and bring it with passion”. I then compared sports fans to fans of video games, which we all are, and thought about the problems and potential solutions of these issues.
The ESA has turned E3 into a roller coaster for indie sites; four years ago they were banned, but in recent years have been able to cover the show. I can see problems with it. Some problems would include developers not having enough time to properly have scheduled appointments with professional or paid journalists while also having to explain their titles to indie writers as well. I can also see problems with wait times on games. I have seen reports of 3-5 hour wait times just to play certain titles at this show or others like it. Another problem I have heard about is how smaller sites have problems trying to get time with the larger developers and companies. These are all legitimate complaints. The questions that comes to my mind are, how can we fix these issues and how can the paid journalists coexist with the indie sites?
After thinking about these questions for a few weeks, solutions are really not as clear as some would think. One solution could be to make the convention a day or two longer. This solution also causes a few problems; it would cost more for developers in areas of keeping people out on the coast being hotel room costs, food, transportation costs and most importantly taking employees away from their jobs and away from production and development of the new exhibited products. How could this be better for the industry? Well it would give developers more time to talk with journalists either professional or not. It would give indie writers more of a chance to talk to developers, getting contacts set up, and overall helping themselves get more of a foot in the door. It would also help the paid journalists because more time at the show would mean more of a chance to have their time and not being rushed through interview time.
Another solution would be for the paid journalists to have a day for themselves at the conference. I know that there is a day before E3 where some journalists are judges for the “best of E3” awards. I would suggest something like this where the bigger journalists would get a chance outside of all the pomp and circumstance of the conference to get the information they need to do their job. The positives to this would be that the top sites would get this information before hand without the feeling of being rushed. At that event, they could then set up times for follow up appointments. This would be good for the indie writers in the way that they wouldn’t have to fight as much with the paid journalists for time at the conference to talk to the developers and get their information and interviews. Another variation on this would be a “community day” possibly at the end of e3 that would just be community or indie sites only. This way would be great in the way that the indie journalists would get more of a chance to talk with the developers and get interviews.
More solutions would include time set aside by developers to do something akin to a question and answer session for the indie writers. This would go over all information given to the paid journalists and would hopefully give the indie sites a chance on their own to play the games and ask questions similar to panels at PAX. This could work but would it cause ill will to the paid journalists? Leading to more questions.
My last idea is this, keep E3 for professionals, therefore locking out indie sites, but come up with an industry backed event like PAX that locks out the professional aspect of game journalism. This could be a double edge sword in the aspect that it would cause a lot of hurt with everyone involved. Do developers keep information back from the professional press for the indie sites? Does this cause more hate between professionals and indie writers? I am not sure what the answer would be for this but folks need to step back and look at the situation from all sides. It would also be great if they could come up with ideas for solutions as well.
Coming from someone who has never attended an event like this before I can’t really say what I would do if given the opportunity to go. My plan of attack would probably try to get my foot in the door with some of the smaller developers. Maybe focus on developers that make games for iPhone, portable platforms, or folks that make games for either PSN or XBLA. I would think that these are the developers that need the publicity for their titles that may get overlooked by some of the larger sites that want to concentrate on the bigger developers. It would also help gain experience in communicating with the industry. By that I mean if you write up or interview a company and they like you, they tell other developers that they know about you, you get more contacts and so on. Therefore I really wouldn’t have to fight for time for interviews and such making my experience better for my site in general. Just think before you blow up at a situation and remember, bring it hard and bring it with passion.