Tomorrow, I will be attending the first two days of the Eurogamer Expo 2014 or EGX2014 as it has been more effectively rebranded into. As always, I have somehow managed to bag a press pass and will soon be in the company of thousands upon thousands of gamers.
I both love and hate the convention with equal measure. On one hand, it’s a cool day out in which my friends and I take time off work to play demos of soon to be released video games. Afterwards we may even go drinking in Camden or try our luck in Kensington maybe.
At the event, every so often you get to meet some of the game makers or personalities within the industry, and you get all gushy with that sense of ‘I belong’. In my first year I met Nolan North and Richard Lemarchand just before the release of Uncharted 3. Seeing as Nolan North basically is Drake, this was a dream come true. In other years I witnessed the arrival of Hideo Kojima as he entered through one of the side doors. I must have caught a stray strand of genius that billowed from his wake as I suddenly thought about a monster with the body and tail of a shark but the webbed legs of a lion, the landshark… Somehow this would make me rich.
I remember when I first went feeling the overwhelming sense of I belong! I belong! Don’t I belong? But of course I belong, the event is tailor made for me and my white male preordering consumer ilk.
It is easy to get cynical about the event, Leigh Alexander’s write up of last year’s event is astute as ever. Why get excited for another Assassin’s Creed game? Which is released in a mere three month’s time?
And here is where I have grown to resent the expo. I generally hate being considered one of them, and you know who I’m talking about. Them. Just look at them.
At 10am the doors open and everybody floods in, some start running. I’m convinced that for some of them, this is one of the few times they do actually run. Sometimes they make a few steps and then break out into an awkward brisk walk. Some of them skip because you know Battlefield is going to have the biggest queues. Another poor young youth is running around like a headless chicken, “where is Titanfall? where is Titanfall? Where is Titanfall!?” Nobody will stop to answer him, because they’re too busy running to the Titanfall booth. I guess a lot of us everyday in our lives are basically asking where the Titanfall is?
I’ve made a list of vignettes about the times in which EGX has made me feel less of a… well… less of a man.
Later on into the first day, the smell sets in and everybody at #EGX just smells. You wouldn’t believe the farting either. And I fucking hate farting. Nobody will ever love you enough to relish in the scent of your colon. It is foul and it is horrible, and perhaps defines my resentment to the white male gamer demographic as a whole. For god’s sake stop farting. And stop sweating. Apply addaquate levels of anti-perspirant, bring a can with you for God’s sake and top yourself off throughout the day. Think of it as an opportunity to invest in some good deodorant. Men need to know these things.
If gamer’s just worked together to rectify the problem of its smell, I genuinely believe that we will accomplish miracles.
My life is already full of plenty of crap, which is destined to find its way to a landfill somewhere. Expos and any conventions are an excuse to be handed a number of marketing spiel, from pamphlets to T-shirts, key rings and other shitty little items. I remember waiting in line to play the Arkham City demo in 2011, when the community manager came out to host an impromptu prize giveaway. A number of bat-related questions were asked, and T-shirts and trinkets would be dispensed to the eager group of nerds collected hither.
“What is the penguin’s full name?” she asked. All radical like with her dyed pink hair.
“Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot” says the guy in front, but he’s too quiet.
“O-O-Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot!” blurts the guy behind me, much louder and right into my fucking ear.
“Is the right answer!”. Replies the community manager, she throws a keyring. The key ring hits me in the face and falls to the floor. I am suddenly aware through my good eye that two grown men are fighting over an Arkham City key ring on the floor. Its kind of dehumanising. The skinny one gets it, the larger one has trouble bending to reach the floor… The skinny one holds it close to inspect it – a keyring featuring the official Arkham City keyring. Why, people could think he was working security there! Or no! Everytime he unlocks the door to his home, he can be like “and now we enter the madhouse!”
The larger one sighs in resignation but also acceptance. I guess he doesn’t win much at all in his life.
I just want to play the fucking demo, which will actually be released on Xbox live next week, whilst the full game follows in a little under a month anyway. This is your life and it’s ending one minute at a time.
Dig that Dildo Jiggle Physics
I had the opportunity to play the demo of Saints Row: The Third. You know Saints Row of course, it’s the GTA clone that ran away with madness to become actually better than GTA. It’s the game in which you can punch bypassers in the crotch, with a press of a single button. I mean, there is genuinely a button to punch people in the dick.
Thanks to Saints Row’s effective marketing campaign and trailer trail, the game had rather ingeniously spiked my curiosity. Of course I was going to play the game if given the opportunity and of course I would punch everybody in the crotch, like they all bloody deserve.
Settling down to play the demo, when a booth became free, I diligently took my turn. Then out of the corner of my eye, I’m aware of one of the staff coming up to me. In Saints Row style, they had a number of scantily clad booth babes walking around the show floor. The member of staff turns from talking with them and grinning from cheek to cheek, swaggering up to me about to introduce me to the zany world of Saints Row The Third.
“Hey man, you know how to play”
Do I know how to play? He asks. Like its some kind of neuroscience.
“I’m sure I can work it out”, I laugh jovially.
“You should use the dildo bat! Everybody loves the dildo bat” he enthuses with a undercurrent of sleaze.
He tells me how to bring up the weapon wheel and bring up the dildo bat, a purple yard length phallic effigy that is designed to function as a baseball bat but flops around the place almost a reminder of the ineffectual structure of the masculine member which defines all of patriarchy ever.
“Now beat that granny over there with it!” he clamours.
“Is your name Simon? Because I didn’t hear you say Simon says” I replied.
Well I had to beat somebody up. It was probably the only way I’d get him to leave so I could punch more people in the crotch. And so I beat the first guy round the face with my giant purple dildo bat. The character’s posture is that of a baseball batter, but the bat itself flays around wildly in the air, as the man is knocked to the floor clutching his face.
“Ah yeah! You pasted him!” He shrieked. “Now get another!”
Jesus. He won’t leave. And so I batted another innocent pedestrian. And another. And another…
“Yeah, you like that?” he cooed. I now felt like I was in a porno or been entered the criminal underworld in which I was forced to become a pimp of some kind.
“Dig those dick jiggle physics” he whispered as he patted me on the back, walking away to accost the next nerd.
“Meh, it’s more Halo.”
Aside from the show floor, EGX has a number of developer sessions, in which you can queue for about forty minutes. It takes some of the masses away from the show floor. So whatever. In 2012, I went to the developer session for Halo 4 because I wanted to see just what the hell 343 industries were doing with my beloved Halo after the departure of Bungie. I thought it was a good opportunity to do something new and interesting with the franchise, despite the lack of any Marty O’Donnell, who basically makes Halo like John Williams makes Star Wars. Halo 4 had no Marty O’Donnell…
Development lead Frank O’Conner was on hand to provide a walkthrough through one of the levels. The game looked remarkable for a Halo game, but meh… it was still Halo. It was still sidestepping into cover whilst some alien menace spewed out multicoloured lasers at my person. I was just a little disappointed to tell the truth. But really. What was I expecting?
I was hoping to get a couple of words from Frank O’Connor after the session and waited with some of the media that had amassed at the exit. I met with Acey Bongos the UK community manager of Xbox. I knew Acey Bongo from Inside Xbox and Sentuamessage on Xbox live. Throughout university, these programs was basically Blue Peter every week for me and my friends in lieu of a TV license. So it was cool to meet him in person. The lovely Scottish Acey Bongos.
“What did you think of the game?” he asked.
“Well it looks good. But meh… more Halo,” I replied.
I suddenly felt the weight of my words. The assorted company looked at me as if I had farted as a means of insulting their mothers. It was an awkward silence to be sure.
“I was just hoping that it would be something a bit more different to the usual Halo thing, but I guess that was wishful thinking. I mean, Marty O’Donnell isn’t even doing the music anymore. He’s what makes Halo Halo. Without him is like making Star Wars without John Williams, y’know?” I tried to justify my thinking.
They all nodded diligenty. This party of Microsoft.
“You should play the demo on the showfloor,” said Acey Bongos.
“I should!” I said.
And promptly I left, I had just told Microsoft that their Halo sucked. What was I expecting.
“Gentlemen, right now you are privileged enough to be playing a working multiplayer demo of Battlefield 4.”
In past years, the queue to play Battlefield is usually the longest, but you have to play Battlefield, because it’s like the best game ever! Okay? I mean with all the guns and the choppers barrelling out of the skies and that one guy tearing around the map on a quad bike without a care in the battle beleaguered world. Hmm… Beleaguered, that’s a great word isn’t it? I should use it more.
Last year before the release of Battlefield 4 and it’s enduring technical problems with people actually effectively playing it, a friend and I queued up early in the morning to play the game. We’ve played all the battlefields before of course. Bad Company 2 was the best of course, Battlefield 3 was a huge disappointment, especially on consoles… euh.
Before playing the demo, we were given a formal introduction to the game with all the intensity of that first drop in Starship Troopers.
“Gentlemen, you are all right now privileged enough to be playing a working multiplayer demo of Battlefield 4.” He said.
Get us, privileged! Privileged to play a video game demo… Actually sitting down to play the game however, we found the game was laggy and the majority of the demo was spent waiting for the guy in the helicopter pilot to actually take off. We queued forty minutes for this demo. We were supposed to feel privileged, but instead we felt cheated.
This is your life and it’s ending one minute at a time.
So why go to EGX? Well, why do anything in life?
Tomorrow morning, I’ll be queuing up early in the morning with the rest of them, prepared to be mercilessly marketed towards, doing my duty as a white male gamer playing snippets of all of next year’s video games.