You Need To Think More Critically About E3

Note how the title says “think more critically,” and not “think only critically.” I often receive false assumptions on my work because people misinterpret my actual intent. In this case, people wrongfully assume that because I use the words “think critically,” I must automatically mean that consumers should strip all emotion away when it comes to buying and playing games, that consumers should only look at facts like mindless robots.

In fact, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Games are emotional experiences. However, you can still think critically even if a game that’s shown off to you stirs a certain emotion within you. In fact, this misinterpretation itself is a symptom borne from the lack of critical thinking that takes place in this industry.

If people did indeed assess all facts laid out before them, then perhaps they may see my careful choice of words (“think more critically” and not “think only critically”) before casting false assumptions that I intend to strip all emotions from gaming.

Indeed, even putting forth the notion that games must be looked at only through facts and completely devoid of emotion is, in itself, irrational and devoid of any critical thinking.

And it’s this issue, the lack of pulling back and understanding the bigger picture, that is a systemic problem for our beloved industry. No clearer is this issue prevalent than at the industry’s yearly expo, E3.

Every E3 is a chance for these companies to get up on stage and dazzle us with their games. And naturally, this will stir excitement. This excitement is a good thing. It’s a reminder of our love for this art and the experiences we create and consume together.

However, this excitement is not without its serious issues. Too often, this excitement gives way to hype, a blind ravenous hype that quickly consumes gamers and media alike. This hype completely blinds people from any ability to think carefully about what exactly they are wildly cheering.

Nowhere is is this so easily proven in the scores of articles and reactions you read online, claiming “Microsoft won E3,” or “Sony won E3.” As a member of the media, it is our responsibility to help consumers make the most educated informed purchasing decisions they can. And yet, you see articles talking up who “won” E3.

And I find this deeply troubling. As a consumer (especially as a member of the media), why are you so ready to go to bat for these companies that you would behave like a foot soldier and defend them in some sort of tribal competition? What do you owe these companies that you are so willing to display your loyalty (and thus hard-earned money) to them?

This is the level of blind hype that I have no tolerance for and find increasingly damaging. I always encourage consumers and media to step back and reflect on exactly what they’re doing. And once they do, they perhaps realize that this tribalism is exactly what these companies want, for you, a consumer, to blindly hype and defend them.

This blind ravenous defense is made all the more perplexing when these companies show that, time and again, you are just a number to them. This is made all the more evident with Sony’s recently discovered decision to block your Fortnite account.

In essence, even if you only played Fortnite once on your PS4, you simply cannot use that account to log into Fortnite on the Switch (or Xbox) and play there. Your only option is to create an entirely new account, losing any and all progress in the process. This is compounded by the fact that Sony does not allow cross-play of Fortnite with Xbox or Switch.

When you consider that Sony’s tagline has been, “This Is For The Players,” you begin to understand how absolutely ludicrous the notion is of going to bat for these companies to defend them in some tribal “competition” by claiming that they “won” E3.

These companies are not your friend. They are a business. No matter what they say, their bottom line is what they really care about.

This isn’t being cynical. This is simply taking a step back and understanding the situation and employing some pretty basic critical thinking. You’re asking, “why am I so willing to go to bat for these companies,” instead of blindly cheering, “Sony/Microsoft won E3!” In short, this isn’t some extremist radical ideology. This is simply being an intelligent and informed consumer and member of the media.

Image via Allyson Bood

Again, understand what I’m saying here. I am not saying don’t be excited or emotional about games. I’m simply saying employing some critical thinking will allow you to not become a victim of blind hype, absorbing everything these companies say without giving a second thought to the bigger picture. If anything, this will help you become a more intelligent and educated consumer, allowing you to enjoy your favorite games that much more.

There is a difference between enjoying something and blindly hyping. The former involves pragmatism, while the latter is an absence of pragmatism. You can be happy, enjoy something, and even be excited by something while still remaining pragmatic.

Rather than point fingers ad nauseam, I’ll use myself as an example. It is no secret that I’m very much looking forward to Cyberpunk 2077. But crucially, I’m doing so by assessing all the facts about the game we have been presented so far, while simultaneously recognizing the unanswered questions that still remain. This cautionary approach is pragmatism. Receiving the known, recognizing the unknown, and crucially, not blindly raving about this game based purely on the single trailer we’ve been shown.

That’s pragmatism folks. Is it devoid of emotion? Of course not. I just said I’m excited about this game, and last I checked, excitement is an emotion. But I am taking care to assess all information, known and unknown. And that right there is what I mean when I say you must think more critically about a product you will spend your hard-earned money on. You’re not stripping away your enjoyment nor excitement. You’re merely stripping away the blind hype, allowing you to think clearly while still being motivated by your excitement and love for this medium.

Too often, this pragmatism is falsely labeled as cynicism. And honestly, I can understand why. When you don’t appear to be as excited or raving about a game compared to your peers, they assume you’re just being cynical instead of “letting people enjoy things.” Because you’re not saying what they want to hear, they dismiss it, or in my experience, take your lack of blind excitement as a personal insult.

If people knew me, they’d know that’s not the case. You’ll never hear me argue to strip all emotion from gaming, or stopping people from enjoying something. That’s irrational. It makes no sense.

What you will hear and see from me is urging consumers and media to view their emotional reactions to events like E3 with a bit more critical thinking. Instead of assuming that I don’t want people to be excited, perhaps read and understand the message I’m trying to convey. Apply just a bit of common sense to your excitement instead of blindly accepting what these companies tell you to be excited about.

I’m under no illusions here. This article, and pretty much everything I say, goes directly against what people want to believe. I fully expect this article to be dismissed as “he’s just trying to ruin people’s fun.” When seemingly everyone else is on that E3 high, an article encouraging a more common sense approach will inevitably be viewed as cynical and negative.

I know I won’t reach everyone. But I do hope that I reach someone. After all, when it’s our hard-earned money on the line, do we really want to give it over to companies so easily? I’m of the mind that perhaps, just perhaps, they should earn it.

Written by
A highly opinionated avid PC gamer, Poorna blindly panics with his friends in various multiplayer games, much to the detriment of his team. Constantly questioning industry practices and a passion for technological progress drive his love for the video game industry. He pulls no punches and tells it like he sees it. He runs a podcast, Gaming The Industry, with fellow writer, Joseph Bradford, discussing industry practices and their effects on consumers.

3 Comments

  1. No one, and I mean NO ONE cares what you think about what they think about E3. You want real talk? Let’s talk.

    Fact: Sony is winning the console war. They have more exclusive games than any other console that has been out since the Nintendo Super. But you wouldn’t knopw that,m would you? Because you aren’t a real gamer! What, do you “Claim” to play all consoles? Psh! I doubt you even own any of these consoles. What are you, a PC gamer? How can you possibly think critically about gaming when you can’t even compare your experiences to those of the consoles? We have stellar titles liuke God of War, Gears of War, Recore, and Knack 2 – games you can’t even PLAY on PC. So tell me how that’s suppoosed to work?

    Let’s say I log in to God of War and play. I’m running around, throwing my axe, grunting comments to my boy, when all of a sudden I’m like, “Oh! I feel like it’s time to update my spreadsheet! I’m gonna play this on my PC!” So I run over to my PC, boot it up, which of course takes like 3 minutes because PCs aren’t optimized for bootup like consoles are, wait for McAfee to finish loading, click open the Xbox gaming app, only to realize that God of War IS NOWHERE TO BE FOUND!!! So guess what, your precious PC can’t even play the games I get to spend dozens and dozens and dozens of hours loving and exploring to its fullest. So how is the Fortnite thing ANY different? I’ll tell you how:

    It’s not. It’s the EXACT SAME THING. You boot up Fortnite on youir PS4, un around getting chicken dinners, then decide, “Oh! I want to play this on the go!” So you switch over to your Nintendo portable console (I forget the name now, deal with it), try to boot up Fortnite, only to realzie that uopu can’t. And I’l tell you why: MICROSOFT DOESN’T WANT TO ADMIT THEY ARE AFRAID TO LET PC PLAYERS HAVE THEIR GAMES!! That’s right. Because Microsoft realizes that PCs can’t run their games up to the right specs and same quality that you can on Xbox, there’s ABSOLUTELY NO WAY they will ever allow PS4 to run Fortnite at the same time as Nintendo. It creates too many problems and loopholes in the system architecture, and is honestly just unfair to SOny.

    Fact: Sony KILLED IT at E3. They care about gamers and everything they do is for the gamers. They didn’t waste our time talking about PC architecture or stupid graphics cards that no one understands. They showed the games. THAT’S how you know they get it, and it’s why I will never stop supporting them – because they will never stop supporting us.

    Fact: Your critical thinking skills are highly lacking. And I can prove it. What color is the sky? Blue right? WRONG!!! It’s just your eyes tricking you, there actually IS no color to the sky! And I intend to prove it by jopining the SPace Force and beringiong my Samsung S8 with me to take photos. I probably won’t be allowed to do that, but I’ll sneak it on and set up a separate twitter account to post them on. I guarantee when I get up into the armosphere, I’ll be able to prove that all these blue sky photos are photo shopped. I will also prove that the earth is not round. And no I’m not a stupid flat-earher, but I think it’s pretty obvious that the earth is oblong. Sort of like an oval. How else do you explain the fact that our orbiuts around the sun are not perfectly stimed exact loops? If they were, every day would be exactly the same, and we’d be repeating everything we do from one day to the next. We wouldn’t know it was a repeat of course, because we’re just on this constant loop that resets us every day at midnight, but I’m pretty sure I would know, because I am one of the chosen few who have figured this out already. Somewday I’m going to prove that we’re living in one giant episode of Groundhog Day, and that if I Can just figure out where the exit is, I’ll be able to rpove that this is sort of like one giant episode of the Truman Show. I firmly believe that the Truman Show was made simply to tease us. To get us thinking, “Oh man wouldnt it be crazy if that ws ourt life,” when in reality, IT ACTUALLY IS OUR LIFE!!!! All you people who deny these facts are dumb,. i cant wait to prove you all wrong.

    • I literally can’t tell if your comment is serious or not, a prospect that’s troublesome at best. There are so many fallacies in your post I’m surprised someone claiming to be as intelligent as you seem to think you are can’t see them. Exclusive titles don’t equate to “winning” the console war – that’s honestly a false equivalency. Who sells the most games, the most subscriptions and the most consoles – that’s who is “winning”. You also have absolutely no idea how a PC seems to work when it comes to gaming. Honestly, if you’re using the Xbox Gaming App to play games on a PC this just illustrates my point.

      You also seem to be really confused about who makes the Nintendo Switch. You do realize Nintendo is it’s own company, right? Not owned by Microsoft? And if I log in to Fortnite on my XBox I can stil play on my Switch. If I log in on my iPhone, Android, or PC – I can still play on my Switch. It’s JUST Sony that locks your account down. An account you’ve likely dropped real money in to; Sony is holding people’s assets ransom and they could care less.

      You seem to use the word ‘Fact’ a lot and then literally provide no data to back up your ‘facts’. I’m not even going to address your last paragraph. I hope you seek professional help, I honestly believe you need it.

      • Don’t worry dude. Brian is my friend. He’s completely trolling, and I love reading his comments on my articles every week.

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