Editor's note: Mitchell fires some harsh words at press members he felt lacked integrity at this year's E3. Do you agree with his assessment? -Jay
I've been very vocal in apologizing for the gaming press when it comes under fire. While I condemn the methods of how certain people take on the enthusiast press, I encourage everyone to offer their ideas to improve it. All too often we see accusations that journalists, bloggers, and critics are on the take, have a blatant bias toward one platform or another, or generally suck at having the coolest job ever. I usually think most claims against "game journalists," or whatever we want to call them, are baseless or unjustified. But I also believe constructive criticism leads to improvement in any industry.
After spending five days running around Los Angeles during E3 2010 for GameShark, I've got some constructive criticism of my own. I'm no model for society, but I know what makes good games journalism, and I didn't find it with the E3 media. The following are a set of rules I think should be enforced with aggression in our industry. Apology Mode, deactivate.
1. Don't wear gaming shirts to events
E3 is supposed to be a professional event, but it offers enough leniency that we rock shorts in the smoldering heat and call each other "dude." We don't need to wear suits. If you just want to wear jeans and a t-shirt, that's totally fine. Again, this is a laid-back industry. But for the love of all that is holy, do not wear an industry-branded shirt around the show floor.
I can't count how many people with media badges wore Battlestar Galactica Online, Mafia 2 and Def Jam Rapstar shirts on the second day. It's as tacky as wearing the band's shirt to their concert. When you wear the PlayStation blog event shirt to the show, you look like you have teh bias, especially when you're trying to jump the line at the Microsoft booth.
2. Free shit should not be your top priority
As I waited for the desk lady to grab my PR guy, I saw someone wearing a media badge sprinting across the show floor toward me. I thought he was late for some appointment. No. The dude just about knocked me over as he cut in front of me to grab a shirt off the desk. "No XL?" he asked in a panic. "No, sorry, just the large and mediums left," the girl running the booth said. "Ugh. Fine! I'll take a large then," the angry press dude said as he stormed off with his latest wardrobe addition. He didn't even stop to see the game. What the hell? Free stuff is cool and all, but get your shit together, guys. You're not there to collect on piles of key chains and trinkets. You're there to work. Grab one on the way out if you have to.
3. Leave the booth babes alone
They don't want to take a picture with you. You're reporting on the games they're trying to pull your attention toward. You're not there to show your friends the smokin' hot chick you got to stand beside.
Some of those meeting rooms are small and cramped. If you're not using your hotel's bathing facilities and hygiene products or applying deodorant to your underarms, everyone around you will hate you.
5. Stop watching World Cup
EA shares the blame for this, too, thanks to their positively brilliant positioning of the FIFA booth. They placed it smack dab in the middle of one of the busiest areas in all of the LA Convention Center, where everyone needs to go to get between halls. They didn't show off FIFA 11 there or anything — just live World Cup games. You're taking up space in the middle of a busy hallway when you're standing watching sports all day instead of doing your job. It's cool that EA had this here because it's a great place to kick back and relax. But if you're reporting, get to your appointment or go play something you can write about. ESPN has this covered.
6. Do not hoop, holler, or applaud after trailers
As a member of the media, your job is to report on what you see. If a trailer is totally friggin' sweet, say so. Just don't applaud when Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit flashes onto the screen at the end. If you squeal or let out an "OH MY GOD YES" when a video ends, you're putting way too much emphasis on the wrong word in "enthusiast press." After a five minute cinematic trailer for The Old Republic, the demo room at the LucasArts booth exploded with cheers and clapping. I know I'm not alone in thinking this is totally absurd. I looked to my right to a fellow GameShark writer shaking his head and giving me a "this is just sad" look.
It's great that we get excited for new games. We're in this business because we love it, and we're all anxious to see what's coming. But belting out "yahoo" is a bit much. Presentations and people should be welcomed with enthusiasm — advertisements, not so much.
7. Don't delay another journalist's meetings with fanboy bullshit
A friend of mine told me an incredible story at this week's show. He was sitting down with the creator of Sonic the Hedgehog to talk about his new game. As he was getting ready to rock and roll with some game playing and developer chit-chatting, another media dude whipped out a stuffed Sonic toy and asked the designer to sign it. Yep. He asked for an autograph, on a stuffed animal, during a meeting. As if that wasn't enough, he then asked the clearly impatient dev to snap a photo with him. In short, don't ask a game designer to sign something while everyone else in the meeting waits.
That's my advice, anyway. I think a lot of people in the press go to E3 to play games early and nothing else. I'd like to see the gaming press act like they're there to do something worthwhile. Many of them do, and many of them do a damn fine job of it, even when they're having a good time. We have no reason to be rigid and cranky the whole time. The job itself is awesome, and we get to play games all day. What's not to enjoy? But certain people wearing press badges need to do their job right or get out of the way so those of us who care about more than booth babes and free shit can get things done.
Originally published at DownWriteFierce.com.