New Media Interchange #010

The Electronics Entertainment Expo

This is New Media Interchange where we talk about the media world beyond mainstream television and radio, including podcasting, YouTube, live streaming, gaming and more.

NMI is Hosted by Douglas E. Welch, pioneer podcaster, blogger and writer.

As you probably already know, this week Los Angeles hosted the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) a it has for the last several years. Despite living here in Los Angeles, I decided to forgo the traffic, crowds and cost by watching the big E3 announcements on my big screen TV from the comfort of my office couch. I was also joined by 17-year-old gamer son to give me some perspective from the game community.

Where other blogs and podcasts might seek to give a more comprehensive overview of everything that happened at E3, I decided instead for focus on those things that most caught my attention during the hours of presentations. The first, and I think most important, thought that struck me as a I watched was how much gaming entertainment has entered the mainstream of the entertainment world. Watching the hours-long presentations from EA, Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo and more I was struck by how similar they were to to another entertainment industry event, the network “upfronts” where television networks introduce advertisers to the best shows of the coming season.

Where, in the past, E3 presentations were comparatively small and viewed only by attendees at the show itself, it was clear that, this year, the audience was global and across the entertainment industry spectrum. While the show itself might be happening in Los Angeles, these large announcement “shows” were designed to reach out to an engaged and interested audience no matter where they might be.

Further, the design and production of these announcements rose to new heights, resembling a mainstream television event broadcast, like the Oscars or Grammys, more than a typical gaming or tech demo. Not only are gaming manufacturers working to show that they are just as important as film, television and radio, they are using some of the same familiar visual tools to do it.

They were also using the most popular online tools to reach out to the market in places where they already spend a significant amount of time. Throughout the show, hours of live streamed and recorded content was available via both the gaming focused and hugely popular streaming site, Twitch.TV, now owned by Amazon and also on online heavyweight YouTube, owned by Google. YouTube even used E3 for a large announcement of its own, introducing YouTube Gaming, which will seek to challenge Twitch’s market prominence by focusing on gaming content, including live streaming.

In the article, Think Gaming Content Is Niche? Think Again from the Thinking with Google blog writer Gautam Ramdurai notes,

“Take a broad look at pop culture, and you’ll see that “gaming” is tightly woven into its fabric. It’s everywhere — €”in music, television, movies, sports, and even your favorite cooking shows. And as gaming content takes off on YouTube, gaming is becoming not only something people do but also something they watch.”

I know, in my own life, my friends and acquaintances of all ages, are exhibiting a heightened level of knowledge and interest in games and gaming. Some are much like myself, viewers of gaming content, rather than heavy players of the games themselves. For myself, I often enjoy watching a “Let’s Play” series of a video game, knowing that I would have a tough — and less enjoyable — time playing the game itself. I’m not very good at what I call “twitch” games that require a lot a hand-eye coordination and would much rather watch a skilled player and entertaining commentator play through the game.

Ramdurai goes on to say,

“Sometimes watching someone else play a game can be as much fun as playing yourself. This isn’t surprising because we engage in similar behavior when watching the Food Network. Even though we can’€™t taste the food being prepared on shows such as Chopped, the process, tension, and competitive nature make for great entertainment.”

I think that this year’s E3 makes it very clear that gaming has joined the mainstream of the entertainment industry and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. We are seeing a nexus point in entertainment as television and film seek to become more interactive, and gaming grows to become more narrative and cinematic. Over the next several years, we will see more entertainment that adopts the best aspects for each of the media and combines them into something entirely new.

“Part 2 of my Interview with Eric Rochow”

We talk about his long running show GardenFork.TV,
his Labrador Co-Stars, and the Past & Future of New Media

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