There were quite a few interesting things to see at the recent Tokyo Game Show. Instead of rehash all the announcements, we'd like to point out a little bit of the show's absurdity. To be fair, no game show is without its weirdness, but this video served as a good starting point for a discussion about the culture of trade shows as well as gamer culture in general.
Scott: Here we go. Time for the News: The WTF edition
Scott: I kind of feel like this video is like one of those de-motivational posters: "Sense: This video makes none."
Jorge: I like the cowboy boots. Is that to emphasize the fact Microsoft is a Western franchise? But Japanese women are wearing them. Maybe this is some metaphor for Microsoft's burgeoning role in the Japanese market.
Scott: Or maybe ladies in boots are hawwwwt.
Jorge: Hey, I just came from Blizzcon. Why make them wear boots when you can make them wear skimpy leather clothing and night-elf ears?
Scott: I mean, we talk a lot about video games in fairly serious way: culture, economics, artistic interpretation. But this is a good reminder of the commercial nature of the industry. Not to mention the downright weirdness.
Jorge: It is the overt commercial aspects that are so weird.
Jorge: Costumes and themed apparel are not new (eg: http://www.blizzard.com/blizzcon/photogalleries/) for convention goers. But most of these are just game enthusiasts, not paid models who don't know the difference between a thumbstick and a drumstick.
Scott: Are these ladies really helping Microsoft sell things?
I mean, I don't watch this and then think to myself: Snap, I have to buy a 360!
Jorge: It's strange because when I think of gamer communities getting together, and TGS definitely included this considering how many civilians showed up, I think of an organic experience. There is an interesting dichotomy at events like these between the organic and inorganic aspects of gamer culture.
Scott: What do you mean by "organic?"
Jorge: When I think of gamers getting together I think of myself getting together with friends back in high school. If you think of these events as venues where people gather to share a common interest you are dreadfully misinformed. Unless your common interest is an army of booth babes.
Scott: Which it most certainly is.
But seriously, that's a good point: these events are by their nature marketing events. They're trying to sell their stuff, so why not use sex appeal?
Jorge: Part of the uncomfortable feeling, and maybe its just me, is the sense that I am being targeted. All these women are just scantily clad door-to-door salesmen as I see it.
Jorge: It's not just the night-elf models either. There were two announcers at Blizzcon during the Starcraft Tournament that were clearly had no idea what they were talking about. They called themselves "E-sports" announcers. The pay-per-view announcers at the event had the same pre-packaged feel about them.
Scott: They literally called it e-sports?
Jorge: Yeah. Their heads were swollen with excitement.
Scott: Or faux-excitement?
Because I think that's what you're getting at with the whole "organic" thing. These are people who are being paid to look excited about the games, rather than being genuinely enthusiastic.
Jorge: When I think of videogames as related to books, the booth babe marching band seems incredibly alien. I've never seen something like that at a book signing.
Scott: Or at a movie premier, or even something like Sundance.
Jorge: Do you find this degrading to the medium?
Scott: It's somewhat degrading, although probably more so to the women...
But it's the idea that gamers can be fooled by a tight body and pumping techno music.
Jorge: I don't think its just targeting gamers though. They do it for themselves too, and for journalists. It's just become so ingrained in the theatrical nature of it all. Car shows do the same thing.
Scott: So they're branding, or trying to create a culture for a company?
Jorge: You'd think you'd be able to show off your goods without showing off someone else's goods. Brand your company with sex appeal and show off frivoulous spending, that will bolster your street cred.
Scott: A corporate pissing contest?
Jorge: Yea, its just what you get with this type of marketing. It's easy to forget how silly the videogame industry is when you're busy enjoying their actual product.
Scott: True. Maybe it's best just to laugh at it and try not to get too involved in the marketing quagmire.
Jorge: I'm glad that game journalists and convention goers know this is just silly.
Scott: Yeah. It makes me less worried that all the big deal folks like Brian Crecente realize how ridiculous it is. But you have to admit, techno "Auld Lang Syne" is damn catchy.