No matter what outsiders may say, E3 should be taken seriously. Booths cost millions of dollars, events cost hundreds of thousands, and the stability of half-finished video games could make or break the careers of hundreds of family-wage developers. Maybe it’s that very pressure that causes such funny things to be said. It’s important to blow off some steam when dealing with a high-stakes scenario, and nothing can lighten the pressure like a quick one-liner.
E3 2013 certainly had its fair share of zingers, and not just from Sony, as the post-press-conference rants would have you believe. Some of the funniest things we heard actually came up at the most awkward, inopportune and potentially devastating times. It was essentially the social equivalent of saying “Look! Shiny thing” to a toddler or dog in an attempt to distract them from something heinous. Not that gamers are immature or lick themselves, respectively. Below are the five funniest things we heard at E3 2013. Some have lost a bit of their zing, but they were all riotous when first spoken aloud earlier this week.
1) “Xbox, unmute!”
- This gem actually came from the crowd during Microsoft’s E3 media briefing. It happened the first time an Xbox One game demo — for Battlefield 4, no less — played without audio. It’s important to specify “the first time,” because this public travesty actually happened twice, and the audience wasn’t nearly as kind the second time around. The comedian who yelled this was two rows behind us, and his wisecrack reference to Kinect-enabled voice commands had at least one-third of the arena laughing. Even Peter Moore, Chief Operating Officer of Electronic Arts, got into the act at EA’s press conference immediately afterward, introducing their demo of the game with “Battlefield 4, this time with audio included.”
2) “I love sniper rifles with netting.”
- None other than Bungie’s Joe Staten came up with this one-liner. Joe and his Bungie cohort Jason Jones were running through a behind-closed-doors demo of Destiny for PS4 that was nearly identical to the demo at the end of Sony’s press conference. When it came to the point in the demo where Joe and Jason admire one another’s guns, Joe’s first-person viewpoint panned over Jason’s sniper rifle, inspiring Joe to comment on its fashionable art direction.
3) “And it won’t stop working if you haven’t authenticated in the past 24 hours.”
- Sony Computer Entertainment of America’s Jack Tretton — one of the most human, relatable and sincere gaming executives in the industry — cold-cocked Microsoft with this one-liner comparing the PS4 to the Xbox One. In the days leading up to E3, when Microsoft clarified its Xbox One used-game policy (read our Xbox One used-game policy analysis), many gamers went ballistic about the need for Xbox One to connect to Xbox Live every 24 hours if users want to play a game or access any of the console’s features. Tretton stayed above board for most of Sony’s E3 press conference, but the gloves came off at the end, highlighted by this poke in Microsoft’s already-black eye. Pockets of fanboys in the crowd took the bait and roared with delight, but even members of the media ate it up.
4) “You want to know what it feels like when the cage closes. You want to know what it feels like to be hit in the face.”
- Actually I don’t. Dean Richards, general manager of EA Sports UFC, was trying to describe the sense of realism that his upcoming Xbox One and PS4 UFC game manages to re-create. He went one analogy too far. Other than UFC president Dana White and the two UFC fighters on stage, I don’t think anyone in the audience or watching at home wants to know what it feels like to be hit in the face.
5) “We just had a video card die. We will now honor its memory with a moment of silence.”
- Pete Hines, VP of PR and Marketing for Bethesda Softworks, showed his snarky side during a demo for The Evil Within, a new survival-horror game that’s guaranteed to give you nightmares. We’d just finished a stealth level and were headed into an action-oriented sequence when the machine froze twice and gave up the ghost. My unpeed-in underwear were thankful for the timing, and Pete broke the tension perfectly.
There were many other funny moments during E3, some alcohol-induced and some not, but these five stand out from an otherwise pressure-filled week. It’s easy to forget that although they’re called “games,” these pieces of software and brand-new consoles are very much a business. Everyone showing their wares at E3 has a lot riding on a successful show, so forgive them if they blew off a little steam with a zinger or two. It’s not only a way to distract folks from issues — or if you’re Jack Tretton, to draw attention to a competitor’s issues — it’s also a coping mechanism. And laughter is infinitely more enjoyable as a coping mechanism than punching something, no matter what EA’s Dean Richards may want you to believe.