Sunday Thoughts: Press Conferences

Imagine you’re a new hardware manufacturer and you’re planning on going to E3 next year. Your venture capitalists, private investors and Mafia contacts have given you almost infinite funding for the big show, so you can really start things off with a bang. In fact you want things to go so well you’re going to hold a big press conference and show off just what you can do. How should you go about it?

Well you’re a hardware manufacturer so you probably want to get things off to a good start by showing off your console. First thing’s first, make sure you actually announce what you have is a console. Sure, you might have some really amazing tech that isn’t in the box itself but you really should show some kind of box, sphere, or floating holo-disk.

People like boxes, they can understand a box. It’s reassuring to know there’s something under your TV that’ll hum lightly and let you show off to all your friends. I mean that’s obviously what the box is all about really, showing off. Without that how will they know just how cool or cutting edge you are? By actually playing games on it? Please.

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The other upside to showing the box is it lets people work out whether or not it’ll fit into their entertainment centre. They also need to know whether or not it’ll match their front room’s décor, and if it looks cool enough that they can put it on a beautifully lit pedestal in the centre of the room. Remember, it’s all about showing off.

[drop]Next make sure you have an absolutely huge screen at your press conference. People can’t possibly be expected to see anything that’s not displayed on a screen at least fifty feet high. Remember the dimensions of your screen have absolutely no relation to the size of your venue, even if you’re somewhere fairly small the screen still needs to tower and vaguely intimidate those in attendance; if it’s not huge then the press will never learn to fear and respect your gigantic face.

The other reason a giant screen is a necessity is it lets you say things like “…and only our console has the power to make images so mindbogglingly massive.” This is, of course, hugely impressive. Never mind the fact that the consumers who will buy your console don’t actually have screens the size of a small building in their front rooms. It’s not your fault if your the people buying your console don’t have a giant screen to play games on, they just need to know that if they wanted to rent out a theatre and convert the back wall so it was entirely made of screen they could. If they’re not up to that then they’re clearly lazy. At least you tried to show them how games should really be played.

Now, let’s look at the people demonstrating your console. There’s two routes to go here. If you’ve got some kind of motion controller you need to get people who have no sense of shame and are annoying as possible. Make sure you’ve got a script so utterly cringe-worthy that your audience will want to actually hide under their chairs in embarrassment. At least some of your demonstrators should be children, and rather than actually talking about the game they should have some kind of banter that no-one who plays games outside of a press conference has ever partaken in.

On the other hand, if you’re showing off games that use a more traditional controller you’ll want to do things a bit differently. You still need two people on stage, one talking and one playing. The one playing the demo should be utterly stone-faced and clearly concentrating fiercely on not screwing up. At no point should it look like they’re actually having fun, you don’t want to push people’s expectations too high. If they look like they’re focusing so hard that some kind of psychic ability might actually reveal itself, then you’ve got it spot on; looking like they’re trying to pass a kidney stone is probably a little bit too far.

As for the person describing the demo they’ll want to talk over as much of the demo as possible, explaining exactly what’s going on. At no point must your audience be left to figure out what’s happening by actually looking at the screen, or be allowed to let the demo sink in. If that happens they might be able to work out what the game’s really about, rather than what you say it’s about.

If you suspect that even someone talking constantly isn’t going to be enough of a distraction, you’ll need to replace the person playing the demo with a celebrity who looks as awkward as is physically possible. This should distract the press and public from the content of your demo, as they wonder “What on earth is that dude doing on stage?”

[drop2]The only exception to the two person rule is if you have a researcher showing off some cool piece of tech you’ve developed. In that case it’s acceptable to only have one person, as long as they have some kind doctorate. People will only be truly convinced they know what their doing if they have the word ‘Doctor’ in front of their name; a beard helps too. You also need to make it look like you’ve literally dragged them out of a lab, tidied them up a bit, and then shoved them on stage in front of thousands of people. If you hit all those points then you’re sitting pretty. That’s not to say your researcher’s demo won’t baffle those watching, but at least they’ll know science was involved.

Finally you need someone hosting the conference whose name people can actually remember, who is literally larger than life. You want gigantic men presenting your conference, guys who look like they should be in pro-wrestling or beating you senseless in a bar fight. If you can find an actual giant and fit him in a suit that that would be perfect. If you can’t manage that then you need to get someone in their early thirties, wearing a blazer over their hoodie who says “Dawg” a lot; thus utilizing the little known ‘J Allard Effect’.

If your host doesn’t fulfil at least one of these two criteria then they will be utterly forgettable, no matter how big you make their face on your giant screen. Unless their name is Mr. Caffeine. Then no-one will ever forget, although for entirely the wrong reasons.

Oh and if you have a significant game announcement make sure your spokesman has it tattooed somewhere on them. Nothing says “Please pay attention to our game” like marking someone’s skin for life. Anything less is simply not enough commitment.

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16 Comments

  1. Haha very good article. Summed up how terrible all of the press conferences were.

    • Great read, I laughed at most of it.

  2. Lol, the Sunday thoughts are often quite solemn but this is a revelation, brilliant stuff Kris! :)

  3. One of the biggest things for me have always been the montages. Sony’s have always been good yet this year it was just awful. Terribly edited and for me at least, it made me less excited whereas last year it kept me glued to the screen with a big smile on my face.

  4. MEGA sarcasm, I love it!

  5. i cant wait for next years E3, ill be going to that one :D

  6. Hilarious! When’s your press conference, then? I want to book my ticket! :)

  7. Oh, perfect! Well written Kris.

  8. “The one playing the demo should be utterly stone-faced and clearly concentrating fiercely on not screwing up. At no point should it look like they’re actually having fun”

    I actually had to take break from reading this article laughing so hard at that xD

    • Same here. Brilliantly done Kris.

  9. Haha brilliantly written. Love a dry sense of humour.

  10. that was brilliant! :D

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