There’s a German word, Fremdschämen, that has no English equivalent. It describes feeling embarrassment for someone else because of how oblivious they are. The closest word we have is ‘cringe’, but that fails to fully capture the abject naiveté that was the PC Gaming Show. Like watching a business meeting trying to be a fun-filled two hours of hype and definitely-not-scripted content, the PC Gaming Show seems to have learned nothing after previous years.
The show started with a montage about how fantastic PC Gaming is. Tugging at sentiment as best it could, I could already feel the cringe coming from a mile away. Once the short film was over, we were greeted by the ever delightful Sean ‘Day’ Plott with a joke about Twitch chat’s ever-constructive criticism. We then got a trailer for the show, touting what was to be announced or shown off later. It was this moment where the cracks in the format started to show.
Stuck to a leash, unable to breath, Sean yearns to be freed.
Again, the PC Gaming Show adopted a talk show format. Again, it didn’t work. Every interview was fluff with the occasional release date reveal, but these conversations were hard to watch. Every time Sean asked a question, it sounded like he had a gun pointed at his head. He often backtracked to go over specific points instead of making natural conversation, so the talk show felt more like an infomercial for each game. These interviews went for a couple of minutes each too, and that time could be spent better on, oh, say, showing off the games themselves.
Why can’t we just see these games in action? There was a PC set up on stage for the third year in a row, and only one game used it. Wargroove from Chucklefish was the only live demoed game on-stage, and it was the only interesting presentation because I got to see it in action! Cinematic trailers are bad enough to sit through, but when a PC is sitting right there, why not use it!? The problems kept on coming, though, such as the inclusion of internet personalities that no one knew.
That’s PlayerUnknown! And is that an unused PC in the background!?
Throughout the show, Sean would hand over to Sonja ‘omgitsfirefoxx’ Reid (don’t worry, I didn’t know who she was either). If forced enthusiasm had a face, it would be Sonja’s. Maybe it was just nerves getting in the way of showing how excited she was, but Sonja’s enthusiasm rivalled that of an accountant discussing his finest calculator. Her addition to the show added some much needed away time from the interviews, but she didn’t seem to be having as much of a blast as she kept saying she was. I’d much rather be watching her uncomfortable monologues than having to sit through Intel’s weak attempt at getting on gamers’ good sides, though.
Going into the stream, I was hopeful that Intel could bring something – anything – to the table after AMD’s horror show last year. One of my biggest complaints from previous years has been AMD’s awkward and dull attempts to shill their VR-heavy wares, but Intel did the same thing. You remember Warren Spector’s lecture at last year’s show? Imagine that, but a guy named Doug Fisher from Intel has taken Warren’s place, and man, I did not care about what he was saying.
I don’t remember any talk show having lectures, but here we are.
Doug’s presentation boiled down to VR, buzzwords and a whole lot of talk. Doug was excited to show off a new VR eSports league, which sounds like the dumbest, most ignorant, poorly thought out league I have ever heard. Competitions involving how quickly you can excavate your colon seem like a better idea than VR eSports. VR hasn’t even found mainstream success, let alone enough of a niche subset of people interested in VR eSports. However, there was a far more glaring incident that stuck in my mind.
There was one point in the show that epitomised what was wrong with the format as a whole. Teftyteft (again, no idea who he was) joined Doug on-stage to talk about Destiny 2. No trailer, no screenshots, just a guy talking about how cool it is on PC. Okay. Great. Pro-tip: Show, don’t tell. If it’s so good on PC, LET ME SEE IT FOR MYSELF. You have a PC on-stage, there’s a demo on the show floor, just show us how amazing it is rather than trusting whoever the hell this random streamer is. Hell, even a gameplay trailer would be better than some bearded man you pulled from the internet, but someone high up must have thought, “Oh, this Destiny streamer will sway our audience!”
Just. Show. Me. The. Game.
Everything reeked of a business mindset trying to plan and run an entertainment event. Interviews gave information but ran way too long and were awkward to watch. Intel made the same mistakes as AMD in trying to shill their wares that felt so out of touch with what the larger community wanted. There were some good moments, but they were drowned out by the avalanche of tedium and fluff that the format forced down the viewer’s throat. It’s almost as though the organisers just don’t know what they’re doing wrong when it’s so painfully obvious that the format just doesn’t work. I can’t help but feel a deep, deep sense of Fremdschämen, and I fully suspect next year will be the same. Grade: F