E3, allegedly all about what’s new, is so often about what’s old. E3 looks to the future but it’s careful to invoke the past. The older you get, the less time you have for games, they say, but the more the time you do have for games is wrapped and coddled in memory.
E3 understands this. Platform holders understand that their target when putting their big press conferences together is not just the other platform holders, but their own performances in previous years. A bad showing can recalibrate you for years to come. A good showing can be insurmountable. I realised, half-way through this E3’s run of conferences, that I actually had my own favourite E3 moments. Weird, considering I’m never really sure that I like E3 very much at all. But there was the reveal of Twilight Princess, Miyamoto with his sword and shield. There was Crackdown 2, heralded all of a sudden by a single shimmering ping in a darkened theatre. There was Mizuguchi – this was the very best – with white gloves, back to the audience and conducting Child of Eden, a quick bow to the audience and a wink, I think, because we all knew deep down that this was Rez and Rez had returned to us once again. Actually, I even have a certain fondness for Pac-Man Versus back in the day. It seemed so wild in its cables and awkwardness, an opening-out of an ancient game, a new perspective on a classic we were no longer able to truly see.
I have moments about purely new stuff, of course. But not as many as I expected once I started scanning back. And that phrase: a certain fondness. Nostalgia is powerful stuff, but it works by tweaking emotions that in themselves do not seem powerful. Fondness, wistfulness. What these emotions have, I think, is a human warmth – they are close to the heart. And they linger.