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It’s been an important week for the tech community. Between the E3 games expo and Apple’s WWDC keynote conference, nerds from all over the world have crawled out of their mums’ basements to rejoice in all things tech.
Beyond my general interest in digital media, these two events are actually surprisingly outside of my comfort zone. As any followers of my Twitter feed will be aware, I’m not much of an Apple fan, in fact I don’t even own a single Apple branded product. Additionally, with regards to E3, I would never consider myself much of a gamer. Despite a mild obsession with the Diablo franchise, the last console I purchased was actually when I bought a PS2 over ten years ago (and I must say we remain very happy together).
Still, working within Digital PR it’s important for me to keep up-to-date with the latest trends and to know what’s inducing my fellow nerds’ most recent overly excited asthma attacks.
As such, when video games journalist and fellow drinkist Tom Hunt (@worstdaysince) asked me to test out his E3 drinking game, I grabbed a bottle of scotch and ran as quickly as my shaky alcohol-ridden legs would carry me.
Flicking between the E3 and WWDC livestreams I was amazed by the almost desperate attempts to make technology appear cool. Everything from the rock concert laser show right through to the Match of the Day style ‘live scoreboard’. When did tech companies become so desperate to look matcho?
Personally, I blame Steve Jobs. Jobs was the first true ‘celebrity CEO’, and with that title he took on the task of turning stuffy software launches into half-time Super Bowl shows. Since then every tech company has felt the need to wheel out their CEO as some sort of ‘down-with-the-kids’ superstar. The only problem is that most tech professionals who have worked their way up the corporate ladder are dryer than Stewart Lee’s pumice stone.
Take Sony for instance. At last night’s E3 some bright spark thought it would be a good idea to crank up a bit of rap music whenever their CEOs walked on stage (you know, because young people like rap music). The only problem with this strategy is that the majority of their CEOs were 45 year old white guys punching slightly above their weight.
Even worse than their choice of music though were their desperately forced attempts to connect with the everyday gamer. Between fall-flat jokes and ‘me-too’ anecdotes, half of E3’s speakers came across as little more than dads at a disco.
But who cares? So they don’t have much in common with the modern gamer, why should that matter? If their good at their jobs then we shouldn’t need to wheel them out like crowd-pleasing celebrities. I mean, the CEO of Sony must manage over a thousand products throughout every country in the world. Do you really think he has time to be writing jokes and trialling Octodad?
Not all companies need a friendly face. Some of them can get away with simply producing damn good products.