E3's Sordid History of Embarrassment!

E3's Sordid History of Embarrassment!

Video game lovers are eagerly awaiting the new technology and games that will be revealed at E3 this June. But if history is any indicator, we should also be looking forward to some hilariously embarrassing moments. When game companies dream up the best way to present their latest wares, they don't always hit the mark.

Here are some of the hilarious ways they've failed in the past.

Products That Don't Work

No one is immune to this problem. After all, the purpose of a technology expo is to showcase new—often unfinished—inventions, and the kinks aren't always all worked out yet. At one tech conference, none other than Steve Jobs had to tell an audience to turn off their Wi-Fi devices so his glitchy iPhone 4 could connect to the Web.

At E3, though, these failures can be especially funny. Take, for example, the 2008 demonstration of Konami's music game Rock Revolution. The game's senior product manager, Lauren Faccidomo, demonstrated it with a rousing rendition of the Ramones' punk rock classic "Blitzkrieg Bop" on a plastic guitar, accompanied by a fellow employee on fake drums.

E3's Sordid History of Embarrassment!

Wait, did I say rousing? What I meant was either the instrument malfunctioned, or Faccidomo didn't know how to play it, because she made so many mistakes that the game cut her off like a paranoid bartender. She ended the press conference almost immediately.

The following year, Microsoft's "Project Natal" (now Kinect) didn't quite work as planned when a demonstrator offered to show the audience what the bottom of his avatar's shoe looked like. "Wa-bam!" he exclaimed as he thrust his foot toward the sensor. Instead, the proto-Kinect failed to read his movement, and the avatar jerked awkwardly.

And then there was the 2010 debut of the Xbox 360 Slim. Some mischievous YouTube uploader decided to experiment on a display model to find out whether, like previous versions of the Xbox 360, the Slim would destroy your game if you moved the console while the disc was spinning.

As it turns out, yes, it would. Good to know; bad for Microsoft's image.

Products That Work Too Well

The bottom line is that people look dorky when they play motion-controlled games. It's an inescapable fact, and it's part of what makes beer-fueled Wii contests so much fun. You'd think that game companies would notice this and find some way to demonstrate these games without embarrassing themselves and their employees.


The history of wince-worthy E3 demonstrations of motion games started only a few years ago, but it's already full of great examples. Nintendo's 2008 demonstration of Wii Music is perhaps the best one; the image of a demonstrator trying to "drum" by waving his arms wildly is practically iconic. (My favorite touches are his spiky hairdo, his ridiculous expression, and his stupid outfit, any one of which would make him look like a tool. Of course, the "drumsticks" in his hands didn't make it any better for him.)

E3's Sordid History of Embarrassment!

Okay, so maybe no one realized how big of a flop that would be. Did the industry learn its lesson? Of course not. Last year's demonstration of the Kinect game Dance Central was almost as bad. If there's one thing that looks more awkward than fake drumming, it's fake dancing by a nerdy-looking guy. An animated gif of that poor demonstrator is nearly as well-known as the image of Nintendo's little drummer boy.