A couple of years before their 2008 E3 conference, Nintendo had introduced the world to motion controls with the Wii. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess launched with the console, and the following year Nintendo would release both Metroid Prime 3 and Super Mario Galaxy. So with a new year upon them, what other major Nintendo franchises would get new entries? Well, besides a new Animal Crossing, nothing really. They showed off Wii Sports Resort and some new peripherals with a stiff presentation that was almost alien compared to how Nintendo does announcements these days.
But Wii Music was the headliner, and they made a whole production of it. Starting off with Shigeru Miyamoto and Bill Trinen explaining how the game works, the team then invites other Nintendo employees and a DJ only known as "Ravidrums" to, as his name implies, play the drums. What unfolds is an uncomfortable three minutes of people pantomiming playing instruments while a discordant Super Mario theme plays.
The team then leaves the stage leaving Mr. DJ Ravidrums to play on stage by himself. And by play, I mean "gesticulate wildly" and "make noises as if a car ran over a drum set and dragged it down the highway for miles."
When EA announced Battlefield 1 in 2016, they decided it would be a good idea to have a cadre of celebrities play a few rounds of the game as a means of promotion. First up on the red carpet was Snoop Dogg, who talked about a "secret weapon" his team has to win the game. Snoop is followed by Wiz Khalifa, who also refers to a "secret weapon" that is definitely not a narcotic. And then, coughing and sputtering like a car from a 1950's cartoon, Jamie Foxx and by Zac Efron stumble in from stage right. The pair giggle and stare and make references to weed like a couple of high schoolers.
It was the perfect encapsulation of what it's like to play a first person shooter online.
In 2009, it had been three years since Nintendo had released the Wii, and both Sony and Microsoft were looking to make their own splash in the motion control space. Sony had the Move, while Microsoft went with a controllerless approach, then called Project Natal. A reel played featuring a teenager talking with a digital sensei and learning a martial art, a group enjoying a racing game hands-free, a child controlling a giant monster knocking down buildings and a woman picking out new clothes digitally. It presented this idea of a great camera that could track all your movements with no issue. Which upon release didn't. And never did. And even upon release of an Xbox One version still didn't.
The most honest version of the product was displayed when Microsoft invited Kinect creative director Kudo Tsunoda out on stage to show off the tech. Kudo asks the audience: "Do you ever wonder what the bottom of an avatar's shoe looks like?" What follows is an Xbox Avatar recreating the "boneitis" goof from Futurama as it contorts and breaks character model.
It seemed like just a mistake but in retrospect feels more like what the Kinect was; broken and terrible.
It's never not uncomfortable when some corporation tries to use memes as a way to seem Cool and Hip; there's even a Twitter account that archived them, @BrandsSayingBae. It's even worse when a company tries to force a meme to happen which we all uncomfortable watched during E3's Ubisoft 2015 conference.
Host Aisha Tyler wanders out into the crowd to chat with a Jacob Frye, one of the Assassin's Creed Syndicate protagonists, cosplayer where first she calls him a "life-sized meme," which is already embarrassing but then instead of being in character he reveals that he was just hired by Ubisoft to sit in the crowd to be talked to. AND THEN she asks if he would like to "pitch a meme" which just wraps all of this into a spine-tinglingly uncomfortable moment of a company just not getting it.
By 2007, Jamie Kennedy no longer had a TV show, and was starring in such fine films as "Son of the Mask" and "Kickin' It Old School." Activision saw this as the perfect opporunity to hire a star at the top of his game. When Kennedy first walked out on stage, he looked as though he'd been sitting in darkness for a week and they just yanked him out and pushed him in front of the stage lights. He then proceeded to insult the audience, get no laughs, conduct an awkward interview with Tony Hawk and one of the developers of Proving Grounds -- and then again slung another insult at the in-game voice acting.
Not satisfied with insulting the audience once, he derisively says "I see some virgins in the audience... virgins? There's so many virgins in here... Richard Branson is... doing this event." and yes, pausing awkwardly to ensure he gets the most amount of laughs. It somehow continues on and gets worse when he asks a British developer if he can "do the interview as Ozzy Osborne." It was so brazenly bizarre and uncomfortable while simultaneously being not funny, it's almost like an art piece or the world's worst Tim and Eric sketch.
I once had a job at a now-defunct video game store where my official title was "Gamer Dude." At this same job, a man was hired to spruce up our stores and make it hip and cool. This man was none of these things. I only mention this because he was the same kind of man as Mr. Caffeine.
In 2011, the year of their 25th anniversary, Ubisoft thought it would be a good idea for their E3 conference to hire Aaron Priceman, who went by the stage name Mr. Caffeine. What proceeded was an eternity of dated references, bad jokes, and mispronunciations.
Mr. Caffeine looked the audience dead in the eye and made numerous references to motion controls, equating them to his penis and saying, with a completely straight face, "I'm not afraid of making a few dick jokes." He waved his arms and made "doodly doodly doodly" noises, a timely reference to Wayne's World. He pronounced Tom Clancy's name as "Tom Cuh-lancy" more than once. He uttered things like "poop on your toothpaste" and was met with dead silence from the audience. We have seen many guest hosts and bad moments in the many years since E3 has been broadcast, but Mr. Caffeine is the worst of them and we can only hope something like this won't happen again.