Four days of virtual presentations after a year of working remotely, attending online classes, and celebrating birthdays via Zoom. Last year’s E3 event wasn’t exactly a return to the glory days of the expo. Still, after the total cancellation of the convention in 2020, an online E3 was a step towards normalcy.
Many had hoped E3 would return to a full-scale, in-person event in 2022. Sadly, the Entertainment Software Association announced in a statement shared with GamesBeat that the physical event was cancelled.
“Due to the ongoing health risks surrounding COVID-19 and its potential impact on the safety of exhibitors and attendees, E3 will not be held in person in 2022. We remain incredibly excited about the future of E3 and look forward to announcing more details soon.”ESA statement on E3 via GamesBeat
Shortly after the announcement, gaming insider Jeff Grubb suggested via Tiktok that the convention would likely be cancelled altogether. While this is far from a certainty, the prospect does raise some concern for the chances of a full conference being held digitally.
And that is a tragedy. No, I don’t think a cancelled gaming convention is anywhere close to as serious as the many crises facing communities around the world in 2022. Nor do I believe another year without E3 would significantly impact the gaming business. Industry titans Nintendo and Sony have already demonstrated an ability to generate excitement without the context of a convention by holding direct-to-consumers presentations.
But here’s the thing. The past few years have been hard. Really hard. Amid all the chaos, disease, war, politics, and division, there are precious few things that bring us all together. For those of us struggling under the heavy burden that has been saddled upon our mental health simply by living in the world these past few years, gaming has been a godsend.
Even when held virtually, E3 is a holy season of gaming. It is a kind of unofficial holiday for those who feel more at home inside imagined worlds than the one we toil in. For those who are young and those whose youth has never left. For those for whom chosen family has been the best family. Gaming brings us all together; and for a few magical days, we look away from the world and collectively hold our breath as shocking announcements and long-hoped-for trailers make their debut. The joy is so transformative that even digital spaces across social media become a little more tolerable.
Don’t cancel E3. Let gamers have their holiday. We need it.
David Lasby is the Editor-in-Chief for Boss Rush Network. His favorite video games are The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, and the Aliens franchise. You can find him on Twitter to talk all things Nintendo, sci-fi / fantasy, and creative writing.