Texas Guv Delivers Businesslike E3 Keynote to Near-Empty Room

What if you gave a keynote speech and (almost) nobody came?

That was the situation in which Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) found himself at E3 yesterday. Despite being selected as the first political figure to keynote the ESA’s annual trade show, Perry attracted an audience estimated to have been between 50-60 people, including ESA employees. The sparse attendance was accentuated by the cavernous room reserved for the speech, which was set up with hundreds and hundreds of chairs.

Despite the lack of onlookers, the Guv soldiered on, delivering in his folksy style a credible speech touting the benefits of running a business in Texas, the creativity and success of the video game industry and touting the Lone Star State as a great spot for game developers to set up shop.

Following his speech, Perry was escorted (left) by ESA boss Mike Gallagher to the small space that passed for a show floor where he viewed some displays and spoke with G4’s Adam Sessler. As he was leaving, we thought we heard someone say that he was headed for EA next. Perhaps the Guv was hoping to persuade EA to bring some biz to Texas.

So why didn’t anyone show up for the keynote, an obvious embarrassment for the ESA? There are several possibilities:

  • The show had already opened when the Guv spoke. In years past, the keynote opened the show. Pent-up E3 enthusiasm would find its first outlet at the keynote because there was nothing else competing with it. The room was always packed.
  • The ESA used to put out a breakfast of some sort for the media types just prior to the keynote, always a solid strategy to lure a pack of perpetually broke game journos.
  • Attendance at the show was perhaps 5% of what it once was. Naturally, there are fewer potential attendees for any single event.
  • Some people may not have wanted to hear from a politician in general; some may not wanted to hear from Gov. Perry specifically

Although there was no question & answer segment such as former ESA boss Doug Lowenstein used to hold following his keynotes, I really wasn’t expecting a major political figure Like Perry to hold a Q&A in this setting.

While on hand at the keynote I live-blogged my immediate impressions via Twitter. These have been pasted in after the jump.

These are live SMS tweets entered via my mobile phone, so please excuse abbreviations, rough formatting, lack of capitalization, punctuation, etc:

Wow, I am at the Guv Perry keynote which starts in like 2 minutes. There are maybe 25 people in the audience.

This low turnout is kind of embarrassing for gaming. If you are in the LACC, the the Guv Perry keynote is room 515

At the old E3 format they used to serve a pre-keynote breakfast and the room was packed. On the other hand, the old E3 had like 10-15x crowd

Mike Gallagher of ESA is introducing Guv Perry. Maybe 50 people here in audience

Gallagher is off now, they are showing a video about the game development biz in Texas, warren spector, starr long (ncsoft) others speaking

Gordon walton from Bioware is also on the video…. Guv is now on

Guv talking about pong in his day but halo, mario kart the thing now. He seems to be talking as if crowd was developers, but [it’s] mostly media

 I am recording the guv’s talk and will make it available on Gamepolitics next week.

I notice that he is talking off the cuff, not using Teleprompter….

Guv mentioned origin systems, compared texas game devs to early oil men in risk taking and wealth creation (i am paraphrasing)

Basically a lot of his theme is job creation, sez TX has 22 development companies, 3rd most in USA… Touts low cost of living

Guv now talking about TX tax incentives [for game devs], sez he will ask legislators for more…

Guv also said that he wants to look at games in schools, especially in relation to fitness

Touting employer friendly tax system and legal system which blocks frivolous lawsuits… No state income tax

Guv sez answer to some of answers to nation’s economy can be found in game biz… Sez stereotype of gamer is wrong, avg age 35, etc

Mentioned Wii Tennis, Brain Age, wounded soldiers using Guitar hero, MGS

Guv mentioned ncsoft telling him of handicapped players whose social contact comes primarily from MMO, a pretty empathetic comment

Guv: I came to E3 to encourage game biz… And challenge biz to "make better worlds, make a difference"

Guv suggested future games to train soldiers for peace keeping missions or help an abusive parent control his/her behavior

All in all, he did a nice job. Very folksy and upbeat. He had a good grasp on game biz

Guv is off now, no question/answer segment

Gov. Perry’s website has a press release on the keynote.

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  1. oto kirlama says:

    I’m all for freedom of ttnet vitamin speech and allowing rent a car game makers to put whatever they want in games, but there’s one thing about this app that has me scratching my head.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but from araç kiralama the previous article araba kiralama on this I gathered that players can use Google maps in-game to find the other (real-life?) dealers in their area.  If this is the case, has travesti anyone considered what’s stopping someone from using this app to actually move drugs between hands for reals?

    But majority araba kiralama of their outrage araç kiralama stems from what it could DO TO children, not the content itself.  Talk to one of these people and you’ll find they don’t think any books kiralık araba should be banned from children.  Mention American Psycho and they talk about kiralık araç the redeeming value of using imagination to construct a story.  Reading, no matter what the content, is largely viewed as a consequenceless activity for people of any age.  The reason why I mention American Psycho is because of the content itself.  Gaming never has and likely never will have any scenes where someone has sex with a severed head.  Not gonna happen.  Yet despite this, they’ll fight tooth and nail to protect their children from two boys kissing in Bully but whatever they read is harmless… yeah.

    The entire arguement is kiralık oto based upon a social normality inflicted by luddites who can’t figure out the controls for Halo so it’s frightening and terrifying and obviously the cause of youth violence on the rise even though, in reality, it’s in decline (which is actually a HUGE suprise given minibüs kiralama the economies status).  In  a perfect world, we would have parents that actually parent.  The idea of sales restrictions on media on oto kiralama any form to accomidate parental unwillingness to get involved with their child’s life is the real problem to me.  Here I am, 32 years old, and being held up at a self-scan rent a car needing to show ID before I can buy a $10 M rated game all because Soccer Momthra can’t be bothered to look at the crap Billy Genericallystupidson does in his free time.  It’s too hard for her, so I have to suffer?

  2. T5 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    people are just as intrested as ever, I can go to over a dozen sites right now to read about E3, as for perry’s speech 50may have been present but millions were paying attention. 


    Old E3 will have a place in our hearts to be sure but sites like this still prove that E3 is worth it to the industry. 

  3. Meggie ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    It used to be like that, but they took out a lot of the bells and the whistles. Unfortunately they sucked the life out of it too. I kinda miss the over the top circus it once was, like someone else said, a more mature version would have been better than a soulless overhaul.

  4. GryphonOsiris says:

    I think part of this is that E3 has become more commercialized in the last few years with scantily clad booth babes, gimmicks, and lots of bright and flashy instead of content and professionalism.

    Of course, this is just my 2 cents.

  5. mogbert says:

    I think the problem is the disconnect between the speaker and the proposed audience. He wanted to pitch the idea of moving to his state. The people there weren’t there to have ideas like that pitched to them. If I go to Vegas and bought tickets for a magic show, and when I got there the sign said that it was to be a time share presentation, but there are street magicians just outside… where do you think I’ll be? Will I sit through the time share presentation just because I bought a ticket? OR am I going to go to where they are showing what I bought the ticket to see?

    When I went to E3, the keynote address was by Bill Gates via sattelite. It was about the emergence of sub thousand dollar PC’s and what it would mean to the PC games segment (yes, it was that long ago). It was standing room only, and I still couldn’t get in. I was eating off the buffet outside and trying to see in through the doos to the room.

    If you want people to show up at a confrence, you have to talk about things that people want to hear about, not just what you want to talk about. His speech wasn’t appropriate for the venue ergo only people who had to report on what his speech contained showed up. Even if it was a packed house, how many people attending the show actually have any say on where the development company is? He should have been talking about either the industry or games, which apparently were only footnotes for his speech.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I think the scheduling is a very big part of it.  My mind is boggled that they wouldn’t open with the keynote; it’s the keynote, when else would you have it?  You do it to kick things off, and you don’t run it against other big events, or run it at the end when people are out of steam.

  7. Loudspeaker says:

    Ok true true…  No food and alcohol make a dull party.

    "Volume helps to get a point across but sharp teeth are better."

  8. Anonymous says:

     PAx is for fans, E3 is for professionals, (journaliasts, developers). basically, PAX is meant to be fun, and E3 is meant to be profitable. They are very different.

  9. jmcc says:

    Funny. But schadenfreude funny. You know who might have filled a few of those seats, E3? Some of the rabble you kicked out during the show’s funectomy. But, you know, enjoy your professional event.

  10. jadedcritic says:

    My vote is for funny. Honestly, I don’t particularly understand why anyone thinks E3 is worth caring about anymore anyway. I’m inclined to think the PA comic is the most accurate take I’ve seen so far.


  11. Korax ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I can understand why the audience didn’t show up. Aside from the reduced number of visitors, when people from the industry, gamers and supporters hear a politician is going to give a keynote speech at E3, well, that’s the reaction of a jaded crowd. Why would we want to hear a potential enemy bashing games at our arena? I guess thats what a lot of people were expecting. Besides, it’s a politician. No politician is to be trusted, forked tongue and all.

  12. Joran ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    It’s good to see a politician that has a solid grasp on the video game business, instead of giving into ignorant fear-mongering.  However, it is an embarrassment that only 50 people showed up.  Just a poor job of planning by the ESA and misunderstanding the audience.

    Is it also true, that most of the developers are manning their booths and thus it’s difficult for them to leave and attend the speech?

  13. mogbert says:

    I think PAX is what is picking up the slack. Last few years there have been some major Big Three reveals at PAX. If you want to tell other developers what you are doing, you do it at E3, if you want to tell your core customers what you are doing, you do it at PAX.

  14. Brokenscope says:

    Some people would prefer the old e3 with a more mature atmosphere. It’s too bad the ESA failed this attempt at it.

    IN all honesty though, E3 may not be as needed anymore due to the growing presence of things like PAX.


  15. djnealb says:

    "With companies leaving the ESA in droves, and E3 attendance and interest staggeringly low, perhaps now is the time for a new organization to come in and pick up where the ESA left off, making a new yearly expo in the style and spirit of the E3’s of years past. "

    Wasn’t that the idea behind E for All?

  16. ApokalypseNow says:

    With companies leaving the ESA in droves, and E3 attendance and interest staggeringly low, perhaps now is the time for a new organization to come in and pick up where the ESA left off, making a new yearly expo in the style and spirit of the E3’s of years past. 

    I wish I’d taken the invite to E3 I’d gotten back in college, back when it was as an event to remember rather than one to forget.

  17. Brokenscope says:

    I’ve been under the impression the E for All was envisioned as "Con" style event, not a tradeshow.

  18. thefremen says:

     If a politician makes a well informed intelligent speech and nobody is around to hear it, does he still have a chance in the next election?

  19. Krono says:

    I’d call it part that, and part everything else. Much smaller attendee numbers, a keynote when other stuff is going on, and no food, do not make for a big audience regardless of who the speaker was.


  20. Loudspeaker says:

    I think there were only 50 people for the same reason most of us have questioned Perry as the keynote speaker.  When you think E3 and the video game biz you don’t think Texas Govenor.  Same is true for Network+Interop.  Perry would, in my mind, be the wrong choice there as well.

    When I think E3 keynote speaker I think people of the industry.  The Bill Gates of the gaming industry.  Heck Bill himself would have been a better choice in my opinion.

    I guess what I’m getting at is the preconceived notion of what your E3 keynote speaker is does not include politicians.

    "Volume helps to get a point across but sharp teeth are better."

  21. Brokenscope says:



    Tacky Advertising

    Lots of Bullshit

    Oh and big game announcements.

    I think they threw the baby out with the bath water on this one.


  22. BlackIce says:

    E3 used to mean something, didn’t it?

    ~You Could Be Mine, But You’re Way Out Of Line..~

  23. djnealb ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I live in Austin and read about his keynote in the business section of the Austin-American Statesman.  They made it to be like it was a big speech and covered a lot of the points you mentioned yesterday, but its very interesting to see how they left the small audience out of the article.

  24. PHOENIXZERO says:

    I think the ESA deserves the "Meet Dave" award in how to attract a crowd.



    Okay that didn’t work as well as I envisioned it..

  25. E. Zachary Knight says:

    I’ve got to say that ~50 people is incredibly bad. I think that the ESA dropped the ball on this one.

    It is also amazing that his whole speech was dedicated to convincing game companies to set up shop in Texas. That is not what many people would have wanted to hear.

    Better luck next year Mike.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
    MySpace Page: http://www.myspace.com/okceca
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    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
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