A Love Letter to All the Terrible Merch of E3 2017

A Love Letter to All the Terrible Merch of E3 2017

I dream of owning an E3-branded spatula that says "gamer" on it.

We're at E3 2017 covering the year's biggest gaming event. Be sure to check out all our coverage on our E3 2017 hub!

When I first caught wind of shirts that had "Yeah, I Was At E3" scribbled across them in a garish crumbling font you'd find on FontSquirrel, I knew I needed one.

I enlisted my colleagues on Twitter to find fetch me one, but no one saw the tweet until it was too late. I took to our work Slack chat and asked for pictures, at the bare minimum, so I could see them in their full glory (and probably rank them or something, as we tend to do with dumb things here on ol' USgamer dot net).

Alas, my dreams were dashed. Our team was too busy doing typical E3 stuff (you know, interviews, playing games, the usual) than to aid me in my quest to rank dumb merchandise. I texted a reporter friend who I knew was at the conference. Her pure response to seeing a tweet I sent her way: "Omfg." She too ended up being too busy. I blame no one. Honestly, if I were there, I would have forgotten too. In fact, with all the chaos of E3, I did forget about them. Until they returned.

My memories of the shirts that popped up online in the early days of E3 only resurfaced briefly in two moments: on Giant Bomb's E3 nightly show, where some showed up decked out in the conference's gear. Allegedly, most things were sold out by the time they swung through, further abolishing the dreams of owning a dumb shirt with controllers on it that reads, "I'd tap that." Second, when yesterday good ol' Geoff Keighley, the host for everything, tweeted a picture of an E3-themed spatula.

That's right. A spatula.

I want that spatula.

Here's the spatula:

I don't know what's worse about this merchandise—the fact that it's likely $20 for a tee-shirt you can make in five seconds on CafePress, or the pure stupidness of it. These shirts almost feel like they belittle the audience they're catering too, like there's a graphic designer on E3's end who feels superior to the public audience, and feeds them bullshit merch knowing they'll buy it anyways off their adrenaline high of being at a conference they've always dreamed of attending.

The merchandise leaves a bad taste in my mouth, especially as I dream up all these malicious hypotheticals. In reality, it was probably a dude with Photoshop, tasked with making shirts that "gamers" like. Said dude goes on Google Images, searches "gamer," and this is the result.

I've always leaned more towards "player" as a descriptor for folks who love and play games. With "gamer," I feel pigeonholed into a single role, a single hobby—almost pretentiously, like how people toss around "filmbuff" for fans of movies. I like a lot of things, and so do all my friends who play games, and so do you readers. (Unless you don't, then I guess "gamer" fits.)

Here's to hoping the merch at next year's inevitable also-public E3 is better, and hoping that the conference floor is organized in a way to benefit public attendees so they're not waiting in line four hours for a single demo in a day. (Which is wildly ridiculous and sad, they're spending money to be there, y'know?) Maybe that E3 logo itself is long-overdue for a makeover too.

Header includes images from Ben Hanson, Geoff Keighley.

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Caty McCarthy

Senior Editor

Caty McCarthy is a former freelance writer whose work has appeared in Kill Screen, VICE, The AV Club, Kotaku, Polygon, and IGN. When she's not blathering into a podcast mic, reading a book, or playing a billion video games at once, she's probably watching Terrace House or something. She is currently USgamer's Senior Editor.

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