Scribblenauts: How a Nobody Game Became the Talk of This Year's E3
The Electronic Entertainment Expo isn't an accommodating place for upstart games without marketing money to spend. With show floors dominated by enormous video screens and earthshaking audio systems, an unknown game with a few small kiosks has little chance to cut through the spectacle. Every once in a while, though, a game manages to create a buzz without the aid of celebrity press conferences and jet-engine subwoofers. Such was the case last week for a practically unknown Nintendo DS game called Scribblenauts. Hidden away in the movie license-dominated Warner Brothers booth, Scribblenauts wowed early adventurers with its simple, impressively executed concept: Almost anything you type into the game's interface will come to life on the screen and interact with the world.
Those early players set off a chain reaction of interest, through after-show party chatter, blog posts, videos and tweets. By the end of the week, several big gaming media outlets reserved a space for Scribblenauts on their best-of-show lists. Here's a slice of that chain reaction:
Wednesday, June 3
Thursday, June 4
Friday, June 5
This is only a fraction of the chatter that elevated Scribblenauts from obscurity to talk-of-the-show. Gamers often feel jaded by the PR-manufactured buzz of E3, the impersonal adver-tainment of endless video streams, press conferences and "exclusive" trailers. It's a relief to see that a game with excellent ideas but no booth babes can compete for attention in that environment. Scribblenauts got the kind of advertising money can't buy: real grassroots excitement.