My Most Embarrassing E3 Encounter With A Gaming Celebrity

Illustration for article titled My Most Embarrassing E3 Encounter With A Gaming Celebrity

I would like to tell you about a mortifying encounter I recently had with a very well known figure in video games. It’s a better story if you don’t know who it is until the end.


I was hanging around the Ubisoft booth at E3 this year, waiting for a private demo of Transference, the game developed in collaboration with Elijah Wood and his film company SpectreVision. It’s a thriller with a horror flavor that puts you inside computer-reconstructed memories, all glitchy and unstable, searching for a family that appears to have been swallowed by something sinister.

The game has been designed for VR, though it’s also playable without. It’s very much an immersive storytelling experience. I was a little wary. VR still makes me feel a bit sick. But on the insistence of the demonstrator, I decided to try and brave it in an Oculus headset. The E3 demo starts off in a creepy apartment stairway, where bits of memory are missing. Black voids pull at the scenery. The first thing you have to do is visit the dingy basement to retrieve a door knocker that’s hammering away all by itself (nooooo thankyou).

This was all a bit much for me already. I’m a gigantic wuss under normal circumstances, and even more of a gigantic wuss in virtual reality. VR horror/thrillers have a habit of making things jump out at you suddenly and I don’t like it. Apprehensive, I had to enter a family’s apartment, where snatches of a kid crying and panicked conversation started floating through my headphones. A light-switch on the wall turned the place into a nightmare parallel version of itself, with scrawled childish writing and distressing drawings all over the walls.

By this point I was frequently flicking my eyes downward toward the little gap between my Oculus headset and the floor. I was reminding myself that the real world was still there. When I get nervous, I get chatty. “I’m not sure I like this,” I said to the woman who had helped me put my headset on, hoping that she was still there. “Do I want to go in the kitchen? I’m not getting great vibes from the kitchen.”

Illustration for article titled My Most Embarrassing E3 Encounter With A Gaming Celebrity

Unfortunately I had to go in the kitchen and fiddle around with the radio, at which point a sinister black something with glowing eyes started glitching its way towards me. I noped out pretty hard at this point; I may have shouted “GET ME OUT GET ME OUT” until the demonstrator—who, thankfully, was still there—paused the demo so that I could finish it off on a good old two-dimensional screen without scaring myself witless. Relieved, I took the headset off and got through the last few minutes of the demo.


Then I turned around and saw that Hideo Kojima was standing there, along with a film crew that had a huge camera pointed at me.

It turns out that Kojima was being followed around by a documentary crew at E3 this year. He was ushered into the room while I was still blinkered by the headset and was waiting for me to finish before giving Transference a go himself. He, his camera-wielding entourage and the demonstrator all looked like they were trying not to laugh. I really hope they weren’t there when I was freaking out about a door knocker.


Let this be a lesson on the perils of playing in VR, when you can’t actually see what’s going on in the room around you. I look forward to my forthcoming fame as Blonde Coward From The Hideo Kojima Documentary.

Formerly Kotaku UK's editor, now video games editor at the Guardian. I've spent 12 years writing about video games and gaming culture and co-authored a book called You Died: The Dark Souls Companion.


The Blonde Coward From The Hideo Kojima Documentary” should very much be on your business card.