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How NOT to host a games event

Opinion: OXM editor Jon Hicks give us his view...

Good news: Dara O'Briain is hosting the BAFTA games awards again. This means we should get some informed banter during the show.

As Official Xbox Magazine discovered when it interviewed him last year, Dara actually does play a lot of videogames - he remains the only celebrity OXM has faced who started asking for GTA tips in the middle of the interview. Sadly, he's a rare and cherished example.

The games industry's ongoing, slightly depressing desperation for mainstream credibility means that celebrities are often dragged out to add their alleged star power to a new release.

And in the vast majority of cases it fails utterly, because the celebrity doesn't give a toss and hasn't even bothered remembering the handful of bullet points the PR person attempted to impress upon them in the five minutes between their arrival and going on stage.

That being the case I don't fancy my chances of any of them visiting oxm.co.uk. But on the off-chance, I will offer some tips for the next footballer, X Factor loser, or soap actor who finds themselves behind a microphone and in front of a cardboard standee of a game character. Whatever you do, don't do the following.

Admit that you don't know or care about games in the slightest
A surprisingly common gambit, often found at events where the sleb only has to hand things out and look famous instead of demonstrating any interest in the subject. You might as well come on and ostentatiously count your fee for the event while ignoring everybody else in the room.

Make it very obvious that you haven't played any game in the last ten years
As demonstrated by Ralf Little at one event when he came on and started singing the praises of King's Quest a mere ten years after the last game had been released, and days after Sierra was wiped from the face of the earth during the Activision-Vivendi merger. See also: references to Doom, Sonic the Hedgehog and other characters who haven't been credible since Britpop.

Lie outrageously about your gaming experience
The opposite of the above, and somehow worse. Don't even try, guys - gaming is a minefield of jargon that you'll never master, and wittering on about your favourite "shoot-me-up" is just going to make the entire audience despise you. Assuming your last single hasn't already had that effect.

Reveal you know about games, and that you think the one you're representing is rubbish
Like the time when Johnny Herbert told the gathered media that year's F1 game was awful. This one's for the PRs, because when you're a casual onlooker it's hilarious.

Assume you're talking to a bunch of halfwit fratboys
Another regular. I've lost count of the number of people I've seen bound on stage, shout something like "well I can't believe how MUCH FUN [feature of high-sales release that got newspaper coverage] IS, YEAH?!" and pause for a cheer only be greeted with dead silence. Most people at these events play a lot of games, not just Gears, FIFA and Modern Warfare 2, and tend to have more rarefied sensibilities. Plus, if they're European media, they'd rather die than demonstrate visible enthusiasm for anything.

In fairness, this tactic can work in the US, where crowds are much more disposed to whooping and hollering.

My personal epiphany was the audience reaction to the Final Fantasy XIII announcement at Microsoft's 2008 E3 conference: a lot of large men screaming and cheering as if their favourite monster truck had just burst through the wall.

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