If you tuned into Bethesda’s E3 2019 press conference, you’ll have heard some rather enthusiastic cheering bellowing from your speakers. E3 briefings are no strangers to over-the-top screaming, but the whoops and hollers at Bethesda’s show stood out. They followed what felt like every on-stage spoken sentence, to the amusement and, it felt, sometimes annoyance of those charged with presenting games to the world.
The front row hype became something of a meme after Twitter user @theSirToasty released a video compilation showing the likes of Tango Gameworks boss Shinji Mikami and ZeniMax Online Studios studio head Matt Firor getting shouted at – repeatedly.
Bethesda Front Row Hypeman Squad freaking out over every other sentence is honestly the funniest thing I’ve seen all day. pic.twitter.com/XnxntXzNPB
— Tylor (@theSirToasty) June 10, 2019
Clearly, the people at the front of Bethesda’s press conference were having a whale of a time. But were they marketing plants, Bethesda employees simply thrilled to see their work presented during the show, or just mega-fans?
Speaking to Eurogamer on his way home from the Bethesda conference via a combination of Discord private messages and Twitter direct messages, amid Uber rides and arrival at an airport, one of the people accused of “ruining” Bethesda’s press conference, a man who runs a Twitter account called The Elder Memes, told Eurogamer he was just an enthusiastic Bethesda fan who got caught up in all the excitement of the show – and he wasn’t the only one.
— The Elder Memes (@TheElderMemes) June 10, 2019
The Elder Memes, who asked to keep his identity anonymous, told Eurogamer Bethesda games have played an important role in his life for some time.
“Morrowind got me through a very rough patch of self hate,” he said. “I’ve been obsessed with the world of Tamriel ever since.”
He’s been making Elder Scrolls memes on Twitter for years, he said, and has established a relationship with ZeniMax Online Studios, so when Bethesda’s E3 press conference was announced, he asked if there was any chance he could attend, and Bethesda sorted his registration.
“I had no idea I was going to be front row until I was at my seat!” he said.
Bethesda, like other publishers holding press conferences at E3, will have wanted the crowd to have had a contingent of super-fans who could be relied upon to generate a sense of excitement and buzz not just inside the venue but on-stream. The company got that – and more.
The Elder Memes insisted he – along with others in the front rows, were not ordered to cheer enthusiastically by Bethesda staff. “I was never ordered to do anything,” he said. “The developers really only seemed to want us to enjoy ourselves. Clearly we did.”
So, what happened? Why the relentless, super loud cheering?
“It was like nothing I’ve ever experienced,” The Elder Memes explained. “From start to finish I was excited. ESO killed with their trailer. Ghostwire Tokyo and Deathloop were unexpected and amazing, and Doom Eternal was absolutely insane. Blades and Fallout 76 had good announcements. And Commander Keen! I was five again, playing the old Apogee games I grew up on. The excitement of an event like that is infectious. I couldn’t have been more blown away.”
At various points during the show, we saw people near the front cheer, the camera panning and focusing at points on The Elder Memes himself.
“I noticed the camera on me a lot, which made me a little uncomfortable (I run a meme page, the spotlight isn’t my thing),” he said. “Afterwards, the cameraman told me, as a compliment, that he looks for ‘animated people’. Apparently they panned to me more than usual as a result.”
But, The Elder Memes insists, he can’t take all the credit for all of the over-the-top noise at the show. In fact, there are a handful of people who have taken to Twitter to say they were also responsible, including someone who works in influencer relations, someone who works for ZeniMax, an Elder Scrolls Online Twitch streamer and someone who runs a fan podcast.
Yes that was me. Yes I was yelling.
I’ve worked so hard to make this night a reality. It was a dream come true.
I wouldn’t be where I am today without Bethesda and all their games. I teared up more than once tonight. Thank you #BE3
— Nelstar ? GuardianCon (@Nelstar15) June 10, 2019
I guess our cheering at #be3 pissed off the internet. But honestly I wouldn?t be where I?m at if it wasn?t for this amazing company. Yeah I got excited but I have so much love for the #ESOFam and #Bethesda pic.twitter.com/ssyZHggfs4
— GNARLY_NATE (@GNARLYincTwitch) June 10, 2019
So… I guess I was loud and enthusiastic… sorry 🙁 I just love the #ESOFam and have to represent those dungeons 🙂
— Finn (@thefinninator) June 10, 2019
I honestly don’t give a shit if you think us, as an audience, yelled too much.
We were all so hype – and we love the games we saw.
— Nelstar ? GuardianCon (@Nelstar15) June 10, 2019
“Not all of the screaming was me!” The Elder Memes said. “I think the video makes it seem like it was all me, but I know at least four or five others taking credit for being ‘that guy’.
“I was definitely enthusiastic, but I never screamed while the speakers were talking, and I didn’t shout over and over. For a while I didn’t even shout because I didn’t want to lose my voice. I didn’t know anything was off until the negative DMs started rolling in.
“I’m not saying I wasn’t making noise. I’m saying I wasn’t the only voice.”
The Elder Memes showed Eurogamer a snippet of the “tons” of negative messages he’s received since the Bethesda press conference ended. He’s been told he ruined Bethesda’s showcase, been told “no-one cheers for a mobile game”, been accused of being mentally ill, of being “a shill”, “a fake”, that “I should have been thrown out”, is “an idiot”, and been asked how much he was paid – all sprinkled with plenty of profanity.
“I’m building a positive platform for Elder Scrolls fans, so I don’t give a lot of attention to the negativity,” The Elder Memes said.
“Like everyone else, they can grow and learn to build people up instead of tearing them down. I’m still enthusiastic, and I don’t have any intention of stopping now.
“I’ll keep making memes until my fingers stop working. I’m also starting a Twitch stream in August – The Elder Streams. Apart from that, well, I’d joke about becoming a hype man, but, too soon?”
Watching the press conference, there were times when some of the people on-stage looked visible put-off by the screaming, but The Elder Memes said he didn’t get a negative vibe during the show.
“They seemed more amused by it than anything,” he said. “I hate public speaking, so I can imagine the difficulty when folks are shouting as you’re trying to get through a speech.
“I wish people weren’t shouting while he talked… I got the feeling they were happier with a loud room than a silent one.”
While it’s easy to look at The Elder Memes and think he – along with others at the front of the audience – went too far, what’s clear is there’s a genuine passion for Bethesda games bleeding through here. And, it seems, it’s all good with the people behind The Elder Scrolls Online itself.
Thank you to everyone who joined us for the stream tonight ?
— The Elder Scrolls Online (@TESOnline) June 10, 2019
“I’d say the gaming community has enough cynicism and judgement,” The Elder Memes concludes. “Let people enjoy things, and be nice to developers.