The most awkward and wholesome moments of E3 2019

E3 2019 is nearly over, and if there's one thing I love about E3 it's that putting developers up on stage—many of whom obviously had no public speaking experience—inevitably leads to a bunch of funny and awkward moments. But E3 was also host to some surprisingly wholesome moments this year, too. So we're rounding up our favorite moments that go from unbearably cute to uncomfortably awkward.

Wholesome: You're breathtaking!

Microsoft's E3 press conference was heavy on new trailers for exciting games, and the announcement of Xbox Game Pass for PC was a pleasant addition. But one moment has wormed its way to the top of our favorite E3 moments: When Keanu Reeves unexpectedly took the stage to not only announce that he was starring in Cyberpunk 2077 but also that it was coming in April of next year. It was a fun surprise that was made better when, referring to Cyberpunk 2077, Keanu said, "The feeling of being there, of walking the streets of the future, it's going to be breathtaking" and someone from the audience shouted back, "You're breathtaking!"

The audience cheered, Keanu giggled coyly and then shouted back, "You're breathtaking! You're all breathtaking!" and tens of thousands of hearts fluttered as an E3 meme was born.

Awkward: Lisa Su doesn't want your gift 

Lisa Su is a powerful person in the PC gaming industry, one who has helped transform AMD from an afterthought into a competitive hardware manufacturer that pushes the envelope in some pretty cool ways. She also doesn't give a shit about your dumb gifts.

At the end of AMD's E3 press conference, host Geoff Keighley presented Su with an action figure of her styled as a courageous, robotic superhero. As Keighley explains, this figure was hand-crafted by members of the AMD fan community who "love [her] so much" and felt compelled to thank her with this really cool token of their appreciation.

Amid applause and cheers, Su laughs and then says, "OK, this is a little bit embarrassing, Geoff. You may need to take this with you." Keighley is caught off guard but plays along and takes the action figure with him as he exits the stage, leaving Su standing there uncomfortably, at which point she says, “I don't think I've ever had a little figure, before. I don't know about that." 

Lesson learned: Do not give Lisa Su an action figure that looks like Lisa Su.

Wholesome: Ikumi Nakamura 

E3 press conferences are often a parade of dudes talking stiffly about "experiences" and "innovation," but Tango Gameworks creative director Ikumi Nakamura was nothing but cheerful, excited, and funny as she explained the premise of her new game, GhostWire: Tokyo.

Everything about her presentation was perfect, from her groan-inducing jokes and nervous comments about the number of people in the audience to the dance she did before revealing the GhostWire: Tokyo trailer. It was a ray of sunshine in an otherwise mundane conference. 

Awkward: Dr Disrespect is an ass, gets banned 

It's not surprising that controversial streamer Dr Disrespect would have a general lack of decency—it's in his name, after all. But even the bad Doctor crossed a line several times during a livestream from the E3 show floor when he strolled into a public bathroom with his camera crew in tow, broadcasting to tens of thousands of people. 

Not only is that most likely illegal in the state of California, it's also outrageously stupid and disrespectful to anyone who might've been using the restroom at that time. Despite his status as one of Twitch's biggest streamers, Twitch and the E3 event organizers didn't treat the situation lightly. Dr Disrespect has been banned from Twitch for god knows how long and his E3 pass was revoked. Hopefully he takes the opportunity to reflect on what a dummy he is during his time out—but somehow I doubt it.

Wholesome: Jon Bernthal's dog is a very good boy 

Actor Jon Bernthal took the stage at Ubisoft's press conference with a very special guest to reveal details about his appearance in the upcoming Ghost Recon Breakpoint. Honestly, I wasn't listening to anything he was saying because my attention was squarely fixed on his dog, Bam Bam. At first I thought this must be a bit—maybe the character Bernthal plays also has a dog? But Bam Bam is actually one of three rescues that Bernthal owns. As pit bulls have a negative and unwarranted reputation for being violent, Bernthal supposedly likes to bring Bam Bam with him to events to counter that stereotype. It's working. Bam Bam was an adorable saint on stage, laying at Bernthal's feet while he explained his role in the story. 

Awkward: Shenmue 3 casually announces it's an Epic exclusive 

The Shenmue creator's appearance on stage at the PC Gaming Show was pretty lighthearted at first. Donning a big, appreciative smile, Yu Suzuki quickly thanked fans via a translator and then played the trailer and exited the stage. But as the Shenmue 3 trailer wound to a close, players began to connect the dots that it might actually now be an Epic Store exclusive. Because Deep Silver didn't explicitly say as much during the show, though, it was all rather confusing. A few hours later, a post on Shenmue 3's Kickstarter page cleared things up: Shenmue 3 would be exclusive to Epic for one year.

As usual, the announcement upset people who were hoping to play on Steam. What's awkward about it is how publisher Deep Silver decided to break the news—rather than making a clear statement then and there, they chose a confusing, indirect route that felt more haphazard than planned. It was a missed opportunity to deliver the news and explain their reasoning in person—and it made it seem as if they were hiding from it. 

Wholesome: Frankie wears a shark costume 

We would say so, but PC Gaming Show hosts Sean “Day[9]” Plott and Frankie Ward are ceaselessly charming anchors. For the past two years, Frankie has made us laugh with her enthusiastic, off-the-cuff remarks, but seeing her interview Tripwire Interactive president John Gibson while wearing a shark costume as if that's a totally normal thing was my personal favorite moment from the show. 

Awkward: Bethesda’s thank you to angry fans 

A lot of E3 press conferences feature a segment where its developers express gratitude toward their players, but the opening montage of Bethesda's press conference was akin to coming home and finding out your dog scattered garbage everywhere and is now apologetically showing you its tummy hoping that you won't get angry. With the rough launch of Fallout 76 still looming, it's obvious Bethesda wanted to say and do whatever it could to appease its audience—but, boy was that uncomfortable to sit through.

Though Fallout 76 is very deserving of criticism, the video felt manufactured and forced. It's full of lines like "you keep us in check" and "you are definitely not afraid to tell us how you feel" that seem to encourage not just criticism, but the nastier attacks that are so often hurled at developers. Even if it was directed at more level-headed community members, a simple “we value your feedback” would’ve sufficed in the place of kowtowing. 

Awkward & Wholesome: People won't stop wooing 

E3 press conferences have had a long reputation for stuffing the first few rows full of rowdy fans whose job it is to build energy and make some noise. But the audience this year was at times almost unbearably unruly. Nearly every press conference had at least one moment where someone interrupted a developer during a speech, causing them to stumble in the script or pause and start over. It happened multiple times throughout the Bethesda, Ubisoft, and Square Enix conferences, and technically even our wholesome Keanu moment happened because someone couldn't keep their damn mouth shut (though, in that instance we'll forgive them because it was great). 

Before long, every interruption from the audience was getting on my nerves, and Twitter wasn't enjoying it either. But then I read this lovely interview from Eurogamer with the notable cheering fan from Bethesda's conference. Turns out, that guy was just really, really excited to be there because games like Morrowind mean so much to him. That made me realize that I'm a grumpy old fart who needs to get over myself. E3 is about videogames, which are about fun, so who cares if people like to cheer a little too enthusiastically or occasionally shout something from the audience? Though it might be annoying for some developers who are just trying to read their script and not vomit from stage fright, it also leads to funny, genuine moments, too. 

Steven Messner

With over 7 years of experience with in-depth feature reporting, Steven's mission is to chronicle the fascinating ways that games intersect our lives. Whether it's colossal in-game wars in an MMO, or long-haul truckers who turn to games to protect them from the loneliness of the open road, Steven tries to unearth PC gaming's greatest untold stories. His love of PC gaming started extremely early. Without money to spend, he spent an entire day watching the progress bar on a 25mb download of the Heroes of Might and Magic 2 demo that he then played for at least a hundred hours. It was a good demo.