“It really boils down between trying something new, and a little daring, or just going with one of the old classics, you know?” Todd Howard explains, holding open the door as we leave the Bethesda offices in Maryland. He’s fishing for a pair of aviators from his jeans that are actually sitting in the breast pocket of a purple v-neck. “We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, and only about one hundred and ninety days to do it. Where’s the car? Sam told me he called us a car.”
We’re whisked away to Baltimore, the state’s capital, where we’ll be visiting every Wilsons Leather, mom-and-pop leather shop, and Banana Republic in town. “We’re not looking to buy the jacket today, but we might pick some up to bring back to the office for small-group testing,” Todd explains. As he approaches the first Wilsons Leather location, set in the center of the Arundel Mills shopping mall, the staff rejoice—this will be the biggest day of their year.
Mr. Howard is swarmed by staff, who begin measuring his torso with tailor’s tape measures that have clearly been cut short to make Howard appear the size of the average man. “We found out early on that we can tell these people anything as long as I’m rocking the perfect jacket. Spending our entire quality assurance budget every year on this endeavor might seem like a vanity project, but it’s really about establishing consumer trust,” Howard assures while swatting away a measure-wielding associate who’s gotten a little too bold. “We’re just here for the jacket, guys.”
An array of jackets are brought from the back, which seem to specifically have had their size tags removed. They all fall into a certain category—bomber-style jackets, not too many tassels or trinkets, tan-to-light-brown colored. A black leather jacket is hushed away by Howard’s PA before it enters his line of sight.
Despite Mr. Howard’s in-depth explanation of the work that goes into this part of Bethesda’s E3 expo, Nerfwire isn’t convinced that the host’s outerwear is more important than addressing serious concerns from—oh, fuck, he looks good. When does Elder Scrolls 6 go on preorder again?