For years I’ve dreamed of being able to go to E3. The Electronic Entertainment Expo. Mecca. Heaven for a gamer. Ever since I first heard of it, 15-odd years ago, I wanted to find a way to get there and get in.
Unfortunately, I was never able. I was too busy working, I wasn’t an employee of one of the game retailers and I wasn’t a member of the press so there was just no way I could get there and justify gaining admission to the biggest gaming expo in the world.
I’ve always been a gamer. Since my parents got my sister and me an Intellivision for Christmas in 1979, I’ve played video games. Granted there have been short periods where I played nothing, due to other life responsibilities but what sets a gamer aside from someone who plays games is that a gamer is always a gamer, no matter what. A gamer always goes back.
And so I have, throughout my life. I’ve owned a number of different consoles, from the Intellivision to the NES, Super NES, Playstation, etc…I was on a break around the time the Xbox and PS2 came out so I missed that generation of consoles but I was PC gaming at that time, whenever I could, so it wasn’t a huge heartbreaker to me to not have those consoles.
When the last generation of consoles came out, I was still PC gaming but the pickings were getting slim. I was at Best Buy one day, eyeballing the 360’s and my girlfriend grabbed me and said “Just BUY one!”, so I did. I got it home, hooked it up and started playing console games again.
Yeah…I’ve always been a gamer.
Now, if you would have told that 8 year old me, back in 1979, that I would one day make the journey to a massive, flashy, loud, bright, sensory overload of a convention center, where every major developer and publisher in the world was showing off their upcoming titles with flair, giant projection screens and half-naked women all over the place, I would have looked you in the eye and laughed. If you would have told me that I’d make that journey as a journalist, I would have looked you in the eye while I called the men in the little white coats to come take you away to a little rubber-room at happy-land.
And then, there I was.
I can’t even really tell you what I was expecting. So many things have flashed through my head in the past when I’ve though of E3. I’ve always thought of the lights and the music and the booth-bunnies. I’ve always thought of playing the newest games and getting to see stuff that the public was unaware of. I’ve always thought of getting to meet the people behind the games and ask them questions and give them advice. All of this, though, has always come as flashes of overwhelming nerd-lust, like a movie in which the camera is circling around the main character who is bathed in flashing and swirling lights and has a look on his face like he’s just dropped acid and is watching paisley patterned wildebeests playing leap-frog with dancing mushrooms.
Was it every bit of that? No. Was it most of it? Yeah. The acid-camera-wildebeests thing never happened, and that’s probably a good thing.
So what was E3 like for me? It was, at the same time, joyous and frustrating. Orgasmic and infuriating. Heaven and Hell.
Having to walk around the convention center carrying dozens of pounds of camera gear, computers, cables, recording devices and credentials, including business cards (lots and LOTS of business cards) is bad enough. Having to do that while you’re surrounded by upwards of 47,000 people is a nightmare. Add in the fact that lots of those people aren’t media and therefor don’t give half a toss about what the press is trying to accomplish and the fact that you have to do all of this on only a few hours sleep, each night, and you’ve got a week in hell. Yes, E3 is known as Hell Week at FleshEatingZipper.
Please don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying E3 is a bad thing, because it’s not. It’s everything I thought it would be, with the lights and the sounds and the games and the half naked women and the imported beer (Thanks to Larian Studios for their AMAZING beer) and the VIP rooms and the hands-on demos and the amazing people who try their hardest to make sure we get what we came for…It just has its down-sides as well. The shuttles are often cramped, the Press Briefings can be overloaded with people, the Media Lounge was some kind of a sick joke, the bathroom lines were atrocious (thank the heavens for the magic restroom we found! I’d tell you where it is but I’d have to kill you…) and we hardly slept for an entire week.
Small trade-offs for getting to spend 3 full days in bliss, I suppose.