As I was getting on the plane to head out to LA, I’ll admit I was nervous. I’d wanted to go to E3 for almost as long as I can remember. If it turned out to be a let down, it would have really ruined a persistent dream.
I’m glad to report that not only was it not a let down, it was amazing. And this is a year that everyone says was a quiet year, so it would be even better during on years. Just stepping into the convention center really gets you the first time. The lobby is covered in huge banners .. and I mean huge, 10-15 ft tall and 40 ft wide. The bathrooms had plastic sticks on the mirrors of different video games, and the press lobby they provided for us was full of genuine La-Z Boy couches.
Then you actually go into the convention floor, and the size of it blows you away. It’s 3 stories tall inside, a giant warehouse almost. Each company had their own area (areas too large to call booths), and in those areas they built things. Microsoft had multiple 2 story freestanding buildings which press were able to go up in. Sony had a whole second level platform itself. Nintendo boxed in lots of little rooms for interviews and game show offs; an entire complex. Everything had this aura of massiveness to it.
My first interaction was with Halo 4. They were running live gameplay demos, and so I wanted to get there before the line got long. I waited as the opened the floor the first day and rushed over, but even so was halfway back in line and had to wait over a half hour. It was worth it though, and the game looks awesome.
I proceeded to sit down for interviews about Neverwinter Nights, SiNG, Age of Wushu, Core Blaze, and Hitman Absolution over the next few days, but gaming wasn’t all we did. One night we ended up driving over to Hollywood to take pictures of the sign and to walk down the boulevard of fame. One of the downsides of the trip came there .. everyone tries to hand you “free” stuff, and then wants tips. They’re very forceful about it; we had one guy follow us for over a block, yelling about how we are “playa hatas”, until my editor turned and said “you mad, bro?”.
Additionally, there are so many homeless people in LA that there are strange differences you wouldn’t expect. While we were there, we at one point tried to find a bathroom. Several places it turned out just didn’t have public bathrooms. Finally we went to a CVS drugstore. They did have a bathroom, but it was locked and we had to have a manager unlock it for us. And everyone there thought the idea of a public store having open public bathrooms was crazy! It was still worthwhile going over to Hollywood once though, and we did get some good pictures.
Oh and a fun note, Felicia Day, Tobuscus, and Lindsey Stirling were all at E3 … and I didn’t see any of them. Serra, our photographer, did see Felicia Day, even took a picture, but for some reason didn’t let me know until after. And Tobsucus was no where to be found when I walked by, despite getting up on the Wii dance stage and rocking out. Ahh well.
On to a happier subject .. swag. I didn’t get really all that much, possibly because it was as people were saying a slow year. I did get some great stuff though. 3 lanyards, 5 t-shirts, two Halo mirror decals, severer flash drives, a glass mug, and from Core Blaze, a set of cast bronze miniature weapons, each just slightly smaller than my hand. I wasn’t impressed with the game, but the bronze pieces are beautiful.
I think my best memory of the trip was when I embarrassed the girl who was taking pictures for Persona 4. I’d been standing in line for a t-shirt because a friend of mine loves Persona, and the shirts were very limited edition. Line took almost a half hour, and I could see ahead of me the whole time. I watched as each person got their shirt, put it on, and then got his/her picture taken standing between two models in skimpy costumes. The models were both tall, blond, beautiful, etc. The photographer was a short skinny girl who was easily as pretty as both of them, and I found myself annoyed that they were in picture after picture, and she wasn’t in any.
So when I finally got my shirt and put it on, I said, “I’ve been standing in line watching for 20 minutes, and over and over you take the pictures … lets switch it up, how about you get in the picture and they take it.” (Possibly not verbatim but it’s been three days) She seemed very embarrassed; smiling but protesting, and stammering about how she wasn’t a model. I thought for a moment it wouldn’t work, but the two models grinned and one walked over to the photographer, took the camera, and pushed her over to me, and so my picture from the Persona booth isn’t between two models, but instead with a very cute photographer, who I hope doesn’t hate me too much.