For the uninitiated, the Electronic Entertainment Expo is a gathering of the biggest names in the gaming industry -that can afford the trip or the space on the show floor- to promote their upcoming software titles and hardware iterations. Like GamesCon and TGS, E3 draws in gaming press from around the world, but only a privileged few ever get to see the show floor, let alone the back room where all of the magic happens. Sure, anyone can sneak into E3 (and please, don’t), but few get to see the entire picture. No amount of live-streams or podcasts can supplement being at the show itself, nor the absolute chaos as the day wraps up.
In celebration of the upcoming scramble for media coverage and scoops, we’ve collected a few personal E3 moments from our friends and colleagues.
Andre Segers - Editor-in-Chief, GameXplain.com
My most memorable E3 moment is also my first real E3 memory. I, like most of you I suspect, had followed E3 for years as a youth. It was, perhaps second only to Christmas, my favorite time of the year. And of course, having been raised almost exclusively on Nintendo systems, I was a Nintendo fanboy.
So needless to say, sitting in at Nintendo’s 2001 press conference as they fully unveiled the GameCube and game after game that I desperately needed to play--and very soon would--blew me way. And remember that this was years before these events were live-streamed to the masses; I was basically seeing the future. Of course, that’s not even to speak of the mind-gasm that occurred when my then-idol (okay, and arguably even now) Shigeru Miyamoto took the stage. I was beyond ecstatic.
And that sensation carried through the remainder of E3. So perhaps not unexpectedly, no single E3 event since has even come close to capturing that level level of unadulterated enthusiasm that I experienced. It’s like your first kiss; every subsequent one is just a shadow of that initial thrill (thanks Mad Men!).
Jeremy Dunham - Manager, Community and Narrative, U4iA Games
It may sound like a bit of a cop-out, but 2012 marks my 14th E3 in 15 years, so I have too many favorite E3 moments to list only one. The first E3 I ever went to, for example, was as a member of a cadre of different video game fan sites where I'd meet the girl I'd eventually marry. So for me, that's obviously the biggest one - but there are other great things that stick out for me too...
In 2002, my teammate David Smith dressed up in silk (satin?) pajamas before heading off to interview Hideo Kojima - the reaction from both the editors and what David said was Kojima himself made for quite the conversation!
I thoroughly enjoyed the anticipatory atmosphere that took over the whole "IGN War Room" as we waited and heckled one of IGN's hardest working editors about a fan who had a major crush on him -- and posted about it publicly quite often -- that traveled to the show to meet him. The resulting awkwardness lived up to expectations as they met for the first time in front of everybody, knowing that the entire room was staring at them. It was pretty awesome.
I remember vividly, several E3 after-parties that left multiple editors and industry folk wandering around our hotels in drunken stupors - one of which passed out, standing up, leaning against a crosswalk waiting for it to change
The E3 2005 Sony Press Conference is still my favorite press conference to this day. The amount of excitement I had when seeing all the PS3 stuff for the first time has been unmatched. Also, it was pretty funny that I had then-editor Ivan Sulic on my cell phone the whole time telling him what I saw and what to write for quick updates and I was fanboying out so much he couldn't understand and kept yelling for me to make sense. It was pretty funny.
E3 2010 was a great experience too. It was my first E3 out of editorial and working for Zipper Interactive, and walking around the show floor to promote our game with co-worker, Chris Roper, was a great change of pace from the days of busting our asses for 17-20 hours a day all week long.
Those are just a few memories, of course, and I have several others to go along with them -- but in general, what's great about the show is that it never leaves me wanting for new experiences. In all their similarity to previous shows from years prior, each E3 is still unique and important in its own way. It's one of the few things I can think of in life that simultaneously dread and look forward to at the same time.
Jimmy Thang - Gaming and Technologies Editor, GeFORCE.com
My personal standout story from E3 didn't actually happen on the show floor or from any company press conference or anything like that. No. My personal favorite story would have to be at an E3 party at last year's event. Some of my friends and I got to meet and hang out with Masi Oka, the actor who played "Hiro" from the show Heroes. Now, when I say I got to "hang out" with him I don't mean just bumping into him in some hallway somewhere. My friends and I actually spent a couple hours hanging out and talking with the guy. Now, I wouldn't say I have a huge man crush on him by any means or that I loved his show Heroes to an extreme extent (although I did enjoy the first season of the show. Anything afterwards...not so much), but I will say that he was a surprisingly nice guy. He was a pretty smart and down to earth dude.
What makes the story a little more interesting is the fact that my female friend and him actually exchanged phone numbers. While she had a boyfriend (who was actually at the after party), she was still pretty giddy at the prospect of having a "celebrity's" phone number. So after we spent the evening chit chatting, we eventually left and headed back to our hotel to leave Masi in peace. Later on that night, he texts her asking her out...all of this right in front of her boyfriend. It was a little awkward but very hilarious at the same time. I mean, "Dude, you got Hiro from Heroes texting you!" She eventually told him that she had a boyfriend and we could all tell Masi was feeling a bit rejected because he texted her for a little while afterwards telling her how he would be able to take her out to red-carpet movie premiers etc... (okay, so maybe he did try to play the Hollywood card which isn't so nice) but being the good GF that she is, nothing ever became of it. However, she still does have his phone number today and I guess a good prank call for me is only two phone calls a way.
Ah, E3, it can be such a weird show sometimes...
Thomas Arnold - Editor, GameXplain.com
At E3 around 2003 or 2004 when Rare was still in its heyday as opposed to its mayday, they had Kameo on the show floor with a catch: if you had one of the top two scores in a points challenge demo by the end of E3, you would get a Kameo mini poster signed by some of the key developers on the team.
I was ecstatic when I found out my score after a couple tries was good enough to be in one of the top spots. That evening, I told my friend Schuyler, formerly at GameXplain, about the challenge, to which he said, “Oh cool, I’ll check it out tomorrow.”
Well, me and my big mouth as Schuyler is about a million times better than me at games with the ability to press buttons faster than the speed of light. When I checked back on the scoreboard later on day 2, I had been pushed out of the top two spots by him... by a few hundred thousand points with scores around 1.4 million.. A bit choked but not crushed, I kept trying to crack the top two again.
Eventually on the third day after at least 6 or 7 tries at the demo, which would be monumental to play a game that many times at a recent E3, I pushed out the reigning second place holder to fall in line with Shoe. At that point, the Rare developers running the Kameo demo knew me. My score held up and Schuyler both received our prize from Rare before the end of E3. Eventually I framed the signed mini poster and still have it to this day. Little did I know that such a complete looking game would be delayed to the next generation.
Ryan Green - Contributing Editor, GameXplain.com
As much as I want to rehash my first year at E3, I don’t think my experience was very unique or inherently interesting. This becomes painfully clear when you realize how many amazing writers I was able to get together to help me flesh this feature out. Alas, I shall present a small glimpse into one of my favorite E3 moments. Emphasis on “moments”..
The mindset that I had going into E3 2011 wasn't a clear one; I had been up for at least 36 hours by the time I landed at LAX, and all Sam Bishop and I did was attended press events that day. After a relatively calm time at EA's showing and narrowly avoiding getting swept up to Ubisoft's show, we made it to the alcohol and European-Dance-Mix-infused gala that was Sony’s pre-show conference.
For most of the yap-yap time, nothing unexpected occurred. That same sentiment was expressed by the crowd as well; we were becoming restless. We wanted “NGP” confirmations. While most of the show was a blur of “PlayStation Suite” and “Kobe sucking at Basketball”, there truly is one thing that I can say about the entire Sony press conference:
The words are so clear now, as if they have been grafted onto my cortex. As Kaz is waxing poetically about the PlayStation Vita’s mobile network features, he uttered such damning words:
“Now, of course, having such an impressive set of network features and ambitions requires the nation's fastest mobile broadband network. And we'll be partnering with AT&T [...]”
Sorry but I lost consciousness right after that. It wasn't out of excitement or disappointment. I was laughing too hard, and I wasn't alone. Maybe it was because we were in the cheap seats, or perhaps the jolly crew I was with... heck, the lack of sleep and dehydration probably did me in. While way too many people took the press event with grand reverence, a jolly few of us couldn't care less. After that night, the show would officially start and very few laughs were had. After all, E3 is war; that's just the nature of it, at least that's how I've seen it. But the AT&T announcement was one of the few show moments that reminds me how ridiculous people act to otherwise trivial matters in life, and I still look back at it fondly.
And for the record, my Vita is Wifi-only.
Paul Semel - Freelancer-at-Large
This might sound terribly cliché, but it’s the truth: My favorite moment of E3 is my first moment of E3, the first time I walked onto the show floor of the L.A Convention Center and was bombarded with all the lights and sounds of E3. It was like walking a gigantic arcade that was built in the middle of a Pink Floyd concert. I was still pretty new to the industry, and this was either the first or second E3 ever (but definitely my first), so I had nothing to do except walk around and play whatever games I wanted to play. I didn’t have to write anything, I didn’t have to keep any appointments, I could duck out and grab something half-way decent for lunch, and best of all, I could go home when I got tired. People who’ve never been to E3 don’t understand this, they think it’s all fun and games, but that constant bombardment of light and sound can really wear you down.
One year, I had tickets to see Peter Murphy at The House Of Blues on the last night of E3, and despite being excited for the show, I still started to nod off in the middle of it, much to the amusement of some goth girl. But that didn’t happen my first year, I was too excited, and too free, to get too bummed out or worn out or zonked out. Back then, I was like a kid in a candy store who had a big wad of cash and all the time in the world. Especially when I first walked in and was rendered (sorry) comfortably numb.
Not surprisingly, it was my first, but not quite for all the reasons you might expect. It was 1999, and PSX2.com was turning two. When a friend of mine that was matriculating at DigiPen (this was back when they were still attached to the Nintendo Ewok Village in Redmond near the 7-Eleven) and happened to have a few extra passes. Knowing that I was trying to start up a fancy little editorial site, he offered one to me, and a bunch of close friends piled into Eli's incredibly small Mazda 323 to make the 20+ hour trek down from Washington to Southern California.
I'll skip past the events of the trip itself, but that little car earned its title of the Screaming Blue Mazda 323 of Death. Somewhere on a hard drive is the full tale of the trip, probably horribly written, but it was without question an adventure. I tasted my first Double-Double at In-N-Out, I explored LA for the first time on my own, and I was finally bringing my site down to the biggest show in games the same year it had returned to LA after a couple years in Atlanta.
This was a big year for games. Being that the site was PSX2.com, I was obviously keen to find out what I could about the PlayStation 2, but the official word from Sony was that we wouldn't be seeing the PlayStation's successor that year. Instead, it was mostly about the waning years of the console that had helped put the site on the map. The PlayStation loomed very large over the (I believe) single South Hall part of the LA Convention Center, and the first few days were interesting in that sort of awe-/dumb-struck way you just sort of take in the spectacle of it all. Bear in mind this was still very much a small-time affair compared to the show as it is now, which has completely taken over the entire Convention Center.
I remember walking over to the SEGA booth and thinking for a moment that the football game they had playing on the screen was just a TV showing clips from NFL games. It wasn't until I got closer that I had my first taste of NFL 2K, but the Dreamcast was clearly something special. At that time, there was no overabundance of bloggers and fan sites storming the show, so the floor was mostly empty; if you saw something you liked, you had to wait maybe five minutes and then you had your run of the kiosk. One such kiosk had a couple of Dreamcast controllers and a copy of Soul Calibur II. I jumped on, and seconds later, one Marcus Chong, who was no doubt basking in his public exposure from playing Tank in The Matrix just a few months earlier, grabbed the other controller. We shot the shit a little, played about five or six games, shook hands, and I let him know I really liked his work in the movie. The grin and thanks closed out the first brush with a Hollywood actor I'd seen, and I moved on, back toward the Sony booth to start playing stuff for previews.
What awaited there was something I don't think anyone expected, because there's simply no way I would have been able to walk up and be the next person in line to play GT 2000, the prototype version of Gran Turismo 3 that was running on a very early PlayStation 2 dev kit. At the time, it was a revelation (though you can still see video of it now online and it's hilariously basic compared to what GT3 would become, but it was the first taste of being able to actually see what the PlayStation 2 could do.
It completely catalyzed my desire to really try to cover this stuff for a living rather than just a hobby. Fittingly, as part of the whole press kit/business card trade that happened during the show, I ended up building up a ton of contacts and hands-on time by simply showing up to the booth. That fed into a job in PR in San Francisco where I live now, and almost a dozen more E3s since.
A ton has changed, of course. There will never, ever be an E3 where I'll be able to take a load off by resting against a wall opposite the Rockstar booth, on plush carpet, feeling the same ache in my feet I'd come to know and love over the years, and relaxing with a bag full of asset CDs, business cards and a head buzzing with the start of dozens of previews -- previews of games I'd actually played months before they would ever hit stores. If I close my eyes really tight, I can still see the GTA2 short film Rockstar was showing on the screen overlooking their booth.
Despite how overcrowded, how completely packed with endless meetings that mean I'm almost never on the floor to see everything and how physically draining the show is, the batteries that are my never-ending joy at being able to go to this show will always be recharged in that week before it kicks off all over again.
I see people whine and complain about how taxing and grating and soul-crushing the show is, and while I agree it can be a trek (I think the last time I took a pedometer just to see how much walking was done, it was well over 20 miles a day), I'll never, ever understand the cynicism pours from the mouths of the people that get to enjoy what many who loves games consider to be a Mecca. At the end of the day, I get to see stuff very few will, talk at length to the people that make them, and all I had to do to be so lucky was start a site 15 years ago.
Oh, and then work my ass off in those 15 years. And no matter how many shows I get, I'll still remember first grabbing a DualShock and tracing the cord up into that goofy looking pyramid that housed the beginnings of not only the PlayStation 2, but one of the best driving sims ever made.
This truly is the greatest job in the world.
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