The Los Angeles Convention Center was swept away by a pulsating sea of people on June 11th, 2013, the first day of the Electronic Entertainment Expo. Swaths of people crossed the LA intersections and into the world’s largest games exhibition in the world.
The exhibitors want us to love everything. We want to love everything. Just take a look at this place, it’s hypnotic! Speaking of hypnotic, why not have a drink at the bar? “Get drunk; lighten up a bit for Christ’s sakes,” the show seemed to whisper. I obey.
Why not? Ouya’s doing it! They set up shop outside and gave booze away free from 4pm to 7pm (but ran out much earlier). The only real question I had at the end of the day: Was I at E3 2013 or in one of Baz Luhrmann’s lurid nightmares? God, I hope E3.
For all its directness, it’s in your face “FUCK YEAH, E3” mentality, it’s surprising how little access you really have. There’s marketing. Everywhere. There’s women strategically placed in outfits designed to lure male fantasy right out of the most honest gentlemen. Booth babes, they call them.
As far back as I can remember, I wanted to go to E3. I read the pages with the sweat of my nose compromising the integrity of my magazine’s ink, gripping its pages the way a newborn baby grips her mom’s pinky.
I wouldn’t let go. No, I couldn’t let go. Not of the fantasy I conjured up in my head of what E3 was like. Not at all unlike my flight from Baltimore to Los Angeles. I hadn’t been in a plane on more than two occasions: The first when I was 10 months old traveling from Liberia to America.
The second when I parachuted out of one. But commercial traveling is different, I thought. “The longer the flight, the better!” I foolishly proclaimed as I confirmed my purchase. Then you get to the airport and its filled with people smashing into each other like atoms in a hadron collider.
You rush to your gate because you didn’t account for the traffic, or the weather, or something shitty like that, and realize you still have to get through security. After being politely menaced and violated you start the actual rush to your gate, awkwardly sit in your center sit between strangers and try your best to get comfortable…for the next five hours.
Afterwards, the flight spits you out one by one, harshly, like soda cans dropping out of a vending machine.
I saw my first real life glimpse of E3 as we walked up Pico Boulevard, staring at a gigantic advertisement for Battlefield 4. It was a little after 9 (though I was still on east coast time). Even so, a lot of people were strolling in.
After receiving my media badge, I walked to the media hospitality room, showed the kind attendant both my badge and ID, and then proceeded to sit on the floor in the corner of the room because all the tables and beanbags had been taken.
What did I expect? To have a table of my own and to meet a bunch of the writers I admire? Of course. But I’m green in the gaming journalism world; So, corner of the room? I’ll take it.
I felt the nervous joy course through my veins like a hive of bees as I prepared myself for the show. The time grew nearer, and the crowd grew from modest to obscene.
When the doors opened, the crowd roared through the doors and saturated the show floor from decadent booth to decadent booth. Confusion struck: Where am I going? Who am I meeting? Lines everywhere.
Music pounded my ears with brutal efficiency. Photographers violently snapped pics of the PS4, not relinquishing the front row positions they fought so hard to hold, instead opting to keep staring at the system as if it were going to eventually come alive and start dancing.
It’s very hard to play games at E3, at least the good ones. When you do get your hands on something, intrusive rays of red, blue and green lights casually perform eye surgery on you while playing. It’s an all too convenient metaphor for the glitz blinding us from the real point of E3 — to play new games and write honestly about our experiences.
But that’s not really the point of E3, is it? The point, is to get the event goers to leave with a positive impression and get journalists to write positive hands-on previews. All the glitz, it’s just there to whet the appetite. But I was stuffed.
At least when I trudge back there from my hotel on Main tomorrow I’ll know exactly what I’m getting myself into. And when I do get back to my place on the east coast, I’m going to finally clean out my closet and recycle those old gaming magazines, especially the E3 issues.