The Gaming Community and E3 – Insights from an Outsider

I’m not one of you. At least not in the sense I identify as one of you; a gamer.

I grew up playing the classics, we all hold dear, a normal* child, spanning various (S)NES, Sega, PlayStation, and Microsoft platforms. My passion for skydiving may have spawned from Pilot Wings, and I’ve owned every copy of Madden since ’96 (one of the best create-a-player modes ever.)

I abuse the “wrap around” trick on NHL ’97, and I still contend the Dreamcast was the best system ever made—its only fault being ahead of its time. I’ve witnessed and participated in a transformation of graphics and gameplay that would give 10-year-old-me awkward boners. Still, I’m not a gamer.

The only system sitting on my entertainment center is an Xbox 360, collecting more dust than gamer points these days.

I’d probably kick your ass in Madden or NBA Live, but that’s neither here nor there. The point is, I’m detached from the community I enthusiastically embraced when I was younger.

Other than a few select sporting titles a year, I largely disregard any new releases and seldom frequent gaming websites such as the fine one you’re visiting now. So what the hell am I doing 3,000 miles away from home at E3 2013, the largest gaming convention in the world?! Meh, call it an experience.

When good friend, game nerd, and SegmentNext writer Johnny Kilhefner offered me a free trip to the City of Angels, I was reluctant to pass it up. The only catch? Hold a camera… maybe write an article or two.

I can handle that. At the very least, I’ll party it up in LA and get a few days away from my desk job, right? My preconceived notion of an annual video game conference was probably a little shallow.

A bunch of fat sweaty nerds running around like idiots, talking like elitists, and just generally pissing me the fuck off To an extent, I wasn’t wrong. Merging a sea of humans with long lines and lack of alcohol typically sends me into a rage, but something was unusual here.

I found myself absorbed by the event. Even if I wasn’t holding the sticks, I was losing track of time while gazing at the beautiful games being hoarded by the fat sweaty nerds.

When I did get my hands on a controller, there was a distinctive shit-eating-grin splashed on my face, only made conscious of by my occasional reflection in the darkened TV screens. I merely came to observe and ended up willfully participating.

So if E3 is to be considered an accurate representation of the gaming community, we thought you might like a few insights of how an “outsider” views your crowd when inserted into the fray. Here ya go:

Most Unexpected Impression
Seeing considerably higher traffic in the Microsoft zone rather than Sony.

In the days leading up to the event, I heard relentless venom being spewed at Xbox One while praise was showered on the PS4. So why in the hell could I barely breathe at the Xbox exhibits?

There seemed to be palpable enthusiasm between those lime-green walls, which appeared relatively absent in the more accessible PlayStation area. For what was being portrayed as a marketing disaster, there was no visible lack of interest or spurning of the XB1 from the hive.

Largest Stereotype Validated
The fat sweaty nerds. As expected, there was probably a 20:1 dude-to-chick ratio. Let’s just say plenty of attendees benefited from all the walking required to participate. Whether you blame the sedentary lifestyle or your parents is irrelevant. I have provided a photo as validation of my claim:


Favorite Booth Visited
Ouya! Definitely, Ouya. If you don’t know what the hell an Ouya is, that makes two of us. It’s apparently a new console offering a few intriguing benefits to gamers. You can learn more about it on its website, but I’m here to talk about their E3 booth… which wasn’t really an E3 booth.

Ouya brilliantly rented a lot across the street, filled it with hot chicks, free beer, loud music, and game consoles. Whether or not the console is worth a damn may matter to some of you (it actually was pretty fun to play), but as a marketing professional, my level of admiration for the stunt they pulled to stick it to E3 could not be any higher.

Oh, did I mention free beer and hot chicks?

Most Memorable Occurrence
Other than narrowly escaping death in the form of a speeding taxi and getting into a drunken shoving match with my partner for the event, it would have to be the birds-eye view of the attendees as the doors opened on day one.

Witnessing thousands of adults swarm through a hallway towards gaming booths—clawing, clapping, and yelling while moving as one cohesive unit was pretty damn, amusing and memorable.

Honorable mention to the homeless man on the bike who kept screaming, “I’M A CAB!!” As he flew by.

Biggest Takeaway
I miss being a gamer. I went for a free trip to LA and came home with a desire to knock the dust off my 360. Getting my hands on so many awesome and entertaining games lit a fire under my ass, and I’m tired of missing out.

E3 was an all-out assault on my senses, putting an excitement back in me that had been lost somewhere between parenting and a career. So, no, I’m not one of you… but start preparing my welcome kit, you fat sweaty nerds.

…kidding. I love you guys.