Friday, June 9, 2017

The Week Before E3 Week: Part 3

America's Army had a big presence inside and outside the show.
In 2003 I attended the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) for my employer with two co-workers and it was quite a good year to be there but we didn't get to attend any of the press conferences that take place at the beginning of E3 week as we arrived in California the day before the show opened. Let me also point out that I bought my first digital camera only months before the trip and had limited experience with film cameras before that. The camera used was a Canon PowerShot A40; it takes good pictures but my skills combined with the show floor not being too well lit led to average photos.

Many who have never attended E3 probably think it's all fun and games but it really isn't. Being there for work I had to meet with game companies, hand out business cards, and collect stacks of press kits. The show was spread out across the Los Angeles Convention Center and there was lots and lots of walking over the three day period too. Of course, there were games everywhere but the most popular games had long lines, not only to play, but sometimes simply for a demo viewing. If you work for a significant press outlet then you can probably skip the lines but I wasn't part of what the big publishers would consider important press so getting behind closed doors didn't happen. It's funny when I look back at the publishers who were very protective of allowing the lesser press to see their games. LucasArts was one of those companies and it is no longer in business. Sony Online wouldn't let me in either; it has since been sold and renamed.

The large PlayStation set up.
StarCraft: Ghost sighting at the Xbox booth.

Out of the three days I was there maybe two days worth of hours was spent doing the less than fun stuff or simply being too exhausted to do anything else. However, there certainly was fun to be had and I went for it when I had the time to do so. Some of the biggest games found at the the 2003 show included Half-Life 2, Halo 2, Metal Gear Solid 3 (running on screens located near some doorways -- bad placement as the area clogged up frequently), Guild Wars, Deus Ex: Invisible War, Gran Turismo 4, Soul Calibur II, Ninja Gaiden, Max Payne 2, and World of Warcraft (massively multiplayer online games, or MMOs, were everywhere). However, not all of them were playable and some could only be seen behind closed doors. The first Far Cry was also on display and the PlayStation Portable (PSP) was unveiled at the Sony press conference but I don't recall if it was on the show floor; it probably was but I did not play it. One thing I really didn't get to do was play many games. I recall playing a little Deus Ex: Invisible War and Hunter: The Reckoning but not much else.

Nice banner but the game was behind closed doors.
Blizzard showing off World of Warcraft.

Joe Madueira signing Exarch posters.
While I tried to get to the Half-Life 2 viewing (wasn't hands on), the lines were always way too long. When the doors opened quite a few of the attendees who looked too young to be at the show would run to Half-Life so the wait was always long. A lot of unprofessional people somehow get into E3 and with it opening to the public this year I can only imagine how challenging it will be to get to see the most popular games. I did stand in line to see the Halo 2 video despite not being a big fan -- I've only completed the first and fourth Halo games. The other line I managed to get through was for comic book artist Joe Madueira's autograph. He was promoting Exarch which is a MMO that never did get released. Jim Lee was another artist in attendance (promoting Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu) but I had other obligations and simply couldn't get to his line during the time he was signing. Some other folks I spotted around the show included actor Gary Coleman, Tommy Tallarico and Victor Lucas filming for the Judgment Day game review show, Morgan Webb and Adam Sessler dressed up most likely for their E3 awards segment of X-Play, and I believe I saw Will Wright quickly walk past.

Gary Coleman with his Postal 2 entourage.
The Valkyrie model was representing
the unreleased MMO Mythica.
Tommy Tallarico and Victor Lucas filming
an episode of Judgment Day.

I didn't get to see the game but I did get a Ninja Gaiden bag!
Also in the photo is my wrinkled, never worn Gran Turismo 4 t-shirt.
Tecmo caused quite a commotion at the 2003 show because of its Dead or Alive fashion show. Apparently it led to huge crowds that impacted the surrounding booths and I believe it was also a fire hazard to have so many people in one spot. The odd thing is that nothing was done until the very end of day three which is also when I decided to to see what was going on over at the Tecmo booth. Someone must have complained enough by that point that after the fashion show, just as the Ninja Gaiden video had begun, the power on Tecmo's booth was cut. That was disappointing and is really the perfect example (well, that and whatever ridiculous thing Eidos had going on in a boxing ring) of what E3 had become at that point. It started as a retail trade show and still is one but over the years it grew and grew, the Internet turned game fan-site admins and bloggers into press, and eventually it all got a bit out of control. Companies competed with one another to have the best booth with many hiring models to hand out swag and get people's attention. That might be what the public attending this year expects to see and perhaps they will, though I think it's at least a little more tame these days. The show's floor space has been slowly shrinking and publishers like Electronic Arts and Rockstar Games no longer attend E3, with EA doing its own thing nearby.

There were quite a few cars around the show.
These two are crashing for True Crime.
Remember the N-Gage? It was for sidetalking!
It also actually had more than 50 games released for it.

Vice City postcard book and Deus Ex mints along
with lots of stickers and postcards on top of a
Nintendo GameCube bag. 
Now, about that free swag. Many of those that attend E3 want free stuff and I got my fair share of that. My favorite is the aforementioned autograph by Joe Madueira (on a free Exarch poster) and my second favorite is a Grand Theft Auto: Vice City postcard book. I had a Mitsurugi Soul Calibur II t-shirt that I probably should have kept but I let a co-worker have it in exchange for a Gran Turismo 4 shirt. I also got lots of stickers, a couple key chains, Deus Ex mints (gave away my Tomb Raider mints), and other random junk. Overall, E3 was definitely something I'm glad I had the opportunity to experience though I really should have spent less time walking in circles and more time playing games. I imagine the second time someone attends they'd be better prepared to tackle the show in a much more organized manner. I've still got press credentials and am becoming a super popular blogger (I say sarcastically) so perhaps I'll have the chance to get back to E3 at least once more. Enjoy the show next week and good luck navigating the show floor if you're attending.

Sega had a variety of games two years
after exiting the hardware business.
(Destruction Derby and Hulk are another
Nintendo rocked a soothing ceiling.

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