E3 is kind of like the food from DennyÃ¢â‚¬™s; it takes a long time to digest. It might be fair to say that I hadnÃ¢â‚¬™t fully digested the experience of last yearÃ¢â‚¬™s E3 until just before this yearÃ¢â‚¬™s show, though that may just have been the chili nachos I kept eating. I can imagine those things sitting lodged in my digestive track for decades. I digress. The experience of E3 is much greater than the sum total of games that we got to look at. It has far more to do with the bits that happen in between playing the games, or standing in line for demos, or having people skeptically look at our media badge. In fact, what I will likely remember most from this yearÃ¢â‚¬™s E3, much like last yearÃ¢â‚¬™s, has very little to do with the endless parade of games (good, great, and otherwise) that were played.
The setting of E3 is itself a character in the whole ordeal. I know that IÃ¢â‚¬™ve seen very little of Los Angeles in my time there Ã¢â‚¬" it is a city of the grandest kind of scale Ã¢â‚¬" and I assume there must be small corners of it nestled in hidden groves where there is a kind of normalcy. I, however, have not seen any concrete evidence of such a place. If anything Hollywood is an even more surreal place than I would have at first imagined, a kind of walking delusion that has taken terrible and ridiculous form. It is spectacle and hopelessness rolled into a floury tortilla with just a hint of cilantro and served with pico de gallo. There is at once a constant sense that a mugging at gunpoint is certainly around the next corner, and also that the mugger will be Chewbacca or the Lone Ranger.
If any single place is stranger than the streets of Hollywood then it may very well be the show floor of E3 itself. I have no real frame of reference from which to criticize or, for that matter, celebrate the sensory exaggeration of this show, so I canÃ¢â‚¬™t tell you if it has become louder, stranger, more crowded, or more insipid than previous years, but I can tell you that it is, at times, all of those things in varying degrees. It is like walking through an episode of Monty PythonÃ¢â‚¬™s Flying Circus if John Cleese spoke like a rap star and kept shooting Eric Idol in the face while Michael Palin stood with a quiet desperation in a metal bikini posing for pictures with the audience. I guess IÃ¢â‚¬™m saying that E3 is even stranger than an episode of Flying Circus.
It is certainly not an event that I can imagine attending alone. Though I did spend much of the show striking out on my own, I absolutely required the repeated companionship of familiar people to reaffirm that reality itself hadnÃ¢â‚¬™t been randomly rent asunder. Besides itÃ¢â‚¬™s simply impossible to see everything in those few days, so the need to compare notes and know what to take a look at is absolutely required. If I were to attend E3 alone my report back would probably be very brief sentences about how I holed up in a corner with a pointy stick and lashed out at passers by. I would speak of a coming apocalypse, my impressive collection of canned goods, and how I would stab any man in the eye who tried to take those goods. Which brings me to my companions.
Certis, Pyro, and Reaper make for an interesting assemblage of comrades. While we each seem very different from one another, our group coalesced nicely. Certis and I have a longstanding relationship based primarily on belittling one another. It is a surprisingly solid foundation that moves naturally from online persona to reality. IÃ¢â‚¬™m not sure if this constant animosity is some kind of dysfunctional friendship or a secret power-struggle based entirely on tearing down the strengths of the other Ã¢â‚¬" a battle which IÃ¢â‚¬™m sure to ultimately lose Ã¢â‚¬" but it works as a basis for communication. I can say, however, that it is an intensely satisfying experience to casually tell Certis to shut up in person, and that recurring opportunity alone will encourage me to seek out his company.
It is also intensely satisfying to win at Mario Party and in the most condescending and blatant voice possible say, Ã¢â‚¬Ëœaw, snap!Ã¢â‚¬™ He hates it when you do that.
Pyro I can sum up in two words. 1) Funny. 2) Vindictive. I think the funny part plays out obviously enough in the persona he presents here on the site, but the vindictive was a surprise. He takes no issue with executing his own downfall if it can also bring down those who have crossed him, which makes him a questionable partner in a 2v2 Mario Party mini-game. So jealous was he of my quick mastery over the game that he must have perceived it as a personal slight, even though I fixed him with doe-eyed looks of affection and whispered soft apologies. No matter how I cajoled him he simply would not have Boo spray those little windows so that Mario could clean, reveling instead on my brief and ultimately irrelevant defeat. So very very bitter.
Watching Pyro at E3 is a little bit like watching a desperately starving vegan activist at a hot-dog cookout. He so vehemently rejects the sensationalism, the mindless stereotypical marketing, and the Draconian efforts of digital rights protectors, and so to see him hip deep in the most blatant celebration of those things was like watching Darth Vader at the end of Jedi trying to decide whether or not to throw the Emperor down the conveniently located shaft. I think maybe that conflicted state probably had something to do with his vindictiveness, and he probably feels terrible about the way he treated me. Just terrible.
ItÃ¢â‚¬™s okay, Pyro. I understand.
As for Reaper, well honestly he never once tried to kill anyone. I think we can all be pleasantly surprised. Reaper has something of an image to uphold, and I hate to shatter that, but he seemed like a well-mannered, even-tempered kind of guy. Not once did he shred his own shirt with a deer knife, leap onto the sofa, and shout Ã¢â‚¬ËœWho wants a shanking!Ã¢â‚¬? Honestly, he may be the most balanced of the four of us.
But, we enjoyed more than the company of one another. We also met some of our readers at the GWJ Meet and Greet which was a resounding success. We doubled our attendance from last year. That may seem small when you consider that attendance was up to four from last yearÃ¢â‚¬™s two, but math tells me that if we can maintain that kind of increase then 2025Ã¢â‚¬™s Meet and Greet should be attended by just over two-million people! IÃ¢â‚¬™m always pleasantly surprised that our readers are quite so normal and pleasant. IÃ¢â‚¬™m not sure if thatÃ¢â‚¬™s a compliment of you guys or a backhanded insult.
We enjoyed a very nice dinner at a very nice place whose name I couldnÃ¢â‚¬™t remember at gunpoint Ã¢â‚¬Â… not even if Clayton Moore himself were pointing that gun at me. We talked about E3, and the games industry, and the site, and we all agreed which one of you we hated most Ã¢â‚¬" sadly, Mex Ã¢â‚¬" though there were many candidates. The Meet and Greet is swiftly becoming my most anticipated part of the E3 experience.
In closing, I think IÃ¢â‚¬™ll leave you with some discreet things I learned from this yearÃ¢â‚¬™s trip:
- Taxi cabs in LA are an exploitive scenic route through hell. Drivers will take you on Ã¢â‚¬ËœshortcutsÃ¢â‚¬™ through the most terrifying segments of Los Angeles with the implied threat that if you complain about it, they may just leave you.
- Lee Reherman is a working stiff just like the rest of us. Just because you once played for the Dolphins and hosted a television show or two doesnÃ¢â‚¬™t mean you wonÃ¢â‚¬™t end up at a trade convention doing hourly demos for a Ghost Recon game. Also, he slapped me. Really, he did.
- Never play as Boo in Mario Party. Poor bastard doesnÃ¢â‚¬™t have legs, and that is a real handicap in some of those mini-games. Just ask Pyro.
- The new consoles may have been the talk of E3 everywhere else, but they were the least interesting thing around as far as I could tell. A lot of promises and a lot of software running on overheated computers while decoy prototype boxes sat nearby.
- Having someone youÃ¢â‚¬™ve never met say, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Gamers with jobs? Yeah, thatÃ¢â‚¬™s a great site,Ã¢â‚¬? was an unexpected thrill.
- We may have all played at not caring too much about Star Wars, but the amount of energy expended in trying to find a theater near us that was playing it and wasnÃ¢â‚¬™t sold-out suggests otherwise.
- The only game that sent real shivers down my spine was Alan Wake.
- When you ask for a showing of MidwayÃ¢â‚¬™s Unreal Tournament 2007 and are told to schedule an appointment, donÃ¢â‚¬™t ask if you should schedule that appointment at the main Atari booth.
And there are more, far more than I could ever list. It really will take me the full year to digest it all, and only just before I pack my bags for E3 2K6 will I be able to close the door on this yearÃ¢â‚¬™s show. Part of me shivers at the thought of attending again, but already I feel the first tugs of desire, and I know I must return.
OH! - And to answer the burning question on everyone's mind from this year's E3. Here's how you handle sleeping arrangements when there's only one bed. Well, it's like you probably guessed.
The pillow between us is how you know we're not gay. It's a symbol that speaks for us while we sleep. It says, 'these guys are totally hetero!'