E3 Day One - The Big Show

Motosan

There aren’t a lot of things that will get me out of bed by 6:30 a.m. After four months of commuting to Los Angeles from San Diego, I’m kind of burned out on travelling and waking up before the sun has risen. I cherish every slothful drop of sleep I can squeeze out of the morning, almost without fail.

This morning, I was up by 6:10 a.m., cracking eggs into a pan and tossing English muffins into the toaster with a manic zeal. Instead of my usual groggy lurch, I was wide awake and ready to venture out. (Hardly any coffee was required). There was a good reason for today's spirited energy. After all, it's not every day I get to go to Nintendo's E3 Press Conference.

Before computers entered my household, Nintendo formed the bedrock of my schoolyard socializing. I spent endless hours on the blacktop swapping strategies, reading the latest issue of Nintendo Power and speculating on upcoming rumors and fevered Sonic/Mario crossover dreams. But today’s press junket didn’t seem like a fated Hajj or a long foretold homecoming. Sure, there was a certain wonder tugging at me – something, I suppose, that comes over anyone attending E3 for the first time – but being surrounded with hundreds of people in a swank theatre felt far removed from a kind of communal joy that I was looking for. It felt too… corporate.

Of course, it’s naïve to think that it could be anything else. When Shigeru Miyamoto appeared on the Nokia Theatre’s ginormous screens, metallic Zelda weapons in hand, I felt a sense of B-movie awkwardness. When he cut through a fabric screen and triumphantly appeared on stage, the shock of being in the same room with the man was pleasant, but the overall pathos was, well, staged.

I felt more fanboy glee at being able to see Nintendo’s game announcements on a big screen than being in the presence of industry bigwigs. Watching Miyamoto play the newest Legend of Zelda title is somehow less exciting than knowing there’s a new Nintendogs on the way. I almost feel like I would be happier reading about these announcements as they trickled through the internet grapevine.

So here I am, at the end of my first big industry event, properly caffeinated, feeling a bit meh about the whole affair. The chance to sit here, amidst the glitter and gold of the upcoming year’s offerings, is quite the treat. But I don’t think 8 a.m. media blitzes or free sandwich lunchtime rushes are my speed.

I know that there are cities full of people that would kill to be in the position that I am. I also know that I have the distinct honor of interacting with digital (and certain physical) objects that will set stores aflame in the coming months. Honestly, though, I think I’m much happier being the outsider, waiting as tidbits of mana descend.

Comments

Good for you, not being bowled over by the spectacle of it all.

Wait a second...
"free sandwich"!
No impressions article yet?

You're doing E3 wrong.

I have attended a few (four I think?) E3's and while the first one was sensory overload, I learned quickly that if you don't want to get the PR stain all over you, you need to find the smaller developers (I don't know if they are still allowed in) that will sit down and talk to you while you preview the game. I always asked point blank what the person who was demoing it did on the game and if the answer was "I work in PR or something similar" I would play the game politely for a few minutes before leaving.

Some of my best memories from E3 are talking the artists and coders from Troika, Planetmoon and Shiny Entertainement who are passionate about their games.