E3 is almost upon us, and if you’re already sick to death about hearing about it…Well then this article isn’t going to help you. There’s a lot about E3 that most folks don’t realise. To some, it’s a massive gaming orgy where the press get supposedly treated like kings and handed free consoles. But the truth behind E3 is far simpler and actually rather mundane at the end of the day.
Preparing is half the battle
Right now, I’m sitting with a ton of paperwork all tucked away for E3. Getting ready to properly report on the show takes months of work, contact with local PR and distributors, scheduling and getting your ducks in a row.
Sure, you can get your E3 access and an invite or two easy enough. But that’s if you want to do a half-arsed job.
The L.A Convention Centre is ridiculously massive
The closest thing that we have to a local E3 is the rAge expo. That’s an event which has clearly outgrown the Vodacom Dome, but it still pales in comparison to the sheer size of E3. Honestly, comparing rAge to E3 is like watching a midget luchadore run around the Big Show at a WWE event.
E3 itself is divided into several sections. You’ve got two main showfloors in the centre, with a huge concourse connecting them. Each is many times larger than the Dome. And for some reason, you’ll find out that every appointment you have is split equally between the two, which means that you better pack running shoes as you Usain Bolt off to go see a trailer for a game that you just flew halfway around the world for.
There’s a reason why everyone loves Sony at the end of the press conference day
Monday, is usually press conference day. Or as I like to call it, the Gauntlet. That’s a full day of hauling ass to four press conferences, starting with Microsoft at the Galen Center, hitting EA next in a 20 minute walk in the sweltering sun that usually involves standing outside and sweating your ass off, before cramming into the Orpheum Theater to see Aisha Tyler tower over every single one of the Ubisoft presenters.
Three down, one to go. By that time, it’s late afternoon, your fingers are broken husks of too much tweeting and photo-taking and you’re pretty miserable due to the fact that you’re starving. And then you reach the Sony venue.
And before you, lies dozens of food stalls, each handing out treats to the thousands of hungry journalists, bloggers and enthusiasts. Words alone cannot describe that joyous sensation of food that isn’t just great, but free. It does a massive job in spiking your energy up for the Sony event, while remaining a crafty method of generating some positive press for the PlayStation brand. After getting up at 5am to queue outside the Galen Centre for MS’s shindig, and then only getting time to eat again at about 6pm, Sony’s food is well appreciated.
And honestly, I’m easily swayed with free food.
There’s a massive swag culture present
You’ve seen it, you’ve heard about it and yes, E3 gives away a ton of free crap to attendees. Now, whether you go hunting for the stuff or not is a debate for another day, but I’m not going to say no to being handed a free T-shirt when I exit a meeting. Hell, the gaming industry has been dressing me since 2012 as it is.
But then you get the more insidious side of the gifts available at E3. Activision regularly gives away free Skylander figures, which are an exclusive taste of what’s to come later that year. And it’s a sought-after prize, with many of the figures winding up on eBay under a ludicrous asking price. Then you’ve got veritable lines of people, waiting to get a free T-shirt or a foam hat.
But nothing can ever beat Square Enix, who last year had a swag-stand set up. The key to obtaining one of their shirts/bags/hoodies, was to go stand in a least an hour long queue, play your way through a level and get a stamp on your swag card. Or answer a question correctly, related to the game. Get enough marks on your card, and you got a prize.
And by golly, it freakin’ worked. Square Enix had lines as far as the eye could see, filled with people playing away so that they could get their hands on that Final Fantasy shopping bag or a Murdered: Soul Suspect T-shirt.
Everything is rehearsed
It should come as no surprise that in Los Angeles, everyone has a script. And probably some glossy headshots if you ask nice enough. From the massive press conferences all the way down to the show floor, the event is filled with all manner of folks who know just what to say.
This isn’t a bad thing, but it can make it challenging sorting PR-speak from actual details. And it’s something that everyone there is well-versed in.
It’s not a party
Well, at least not for the writers who have to factor in time-zones. As much as we love our PR pals, we don’t have the luxury of heading out every night to abuse the company credit card and dine solely on In ‘n Out burgers.
The usual schedule involves waking up at the dawn of a sparrow fart and checking in with the crew back here, coordinating a plan of attack and checking that everything is charged for the day ahead. You’ll most likely have around 20 minutes at most to grab a breakfast, hit the Staples Center and find your way to your next appointment. This goes on for the entire day, as you run between venues, skirting with a time limit as you attempt to do everything that you possibly can.
Sure, it’s fun and one hell of an experience, but like we’ve always said when we do these trips, it’s not a party. Works does and always will come first, due to the responsibilities that we carry to our sponsors and most importantly, you guys.
You’ll always be our first priority, and we’ll be getting content up after a day of hard work, as you begin to wake up. But hell, it’s what gets me up in the mornings.