After many years of Penny Arcade Expos, I finally decided it was time to check out the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). I’ve always watched the spectacle and press conferences from afar, and was beyond excited to finally be able to wander the show floor to check out the games. And so it was with wide eyes and a shiny industry badge that I made my way to Los Angeles.
Immediately upon entering the convention center, I looked up to be greeted by a giant Fizzie blimp (from Sunset Overdrive) who was heckling various people in the lobby. Entering the show floor was surreal: it was all lights and electronic music and Call of Duty humvees and huge signs advertising all the most exciting games.
The booths themselves were almost as interesting as the games, and included sights such as the Batmobile of Batman: Arkham Knight and the familiar Goliath of Evolve that I saw at PAX East in March.
Despite the fantastic booths, E3 felt weird. At first, I thought it was because I had grown too accustomed to PAX, and E3 was just a different kind of convention experience. On the plus side, the lines were shorter than at most PAX events, so I was able to play the games in less time. However, after listening to a lot of podcasts following the show from highly regarded sources, I knew I wasn’t the only one who felt like E3 was just a little off. For one, there was A LOT of empty space in that convention center. For another, there were a lot of booths with no new games that were just showing videos or had demos set up for games ALREADY RELEASED. Considering how much of the press conferences featured games that won’t be released until 2015, I guess it shouldn’t have been that surprising. I still got to play a lot of really great upcoming games, including Sunset Overdrive, Fantasia: Music Evolved, Little Big Planet 3, Far Cry 4, Evolve (again), Ori and the Blind Forest, Destiny, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, and many indie games featured in the IndieCade booth and in the Sony and Microsoft booths.
In addition to all the great games, E3 was also a great opportunity to talk to developers and industry members who I just don’t have access to at conventions like PAX. I met and spoke with so many game journalists and developers of everything from indie games to the highly-acclaimed Tomb Raider reboot. I even hopefully scored a tour of a prominent video game studio near my home in Seattle!
Overall, the games of E3 were fantastic, and the networking opportunities were invaluable. Equally as invaluable were the life experiences I gained while in Los Angeles. I may have seen a dead body on the sidewalk (or it may have just been a passed-out man covered in a sheet; I didn’t investigate), and a man with many face tattoos stared at me during my first ride on a public transit system!
I can’t wait to see what E3 has to offer next year, since I definitely plan on attending again.