Now that I had everything squared away, it was time to actually attend this huge event. After a good hearty breakfast, and a quick check of the news, I was off to find my fame and fortune at the one event everybody who is serious about gaming is about to attend. Ladies and gentlemen, I was ready to tackle this convention like it was a teenager at R. Kelly’s mansion.
Problem is, day one can be kind of a bummer. Oh sure, it’s the first time you have a chance to play the games you’ve been anticipating, but let’s face facts here, that’s not going to happen without some pushing and poking. On the first day, everybody’s looking for that one game they’ve been losing sleep over for half a year … and it’s probably the game you’re waiting to play, too.
Now, don’t get me wrong. If you’re taste is the Simpsons: Hit & Run, or the next offering from Barbie or the Olsen twins, the chances are pretty good you’ll have very little problem playing the game you want, whenever you want. But if you were looking to finally get your hands on the Gran Turismo 4, Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, or any of the other highly anticipated sequels at the show, you were going to have to pack a whole lot of patience. Which leads us into our fourth rule of E3 …Rule Four – Be Part of the Media
Oh sure, most of the time people hate us. And we have a way of promoting things that are not always in our best interest. And a lot of us can even be accused of placating to the whims of advertisers. But who cares about that?? At E3 the media is treated like royalty.
While the industry types, people representing stores, distributors, and everybody just trying to sneak in, line up at the door to get in, the media is open to roam the show floor. Of course, we really only get an hour of unimpeded gaming … but that’s an hour most of the attendees were waiting or getting their bags searched.
This year offered a lot of big titles that were only shown behind closed doors, or at least in theater rooms. Games like Halo 2 and Half-Life 2, titles that people are still talking about, weeks after the show. Games that were a must see, even if it meant waiting in line for over an hour.
But the media is often able to make appointments, so there is no waiting (or at least, less waiting). Savvy journalists can play the Prince of Persia game to their hearts content, and then head on over to Half-Life 2 when it’s time, instead of taking hours away from game playing just standing around and waiting for the next big thing.
While Half-Life 2 and Halo 2 were shown to the public (that was willing to wait in line) some of big titles weren’t accessible to the public, so making media appointments was essential. Sony Online Entertainment’s booth, which included the sequel to EverQuest and the expansion pack to the PlayStation 2 title, was completely closed off, unless you had a media badge.
Perhaps the most impressive title shown behind closed doors was SSX3, the online sequel to SSX and SSX Tricky. The game features an entire mountain to explore, with thousands of places to see, and dozens of tracks to race. What I was able to see of the game left me impressed, and wanting more. The game should be good enough to make most people forget that there never was an SSX2 (Tricky was always advertised by them as the “expanded” version of SSX).
If all that wasn’t enough, the job also gives you a reason to be invited to the press events Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft and other big players throw before E3 even starts. Last year Sony announced the console war had ended (with them as the victors), and this year’s announcements were just as shocking (but thankfully not as arrogant).
I’ll confess, even though I enjoy a lot of games on my GameBoy Advance, I am not its biggest fan. There is just something unnatural about a portable that really has no competition whatsoever. A portable that is able to play games that were released over a decade ago, and still sell for dirt cheap. I hate to be the pessimist here, but there’s something unfortunate about Nintendo having a monopoly on the portable marketplace.
Sony is banking that more than a few people feel like this, as they announced a brand new portable at their pre-E3 press conference. With the PSP (PlayStation Portable … though I personally think “Pocket” sounds better), Sony intends to do everything Nintendo has done, just a whole lot better. It’ll be able to process 3D graphics, has USB support, plays small mini-DVDs, and can potentially hook up with the worlds most popular game system.
Granted, neither Microsoft nor Nintendo had anything quite as surprising to reveal, but their presentations were still full of big titles and even bigger egos. If anything, these press conferences are a great waste of time, since they usually parade the biggest game developers, and have them trying to make jokes, playing games with other developers, and more. And hey, they give out nice bags and cool backpacks to hold their press releases, so you get a collectible, too.
Without a doubt, being part of the media is tops when attending E3. But what if there’s no way of attending using the media as your catalyst? You could probably argue that this last rule has been pretty useless, especially if you can only get in because you are working at a GameStop.com in the mall. Don’t fret; there are plenty of rules left to get to, some that even apply to minimum wage mall employees.
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