With E3 starting next week, we reached out to a few friends in the game industry and asked them to share some of their favorite E3 memories with us. We asked them to share their favorite memory of the show be it a war story or random event. The only requirement for their story was that it be one of those things that could only happen at E3. Here are their stories.
Kenn Hoekstra - President Category 6 Studios
I went to E3 in 1999 to demo Raven Software's Soldier of Fortune for the PC. Violence in video games was a hot button topic at that time, so Activision chose to make the demo "invite only." I was standing behind the curtain between demos and in walks TV legend Dick Van Dyke. He said, "So, what do we have here?" I gave him a ten minute demo while he stood beside me nodding and smiling and sipping his coffee. Finally, he turns to me and says, "Great stuff. The press are gonna have a field day with this one. Thanks, kid." Then he shook my hand and he was gone. Surreal.
Pete Jones - Creative Director at Dark Energy Digital Ltd
I think the most bizarre E3 was the one when no one turned up and E3 meetings were all held in the various hotels around the convention centre. We had one in the Palms Restaurant a couple of blocks away with a Japanese Publisher that should remain nameless. ….
We met in a side meeting room and had taken along an X360 debug kit and a laptop. None of the Japanese could speak English we were told but there was an interpreter. Fine we arrived at the room 20 minutes before the meeting to set up only to find a geriatric TV set circa late 80’s the only input was a RF lead input. We of course had HDMI and composite but nothing that would connect with this monster. In the end we showed a 2 minute video of our game (proto Hydrophobia) and then….silence
The restaurant was super about it actually – it wasn’t their fault they had old TV’s it wasn’t a meeting or presentation venue after all and they gave Deb and I an invite to the restaurant that evening – we went along the food was great. Around the walls they have various signed photos of every movie star and famous politician you could shake a stick at. “As if they all eat here” I said to Deb and no sooner as I had said that noticed that the guy sat opposite me was Samuel L Jackson.
Ludwig Kietzmann - Senior Editor for Joystiq
If you're ever in need of a wonderful E3 memory, just attend one of Konami's press conferences. A lot of effort goes into them, but the results are inescapably earnest, disjointed and unsettling. When they announced Rock Revolution -- just like Rock Band, but half as polished and twice as hard -- they started off with a live performance. Now, you'd normally start by playing the game on stage, and then conclude with a kick-ass appearance by the real band that was just reduced to a note highway.
Nope, not Konami. They started with the real band, and then switched to the cheap-sounding cover version from Rock Revolution. Enthusiasm had been discouraged, but the audience still held out hopre for recovery.
Hey, did you know that Rock Revolution doesn't have a no-fail mode? It would probably have been turned on that day, since the producer and her bandmates also failed the song on stage, and couldn't be bothered to salvage another attempt -- let alone the most depressing conclusion to a press conference ever. I still don't know on what note that thing ended.
(Later in the day, I saw a lonely Koji Igarashi sleeping in a chair, probably dreaming of new 2D sprites.)
Ben Kuchera Gaming Editor - Ars Technica
What no one tells you about E3 is how bone-tired you become after working a few 16 hour days, and that's if you leave the parties early. It was the last day of the show, during the last hour, and while I won't say what game it is, I found myself in a demo with members of press that were near-death and developers that looked like they might fall over. After listening to the poor guys trying to give the demo, we all realized that two people in the room had fallen asleep, and one was snoring loudly. "Okay, I think we're all on the same page, let's stick a fork in it," we were told, and everyone was relieved when the meeting ended early.
Nick Puleo - Owner/creater of Co-Optimus
My greatest memory of the show is actually from the "odd" year - the year everything was in Santa Monica and crazy small. Because of this it offered myself some direct time, one on one with numerous developers and designers. So at one point I basically got to casually chat with Peter Molyeneux about his games of the past and we talked about my favorite game that his studio (Bullfrog) create - Syndicate. He so incredibly excited to talk about it - and just being able to see his passion in person, and see the wheels churning about where the series would be today - was really awesome. Sadly, he doesn't have the rights to the series though it sounds like we'll be seeing something from EA this year.
"I think one thing that'll always stick with me was just how crazy the show really is in terms of time. I covered E3 2008 with Scott Benton of In Game Chat
- and it was a non stop rush from appointment to appointment from room to room. Its so busy, intense, and interesting you usually forget to eat. So once we got back to the hotel that night to record a podcast we suddenly realized we needed food. A quick order of room service later and we had the best tasting hot wings ever...in retrospect...they probably sucked."
Kyle Orland - VIdeo game journalist
- My most painful E3 memory is also my very first E3 memory... the 2004 Nokia press conference announcing the N-Gage. I remember going in very excited to even be in LA and at the show, and wowed by the fancy party atmosphere and glitzy demo stations (even though the games were near unplayable). Then the press conference started, marred by technical problems and presenters whose first language obviously wasn't English. The cringe-worthy event concluded in an infamous moment where a female model pulled off her covering to show a midriff-baring shirt and the too-high price of $299 painted on her belly. Luckily most E3 press events are more professional affairs.
- My best E3 memory is definitely getting to see The Who courtesy of Harmonix at E3... 2007 (I think that's the year, check for me please). Sure, it didn't really have anything to do with the job I was ostensibly supposed to be doing (reporting on actual video games), and it could probably be seen as a form of influence-peddling to get good coverage of Harmonix games, but who cares, I got to see the freaking WHO and scream along to all their songs!
One bittersweet part of the concert, though... there was a Rock Band setup in the bar area outside the stage where people could sign up to play for the awaiting crowd. I got there late so I was low on the very crowded list of players. Then, just as my turn was about to come up, the doors to the concert area opened and everyone filed in to get good seats. If I had been just a little earlier, I would have been the last one on Rock Band and could have said I had opened for The Who! Oh well...
Stephanie Schopp - Tinsley PR
The year was 2005. I was working with Microsoft to launch this little ditty called the Xbox 360 (it’s possible you’ve heard of it.) Across the way from our booth was NC Soft, and they had booked a band to rock their stage at the show – a Los Angeles-based cirque / music troupe (think: drums + fire + hot women + more fire + electronica + awesomeness.) I happen to know them very well from my “not work” life (Secret identity! Seekrets!)
I was passing by NC Soft’s booth as a group of E3-goers were taking pics of the very pretty ladies of the band and one of the ladies, KJ (you can also find her in Justin Timberlake’s “What Goes Around Comes Around” video on YouTube), happened to spot me and called out to me to come say hi. I popped over to the stage to do a really quick round of “hello” to my friends. As soon as they all saw me in my “E3 PR clothes” they decided that they were going to do a one-two punch of teasing me and embarrassing me (or at least, try to.) They swarmed me like I was a rockstar – in front of all the gamer dudes taking their pictures and videotaping – and the girls kept purring like kittens and cooing at me. I had my badge on which clearly said “Microsoft” in giant letters so I was trying my best to maintain any semblance of professionalism, which failed in the face of mostly naked women piled on top of me and giving me the full rockstar treatment. It was definitely good PR, just not in any “corporate” way if you know what I mean. *wink-wink, nudge-nudge*
As the flash bulbs from the now-larger crowd of gamer paparazzi started to go off, I had the sense to turn my badge around for fear I’d end up on the front page of one of the blogs with an unflattering headline. In retrospect, it’s probably my favorite E3 memory and I think the picture says it all (photo credit: Pixie)
Ron Whitaker - Editor, GameFront
E3 has always presented an interesting dichotomy. On one hand, it's exhilarating. You get to see games that aren't out yet, you get to meet developers that you admire, and you get to see old friends in the gaming press. On the other hand, it's exhausting. You spend close to a week working 18-20 hour days, and travel from the east coast out there is usually a nightmare. Sometimes, though, you get a chance to meet someone really extraordinary, and that's what my coolest E3 memory is all about.
The year was 2005, and E3 was still a couple of years from the downsized Santa Monica event that almost killed it. I was sitting in a meeting room waiting to talk to Novalogic about the soon-to-be released Blackhawk Down for XBox and PS2. After only a few minutes, a Novalogic PR rep escorted me into a room to meet with a man dressed in a khaki Army uniform. His name was 1st Sgt. John Collett. He was a Ranger who had flown into Mogadishu when the "Black Hawk Down" incident occurred. Having been there on the ground and earned a Purple Heart, he was now serving as the technical adviser for the video game.
I spent nearly an hour chatting with 1SGT Collett, and was blown away by how passionate he was about the game, and what his goals were for it. Not only did he want the game to be fun, he also wanted it to tell the story of what happened on October 3-4, 1993. He expressed hopes that people who played the game that would gain a better understanding of what soldiers went through in times of conflict. All in all, it was one of the most moving conversations I had ever had about a video game. Here was a man who had been through the firefights and battles of a war zone, and he was still working to help those of us back home understand those in that situation just a little bit better.
I haven't had the privilege of speaking to 1SGT Collett again since that day, but it's something I will never forget. It's also something that could really only happen at E3.
I'd like to once again thank everyone above for their contributions.