When I was a wee lad back home in the completely tame suburban stretches of Northeastern Ohio, I dreamed of Hyrule Field being real, tracking down Terra in Final Fantasy VI (or III as it was known in the States), and of course I drooled as much as any geek when the Dreamcast was announced ahead of its more successful contemporaries.
I spent my entire youth with a mix of playing videogames on long summer afternoons and playing basketball outside when my parents decided that my skin was becoming so pale I looked as if I'd soon become a bolt of lightning in front of Jeff Goldblum. And every year for as long as I can remember, I've followed the events before, during, and after the Electronic Entertainment Expo with about as much zeal as a "Twilight Mom" surfs the web looking for shirtless photos of Rob Pattinson.
As Garrett so gleefully put it to me on Tuesday morning (the first official day of the show), "It's the Super Bowl of Videogames, man!" At which point he bounded up and down like a jackalope on amphetamines right out of the hotel lobby. It really is the biggest event in videogames. Minus the one recent year where the show was little more than a ghost town stretched out across a few small venues and an airplane hangar, E3 is one giant industry highlight reel where nearly every company comes out to show the public what they're working on.
Since I first learned of the event back around age 12, I've been dying to go. I never thought I would get to, and chalked it off as one of those dreams that just sits around and festers until it dies. But then Garrett and Jon told me they needed me to go, to meet with a bunch of developers, and to in general have an awesome time at one of Nerdism's headlining events.
Folks, I do not think I am over-sharing when I say I had to actually fight back squeals of glee (and possibly a little bit of urine) when I found out I was going to this year's E3.
Looking back, the show itself was such a blur of meetings, models, celebrities, lines, loud noises, and overpriced food that it's still sinking in for me. I just accomplished one of the things on my bucket list. I went to E3. If I can convince the team to send me to Comic-Con one year, that'll be two. Say what you will about the general showing of the MMO at the event (I personally saw a good handful of promising titles), but the overall feeling I left L.A. with was one of excitement for all sorts of gaming potential.
Let me list out some of the ways in which "My First E3" left me gleefully enthused about gaming as a whole:
I got to play DCU, Jumpgate, Vindictus, Rift, End of Nations, Need for Speed World, and a slew more titles before many players will get their own hands on the games. I got to try Dead Rising 2, Marvel VS. Capcom 3, Hunted, Fallout: New Vegas, and more. I avoided the lines but took in the sights and sounds of the new Zelda, Donkey Kong Country, a Goldeneye Wii-make, Epic Mickey, and of course the ridiculously promising Nintendo 3DS. I watched incredibly attractive women dance in unison with the Microsoft Kinect enabled Dance Central. I chuckled loudly at the way LucasArts' Stormtroopers were corralled through the convention center like it was just another day at the office. I got free t-shirts, bags, post-cards, and lots of other ludicrous swag. I went home reeling with all the information I'd just ingested and a week later I'm still not sure if I've got it all sorted out.
I feel bad for those folks who go to the convention every year and can't get jazzed about it. Almost every single person there was there "on official business", and I did my job to the best of my ability. But when I wasn't taking notes, recording interviews, or hammering away at the keyboard? I was having more fun with more videogames than I can remember in a long, long time. It's a circus. It's loud. It's dizzying. But it's incredibly and contagiously addictive to be around that kind of atmosphere.
I hope I never get to the point where E3 becomes "just another business trip". If that ever happens, I hope that someone's still around to remind me not to take it too seriously. Even though we were there for our jobs, even though we were faced with a mountain of news and previews and interviews to hammer out... it was still all about a topic that's very much a passion of ours. We got into all of this because we love games. We love MMORPGs. We love the culture and the potential that the medium shows us. And that said, I can't wait until June of next year when I get to do it all over again.