Happy as a Larck: E3: the week without sleep
For four days a year, sleep becomes a non-existent word for journalists in the video game industry.
Writers rush from meeting to meeting from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m., followed by social events with other press members and developers until well after midnight. Even if they leave these early, writing previews over games they see and play and trying to tell about the next big thing will keep most writers up until well past 4 a.m.
If they’re lucky, writers may be able to get a two to three hour nap in before grabbing a quick shower and doing it all over again for two more days. Honestly, getting any more sleep than that is often considered slacking off by a lot of veterans in the industry.
Many people may think this sounds crazy. For us, though, this is E3, a mecca for fans of and writers about video games. This is a pilgrimage thousands of writers make each year to see friends in the industry, make new friends and contacts and get the best coverage over games we can.
First, a bit of quick background about why I go. Besides being the editor of the Woodford Times, I also write for a few websites on the side about video games, anything from news and reviews to interviews and more. It’s a labor of love, but it’s something I’ve loved doing for years.
E3, better known as the Electronic Entertainment Expo, normally takes place in Los Angeles each year (there’s talk of moving it next year). While the conference didn’t actually start until June 5 and ran until June 7, many big companies hold press conferences on June 4 to attend.
So, I flew out from Bloomington on June 3, experiencing the same culture shock I did two years ago during my first venture out to the expo. Woodford County is a great small community with a slow, relaxing pace. However, once you touch down in L.A. it’s always go, go, go.
June 4 was spent running around the entire city of L.A., getting to four different conferences located at places ranging from the campus of USC, to old and majestic theaters in town to even the L.A. Memorial Sports Arena, where the 1984 Summer Olympics were held. The other three days took place primarily around the L.A. Convention Center, with a few companies holding meetings at nearby hotels and gatherings at night taking place at local bars.
The convention center itself consists of a South Hall and West Hall, located a good distance apart from each other. When the writers aren’t in meetings, they try to get to the show floor as much as possible to get hands-on time with the games being shown. Unfortunately, a lot of time is also spent running from the two different halls. Each day I would guess I walked at least a few miles in the center alone, not counting all the walking I did around the city.
Of course, this is probably the smallest problem I faced out there this year. While running around, you never have time to stop for food. So, most afternoons I went without anything to eat, except when the occasional developer stocked food for us to take pity on our jogging expeditions.
In addition, we also had to deal with another type of outside crowd: hockey fans. The center is located next door to the Staples Center, where the L.A. Kings about won the Stanley Cup on Wednesday night. Thankfully, it didn’t happen. Two years ago, I was next door to riots after the Lakers won the NBA Finals, and really didn’t feel like a repeat of the experience.
The expo has two different purposes that show throughout the week. One is to let investors see big innovations from developers to try and buy into it. The other is to let developers show the press the next big thing to try and wow consumers into getting hyped up and ready to buy what they are selling.
While the expo was gimmicky in its early years, developers recognized and try to encourage the press as best they can now to see their game. I saw things I never would see in Metamora or Eureka. I saw pro football players Michael Irving and Joe Montana. I saw music performances by Usher and Flo Rida. I saw CEOs of companies come out and give spiels about their company in hopes of wowing everyone that hears it and winning over fans.
Companies do whatever they can to catch a writer’s attention, even going as far as giving away free T-shirts and other small goodies. They figure that the press also consists of fans that would love what’s commonly referred to as swag, and it gives them free publicity as well.
However, the event is just the tip of the iceberg. Now, I’ll be sitting down for the next week at night to write dozens of stories about what I saw during the week, awards will be given by the companies I write for to the best games there and contact will be kept with the various publishers and developers to see how production is going on their newest games. This isn’t even counting the time that comes down the road where I’ll start reviewing the titles I’ve seen and probably played already at the expo.
Overall, the entire event is a polar opposite to what I experience weekly in Woodford. While Woodford is laid back for the most part, the expo shows how one week can be the most chaotic thing out there.
And I wouldn’t trade it for the world.