Top ten favorite E3 Expo memories
By: Jeff Rivera
I'm submitting my media credentials today for the E3 Expo and as I pulled together my information to fax into the E3 media registration team, I was hit with a wave of nostalgia. I've had many, many great moments happen during the week of E3, so I figured I'd run down my top ten memories of the show over the last 10 years.
Narrowing down the list to just ten choices was a lot harder than I guessed it would be, but it's merely a testament to how good of a time the show is despite the long hours, long wait times, and nonstop assault to all five senses.
10 - F-Zero AX in the Nintendo booth
When Nintendo was showing off F-Zero GX for the GameCube, they also brought to the show an F-Zero AX, the arcade version of the same game. They brought the Deluxe cabinet, which is extremely rare in the United States and it was a treat to get to play on it a handful of times. About a year ago I had a chance to purchase one, but its sheer weight and size prevented me from pulling the trigger at the time. E3 remains the lone place I have had a chance to play the deluxe cabinet version of F-Zero AX.
9 - Alex Ward sneaks us into a closed door demo
There are three types of demos at E3. There are the floor demos that anybody can play, there are the press only demos that are behind the main area of a company's booth, and then there are the closed door demos that you need a direct invitation from the publisher or developer to attend. When Criterion was first showing off Black at E3, it was a closed door demo, but I desperately wanted to see it. Having interviewed Alex Ward the previous year, I asked him what my chances were at seeing Black when I ran into him on the show floor. He looked at me and my friend, and said, "ah right, I remember you from last year. Great interview. Come with me."
Alex Ward took us to where they were about to do a showing of Black and opened the door. The PR rep immediately tried to tell us the demo was full, but then Alex spoke up and said, "these two get in, it's no me."
The PR bouncer let us in and the demo was awesome. That year I was one of the very few to get an eyes on demo with the game outside of the biggest gaming sites, and my preview was published ahead of any other that I could find.
8 - BioShock Infinite Demo
Last year I was a bit frantic at E3. Gamer Theory had launched about a week before the show, and we were still getting a lot figured out while I was trying to cover the show by myself. I somehow forgot to set up an appointment with 2K Games to see their demos.
On the second day, desperate to see BioShock Infinite, I hit up the PR rep at the booth and she at first turned me a way, but then stopped me as I got ready to leave. She asked me if I used to write for Kombo and if I was the same guy who wrote The Stupid Gamer. I answered yes to both questions and she penciled me in for a viewing. The demo was easily the highlight of the show last year.
7 - Steve Wiebe goes for the Donkey Kong Record live
I'm an avid arcade and pinball machine collector and I'm still a sucker for the drama and comedy surrounding the Donkey Kong high score chase. Steve Wiebe made a live run at the record two years ago and I have to admit that I stood there and watched the whole thing. Steve came up short, but the atmosphere was electric.
6 - First time at a Nintendo conference
I attended E3 a few times before getting an invite to the Nintendo media briefing. Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft all have great conferences, but there's always something special about the Nintendo show due to all of the insane expectations and hope for something totally unexpected. I still remember tweeting out the news of New Super Mario Bros. and having a flood of excited replies come in soon after.
5 - A scary walk back from Little Tokyo
In most years I'm too busy to do much aside from writing, attending events, and spending time at the show floor itself. One year, I made some extra time with one of my friends and we took a taxi to Little Tokyo to buy some stuff for his kids. We were decked out in nice clothes, carrying cameras and laptops, and still dragging a bag of swag from the show.
We were fine until we decided to walk back to the subway rather than catching a taxi. Our route took us through a pretty rough area, and me knowing how to speak Spanish made it worse as I heard conversations about us that I would have rather been oblivious to. We made it out safe, but were later laughed at by a taxi driver when we told him the path we had walked, especially since the walk took place after dark. I'd never do it again, but it's a good story to tell.
4 - The Child's Play Charity Golf Tournament
Last year I signed up for the Child's Play Charity Golf Tournament and it was one of the best experiences I've ever had during all of my E3 trips. The atmosphere was tons of fun as we mingled. Journalists, developers, PR, and celebrities combined to participate in an event that raised a ton of money for Child's Play, all while having a great time. Big time kudos for the Child's Play team for putting that event together.
3 - Meeting Shigeru Miyamoto
We all have our heroes in the industry, and Shigeru Miyamoto would be on nearly every gamer's list. While playing the demo for Twilight Princess in Nintendo's elaborate Zelda booth, I suddenly realized that I was all alone and that there was a bright light behind me. I turned to see a camera crew and reporter interviewing Miyamoto in an empty booth, and they asked me to keep playing. As I played, they wrapped up their bit, and then Shigeru Miyamoto came and stood next to me and talked to me as I played the game. It was incredible.
At that moment my fanboy took over and after wrapping up the demo and shaking hands with one of gaming's gods, I pulled out a picture of Link that I had and asked him to sign it. With a smile and a gracious attitude, Shigeru Miyamoto obliged. They then opened up the booth once more and people poured in to see Miyamoto standing there. He was soon mobbed by interview and picture requests, but I had already had my moment. I gave him my Sharpie to help him with his signing requests, thanked him once more, and floated out of the booth with my feet three feet off the ground.
I met him again later along with Satoru Iwata, and at that time Miyamoto also signed my DS.
2 - My first time entering the show floor
The first time I made it to E3, I was there waiting for the doors to open. A huge crowd was waiting, and as the doors open, a flood of gamers literally began to run towards the booths they most wanted to visit. I was a bit more casual, but probably because I was slightly overwhelmed. I strolled slowly into the doors, and just looked around me. It was an almost dreamlike experience.
That feeling of the doors opening for the first time each year is still special, but nothing will ever be like that first time walking onto the show floor.
1 - Meeting many great people, especially my Kombo/AMN teammates
E3 is officially all about the video games, but anybody who has gone will tell you that the highlight each year is connecting with new people or seeing friends that you haven't met up with since the previous year. AMN/Kombo was the place where I spent the most time as a writer, and each year at E3 I loved spending time with the team.
I still have random memories burned into my brain. The first time I met Stephen Smith was at the Nintendo booth, as he was sitting right there on the floor with his laptop out. I remember being flat out exhausted, chatting with Lucas DeWoody in the West Hall at some tables while I quickly typed out a preview. I'll never forget watching Robert Miller work crazy hours to get media uploaded and formatted properly. Sascha Lichtenstein better not ever forget that I rubbed aloe vera all over his sunburned back. Tagging along with Jonny Hechema for his first show was great as we hit up some awesome media only demos. Covering Nintendo with Philip Levin and watching him light up in the booth was always a treat. I remember thinking that Brad Hilderbrand was some kind of awesome freak as he stepped in as a newcomer to the site and blew things up in a good way. And finally, Sean O'Neill's and Ken Cauley's pre-show pep talks and post-show thank you speeches were enough to make me run through a wall for Kombo. There are others I'm not naming now, but I could write for hours if I don't stop now.
E3 Expo is always a great place for me to build memories, and I have many more yet to make. Here's hoping that E3 2012 is all that it's already being hyped up to be and that we'll have an even better year this year than we did last year for Gamer Theory. E3 Expo in 2012 starts June 5th and runs through June 7th. Registration is open now.