E3 is a glorious time of year for gamers. Gaming companies come together to put on a massive spectacle featuring their latest projects, which range from technological advances in video games and accessories to evolve the industry. However, the companies are not the only ones involved in this experience. To make E3 truly outstanding, both fans and the media thrust themselves into the gamer’s nirvana. Outside of the event, developers, attendees, and media personnel all lead their lives and juggle multiple responsibilities, but, at E3, these beings are drawn together because they share two commonalities: a love for video games and their culture. Everyone who attends, from developers to fans to the media, is part of something that fuels passions and reinvigorates resolve before going back to their day-to-day routines, and, like looking out at the Grand Canyon on a clear day, that something is beautiful and special. I ventured to 2017’s E3 on behalf of OnlySP, and this firsthand account describes what the adventure is like from the perspective of both a fan and a reporter.

The first day is the most overwhelming. When approaching the Los Angeles Convention Center (the location where E3 takes place), a sea of people waiting for the doors to open can be seen crowded around the entrance. Most  are fans getting their admission badges from one of the outside booths. Anticipatory giddiness fills the air, with conversations covering a multitude of topics, from what people expect to see to things that have nothing to do with the conference. However, most noticeable in this expectant crowd is the variety of people dressed up as some of their favorite characters, whether  originating from a video game, anime, television show, movie, or other medium. E3 is a place where everyone passionate about fantasy worlds and imagination can feel welcome—a bastion of inclusion and self-expression.

The media, however, has an advantage over the above patrons in the form of a dedicated room inside the Los Angeles Convention Center. Once inside, reporters march to the media center and claim their badge after registering online. With their badge now hanging from a lanyard around their neck, reporters are free to use the media hospitality room—filled with beanbag seats, chairs, tables, stools, couches, coffee, and outlets to recharge electronic tools. Access to this room is gained by presenting the person guarding the door with a press badge. The guard will then provide a wristband that will identify the reporter as having access to the room. Throughout E3’s events, the room’s traffic flow remains consistent, with journalists coming and going at regular intervals. Even before regular attendees are permitted to enter the main showroom, journalists are meeting with developers and other representatives of video game companies for pre-scheduled appointments (one of the perks of working for a media outlet).

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Before the main floor officially opens, the line outside the interior doors builds up swiftly. The atmosphere is electric, buzzing with excitement. Everyone waits for the clock to strike the particular hour when attendees are ushered through the doors. The calm before the storm is akin to 300: at any moment, someone will shout “this is Sparta” and commence the charge into E3’s main showroom. When the clock strikes 12:00PM on the first day, the Convention Center springs to life as fans, journalists, and developers scramble to achieve the highest points of satisfaction associated with previewing upcoming video games and accessories. Lines to try out the latest from a wealth of gaming companies form immediately, some taking over 90 minutes to experience a demo of people’s favorite upcoming releases. Call of Duty: WWII, Star Wars: Battlefront II, Total War: Warhammer II, and Super Mario: Odyssey are just a few of the titles with lengthy queues.

However, playing demos of amazing new games is not the only attraction at this event. Attendees can also spend time in a theater, where epic trailers and gameplay footage of different projects can be viewed on a large screen. Some of the titles shown in the theater are available for play, but not all. Furthermore, the E3 Coliseum takes place in a separate building a couple blocks away from the Convention Center. The events here are a spectacle in their own right. Panels featuring developers, voice and film actors (i.e. JacColiseumk Black), producers, and even WWE superstars (i.e. Big Show) take place at the Coliseum. These panels discuss an abundance of topics, from the latest information regarding upcoming AAA video game titles (Assassin’s Creed: Origins) to the ins and outs of crafting a riveting tale in video games in general. Seats fill up quickly, and only a handful of media personnel are allowed inside during the panels to prevent overcrowding. Luckily, most of the important reveals, such as trailers or game details, are rapidly reported by the journalists for all those unable to attend.

Additionally, two more events took place across the street from the Convention Center. The first was put on by Sony and, this year, the tents featured MLB: The Show 17, which released on March 28, 2017. The second was the Devolver Indie Picnic, featuring food and drinks for media personnel who made appointments to preview some independent titles, such as Milanoir and Outreach. While these events were small, they were no less interesting and offered an escape from the clustered crowds inside the center by providing some open space and fresh air.

However, the main showroom, the Coliseum, and the picnics outside are just a few of the attractions brought to the annual convention. On top of the aforementioned spectacles, Concourse Hall offers exclusive previews for media personnel, if a given reporter has an appointment with any of the companies featured within. Two games available for preview in the hall at 2017’s E3 were Kingdom Come: Deliverance by Warhorse Studios and Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord by TaleWorlds Entertainment, both of which will be previewed on OnlySP at a later date.

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With all the craziness associated with the event, both media personnel and attendees inevitably find themselves getting hungry and thirsty. Fortunately, food is available inside the center. Items available for consumption include personal pizzas, salads, cheeseburgers, fries, chicken tenders, and a few other quick-and-easy dishes to satiate one’s rumbling stomach. If none of those items interest a given person, more vendors are located outside, but few, if any, of them are associated with E3 and most tend to be more expensive and have less variety (mostly hot dogs and bratwursts). However, the event takes place in downtown LA, and a multitude of restaurants from different cultures and cuisines can be found throughout the city.

E3 is both a vacation and workload for everyone, especially developers and media personnel. Spending three thrilling days covering all the new information and updating fans takes its toll, especially when rushing back-and-forth between appointments and spending a wealth of time on the main floor. Stressful as those days can be, little compares to being in a gamer haven, making new contacts and meeting people who can become lifetime gaming friends. Moreover, the sheer size of the event is enough to overwhelm first timers. Regardless, with helpful staff and friendly attendees who are willing to share their experience with friends both old and new, first timers are welcomed with open arms and given all the help and advice they need for traversing the annual, colossal gaming convention.

A magical time of year, E3 is a convention that many people only hear about. No amount of hype, hearsay, or virtual viewing can fully prepare someone for the adventure. Once inside, taking a moment to get one’s bearings will behoove anyone. Before deciding what to do and where to go, take a few minutes to explore and learn the center’s layout. Knowing where everything is will make life easier in the long run. With three days to cover more than just the highlights, time is an ally, but can easily become a double-edged sword when feeling lost and full of wanderlust. Both hectic and rewarding, E3 is an impactful experience and a blast for any gamer looking for a place where they belong, even if traveling alone.

Dylan Warman

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