So I am back from Los Angeles and the 2013 E3. There was more than enough tweets, articles, and other dispatches that covered the new consoles, and the new games, so I’ve decided not to further rehash news you’ve already heard. Instead I’ve decided to report on the experience itself.
For starters this was an all-expense paid trip for me. And I am very grateful for that. The client who invited me and my employer was very generous. But with an all-expense paid trip you tend to loosen the grip of control on some decisions on an important trip like that. And for most people, this is okay. But someone like me it was stressful… very stressful.
Booking of the hotel room was delayed, which means the longer you wait the further from the L.A Convention Center you have to stay. My accommodations were two blocks from the Hollywood Walk of Fame and 9 miles from the convention center. But that was ok because I drove there from Vegas and with your own car you tend to have more freedom to explore.
I won’t reveal the name of the hotel I stayed at because they too are a client of my employer, but it’s a national brand. The accommodations in the room were great. Large flat screen TV, huge bed, very spacious room with a microwave and a tiny refrigerator. But for as great as the accommodations were inside, outside was a nightmare. When I pulled up to the hotel it was undergoing renovations. There was scaffolding everywhere, and sheets of plastic lined every square inch of stucco and tile. When I checked in the manager was arguing with some tattooed heathens about some ridiculous nonsense. When it was my turn he asked if I had a vehicle. I told him I had, but several minutes later he asked again because as he explained “I wasn’t listening.”
As I stood there in the hot office I began to wonder if this was a mistake. A young man walking a wiener dog walked into the lobby. At first I thought he was talking to the dog then I noticed a woman standing no more than 2 feet tall with him! She wasn’t a midget or a dwarf or whatever the appropriate term was but she was very tiny. She actually would lean on to the dog with her arm!
After getting the keys I parked the Tetris Mobile into the bomb shelter underground garage and checked out the room. The door was opened and inside a young man was vacuuming ceiling popcorn from the floor. I entered and tried to relax before dinner but the relaxation was short lived as suddenly a team of stucco workers started pounding away in the hall. This lasted for a couple hours and only made it through by telling everyone of my experience thus far.
I decided to venture out for provisions, specifically Pepsi. Since parking was a nightware I decided to leave the car behind. I walked out the lobby of the hotel and saw the “L.A X… Press” office. This was an actual newspaper publisher that specialized in escort ads. I became familiar with them as a teenager in Las Vegas as their newspapers would find their way to Vegas in various newspaper stands that lined the Las Vegas Strip and Fremont Street.
I crossed a street to the refuge of a 7-Eleven. No less than 5 different people asked me for change in the less than a block walk to the convenient store. With Pepsis procured I returned to the room, caught the Sony press conference, reflected on the day, and watched ConAir.
I left Vegas around 5:30am after doing payroll for my team. I stopped in Barstow for gas and a nap, but a train prevented any rest for me. Back on the road I made good time and before 10am I was driving around the convention center. I had three objectives that morning before checking into the hotel. The first would be to find adequate parking by the convention center, the second would be picking up my E3 badge, and the third will remain classified for now.
All three missions were accomplished in the span of 15 minutes. This area of L.A. looked old, but no more old than downtown Las Vegas. If I had any real complaint it was being gouged for $10 parking and the clouds of pot smoke that seemed to linger everywhere. The parking wasn’t location wasn’t bad, and the attendant was pretty and seemed to have invested way too much time in her makeup which would probably be running in the humid 90 degree weather.
When I returned to my car I had three hours to kill until check in. I decided to check out a used video game store called Next Gen Games. That’s kind of a stupid name for a store that sales retro games, but who am I to judge? If they have a great selection at great prices then it would be worth it. WRONG!
Great selection, yes. Prices? Ridiculous. $35 for a copy of MegaMan 2? No way. Everything was so ridiculously overpriced. And why didn’t they have any air conditioning? Is that a universal rule of retro game stores, to not turn the air conditioning on and use an onion flavored air freshener?
Next I decided to try my luck at a Goodwill. Big mistake. The dinky parking lot was designed so that you can only pull in straight. To leave you have to back up about 200 feet from a blind corner onto a busy road. Inside I experienced the most expensive thrift store in history. $11.99 for books? They didn’t have any games, and like most Goodwills the place was a dump.
Next I started to trek in the direction of my hotel. Stop and go stop and go. The traffic was ridiculous.
Tuesday was the actual start of the Expo. The stucco crew started at 7am, and I crawled into the shower just to avoid the noise. On the road the freeway to the convention center was a crawl. I took a random exit and drove through what looked like Koreatown. It wasn’t long before I had my orientation and was back at the same parking lot from yesterday.
“$20?”, I asked the attendant. “You raised the price!”
She only shrugged her shoulders. It wasn’t as humid today as it was yesterday so after parking my car and communicating with my client I started the march from the convention center to the hotel where they were staying. We ate breakfast then headed to the convention center.
At the convention center I had three objectives. The first was to check out the wares of my client. The second was the distribution of the Great Moments In Gaming trading cards and the third, like the third one from yesterday will remain classified.
The first thing I noticed was the number of people at E3 who had no business being there. This is supposed to be an industry only event, and there was no way in hell many of these people had any business there. This would be later confirmed when I watched a story on local news where they interviewed an elderly lady at the event playing a driving game and stating “I’ve never played a video game before, I came here at the invitation of my son.”
I believe nepotism had greatly inflated the attendance at the event and the overcrowding made enjoying the experience awkward. But I was able to check out what I needed to, and a few other things like the Hyperkin booth. A large crowd had gathered there not to look at the Retron5 as I had wanted to but to play Street Fighter 2 Special Champion Edition that was set up on the console.
Shortly afterwards I executed classified mission number 2. Before I made it back to my car that late afternoon I will have learned I was successful – more on this in a moment.
The crowds did make for at least one entertaining moment. While we waited for the doors to open random people just started getting behind others believing there to be an actual line. Before long the line stretched out the door to outside where the badges were being provided. Had these people just protocol and walked up to the door they would have found air conditioning and plenty of space to move around in.
As evening started to approach I headed back to the car and checked twitter. I was able to confirm that the mission was successful and immediately contacted my constituents with the good news. It wouldn’t be the only confirmation that day, there would be another a few hours later.
I rounded that day out with a walk on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It was kind of a waste, but watching the tourists reminded me of home which I would soon after to return to.