Things I Learned About Going to E3
My first E3 was quite the experience. I prepared as best I could but there are some things that just don’t occur to you until you are there. Some of them are things that you wouldn’t think of because you don’t know what is going to happen and others are just boneheaded mistakes you make when you are tired, excited and in the heat of the moment. In the interest of helping others on their first time as well as providing myself a list of things to remember for next year I have put together this collection of things I learned about going to E3.
1. Bring Extra Socks and Underwear
On the surface this sounds like a no brainer but when you are packing it is a good idea to pack light in a big suitcase so you can fill the empty spaces with swag you pick up at the show. It was with that in mind that I packed exactly enough clothing to last me for the three days I would be gone and no more. Well a little more as I threw in a swim suit I didn’t need and some sandals I never wore. What I should have put in instead of those things were extra pairs of socks and underwear for each day I was there. The thing about the show floor is that whether you are waiting in line for two and half hours for Nintendo stuff or you are zipping around trying to get video footage you are going to sweat. A lot. They were blasting cold air in like they were trying to store meat but the movement and all that body heat makes you sweat anyway. When you get back to your room whether you want to go straight to bed, go get dinner or head out to one of the after parties I kept hearing about but was not invited to you are going to want to take a shower. If you don’t have extra underwear and socks you are going to have to either wear the next day’s stuff and then just keep wearing them until the next evening or put on the same stuff you were just wearing. But that is heading in the right direction for Athlete’s Foot and Jock Itch. I suppose you could wear sandals and free ball it but when you have zippers involved that is just crazy.
2. Stay an extra day
It might make sense to leave when the show is over but you really want to leave the day after the show. For one thing there are fun events after the show is over like this year there was a Videogames Live show going on that I missed because I was sitting in LAX. For another thing, the last day of the show I was worried about getting back to my hotel where the shuttle would pick me up to take me to the airport. In order to do that I had to take the shuttle back to the hotel. I was unaware of the nifty luggage service the hotel offered where I could have left my bag there after I checked out that morning. So I lugged my bag to the convention center, left it in bag check there and then lugged it back to the hotel. And I left at 4:30 because I was afraid of missing the timing on the shuttles and being late for the shuttle to the airport. So I missed out on an hour and a half of show, worried a lot, rushed around and lugged luggage around for no good reason. It was a big hassle that could have been avoided if I had just chilled that night and left in the morning. Plus it would give you extra time to relax and do some previews and updates without a lot of pressure. Also, three days worth of E3 is very tiring and going to the airport is not awesome immediately after the last day.
3. If Nintendo Has New Hardware, Go First Thing
This doesn’t necessarily have to be the first day of the show but first thing in the morning for sure. Anything you can do to cut down the lines. Lookit, Nintendo does some silly things sometimes and the Wii has enough shovelware to dig a hotel sub-basement but when they do something cool and they put out a new iteration on one of their own series then people are interested. Think back to the N64. Good games came out about once a year and they were almost always first party Nintendo. And they were amazing. I waited a relatively short hour for the 3DS at 10:45 in the morning on day 3. That is 45 minutes after the show floor opened. I had stopped by before a meeting at around 10:05 and the wait looked like it was only 15 or 20 minutes. The Zelda line was about an hour and a half from time you got in the line to the time you walked out from playing it. When you are dealing with a short day in which you have to leave early that two and a half hours really puts a dent in your schedule. So hit them up as early as possible so it takes less time away from other games. You don’t want to miss all the other stuff but you sure don’t want to miss Nintendo bringing out cool new things either.
4.Don’t Carry Batteries for Two Days and Then Put Them in a Checked Bag on the Last day
Sure you say this is common sense and I agree with you more or less. But nothing seemed to be running out of juice and it was the last day and I wanted to cut down weight in my back pack. Yeah it was a dumb move but it worked out okay anyway. And you can buy batteries at the E3 Merch shop anyway.
5. Girls Working at the Booths Apparently Love Scooby Doo Shirts
It is true. Especially at Nintendo.
6. People Who Wear Shirts That They Were Given or Bought at E3 While at E3 Are Like the Guys Who Wear the Shirt of the Band They are Going to See
It is kind of embarrassing to see. Also there is nothing like being a fanboy for another game company while you are talking to someone about their games. Especially in Media meetings. Classy.
7. When Someone Says it is Going to Be a Seven Block Walk, Wear Your Gym Shoes
So you get there the day before and you need to get your badge holder but no shuttle service is running from the hotel that day. You ask the door man how far it is and he says seven blocks. Seven blocks? Shit you walk way more than that at the gym and you lift weights (just not lately cause of broken headphones and stress at work but I am going to get back in there I mean I am making a little bit of progress cause I am taking in way less calories and I am not going to be discouraged that I have to buy new work pants because I can’t fit in the ones I was hired in a year ago anymore) and start off like a plucky, wide-eyed game journalist you are. Three blocks in you realize that seven blocks in the wrong shoes really suck but you need to keep going because you don’t have time before the badge holder locations close to go back for proper shoes. So you keep going and get to the Convention Center and it is so cool and your feet hurt so much you seriously consider hiding in a broom closet for the night. But then you would still be wearing those damn shoes. Seriously, take the extra 1o minutes to go back to your room and change into proper shoes.
8. Wear Gym Shoes
I guess it depends on why you are at the show and how aggressively you are planning to attack it but for comfort’s sake some gym shoes/running shoes are really the way to go. For all the standing and running around you are going to do, especially in the face of the seven block debacle, comfortable shoes made for that sort of thing are a good idea. Of course, I saw a dude rocking flip flops at one point so what do I know?
I understand that E3 is generally a professional gig so dressing up is nice but for me, I couldn’t have wrangled all the things I had to carry without cargos. They were loose fitting and comfortable and reaching down into a pocket was much easier than reaching back into a backpack. The event is pretty laid back dresswise so cargos are a good way to go.
10. Bring a Camera Person
If you have the ability to do this I highly recommend this. I tackled the show alone and as such was run pretty ragged. Having someone along to take pictures isn’t going to help that part of it all that much but this way you won’t have to separate time playing with time taking pictures and video. And in interest of fairness you could both take turns so you get more video and the camera partner doesn’t miss out. Also, I suck at taking pictures and video so it would have been nice to have someone competent with me. And you just look more important this way which only matters when you are not at all important and watch the more important ones get to cut in line.
11. Cliff Bars
The food offered at the convention center isn’t bad but it is hugely expensive and the lines for a tiny $9 cheeseburger are longer than the lines to get hands on with the 3DS. Your time (and probably your health) are better served eating an energy bar of some kind. I went with Cliff bars because they are very tasty and are an effective meal replacement for me. This keeps you in the game longer as you can eat while on the move or standing in lines for games. And really if you have to stand in a line, wouldn’t you rather be waiting for something to play or see than something that will clog your arteries?
12. Get the Free Magazines at the END of the Day
So they offer free copies of just about every magazine in the industry and they are awesome. Especially the English ones which make me very jealous and wish that the exchange rate didn’t suck so much. As cool as all of these are you really don’t want to get your free mags in the morning. People come by and replenish the stock all day so they will be there when you are leaving. That is the time to snag them because it doesn’t suck all that much to carry a bag of rocks to a shuttle and then to a hotel but you have all that weight on your back during the whole show and you are going to have problems. Almost two weeks out I think I still have bruises on my shoulders.
13. Backpacks are Great, Shoulder Bags are Probably Better. Cargos are Awesome. You Will Get a Lot of Free Bags at the Show
You need to take some kind of bag with you to carry swag you pick up. I went with a backpack which worked out pretty well until it became overloaded and hurt like a bitch. I started to streamline where I was carrying way more in cargos. I think that a shoulder bag might have been more awesome a it only would have worked the shoulder and not the lower back as much but I don’t know. They will also give you free bags to carry around, some of which are enormous and make you feel like an idiot. It is really up to you what sort of bag you bring but you probably need one. I might take a back pack and a shoulder bag next year so if the shoulder bag doesn’t work I can switch back to the backpack. I may be over thinking it. Just make sure what you bring is comfortable and try not to load it up too much before you walk in the doors.
14. Use the Side Entrances Not the Front Escalator
I didn’t get this really but in the South Hall there is a main entrance through the escalators in front and everyone lines up there and it takes awhile for them to manage to get in. That it is like two escalators at the most they can come up on it is like watching cattle in a chute. On the second floor on either side of these escalators are security checkpoints. If you are up there waiting there is a crowd, sure, but it is much smaller than the main herd coming up the escalators. You can get in so much more quickly here and I didn’t really understand why more people didn’t do it. Of course if they had it wouldn’t have been faster. So now that I think about it, please don’t use the side entrances after all.