|For GameGirl Advance: On E3||home|
Thinking About E3
Thinking about E3 2003, I feel a familiar mixture of excitement, anticipation,
On the upside, it's a chance to see new games, old friends, and visit LA
– great things separately, all the more wonderful when combined. I
love the pageantry and buzz of the show floor, with its neon aluminum
vistas and plush pile carpets. Networking opportunities abound –
dinners, lunches, parties… plenty of handshakes and business cards.
Everywhere you look, the monitors shine from alcoves – casting their
space-aged glow onto the faces of expectant, enchanted gamers. There
simply is no way to describe the energy that comes from this industry,
this show, these fans.
But man - what a zoo!
loud – often painfully so. There are way too many flashing lights and thumping sound systems (not to
mention people). It’s hot, then it’s cold, then someone steps on
your foot or elbows you in the ribs. As the show wears on, copies of Show Daily double as pratfall bananas. It's
difficult to focus, easy to get lost, and the lines for everything are
long and slow.
Well, ok – everything but the ladies room. As I wash my hands, a 6 foot
woman in a shiny black costume primps and obscures her panty lines.
Heels echo on the tile as one goddess asks another "Are my lashes
My own reflection is discouraging. At I was so excited to get to the show and see all the new, exciting titles – and after just a few short hours I’m spent. Physically, spiritually, emotionally – for me, E3 is trial by fire.
But I’m a gamer. I’m a
fan! I can take
press back into the crowd. Pale, t-shirted spectators clamor for free
stuff; others bustle to pose with Atari girls. A few disappointing
demos, some ridiculous marketing and outrageous claims are feeding my
fears. Many of the “new” games look familiar – too familiar. And
can there really be another
sequel to that cheesy title?
pause in a dark corner to experience the spooky (but inaudible)
environmental sound of Fatal
Frame. A friend stops by, and we trade recommendations (shouting).
and Clank waits at the top of the vibrant and posh Sony setup, Robot
Alchemic Drive brings me back to the ground floor. Inside
Nintendo’s magical LCD pumpkin, I tilt and roll with Roll-A-Rama,
gush and gape at Metroid
(of course) Zelda.
And at some point, I realize: this
is what I came for. I found it. Disappointments, false starts, and
empty promises aside... the gems were out there, waiting for me.
Why on earth was I so worried?
After several shows, I’m only just beginning to understand my recurring
affair with E3. Like any relationship, there are ups and downs.
Unrealistic expectations and unconscious assumptions create stress and
friction, and frank dialog is an important remedy. But you can’t talk to a trade show. What’s a girl to do?
The key, as one friend says, is to “embrace the chaos” and accept it for what it is. Understand E3’s primary audience is buyers and industry affiliates – and predominantly male. Ignore bogus filler and bad taste - focus on the positive trends. Last year, for example, we saw less booth bait, more middleware and a handful of outstanding games.
Rome, as they say…
Looking at my photographs from last year, I can already feel the
excitement and anticipation in the pit of my stomach. I’m still
anxious to see what rises to the top – but maybe (hopefully) a
little more positive and prepared.
Robin Hunicke is a student of game design & proponent of game studies, concluding her PhD work in AI & Interactive Entertainment @ Northwestern University. Her first love was M.U.L.E.