E For All: Or, I could be masturbating right now

E For All has received a great deal of skeptical feedback since its initial announcement, and as the show date drew closer it became more obvious that the event was not being supported by fans and industry alike. The absence of Sony and Microsoft was definitely a painful slap, but the show had to go on. I don’t want to sound like a jaded industry hag, but after some of the events I’ve attended I definitely expect a certain level of entertainment from conventions (not to mention news.) As I walked into E For All today, I found myself thinking: What makes a conference worthwhile?

Different events target different types of people: E3 has transformed from an open bar party to an invite-only affair, PAX has earned the title “The new E3”, and GDC has become the definitive developer event to enrich and inspire. Seemingly this would fill all present needs, which is why the announcement of E for All bewildered so many people. An event doesn’t have to be bursting with news to be worthwhile (although it certainly helps), but without a lot of significant announcements, we need to have fun. How are you going to make us have it?

While E for All has several lovely booths on the show floor (the Nintendo booth is gigantic), they can’t hide the fact that if those booths were magically removed, the conference would be painfully empty. The absence of actual game companies is a bummer not just for lack of games but more because of what their absence signifies. I admired the presence of a full band accompanying the cosplay competition, as it was clear they were trying to generate fun and spirit in an otherwise disappointing atmosphere.

The defining moment for a conference is who supports it. This may be a sad fact to the organizers of such events, but it is true. Gabe and Tycho of Penny Arcade fame were fortunate in that their excellent comic garnered them the support to create their own event, and their approach makes it one of the most entertaining yet. I feel the key to E For All’s failure to engage seasoned attendees is directly connected to lack of support, because the conference definitely puts forth effort and courage in its presentation.

My biggest bitch beyond lack of support was lack of retailers. If there isn’t a ton of stuff to play, the next best thing is to give people cool shit to buy. Because of my disappointment, I would have been even more likely to blow cash on import games and japanese toys at random. There were hardly any booths catering to this type of thing, and if it hadn’t been for the scoring of a Silent Hill shirt I would have been totally crestfallen.

If you’ve never been to a con at all and want to check one out, E For All will likely be fun for you. The new Smash Bros handles well and is really fun, and it was definitely a thrill to finally have Metal Gear Solid 4 in my excited little hands. One day is more than enough to explore though, so don’t blow your dimes on a 4 day pass. If you have attended other cons (especially PAX), the event will likely not meet your expectations. Go download some Smash and MGS trailers, settle down with a bag of Cheetos, and fap yourself into a forgetful oblivion.

Colette Bennett