E3 09: How E3 was like High School

The last thing I’d ever want to do is go back to High School again, but it seems like I just came away from a week-long session of classes. Bear with me here.

I thought we were done with the cliquish groups and the clubs and the cheerleaders and the homework, but I saw them all as I trolled the grounds of the Los Angeles Convention Center this week during E3. Or something like them. As attendees, we all wore backpacks. We sported our team shirts. We all took notes. We all had packed lunches with sandwiches and cookies, and we all looked at the hot girls secretly, but then quickly looked down at the ground when they looked back at us. 

Yep, E3 was just like High School.

The blogs and websites and media outlets were the cliques and various social groups of Videogames High. There were the “cool kids” that everyone wanted to hang out with, and then there was the loser’s table at lunch. Well, not losers — let’s call them the unknown guys. Nice guys. Quiet guys. Then there was the privileged few that get to eat lunch off campus, and others that only have their packed snacks to go on. We all passed each other in the hallway, though, giving that hallway what’s up nod or doing the eyes-forward thing, depending on the person and their social standing. We all knew who the popular kids were. It is a big school, and the student body this year was bigger than ever.

We all followed our daily schedule, visiting booths to get our assignments. We were taught a few things, and were tested on our knowledge for others, just like in class. We attended lectures. We got guidance. We took notes with our notebooks and voice recorders. And when time was up, we gathered our things and rushed out to the next class. 

The game genres were like class subjects. The big game companies were like football teams, and their booth girls were like cheerleaders. But these were cheerleaders that would talk to you for a change. The press conferences were like pep rallies, where the coach came out and fired up the crowd for the big game. The evening parties after the game all had a list that you had to be on to attend. If you were on the list, you were good. If you knew someone, you were OK. If you came with someone popular, you were probably fine. But if you didn’t, you probably spent the night working on your homework instead.

Unfortunately, this is a school where all of your homework is due immediately. And instead of one teacher grading your papers, you have thousands grading your work and pointing out your errors. Just like school, you can’t expect to ace all of your assignments. You can’t be good at everything. You just have to focus on what you know you’re good at, like sports or music. Or shooting? 

The flirts, geeks, jocks, The Most Likely To Succeed, The Class Clown, the girl you’ve been crushing on — they were all there. We may not have had Trapper Keepers and No. 2 pencils this week, but you saw a bit of Ridgemont High here and a touch of The Breakfast Club there, and it was hard to shake the feeling that the bell was going to ring and I would have to run through campus to make it to class on time.

And just like in High School, friendships and relationships could make or break your experience. I’m lucky to have amazing friends, and they really helped me through this last week. These friends let me copy their notes. These friends would call me in between classes to chat. We’d sit at the same lunch table. We’d hang out after school. We’d tell jokes and goof off and just barely escape detention. We’d do our homework together and then stay out late every night.

Come to think of it now, High School wasn’t so bad. I wouldn’t mind going back again next year.

Dale North