E3 is a week of great stories. Unfortunately, it's also a week of unbelievable stress and drinking so a lot of those stories die out along with the brain cells that contained them. Luckily, I managed to wrangle out a couple stories from Destructoid's veterans and youngins, including myself.
You've read me talk about the work that goes into being a journalist at E3, now hear from others what it's like to be a drunken, dazed fool at gaming's biggest expo.
During the bitter end of the final day of last year's E3 (and my personal first), I trudged the far booths of the west hall while reading emails on my phone. After turning a random corner, I looked up to see a roped-off area filled with what I assumed was half of the sum of "booth babes" at E3, eating and chatting amongst each other. Normally, I don't give a shit about hot girls, because this industry floods us with them, but, in my tired state, some primitive part of my brain clicked on and convinced me that I'd found some hidden area that I wasn't supposed to find. So I just stood there and stared, in the way you do when your mind goes completely blank.
When I zipped back to consciousness, though, I realized that about three other girls in that area were staring right back at me with what I can only describe as a mixture of unpleasant expressions on their faces. I fancy myself a quick thinker, so to save the awkward situation, I politely asked them where the restroom was. Without saying a word, one of them pointed behind me, where I had just come from, at a restroom sign that was in plain sight.
Whatever little respect these girls usually have for gamers, I think I destroyed the remaining bit after that moment. Sorry, everyone.
E3 2011 was my first rodeo, but I definitely came away with some interesting memories. Probably the highlight was at the Justin.TV/Heroes Of Newerth party. It was a ridiculously lavish affair in a gorgeous penthouse suite. What I thought was a good sound system bumping some of my favorite mash-up albums turned out to be the actual Super Mash Bros doing a DJ set. While there, I got to drink a beer with Seanbaby (EGM, Cracked.com) who I credit to this day as one of my main inspirations for "trying to write funny." I rambled incoherently in total fanboy manner, and Sean may or may not have dry-humped Hollie Bennett.
At some point during that same party, I hanged out with the ever-charming Carlos Ferro (the voice of Dom in Gears Of War) and pestered him with dumb jokes. Eventually, he got fed up with me and said loudly, in a busy hallway, "HEY! THIS GUY HATES GEARS OF WAR!" At this point, I was immediately asked "What?! How come?" by several bystanders while Carlos escaped into the crowd. While defending my firm belief that Gears was art-directed by an Affliction shirt and three cans of Axe body spray, I made friends with Jeff Hanna, an incredibly nice dude who happens to be a senior technical artist for Volition. We talked about art, aesthetics, and how violent video games are fun, and other industry bull, but most importantly, that was the night when I first learned that Saints Row: The Third had giant dildos in it. The rest is history, I guess.
But really, guys. E3 is serious business. I have to go schedule some calendar spreadsheets or something.
One time at E3 I met this guy in a robot helmet. Now I run his flagship website.
Last year was my 2nd E3, and I wasn't with Destructoid yet. My crew and I decided on the last day that we were going to rush to the front of the crowd so we could be among the first in; we didn't want to wait at Nintendo. We ended up making the front of the line, which was right across the walkway from the Nintendo VIP booth. As we stood there, my EIC spotted and pointed out Reggie Fils Aime at the top of the booth, looking down on all the attendees in the queue. I started digging around for my phone and by the time I looked up he was hamming it up for the crowd. I started blowing kisses and hollering "THETANOOKI.COM LOVES YOU" while he laughed his head off. At that point my friend Gil Ruta, the head of Nintendo's ESRB division, came down to give me a hug and chat for a bit, thus assuring Reggie that I wasn't completely psycho. Apparently, Reggie occasionally asks about me -- I'm sure in the "Hey remember that crazy chick?" capacity.
Also some crazy hot hippie game artist chicks drug me across the street to smoke joints under one of the statues at the Staple Center. That was fun. I also almost got into a fist fight with some white trash chick on an escalator my first E3 but that's not much of a story.
It was E3 2010 and our former Editor-in-Chief, Nick Chester, somehow roped me into checking out Def Jam Rapstar for preview coverage. If you know me, then you know I have NO rhythm skills nor singing skills whatsoever. So, reluctantly, I attend the meeting at one of Konami's private rooms at their gigantic booth on the show floor. I step into the tiny dark room and saw, in the very back, there was Method Man and Red Man smoking like there was no tomorrow. The duo were set to perform a few songs at the Konami stage later in the day, so in the meantime they were hiding out in the meeting room.
The meeting took around 20 minutes or so, during which Method and Red were smoking the whole time. Tiny room, lots of smoke -- Yeah, I got contact high for sure. Honestly, it was a little nice. E3 is one of the most stressful times for anyone in the gaming industry so having some of that edge taken off for just a short time was a nice little relief.
It was E3 2008. Since I live in Los Angeles, I decided to take the subway downtown to pick up my E3 badge early. On my way there, the subway broke down and let everyone off at a station a couple of spots before the L.A. Convention Center. No big deal, I thought. I don't mind walking the extra distance.
As I was walking, I entered a darker, shadowy section of downtown L.A. Kind of like the elephant graveyard in Lion King, but without the sassy lioness cub to protect me. Anyway, from out of nowhere, a homeless man appeared. As I walked around a corner he was right there in front of me.
I immediately realized something as strange: His entire shirt was made out of a trash bag.
Before I had a chance to even think about anything, the man started screaming. Like, full on screaming at the top of his lungs. Right in my face. It was terrifying. I was so confused and scared, though, I couldn't even move.
Then it happened.
The screaming homeless man ripped off his trash bag shirt like the Hulk. He just flexed his chest, grabbed hold of both sides of the shiny trash bag material, and pulled the shirt apart. All while screaming. Once the bag shirt was completely gone, I freaked the eff out. I turned in the other direction and just ran as fast as I could with my arms flailing above me.
I didn't look back, so I have no idea if the homeless guy followed me. The next thing I knew I was at the Convention Center in record time. I ran in, completely out of breath, and approached the counter to get my badge. Breathing hard, I handed over my credentials and said "I was just confronted by a homeless man in a trash bag shirt. HE RIPPED IT OFF!"
The E3 employee looked at me and said nothing. I smiled, grabbed my badge, and walked away. To this day, I will never forget that wonderful screaming homeless man in the tearaway trash bag shirt. It is one of my favorite E3 memories.
Mine is short, and maybe not as ridiculous as others, but I will always remember it. I was at E3 2010: attending my second live Nintendo Conference.
Reggie dimmed the lights, and said they were announcing an "old favorite franchise returning to the Nintendo Wii". As soon as I heard the first few notes of Donkey Kong Country Returns, I flipped my shit and yelled "HOLY FUCKING SHIT IT'S DONKEY KONG!". Some people around me laughed, some glared, but they were all faceless blurs in the wake of my excitement, unable to tear myself from the giant screens showing Donkey and Diddy in all their revived glory.
I totally went back to being a kid again, the latest Nintendo Power in hand, eager for the next first party title. To some extend I'm still that little kid, but nothing can replicate being at a live Nintendo Conference for me.
This one time, I was watching coverage from home and Olivia Munn embarrassed herself on TV while interviewing David Jaffe.
When I think of past E3's now, the thing that usually comes to mind is Kentia Hall, and that thing has been lamented to death over the years. Kentia Hall has been as long (or longer) than Destructoid has been going to E3, I'm pretty sure.
I first went in 2005. The plan was to get in as a retail employee for Circuit City, but I just missed the cutoff. So, I drove out there anyway because the plan had been to go with a friend who had gotten his badge. But it turned out that a former employee of mine had become a level designer for a game studio, and he supplied me with the pass of a QA guy who'd been laid off between registration and the show.
It was pretty intense. I recall the PS3 presentation, walking out of there thinking, "Well, your video rendering is great but when are you going to show me a game?" And the boomerang controller! They really made the right call there, and I hate the Dual Shock 3
There was just, like, four minutes of video from Resistance or something of that ilk. Maybe it was a Killzone 2 clip. The whole thing is a bit of a blur now but I just remember the thing feeling like a big dog and pony show. It didn't seem plausible and, frankly, it wasn't.
I'm far less adventurous and far more professional than most of these guys here. Which is really to say I'm still very adventurous and only slightly professional. In any case, I don't have many stories that will make you squirt milk out of your nose and tickle your asshole. I have other means of accomplishing that though (find me on Craigslist).
There is an element of celebrity to being an entertainment journalist. Some writers pretend it's not a factor, but it always is and it's never clearer than at a madhouse like E3, populated with far more industry and people who have no right being there than honest-to-goodness journalists -- not your cousin with a WordPress account.
In this job, you occasionally have those, "Oh shit. This is real" moments. For me, one of those key moments happened at E3 last year. I was assigned to cover Sega's E3 booth. Well, minus the games I actually gave a damn about. My boss was the one that got to check out Gearbox's Aliens: Colonial Marines.
"Get your work done and meet me back here and maybe you can check it out with me."
So, I worked my way through Anarchy Reigns, Sonic Generations, and other Sega offerings. Miraculously, I finished right in time. She had entered the small makeshift theater for Aliens and saved me a seat. Now I just had to get in which wasn't a small feat. While I was previewing games, a line began to build up for the demo. The line must have been 100 people deep, some would have to wait an hour or more.
I knew it was my birth right to see this demo, so I cut in front of the line like any self-assured games journalist would. The line soon became an angry orgy of Gamestop clerks and developers spitting bile and honing pitchforks at me. "LINE CUTTER! OFF WITH THE FUCKERS HEAD!" they yelled, while unsheathing their promotional foam swords. Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration but, trust me, they weren't having it. I turned to the Sega employee at the door of the theater and told him my boss was in there.
"HAHA! Nice try, asshole! His boss is in there! Yeah, good luck working that one, bud!" the guy at the front of the line said.
I kept my cool though. Luckily, my boss was seated right next to the door and she waved me in. The Sega guy said it was cool so I went in, but not before I looked back and gave the guy in front of the line a knowing look.
"Have fun waiting, pal."
This one time I showed up in a robot helmet made out of air conditioner parts.