Oddly enough, I’ve been with Emil every time he’s attended E3. Thing is, the last time he attended was in 1998 in Atlanta, the second of two E3s we attended together while working at The Adrenaline Vault, where Emil and I first met a long time ago. This year, nine years later, Emil made his return to E3 (and his first-ever trip to the Left Coast) so I asked him to put together some thoughts on his experience this year. Here’s what Emil had to say:
Okay, confession time: from an attendee position, I’ve always hated E3. The blaring music, flashing lights, and poorly air conditioned convention center never did much to further my enjoyment of upcoming video game releases. Sensory overload will do that to a guy. But I should also point out that I never even made it to the Los Angeles E3s. Nope, I’m going all the way back to Atlanta, when I worked as the editor-in-chief of the Adrenaline Vault. Even then, before LA’s complete circus freak show vibe, E3 gave me a huge headache.
Now, granted, I’ve never experienced E3 before as a presenter, but I can’t imagine a much better experience than the one we had last week at the Fairmont Hotel in Santa Monica. There’s something to be said about rolling out of bed, going downstairs to your booth, privately demo’ing your game to members of the press, and then speaking with them either individually or in small groups. In such an intimate atmosphere, I was just as eager to talk about Fallout 3 as the journalists were to ask questions, and I think that will become apparent in all the post-E3 press coverage.
What’s been really interesting is gauging the general reaction to the show from other attendees – both presenters and press – now that I’m back home and have resumed my “normal” life. It seems we’re running the gamut from “utter disaster” to “best show EVAR.” So I guess it really depends on what you want, or expect, from a yearly video game expo. Does this industry really need all the flash and fury of the E3s of yesteryear? Some people certainly think so. Some high-profile developers have even said they hope E3 ups and dies, and don’t plan on ever attending again if the show does survive. They clearly missed our party at the Saddle Ranch.
As a developer, as a person who really just wants to make games that get played and enjoyed by as many people as possible, I’m completely sold on the new E3’s effectiveness. So while I do sympathize with the press guys who weren’t in one centralized location and had to be shuttled up and down the Santa Monica pier, I like to think that was more a breakdown in logistics than anything else. Ultimately, E3 2007 was everything we wanted, and this was more and more apparent as the week progressed, and word of the Fallout 3 demo had spread through the ranks of the gaming press. Several journalists who didn’t have an appointment made one at the last minute, so that by Friday afternoon we could barely open the door to squish in another warm body (and honestly had to turn away quite a few late comers).
So yeah, it’s good to know the last three years I’ve been working on Fallout 3 have paid off. And the fall of 2008 seems ominously closer than it ever has….