05 Jun

The convention’s second day began as did the first, with me shuffling off, half-awake and disgruntled, to a cab that’s too expensive and with coffee whose taste I despised. The prospect of finally getting some solid floor time was more than enough to brighten the general disposition in the air, though. The cab ride turned out to be the most annoying and expensive of the ones I would take on this trip, with the driver incapable of proper driving and failing to mention to me that his credit card machine did not work, which added 4 bucks to the ride’s cost as we drove around looking for a blasted ATM.

After ditching the sad, sad little driver man, I returned to the media hospitality lounge and prepped for a full day of networking and interviewing, the wi-fi that had been such a bitch to me yesterday finally seeming to work, which craved a seemingly infinite amount of new time to write and possible get things done and up to the site, so it didn’t appear that I was just chilling at the convention and not bringing back my share…which I definitely wasn’t doing.

Another thing that became noticeable was a sign in the media lounge that said “complimentary lunch.” Those readers with good memories will recall that the cab rides that were 4x as expensive as anticipated were quickly wiping me out, so any possibility of saving money was gratefully taken up upon. It would later turn out to be soggy sandwich trays, neither variety of sandwiches appealing to my taste, but the price couldn’t be argued with. But I get ahead of myself.

The last time I had set foot on the Los Angeles Convention Center floor was in 2007, at the first of only two Entertainment (E) for All gaming expos. The affair that year was an incredibly small one, taking up only the South hall and not even extending to fill the entire room. To no surprise E3 had managed to expand further beyond the South Hall and fill the adjoining West Hall and the concourse walkway separating the two. Despite being a respectably large affair, the convention was evenly spaced enough that the 40,000 supposed attendees never became a congealed glob of people in one place, which would make travel from one booth to the next nigh impossible.

In order to get the lay of the land I spent my first hour on the floor traveling about the various kiosks and displays snapping photographs, attempting to milk every possible piece of battery life from the borrowed (and pink) camera I had gotten from my roommate. I wouldn’t be sacrificing my masculinity carrying this pastel thing around for nothing, I had previously vowed to myself. So a good hour or two consisted of me floating about displays and finding interesting angles to capture photos from, avoiding the occasional people that would drift into my shot, and checking out which games called out the most for the sweet, sweet hands of mine.

I had opened up the specifics of what games I would play and what questions I would ask to the forum and the users that inhabited it, the overwhelming result being that I should pay most attention to smaller developers with less-discussed IP. An admirable concept, considering the major sites had the major titles majorly covered in a major way. The biggest hitch that arose with this plan was that smaller developers, with their smaller games, sucked. Some, like anything brandishing a large number in the title and a Wii-exclusive launch plan, were instantly identifiable as utter shite. Those that shown promise more than often didn’t hold up to a simple playthrough, so much so that it took all of my high school acting training to turn to the smiling attendant at the kiosk and pretend not to be disgusted out of my very soul.

P1030700-2.jpg picture by ElderGeekDotCom

I ended up picking off titles that my little brother would not know about. Keegan, that being his name, is an avid gamer of the Call of Duty, Halo, and World of Warcraft variety, but most discussion of games beyond that spectrum would get a blank stare from him. So, if I could guarantee that my little bro would have no idea what this title was, it got an interview. That, and many users had questions for individual developers, which also helped immensely in drafting an outline.

Most interviews and demos were at the mercy of their developers and staff, as I had only managed to gain private, appointment access to a few select titles. Luckily though, most staff were pleasant and cordial, at least enough not to laugh at me as I fumbled at the controls of far too many games (nothing deflates confidence faster, by the way.) The noticeable lack of booth babes was a huge deterrent for the day, but those that were present were of above average quality, with few of the too-old, too-made-up, too-surgery’ed kind sticking out in pictures.

Other notes I mentally took as I floundered about were A) there was a distinct lack of an armpit or sweat smell that was anticipated, which added a couple points into nerd hygiene that weren’t in mind before and B) the “white noise” factor, the concept of having so many trailers and games playing at once creating audio discord, was rather minimal, although I didn’t have the pleasure of trying to get video or audio through a microphone through it. My little MP3 player picked up audio quite well despite the constant clamor, but I only needed it for reference, rather than banking on the interview being directly uploaded to the site.

Other than that, and another cab annoying cab ride with a driver unfamiliar with the concept of driving, the day’s specifics will left for you guys to discover in the interview pieces and gameplay impressions. In the interest of time and page length, we’ll move on to the last day of the convention.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Gavin Greene.