Monday, May 30, 2011

Road to the Electronic Entertainment Expo

Posted By on Mon, May 30, 2011 at 11:48 AM

E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) is known by gamers by various descriptors: the mecca of gaming, gathering of the man children, the Willy Wonka's Chocolate factory of gaming, etc., etc.

To gamers not in the industry, E3 is a sacred place where attendees get to play games that have yet to be announced, see new games for the first time, and hear about game-changing announcements being made in the industry.

One-part spectacle, one-part trade show, one thing is clear: all gamers dream of attending E3. It was a dream that came true for me last year.

Around this time last year, I was on an airplane for the first time in my life in a state of disbelief. I was on my way to E3 2010. However, going down that road was easier said than done. For one thing, all the expenses had to be paid out-of-pocket since the site I write for is small. At the time, I was newly out of work for the season and had only so much in my account, but with the help of my family and some odd jobs here and there I was able to make the required amount needed to pay the hotel and airfare.

Besides finding the funds to attend, here's what an E3 (being held June 7-9 at the Los Angeles Convention Center) experience looks like from a writer's perspective:

There's the actual planning and scheduling of meetings and interviews with the various video game companies and accessory makers. Now it may sound easy, talking to the PR people, but what most people don't know is there are hundreds of other websites, press outlets, and network TV shows all vying for the latest news story. And the smaller sites are on the bottom of the pecking order.

But that doesn't mean that those sites are counted out. In fact, smaller sites are being visited more and more as they are frequently more relevant to the common gamer. Sure, people like Adam Sesller, Geoff Keliey and Brian Cresente can say they are gamers, but are they of the people? Can they say that they know how today's average gamer thinks or feels? Not so much. Which is why more and more smaller sites (like original-gamer.com here in San Antonio) are getting more time with companies like Capcom, Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, EA and many others. It's the small sites that get attention because they, I think, best represent who the companies are trying to get sales from — today's average gamer.

Once meetings are set in stone, the next thing is floor planing and management.  You see, the LA Convention Center is a huge place, divided into two huge show floors and separated by two equally huge lobbies. In other words, if you don't have a general idea where each booth is, you will get lost in the sea of people.

When I went last year with the original-gamer site, all of us, even our editor, were overwhelmed with the glitz and glamor of E3: games the general public has yet to see, beautiful booth babes to lure us in to try the latest product, and run-ins with the occasional celebrity. We were so overwhelmed that we forgot the layout of the convention center.

Floor planning management and scheduling meetings with developers go hand-in-hand and are very important. You could end up having a 1pm meeting with one company in the East Wing then have to make a mad dash to the West Wing for a 1:30pm meeting with another dev.

After all the running, the interviewing, and rubbing elbows with developers, comes the final stretch of E3: the write-ups, editing, and formatting all of media that has been gathered to publish online for the rest of the gaming community to see.

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To gather up all this information and to process it out can take a lot of time and effort, but the end result is worth it. Being able to tell others who couldn't attend about the games, the experiences, and the wonder, is a great feeling... to me at least. Once all is said and done — the long flight back home, the articles and write-ups done — the road to E3 ends. For now.

Which brings us full circle. By this time next week, I will be traveling down that road again for the second time. This time around we are more prepared and ready. I will do my very best to bring to this blog a bit of what goes on inside of E3 come next week, so be sure to check back next week to see my coverage of the event.

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