E3: It’s a Bucket List Thing. You do it once.

There, I said it. I guess I really don’t have to elaborate on the title, but since no one’s paying me to I guess I’ll do whatever I damned well please.

E3 is the biggest gaming event of the year. It’s supposed to be for press only. The general public isn’t allowed on the show floor, and the press conferences are by invitation only. I didn’t get the invitation. I got to sit at home on Monday and watch the press conferences. My legs hurt less doing that.

You’re telling me this girl is press? Loose terminology, I guess.

E3 was not for press only. I stood in line behind and in front of plenty of people with point-and-shoot cameras, no notepads, nothing at all but bags of free stuff. Really, who are they here representing as journalists? No one. I could tell that though it is supposed to be industry-only, the vetting process isn’t as strict as I thought it to be.

There are thousands of people at this thing and the lines for games were anywhere from 30 minutes to almost four hours. I am gonna drive to LA to stand in line for four hours to play a demo for twenty minutes I already saw on TV? Not me. It also seemed that this wasn’t the single most motivating factor for those in line either. I waited just 15 minutes to play Borderlands 2 at the XBOX booth. While playing Borderlands 2, literally playing it, a kid walked up and asked the guy manning the booth where the Borderlands booth was. He paused a moment and wryly pointed a finger at the logo above my screen and blankly stared at the kid.

Half of the Borderlands 2 line. Waaaaay in the back there is the end, two hours from the front.

“No, the one where they’re giving out the T-shirts.” The guy paused a moment, I literally paused my game, and we looked at each other for half a second before I laughed and went back to my game and the guy directed the kid to where he could waste hours of his life for a T-shirt instead of playing Borderlands 2 right where he was standing. You can say it’s press-only, not open to the public, but if this was all about press then that kid would be standing behind me and T-shirts wouldn’t be the badge of honor that they are.

You’re telling me this is just for industry professionals? Fanboys, more like.

E3 is an assault on the senses. I couldn’t help but recall the scene of the gambling floor from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas where Hunter explains that this would be what we’d be doing if the Nazis had won the war. It is madness. A cartoon of a caricature of an LSD-fueled scene from a dream. Enough loud music to make you half-deaf. Fanboys standing next to executives from Coca-Cola searching for any cross promotion with a particular title that could be lucrative. E3 is where Mountain Dew met MW3. E3 is where Nathan Drake struck a deal with Subway. E3 is where big business meets creativity and offers it money for favors like some digital hooker. It’s also where booth babes hand out lanyard and you get Oswald ears made with your name stenciled on them. It’s a weird place.

Yes, I got to play AC3, Far Cry 3, ZombiU, and see gameplay few others have seen…until it was up on G4 and 500 bloggers and outlets posted videos on-line. As a fan, it was a great thing, but there is little I got out of E3 I could not have gotten after a few bags of FunYuns and my DVR.

You want to go? Why the hell not try next year? Buy a domain name, set up a free blog, start writing articles, and posting screen shots and videos for like three months before the event. With a few links, a photo copy of a business card–they cost $10 for 250 at Vistaprint.com–and a few other minor details, you too can attend E3. It’s clearly not that difficult. The people that they want to attend the expo are people who are going to get wet over trailers and gush about demos. Sorry for the visual.

Wii U Assassin’s Creed demo. A lot of fun.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved going to E3 since it had been a dream of mine for years. It was over-the-top selling everywhere you went. Half-naked women, colonial soldier, Connor impersonators, live Tekken tournaments on the floor, and more square footage of display screens that even a football field could support, it was something to marvel at. It was also exhausting to wait and walk around all the time, the food sucked, you couldn’t get a Starbucks coffee faster than a ZombiUdemo, there weren’t enough seats, and the air conditioning could not keep up. By the end of the day everyone reeked of BO and the hallways outside the Expo floor looked more like a bunch of weary Katrina survivors and not industry professionals. Sullen, drinking bottled water, shoving what palatable food could be had in to their faces, hunched over sitting on the floor just trying to regain their strength. There is more seating and better amenities in a two-bit airstrip airport than there was at E3, and this is supposedly thousands of press and industry professionals. We need charging stations, impeccable Wi-Fi connections and more than five food trucks outside to keep us going.

This is what gamers want, I guess. Just the thing to eat before standing in line for two hours.

E3 is something I feel like I survived or endured more than I attended. It was just one carnival barker after another hollering about their bearded lady or a new reptile boy. There was one spectacle after another, but nothing I couldn’t have lived without. Call me old, call me cynical, but it–as almost all things are–was more than it was cracked up to be. A very cool feather in my journalistic cap to be sure, but nothing I will break my back to attend next year. I will leave E3 to the fanboy bloggers on a hunt for free t-shirts and to the suits looking to cash in on the effort and genius put in to a game to sell a few more cans of soda. Me, I’ll be on my couch. It’s not for me, and it wasn’t just for the press. Hell, they let me in and I was crashing the damned thing.

I’m not Gabriel Cutter. It’s LA. It’s not who you are, it’s who you know.
I never said I wasn’t a hypocrite.

Thank, E3. It was fun, but next year I will be getting all of my news from G4 live broadcasts from my couch like everyone else. I do love my cool shirt, though.

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