I wasn’t always Editor-in-Chief of The Escapist. I wasn’t even always a game journalist. This is my fourth career, if you want to know the truth. Actually, it’s the 24th if you count part-time jobs. But as far as things I’ve done professionally and at length, this – whatever it is that I do here – is but one. It’s the best one, of course, but still, just one.

Before I joined the ranks of those who would write about videogames professionally, I’d barely even considered E3 as an event, but rather as a sort of amorphous gathering of information. It was this grand and magical thing, the scope of which I could hardly imagine, where games I’d not yet heard of were played and speeches were given. The week of E3, glimpses at the wonder emerged from the blogs I followed, and in the weeks following, the larger websites. Still months later, from the magazines, more and better information flowed.

By the summer 2006, when I stepped onto a plane, E3 pass in-hand, The Escapist credentials wearing a clean spot on my jacket, I’d never been to E3, but I felt as if I knew all about it. I was wrong.

E3 2006 was what we have since affectionately called “The Last E3.” Red Octane was there with Guitar Hero 2, blowing the doors off Kentia Hall with live music and speakers larger than my apartment. Nintendo was showing the Wii, with lines snaking around their city block-sized “booth.” Microsoft had erected a structure the size of a warship, with multiple levels, staircases and an elevator. I waited an hour to see Viva Pinata. Blizzard dominated the floor with an enormous, black cube-shaped booth housing who-only-knew-what, but the jumbotrons hanging off the side of the thing blasted Burning Crusade trailers so loudly you could hear them everywhere.

The sights and sounds of the show were more than the senses could bear. I felt dizzy just from walking around. The music and explosions made my insides move as if I were standing near the speaker tower at a rock concert, or riding an elevator down 36 floors. At some booth – I can’t remember where – there was a replica of a helicopter. You could hear it from outside. And the smells … oh god, the smells. The omnipresence of unwashedness permeated the space like burning rubber at a car fire, intermingled with the faintly ozone-tinged aroma of overheated electronics. I’d never experienced anything like it.

Stepping off the plane was the last clear thought I can remember. For four straight days I played unreleased videogames, stood in lines, sat through presentations and demos, conducted interviews, ate at In-N-Out, danced ’til dawn, vomited ’til noon and suffered a minor nervous breakdown in the parking lot of a cheap motel somewhere in Los Angeles. It was glorious. I wish I’d taken more pictures.

The following year, E3 was gutted and relocated. The year after that, it was less than a third its’ usual size. In 2009 and 2010, it had clawed its way back to its fighting weight of “massive” spanning the majority of the cavernous Los Angeles Convention Center and drawing in journalists and consumers from all over the world.

This year, E3 promises to be even bigger. Probably the biggest since my first, and I won’t be going. For five years I’ve flown out to every E3, GDC and dozens of other events and showcases. I’ve logged thousands of miles jetting from coast to coast and my collection of credential badges looks like a coil of serpents hanging off my bookcase, barely supported by a figurine of the Egyptian goddess Isis. The tangled mass weighs nearly five pounds. I have, in other words, been there and done that and I am relieved to be sitting this one out.

The Escapist crew led by Steve Butts and Susan Arendt will be there in force, sending home the sights and sounds (but probably not the smells). I can vividly imagine what they are in for at the event, and I hope they have a grand, old time. Here at the home base, Greg Tito, Justin Clouse and I will be polishing up the reports coming in from the front and delivering a few surprises of our own. The combined effect will, I hope, give you an excellent, The Escapist-flavored look at one of the biggest E3s of all time.

Now that we’re past the traditional 5-year-mark for gaming console generations, it will be interesting to see how the Big Three will keep the spirit of their flagship devices alive – or if they’ll even bother. We also hear that PC gaming is making a major comeback, having traversed the wasteland of non-WoW MMOs for 40 days and nights (more or less). There is also a rumor that there’s a lot of gaming being done on neither the console nor the PC. How will the upstart mobile gaming and social gaming industries leave their mark on the biggest expo of the year?

Lots of questions. We look forward to answering them for you.


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