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Is E3 Really For You? A First-Timer’s Perspective

E3 is over. The fans and press have returned to their dwellings, the exhibitors have packed up their statues and signs, and opinions fly across the internet like tawdry dancers across a Ubisoft stage. While many veterans rightfully ponder the future of E3 and its relation to the public, it’s the past few days that are on my mind, rather than the future. E3 2017 was my first E3, and one that I think anyone who has dreamed of attending should hear about.

 For reference, I’ve wanted to be a member of the video game journalism industry since age twelve. After years of reading Nintendo Power and feverishly posting on game forums, it’s understandable that I would acquire an interest in video games beyond playing them at home. I love talking and writing about video games just as much as I love playing them, and though it’s probably implied, I really love playing games. Naturally, covering E3 has been my top dream since watching them live all the way here in Toronto on G4 and through terrible online video-players, so being able to attend was quite literally a dream come true. I had appointments with devs, interviews with creators, and previews to write. This was nothing short of heaven.

While crowds and the other common complaints did indeed prove to be troublesome, nothing could take away from the feeling of stepping in front of the building I had seen online and on T.V. so many times before. The feeling of having accomplished that fleeting, seemingly impossible dream hit me like a truck, leaving me feeling excited, terrified, and almost content. I was ready to tackle the show I had wanted to cover for nearly a decade. Surprisingly enough, it was completely worth every step I’ve taken, but, unsurprisingly, it won’t be that way for everyone.

See, I wanted to attend as press. Even as a kid, I wanted to talk to devs, play new games, and talk about them through every possible avenue. I never saw it as a fan convention, I saw it as a work event in the field that I desperately wanted to be in, more than anything on earth. So when I made it to E3, when I walked into each appointment and presentation, everything I dreamt of proved to be true. It was my first huge step into being viewed as a true member of the industry, and good god, it’s difficult to put into words how genuinely good it felt. I had a stupid grin on my face when I first saw the convention center in front of me, and it’s a moment in my life that I will never forget.

But for many, E3 is viewed as a festival of video games. This is understandable, as very few people see the discussions, interviews, and networking that make up most of the conference. It’s the presentations, demos, and crazy set-pieces that are broadcast for the world to see, and it looks magnificent. Truthfully, it’s as cool from the inside as it seems to be from the outside, but in the end, these things only make up a small part of E3, meaning many who have a more romantic idea of what E3 is will likely be disappointed, unless they too have ambitions to become a part of the gaming press. For most attendees, it’s a heavy week of work, full of ups and downs. Few meals, little sleep, and tons of walking and writing to do, and that’s just how it is.

For many, this year was full of lines and crowds, meaning they couldn’t play certain games or get free merchandise due to the excess of people. If the ESA keeps E3 public next year, these factors provide a cautionary tale for those who want to attend outside of the press. If you dream of attending, go for it, but know that it’s an event made for industry folks, and optimized for less people than are likely to populate the convention center. But for fellow fledgling journalists, reviewers, writers, and press, going to E3 is like nothing else. All the meetings and previews you can dream of, exclusive looks at games, and an atmosphere full of excitement and passion for the games industry.

Will I one day become jaded after attending for a few years? At some point probably, but if there was any shadow of a doubt that I wanted to be a part of this industry, it would have been completely blown away this last week. Because for all its faults, E3 is everything a journalist could hope for.

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