This past weekend was one I’ll likely never forget. Square Enix flew myself and a number of fellow game journalists out to Las Vegas to preview Monster Energy Supercross – The Official Videogame as it was about to be announced. This was my first solo international press event, as the Middle-Earth event was a quick uber from my school, and E3 was a group effort with my friends and associates here at MonsterVine. As such, I was incredibly nervous going in. I would be flying to Vegas and staying for two nights to see the Monster Energy Cup and to preview its soon-to-be-announced game. I barely slept the night before my flight, as a million thoughts flew through my mind. Would I be able to represent MonsterVine properly? Would my terrible sense of direction get me lost in the airport, making me miss my flight? Would my lack of knowledge in anything involving motorsports hinder me? Sure, some of my thoughts were definitely hyperbolic, but I was still as nervous as I was excited.
As the fated morning came (at a brisk 5:30 A.M.), I arrived at the airport and proceeded to my gate. Also, I forgot my passport in my car, delaying things by about 20 minutes. Off to a good start. After going through security and arriving at my gate, I anxiously awaited my flight while once again running through every possible scenario that could unfold when I arrived. (call it a bad habit). As soon as I arrived in Vegas, I’d have to run over to the Sam Boyd Stadium, where the event was being held. My flight was late, so there was no time to check-in to the hotel or to drop off my luggage. When I arrived, my previously mentioned sense of direction had me wandering around the stadium for upwards of twenty minutes as I tried to find the registration area. I eventually made it though, and began my Vegas adventure!
First we all ate food and watched as a group of kid racers were interviewed. After the interview, Monster Energy Supercross was announced on live T.V.. Everyone was crowded around one of the press room’s monitors as we saw the first trailer for the game. Almost immediately after the trailer ended, a new area of the floor (previously covered in black curtains) was opened up. This room of sorts contained couches, screens, and controllers to try out the game with. Small groups of journalists formed around the screens as we all played the game while the developers provided in-person commentary. (check out my preview of the game here). And just like that, the first day’s business was over.
As I went back to the hotel, I found out I was way out of my league. My room had a sunken living room, a bathroom in the bathroom that was exclusively for the toilet, a huge tub, three T.V.s, and an enormous bed. The group dinner was coming up, so I did a bit of writing and headed out to the Wolfgang Puck restaurant we’d be meeting at. If this sounds insane to you, you’re in good company, as I could hardly believe it myself. The dinner was fantastic, and talking to developers and my peers in the industry face-to-face for the first time was a great learning experience. You don’t have to be professional 24/7; these were regular people too. Typically I’m as awkward as it gets at social events, but alcohol and Marvel movie discussion changed that pretty quickly.
Immediately after dinner I crashed in my room. The three hour time difference and fully packed day left me drained, so I went to bed early on my first night in Vegas. Then I slept for 12 hours. I don’t drink often, and when I do, my penchant for falling asleep anywhere at any moment is heightened immensely. This actually made me late to the events of Day 2, which was painfully embarrassing to say the least. “Oh god, my professional reputation has been decimated”, I thought to myself, “I’ll never be invited to a press event again. MonsterVine has been smeared, and my business life is over”. Obviously, since I’m still here, my panicking was entirely unwarranted. When I met up with everyone, the PR team had a good laugh and assured me it wasn’t anything close to a big deal. I’m not sure there’s an English word to represent the relief I felt.
As the second day began (for me), we mostly hung out in the Press Area and played the game some more. Eventually, it was time for the Monster Energy Cup, which we had V.I.P. seating for. There was food, gaming monitors, and live racing to watch, so needless to say it was a busy couple hours. I don’t know much about racing, but I had a lot of fun watching these racers do crazy jumps as they sped around the track. There were crashes, upsets, and narrow victories, making it a rather eventful series of races. To further prove my lack of geographic competency, I walked into the “Pyro Room”, thinking it was the bathroom, which was a bit frightening. Eventually, we all headed back to the press area to prepare to leave. It was time for sushi and drinks to celebrate the completion of the event and our last night in Vegas. At this point, I had gotten to know a couple journalists and the PR team pretty well, so I was far less anxious heading into the second night.
Vegas Ball Run
I once again wandered around the massive Palazzo for a good twenty minutes as I tried to find my way to the sushi place. Eventually I found it, and navigated my way to the bar through the weirdly dark club. I was kind of hesitant to drink again in case I overslept and missed my flight the next day, but I decided I would just set a solid 10 morning alarms this time, compared to the measly six of that morning. We got “demon-slayer” sake, ate some of the best sushi and pad-thai I’ve ever had, and talked about games. Kingdom Hearts, Life is Strange, and Final Fantasy came up, and we all had a good laugh at the idea of Square pulling an Apple and just skipping ahead to Final Fantasy XX. (Final Fantasy 30 might be a bit awkward, come to think of it). I felt way more comfortable than before, as I no longer felt like the amateur I did the night before. Being the youngest there, I had been concerned as to whether or not I’d be taken seriously, but now that all felt like a distant worry. I was having a great time with these great people, and I felt reassured once again that this was the only career path I could ever follow.
After a lot of food, sake, and drinks, we walked back to the hotel casino. A few of us played Craps (which I very quickly lost), and laughed as Tom Caswell of Gamezone accidentally threw the dice straight out of the table twice in a row. Steve Ruygrok from Square Enix explained the game to me, which didn’t keep me from losing immediately. As much as I wanted to stay out longer, it was getting late and I had a flight in the afternoon, so I said goodbye to everyone and went to crash again, completely satisfied with the night. After a mere 48 hours, I felt I had really grown as a result of my first solo press event. Sure, I slipped up along the way (sleeping in), but I really felt like a true member of the industry.
Vegas is Not Crash
After playing Breaking Bad slots at the airport (because how could I resist trying out such a ridiculous concept), I boarded my plane and headed home to prepare for class the next morning. The weekend flew by, but I came away from it with a new sense of scale and a new perspective.
It’s easy to get comfortable when you’re just writing away in your basement every night. You become something of a big fish in a small pond, used to putting articles out for your website and its steady readership. Seeing all these professionals who were more experienced than me gave me the drive I didn’t know I needed. As soon as I got home, I set to writing as much as I could, determined to climb to where the peers I befriended were. This event once again instilled the wonder of my job in me; I was flown to Las Vegas to preview a video game, where I would talk about the latest game releases over dinner with a group of people with interests like mine. You can’t top that. Not only did I get to cover an unannounced and fun racing game, but I got to grow as a writer and journalist in ways I hadn’t expected. Having done all this in the span of 48 hours, I think it’s fair to say my first solo press event was a success.