E3 2019 Reflections – Part 2

This post concludes my reflections on the experience of E3 2019, covering the final two days of the expo and a postmortem of sorts written two weeks later. If you missed the first part, read it here before continuing.

6/12/19 – E3 2019: Day 2

We received these cards when they led the back of the line up to the rest along the booth. Didn’t keep it, but I at least got a picture!

Today began with the most I have indulged in being a fan at E3: I arrived and immediately darted to the line behind Nintendo’s booth so I could demo Pokémon Sword and Shield. The wait took about an hour, during which I took many pictures, and then I was in to try the game.

Suffice to say, I’ll have to get Sword when it releases. The demo went through the Water-type gym, with a satisfactory, challenging puzzle and several battles. In battles, the game is scarcely different from other Pokémon games, but that’s okay; there’s no need to innovate away what works. The puzzle was enjoyable, and I take some small amount of pride in being the fastest to complete it by about 2 minutes, as of my playing.

The interior of the booth was a natural place to take the day’s photo.

With that done, I returned to the booth for a while. I found myself quite restless today, so I hardly stayed around the booth for long. We ended up exploring the South Hall as a team, wherein we snagged cookies from the Fortnite booth, played one of our initial inspirations—Killer Queen—and saw a large Lego Han Solo trapped in carbonite. It was equally as large as the West Hall, if not more so, and a later, solo venture confirmed just how little of it we had seen.

Case in point, this massive dragon promoting a new Monster Hunter World expansion, which we completely missed the first time through the hall.

For all my restlessness, I did spend a fair bit of the afternoon in the booth. I walked around with Sophie to play the other games in the competition, then returned for a team discussion with our faculty advisor/coordinator. He was adamant that the best way to proceed is through data driven by smartly implemented analytics, and I wholeheartedly agree. We have something functional, now we just need to figure out how to make it fun and lasting.

While I’m not a huge talker, it was nice to see so many people checking out our booth and enjoying our game.

The final stop on today’s whirlwind tour was the Sega booth to demo Mario and Sonic at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the latest in a party minigame collection series with humorously wordy titles. The wait was short and the game was enjoyable, but the release window overlapping with Pokémon will mean it ends up on my Christmas list.

We were all tired from the day’s adventure, so we didn’t do much but go eat and return to the hostel. The competition judging takes place tomorrow, and I’m hoping to demo Link’s Awakening before that happens. Time will tell whether I get the chance.

6/13/19 – E3 2019: Day 3

I did not get a chance to play Zelda today, but it was a good day in the end. We arrived early in anticipation and were at least able to hop in line for Luigi’s Mansion 3 before it grew too long. A quick demo of a surely-good-but-not-for-me game later and we bolted back to the booth for judging.

My first attempt at today’s picture, largely due to the odd regulation that I not take a picture of the title screen on its own. Naturally, it’s a little darker than I would’ve liked.

The judging was a relatively short affair, no longer than 30-45 minutes, which is likely condensed into a much shorter summary video which I will link in this post if I can find it. Note: there does not appear to be such a video. We didn’t win, but we were presented with certificates and took several photos to commemorate the event. Winning was never my goal—maybe that’s why we didn’t—so I’m perfectly happy to have gotten where we did.

The booth was quiet for a while. The last day of E3 is one of the least busy, what with people flying out and scrambling to demo the AAA offerings before they close down. However, as the afternoon began we were informed that a large group of probably 30-40 Japanese students had flown in and wanted to ask questions and try the games presented by the College Game Competition.

We drifted between talking, demoing, and playing along with the new arrivals to our booth.

This turned out to be the best prize the competition offered. While my single semester of Japanese was far from conversational, I was able to choppily answer a few questions and contribute when accompanied by better-versed team members or a bilingual speaker. They were particularly interested in our game due to the Japanese name and theming, so our booth was quite full for a couple of hours after.

Aside from that, the day was uneventful. We showed Kakatte, ran out of business cards, and packed up when the time came. Will and I went to the Nintendo booth after to see if they had any Link’s Awakening keychains left over, but to no avail. Regardless, my first E3 was in the books, and it was a great day to finish a great experience. I’m glad to have had the opportunity.

I wouldn’t want to conclude without the final picture I took, this time in the Five Guys we stopped in for dinner.

Final Reflection

I didn’t actually write anything, nor take any pictures, at the end of the trip. We spent the 14th travelling, and unlike my trip to San Francisco, we didn’t take any time for sightseeing before leaving. At the time of this writing, two weeks have passed since the final day of E3. I’ve been home, been sick, and started to settle back into life as usual. Even a couple weeks later, I’m not sure I’ve fully grasped that I took part in making a game that was chosen for an E3 competition. Regardless, I thought it made sense to add another entry to the journal, both so there is a fifth “day” and so I can actually reflect on the event as a whole.

I drew a comparison to GDC in the first day’s journal, but I have yet to elaborate much on it. Naturally, the two had similarities: the two trips are the only times I’ve been to California, they were both industry-related events, and my attendance was in some way related to school. However, looking back, I found GDC far more intimidating than E3, and I think there are a few reasons behind this.

The crowd at E3 felt larger, but it’s legitimately possible that I simply wasn’t focused on the crowds at GDC.

For one, GDC was the first large-scale conference I’d ever been to, so of course it would strike me as such. The two events also served very different purposes. While GDC is open to media and the public, it focuses on industry developments, the process of making games, and business surrounding it; E3, meanwhile, is a hub for consumer-oriented news and announcements. There weren’t any sessions, talks, or roundtables for me to try and fit into an already overwhelming event, and thus I was able to relax more and take my time seeing things at E3. The booth was the final and perhaps most significant difference. While the booths at each event were to some regard representative of the school, our E3 booth was just that: ours. We had a substantial amount of space, including seating for seven or eight people, and we weren’t sharing it with other students or faculty. This gave me enough space to “check out,” so to speak, without leaving the relative familiarity of our domain, and thus remain closer to familiar faces and people who knew and understood that I might be getting tired. All of this led to my E3 experience feeling substantially different from GDC.

With that taken care of, I want to touch on another point I’ve mentioned before: the balance between being a fan and a professional. Because I’ve followed E3 for so long and have attachments as a fan of several companies in attendance, I naturally wanted to see what they had to offer with my own eyes since I had the opportunity. At the same time, I went to E3 as a finalist in the College Game Competition, and thus had the chance to make important connections and exhibit the work I’m so proud of.

While in line to demo Pokémon, I got a Nintendo rep to take my picture with my new starter of choice, Grookey.

After the fact, I feel I kept a fairly good balance between the two, even if much of my writing doesn’t reflect that. I took the time to see the likes of Capcom, Nintendo, and Sega—and even got to demo several games—but I also spent around 60% of my time at the booth, whether taking notes, talking with visitors, or just supervising while my teammates looked around. I met quite a few people, and have hope in the connections I was able to make.

All in all, E3 was a fantastic experience, and I’m honored to have been included among the other finalists for the competition. I took the time to play a few of their games, and all of them were incredibly well done—to a point that I have some trouble feeling like we were on the same level, but I guess people like our work or something. Months ago, I mentioned in a conversation with my partner that attending E3 would be the dream, a far-off hope that I could work for and maybe reach eventually. I could never have imagined that I’d see that through so soon, not only attending but exhibiting at the event I’ve observed for so long. Fulfilling a dream just means I’ve got to seek after a new one, and I have plenty yet to work for. Whatever lies ahead, I look forward to it.

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