Unlike my grizzled co-workers, this was my inaugural year at E3. I had heard stories of what the show did to virgins, so I made sure to bring some extra pants.
They didn't work.
After dealing with three days of ruthless digital molestation, I decided to compile this guide. In keeping with the spirit of E3, it has been engineered to be low on thought and high on pretty things to look at. Consider the following a public service announcement to all E3 newbies about the kinds of hazards and symptoms you should expect to endure, as well as a rundown of all the gear you will need to survive.
Making it through E3 in one piece is easier said than done. Memorize this handy list of terrors before braving the show floor.
The Booth Babe
The ultimate threat to any male showgoer attempting intelligent conversation. Strippers and starving actresses spawn regularly in L.A., making it the optimal breeding ground for all things artificial. Their inviting smiles and willingness to be captured on film with the dregs of geekdom are no less fabricated than the greenbacks which power their lust for your attention.
And damn, they're hot.
This pinnacle of mind-laming tech exists for the sole purpose of dealing youï¿½
The Random Crap
Taking the form of innocent devices such as keychains, t-shirts, glow sticks or uninformative magazines, these come in vast quantities and will weigh down even the hardiest gamer. For all its size, know that there are no garbage cans at E3; whatever attaches to you sticks like two-day old Mountain Dew. Beware the baggage.
Don't be fooled by the quality of the shwag, either. Hunchbacked by sheer marketing tonnage, such burdened attendees will find that The Booth Babe becomes even more attractive, making them more willing to take more crap. To get out of this nightmarish cycle, you must grab your skull and rotate hard. Just make sure not to stare into the black hole that isï¿½
Clogging hallways to get babes within drool range, storming stages and "Media Only" desks for the Random Crap, or just being generally smelly and obnoxious, The Fanboy is responsible for making all E3 hazards possible. They are not here for the games, but to bask in the glory of gaming heaven while making it hell for everyone else.
While weak and cowardly on their own, fanboys have the ability to congeal into huge mobs of lameness. One slip and you may very well get swept up in the blob's riptides and find yourself in front of Hello Kitty! 3D, gamepad in hand.
The only documented ways to successfully navigate through the oceanic waves of Fanboys is to stick close to the walls, avoid eye contact and, if all else fails, distract them with an 'accidentally' dropped Zelda sticker.
But there is no avoiding the Fanboy's foul biproductï¿½
It's May in sunny Southern California, and you are in the trenches. Easygoing Day 1, with the air conditioners blasting nostril-direct Freon, might make you think it's bound to be an olfactory walk in the park.
By the middle of Day 2, however, your nose will run from the fumes of tens of thousands of sweaty Fanboys walking off a year's worth of White Castle nights. Any hope that the combined gallons of now-stale AXE body spray will cover up the stench is lost.
By Day 3, the odor has evolved to v. 2.0, now enhanced with post-Sony party gin breath. With your immune system weakened, this is where you get your upcoming raging flu.
Bring some mints, strong ones, and follow your nose outside whenever possible.
Even the wiliest of vets will inevitably forget to take their happy pills and wind up exhibiting signs of E3-arrhea. Watch out for:
Between enormous arrays of Plasma screens, thousands of half-naked women and Pikachu getting rolled like a tire downhill, there's a near infinite amount of ridiculous bling on which to spend your limited attention span. Walking any straight line through the convention will make your head spin faster than Linda Blair's. A flash of light here, a badly concealed boob there; by the end of Day Three, you'll suffer from a vicious case of the bobbleheads.
Such a barrage of stimuli results in another sad symptomï¿½
The Hive Mentality
We are taught to be unique, to be individuals, to be like no one else. That's a great concept, but at E3, it's a nearly impossible task.
As the digital assault breaks down your weakening cortex, your ability to make conscious decisions begins to wane. You go wherever the crowd washes you, oftentimes leading you in increasingly smaller spirals until you stop moving entirely. You cheer for a guy inexplicably dressed like a dragon prince. You smile awkwardly at booth babes, convinced they're REALLY into you this time – no, for real. You grab a handful of Mario pencil sharpeners convinced they'll fetch thousands on eBay.
You are wrong.
The Total Black Out
You are also exhausted, relying entirely on instinct, senses throbbing from overload. As you struggle with that whole left-foot / right-foot thing, visuals wash over you to form a vague mesh of subconscious interests.
You will see Jesus, but realize after tripping into him that it's a guy dressed as Jesus to help promote The Bible Game.
Or maybe actual Jesus. Tough to say on so little sleep.
At any rate, you will awaken from this meltdown only after enjoying some caffeine, although you will likely inhale too much at once, leading to…
Even a brush with the Savior doesn't put your mind at ease. You just realized that everyone better get the hell out of your way. You're on a mission to discover all that gaming has to offer next year, because you're at E3, dammit!
With immunity to every other symptom, you charge ahead full tilt. Old ladies and booth babes alike fall victim to your cold shoulder/stiff-arm combo. Eat carpet, b*tches! I need to see me some games! GAMES!
Andï¿½ YES! There it is! Bonker Jerks 3 ï¿½ the game you've been waiting to check out forever is finally within your grasp, its controller idle…if only the Fanboys would peel their cameras off the babes and move six inches to the left!
Four pairs of broken glasses and eight black eyes later, you find out that Bonker Jerks 3 sucks.
When all else fails, use protection! If it's good enough for your dad, it's good enough for you.
Keeps games in line of sight. Filters out all extraneous eye-candy and whiplash inducing cleavage. Highly Recommended.
Black Lotus Photocopies
Use these as miniature grenades to clear some space in geek traffic jams. If you run out, a $1 bill, stick of beef jerky or Zelda anything will suffice.
Works in a pinch by delivering a jolting shock of attention when you're on the ropes. Will also serve as a masking agent when navigating areas of dense Nerd Fumage. Might be illegal, but fetches a great deal on eBay.
A trump card on a stick, this dealer of justice can beat back Fanboys who have been separated from the pack, slap developer foreheads for lying to you about how their movie licensed game will "break new ground," and flick foreign drool off the back of your neck. Really a must-have in every situation.