Embarassing E3 Stories

I’ve driven down to LA for, including this current show, five E3s so far. While the drive is uneventful (and thankfully so, since it’s long enough without additional accidents and whatnot), some of my favorite moments haven’t been from any individual games, but instead experiences I wouldn’t have had without an event like E3. So, to help everyone understand just what I’m talking about, here are three of my favorite memorable moments from my four previous shows. Enjoy!

  1. Sonic Boom Cabana Boy

First story is from my first E3 party, the Sonic Boom party. In 2011, Sega was celebrating the 20th anniversary of their titular mascot character with a big (and blue) party, where everyone was given a head of Sonic-styled hair and told to enjoy themselves. Crush 40 played franchise standards, and I still consider it one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had, both in and out of the business of covering games.

While we were looking for a place to sit, however, most tables were taken. But there were a few cabanas set aside with few people in them, and since there was no sign, we decided to try and sit down. And we chose one with a single Japanese man in a nice suit sitting alone. We asked if we could sit, and he seemed to have no objection. We were ushered away about five minutes later by a Sega team member, who let us know the cabanas for employees. We apologized, and hurried away.

Later, I found that man’s picture in the picture stream from the event: Yuji Naka, the creator of the original Sonic the Hedgehog. We crashed HIS cabana.

Mr. Naka, my SINCEREST apologies.

  1. The Never-Aired “GR ‘red’ Podcast”

So this wasn’t an “official” podcast, but it did include a few GR folks. (And no, sorry, not gonna tell you just who they are… not because this is bad, but because I don’t know if they’re interested in being a part.)

At the 2012 show, the “red” campaign for HIV/AIDS awareness and charity decided to draw attention to their cause by inviting Wayne Brady, US improv comic extraordinaire, to come and play a few games. They set up the booth with Wii Sports Tennis, and he arrived with a small posse, and we were there to get footage (which we did). We tried throughout the time there to get some time – even five minutes – to just talk to him, just for the sake of something more to share with you guys.

That didn’t happen. Through nobody’s fault, we just couldn’t get the few minutes in for a conversation. After we figured this was the case, and while Mr. Brady was still playing, I whipped out my phone and started recording some thoughts. One other staff member joined me, and we took turns doing play-by-play commentary and cracking jokes about how much we wanted an interview. I’ve had trouble finding the file again, but if memory serves it topped out at ten, maybe fifteen minutes, and had me offering to help with setting up “Zonks” for Let’s Make A Deal (Brady’s game show).

Mr. Brady, if you’re reading (and you SHOULD be), we’d still love to talk to you. And feel free to out-riff us at your leisure

  1. “I Hold A Meaningless Grudge”

This also took place at my first E3. Having no experience, I was having some trouble finding one of my early meetings with a Sony rep. (In all fairness to me both then AND now, Sony tends to scatter to multiple, MASSIVE locations, so it’s incredibly easy to get twisted around.) Trying to be as professional as possible as a green… professional, I approached one of the desks to ask for help.

The girl behind the counter was very nice and offered to help, but about ten seconds into looking, she glanced away and back her monitor. Then, she looked up again, in the same direction. Then back to her computer, then a longer look to her side. And before I could even look, she held up a finger and excused herself from my company to help… J.J. Abrams.

Now, I saw the first Star Trek movie in the theater, on a date. I enjoyed it. My date enjoyed it. Everyone involved thought it was a lot of fun. But I still haven’t seen the second one out of protest of J.J. Abrams cutting in line in front of me. I stood there, silently fuming, for a few minutes while the helpful lady helped him into the booth and set him up. When she came back to me, it was only to tell me she had no clue who I was supposed to be seeing, and that I should try the booth I had tried before her ten minutes prior.

I know he’s (slightly) more famous than I am, but seriously… c’mon now. J.J., I’m still waiting for your apology.

I know other writers have other stories, and they’re probably not as forthcoming as I am about the stand-out moments (I lost most of my shame a long, long time ago), but it only goes to show that weird situations can happen at a place like E3. It’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of fun, and sometimes – very often, in fact – you get a story out of it. (Or cut in front of by a director who TOTALLY owes you an apology.)

Happy E3, friends!