This is something I wrote on Tumblr back in 2014 about how depressing I find the Electronic Entertainment Expo. It was largely just a long-winded way for me to link to past videos I’d made about E3, but I also think it’s some of my better, sadder writing and I tend to share it on Twitter and Tumblr every year because I still feel the same about all of it. I just now decided it might as well go here, too. Enjoy!
I guess E3 2014 is next week, huh? You may not know this about me, but once, approximately 48 years ago, I made videos about video games. In theory, I might even do it again one day! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
I went to E3 last year. I had a horrible time. I’ve been to E3 three times now and have found each time less enjoyable than the previous. The first time I went in 2002 was because I could and it was supposed to be lots of fun and it’s like the Mecca of Gaming or whatever, yeah? I was rather young, with my head certainly not full of wonder, but at least there was still a great deal of ignorance in there, so it seemed like a good idea, like a thing I’d theoretically enjoy, being a gamer and all that.
But it was pants! Even at the youthful age I was, I was acutely aware of how unimpressed I was by the notion of having to wait in lines to play 14 seconds of an unfinished game. I found out later that, as I’d nefariously finagled a press badge, I could’ve skipped the lines and gotten all manner of secret (metaphorical) handjobs, but that doesn’t change a lot for me! I still don’t care! I don’t wanna play 10 minutes of your lousy, new stealth RPG action fucker! Even if a game isn’t a boring, cliched shinola smoothie, I still just don’t care enough to preview things. I’ll wait till it’s out. Who cares.
I also genuinely dislike booth babes as a concept. I’m sure they’re nice enough people, but, in addition to the whole “makes the industry look like it’s run by the editors of Maxim” thing, it’s truly pretty uncomfortable to be around hot women wearing near-nothing who probably don’t really want to be there and probably don’t think too highly of you. I mean, as someone attending a GAMING CONVENTION, there are a number of assumptions anyone can make about the type of person you are. Frankly, if I met you at a gaming convention, I wouldn’t fuckin’ date you. I hate gamers.
It’s all the more uncomfortable because, due to the weird schedules you’re forced to keep at conventions and the likelihood that you’re sharing a hotel room to keep your expenses manageable, you don’t get a lot of relaxation time and you don’t get a lot of alone time. If you see what I mean. You can’t masturbate regularly is what I’m saying. This is a real concern, friends, and another reason I hate E3.
The second time I went (in 2006), I guess it was because I’m an idiot. I can’t even remember. I was out of college and didn’t want to get a real job and I think I sort of thought I could make something out of it and maybe it’d even be a good career-starting move in the hot new field of electronic gaming (Tiger handhelds, for example), which is at least how I sold the idea of going to my parents, who fell for it hook, line, and, um, Virtual Boy (video game reference).
Of course nothing of merit actually happened. But I did write an in-depth article about my experience there for the stupid, old website I used to run with a friend. I did a pretty good, punk-rock job of covering the event without actually doing any real coverage. This website has a lot of trash on it that I’m outright ashamed of now, but I still like this massive, multi-part piece of anti-journalism full of deliberately bad photography, which starts here:
In 2012 I didn’t go, but I did do a collection of dumby videos in which I made fun of the all the conferences. I liked aspects of these and some people really liked them a lot, which is nice, but I don’t actually have a huge amount of pride in them anymore. I think they are kinda basic, humor-wise. But this one about the Sony conference (which was the second of three) was the best one:
I went to E3 again last year because I’m an idiot and I didn’t want to get a real job and I thought it could be a career-starting move. Since I can expect at this point to not have fun at E3, there was a difference this time in that I at least had a clear purpose. I was gonna go provide terrible video coverage and do half-assed interviews and generally make a mockery of the situation. Colin, my friend from college got to go too and served as my cameraman for two of the days. It was lovely to see him again and he did an awesome job. Beyond that, I without question had the worst time I’d ever had.
I’d never really done interviews or the “man on the street” thing before, so I felt awkward enough about that already. When you’re doing interviews where you’re subtly insulting the people you’re talking to, it’s even more awful. I had butterflies pretty constantly and had to re-psych myself up every time I approached a new person.
I also stayed up crazy late every night editing together the videos of each day to get them up there before the next day (though I slacked off majorly for the third day and didn’t actually get it done until like a week or two after the fact). With every passing day, the desire to never go back to the showfloor grew stronger. The second day Colin actually went by himself earlier (and recorded a lot of great coverage) while I spent several hours going in and out of bad sort-of-sleep, trying to avoid the convention as much as possible.
I stayed up editing well into the morning the second night. Further, Colin and I went out and picked up literally the worst Indian food I’d ever eaten and it gave me a HORRIBLE stomach. So, after I’d finally laid down with the sun already streaming through my damn hotel window, whatever non-sleep I got was rendered even more irrelevant by a reliably periodic need to return to the toilet.
Colin had been the one driving our rented car, but he left after Day 2. I was at a hotel all the way by the airport and had to do a somewhat scary LA drive downtown to the convention center on little to no sleep. My last night in LA felt incredibly lonely. I drove around looking forsomething to do. Ended up going to one place to eat fish tacos. Then I went to that famous doughnut place with the big doughnut sign and tried out some interestingly-flavored doughnuts. Then I went back to my sad-ass airport hotel room and drank booze and felt sorry for myself.
In case it sounds like I’m just trying to be COOL by hating E3 or something (which is my secondary goal), as evidence that I really am this much of a whiny spoilsport misanthrope, on the last two days I avoided going for so long that I think I was only at the convention center for about 3 hours each day, dashing around getting whatever silly footage we could in that brief amount of time.
The thing is, I still think the videos that came out of all this are some of the best stuff I’ve ever done. I find them funny and sad and weird and I like to think they present E3 as a farcical horror that gradually destroyed me. I’m not going to E3 this year because I’m still nowhere near important enough to anyone for the bill to be footed by anybody besides yours truly and, miraculously, I’m actually at present even poorer than I was when the convention rolled around this time one year ago.
I’m really and truly fucking pleased I am not going. I’ve been to enough conventions (New York Comic Con and I went to some horrible anime thing too) in my life now to have learned that I unequivocally loathe them. They depress me more than most things do and most things are depressing, if you haven’t noticed. I don’t care about seeing previews of things. I hate getting free detritus. I don’t want my apartment to become a graveyard for lanyards honoring three days of no consequence. I don’t like going to a thing that’s meant to be the event for someone who defines him or herself as a gamer only to find I feel even more alienated because this is a place I’m actually supposed to like and I end up just hating everyone even more. I don’t particularly need the blatant reminder that there are sexy ladies everywhere that I’ll never get to touch.
But I ain’t no chump chicken. I know my misery generally translates into funny shit. I mean, the two times I produced content about my trips to E3 resulted in stuff that I’m still proud of. That I wrote a thing in 2006 that I can look back on with some fondness at all (as opposed to total disgust) is utterly stunning.
And, again, the videos I made from last year I love a lot. I know they’re from last year so any video game stuff mentioned in them is old news, so it’s too bad only a few hundred people watched those videos and now they’re kind of just a piece of forgotten web nonsense. But I didn’t really do any real game coverage; it’s really just a series about me bugging people and hating my life. So, if you can be bothered, give ‘em a look, yeah? You’ll have a good time, probably!!! (Please note our microphone SUCKED in the first video, but we used a better one in the following two.)
All told, I would say that if my sadness is required to make stuff I’m happy about, it’s totally worth it. But not worth it enough for me to put myself into the deepest recesses of the poorhouse. But yeah, I’d still go back to E3 some day. If it were financially feasible and if there was a guarantee of three people watching it.
BTW, you’re more than welcome to be like JESUS WHAT A WHINER. I WANT TO GO TO E3 WHAT IS THIS MISERABLE FUCKER’S PROBLEM. Completely fair perspective. But I fuckin’ hate conventions and E3 makes me want to die.
Maybe I’ll go back some day. Ugh.