While the question of whether E3 is really social yet is undecided, for those of us going, there’s a lot to make sure we have locked down before we head over. The event has a lot in common with GDC, in that it’s great for developer business meetings, so many of the GDC guidelines remain the same. There’s really no need to rewrite what’s there, so I’m not going to. However, there are subtle differences with the shows, that affect how you handle this one.
One difference is that for this show, we’re all flying down to LA. That means packing light. It bears repeating to bring 250 business cards, your mobile phone charger, and your iPad for e-mailing during the day. You don’t want your iPhone dead by party-time. One thing I’ve learned since GDC though is to bring one AT&T device, and one Verizon device, to cover your coverage bases. If you’re buying an iPad today, I recommend the Verizon one, since it has a built-in MiFi, with a lovely Apple-enforced cheapo plan. On clothes, again, just the one pair of jeans. In the past, I would have recommended a sport coat too, it’s the official uniform. But I’m somewhat fed up of that. You may want to pack it to be safe, for example if you’re going to Mortons Steakhouse one evening. But I wouldn’t expect to wear it around. LA is hot. Plus, maybe I’ve been watching a little too much Downton Abbey, but it feels a little anachronistic to me.
Also, on the whole security theater slash totalitarian fear state shenanigans we all go through at airports, don’t bother much with consumable toiletries. A travel size toothpaste, a travel hair spray, and your deodorant are all you really need. Every hotel has soap, shampoo, and conditioner, and the conditioner can double as shaving cream. If you’re planning to shave. I myself am not. It’s irritating and involves rubbing steel blades on your face. Perhaps I’m becoming a slob, but I’m not sure who I’m supposed to impress anymore.
As for the day of travel, likely today by the time you read this, prepare for flight delays. Pad at least an extra 30 minutes onto your departure and arrival times. LAX is a crazy airport, but at least there’s a lot of flights in and out. I’d still use it, although Burbank is far more civilized. If I were renting a car, I’d fly into Burbank. The car rental fleets are all at the airport, saving you that valuable 30 minutes of shuttle time. Except I’m not renting a car, and neither should you. It adds another 30 minutes to get and drop the car, and another 15 minutes every time you get it out of the hotel valet. Add the mental load of trying to find places you’ve never been, under traffic conditions that are new to you, and it adds too much onto your plate. Taking a taxi relieves that load, and let’s you e-mail and text during transit. Given hotel parking and destination parking, to say nothing of parking at the LA Convention Center, the costs and aggravation eat up any savings from renting a car. Just take a taxi.
Attend your on-site booth prep meeting. You’re on deck representing your company, and this show is way more press-heavy than GDC. Every booth manager will create an E3 Book, like the spectacular, full-color bible that Tali Fischer and team created for the on-site GREE team. Even if you’re not a press spokesperson, you are on point, and representing your company, whether you’re demoing a game, walking around with your company name on your badge, or partying into the night.
You likely have meetings scheduled. If you haven’t left an hour on each day to check out the show floor, cancel the least important meetings. You’re not just there because it’s convenient to meet with people there. You’re there to see, play, and experience everything else going on in the business. You have got to see what else is going on there. You need to report back on the state of the industry to everyone else back at your company, and for the benefit of your own assessment of the market for your own future initiatives. These extra two to three hours are far more important than your daily lowest priority meetings, which can be handled by phone anyway. As for why you’re doing these every day, you want to ask people in the evenings what they thought of the show, what was cool, what didn’t work, and see for yourself the next day. Crowdsource and iterate in realtime.
As for parties, again, make sure you’re on the buddy system and alternating with water. And when I say parties, make sure you’ve got a good cross-section of types of events. Make sure to make time for your work colleagues, your mail-list buddies, and your old friends. Make sure you’re doing industry breakfasts, hanging out at your hotel bar, going to dinners, and a couple of big, crazy parties. As for trying to get your day job done in the evenings, definitely hyper-prioritize, and spend no more than two hours doing this per day. Seriously. You’re on deck, you’re demoing, you’re meeting, you’re observing, you’re networking, and you’re living your life. Don’t kill yourself by holding yourself to a standard that nobody else expects of you. You’re at E3. Enjoy it.
And while you’re there, check in with SoMoFos! Alas, Shawn is skipping the show, but I’ll be there at the GREE booth, South Hall #2810, most of the time. I’ll be in meetings there Tuesday and Wednesday, so stop by and say hi. I’ll also be on the regular party circuit, attending the UTA, CAA, Wedbush, GREE, Intel/IGDA, ESA, GI.biz, and WIGI receptions, in addition to a smattering of Fight Club-esque events that I can’t describe under penalty of expulsion. One thing I can and should tell you about is that I’ll be participating in GameSpot’s live E3 stage show, called Bonus Stage. I’ll be chatting with Jake Kasdal, of Skulls of the Shogun fame, about the new direction of games, and how E3 needs to adapt. That’s happening on Thursday at noon at GameSpot’s booth, West Hall #4500. So, feel free to come by and cheer or heckle as you see fit. And I’ll see you in comfortable shoes at E3!
Also, buy your Prometheus tickets now for Friday, you’ll have too much on your mind this week, and you don’t want to miss opening night.