Assistant Games Editor Holly Green is at the E3 videogame trade show in Los Angeles this week, and will be filing daily dispatches from the show floor. You can read the first part here.
Wednesday June 14
I awake with odd bruises all over my legs and arms. I’m confused. I bruise easily, but I don’t remember how or why any of these new ones have formed. Was I throwing elbows in the crowd yesterday? Did someone wallop the top of my thighs with a 2 × 4 and I somehow missed it? Cancer. That must be it. I have E3 cancer.
I take my time getting to the show floor, dreading the shitshow to come. Will the floors be as packed as yesterday? Will the fans become fatigued and give up? I brace myself for the worst. As I exit the cab, somehow I lose my lens cap. This is the absolute worst time to lose a lens cap. On the bright side, I have two, count ‘em TWO, sugar free Redbulls and a fresh pack of smokes. Ah, the journalist diet.
West Hall is visibly less crowded than South Hall the day before. I breathe easy and get in some pics. Nintendo, as always, has a bright and showy booth filled with photo ops. Charles Martinet even takes some selfies with fans.
I circle around and take booth photos, noting the locations of the various publishers and enjoying this rare occasion to take unobstructed photos. Nintendo is always packed, and rightfully so. I internally breathe a sigh of relief that I have an appointment for later.
Holy shit, giant Monster Hunter dragon.
Over at the Shadows of War booth, a set of orcs are delighting the crowd, swaggering, boasting, regaling them with tales of their exploits, and generally doing an amazing job of staying in character and maintaining a gravelly, orc-like voice. I guess LA is a good place to recruit booth actors.
I run by the Yakuza booth, which is made up to look like an alley somewhere in urban Japan, and run into someone who recognizes me from the internet. Luckily, they like me, and we chat about the crowds for a few moments before I head out to get some lunch.
Before I go, I snap a few pictures of the Total War Warhammer booth, one of the best in the show.
It is lunch time. By that I mean, beer time. The beers are $12 a piece. I’m surrounded by a team of IT guys who, upon hearing my credentials, take a sudden interest in my career. They proceed to drink several cocktails and beers and prod me to have a second beer. I decline.
Parting ways with my new drinking buddies, and ignoring their pleas to be my +1, I head for Nintendo, preparing my set of questions for their head of marketing Doug Bowser.
Upon arriving at Nintendo, I run into an old friend and chat for fifteen minutes while waiting for the PR rep to confirm my appointment. I discover I’m booked for the next day. Consulting my schedule, I realize I’m supposed to be at Bethesda. I sprint across West Hall.
I arrive at Bethesda, sweaty and breathless, for the only Bethesda demo I’m scheduled for this E3—Wolfenstein II.
I didn’t play the prior entry in the series but as a seasoned FPS player, the demo is satisfying, while light on substance. I don’t get much out of the skimpy cut scenes. Perhaps overcompensating for the Call of Duty demo the day before, I play on the hardest level. The dudes around me progress slightly faster, and I can almost feel their judgment. I play for a half hour, getting my satiating fill of violence before finally bowing out before the demo’s end. Checking back in at the desk, I find that there’s nothing else I’m scheduled for. Huh, I guess it all worked out.
I stop by IndieCade to get in some time with the games there and get caught up talking with a friend, who tells me that Breitbart is supposedly on their way to play some of the resistance-themed games. I laugh. This should be good. Show me the games that will piss off Breitbart. I find time for Borders, a pixel art game that depicts the danger and difficulty of crossing the Mexican border. Based on the experiences of co-developer Gonzalo Alvarez’s own parents, players navigate a 2D desert plane mimicking the Mexican desert while avoiding border guards and collecting water to survive. The deaths of each round and each player are left on the screen as piles of skeletons, a stark reminder of the mortality rate surrounding the migration. It’s skill-based, but sobering, and upon leaving the IndieCade floor, I shake hands with Alvarez and promise to follow up later on the topic.
I spend so much time on Borders that I run out of time for anything else. I schedule time for the next morning to check out a few more IndieCade games.
My daily log from the day prior finally hits the site. It’s well received. Holy fuck, I think. That means I definitely can’t fuck up today.
At this point I realize I have five small mosquito bites on my right arm. Apparently they feasted in the night.
E3 is a time to catch up with old friends, and with The Fig still under renovation, most folks head to the JW. A few people have invited me out but with the previous day’s thoughts still weighing on me, I still want to hide. I instead go out with Cat to get a pesto clam pizza on Sunset Blvd. and meet up with Zoe for a beer at Button Mash, a barcade. I spend the entire time worrying that I should be writing instead of hanging out. But as we talk and I start to enjoy myself, I wonder if part of my problem is that I’ve been surrounding myself with the wrong people.
We all part ways at a decent hour and I get back before fatigue sets in.
On the way back, I spot three more mosquito bites on my pinky, one that has formed a blister. This never happens in Seattle.
I arrive back at my Airbnb. My host is still gone. She apparently left at some point in the dead middle of the night, and never came back. I’m tempted to smoke on the balcony outside, but with every passing moment I’m only more convinced she’ll walk in at any moment. I sit down to write instead. And then I get up and do it anyway, hanging out the window and jumping at any possible sign of her return.
It’s at this point that I notice there’s a bundle of sage in the window. It’s gathered by a ribbon and slightly burnt on the ends.
She’s been burning sage in the house. Is it for ghosts…or for Airbnb guests? Probably a little bit of both.
I settle in to write, for the first time noticing the rice cooker across the room. It’s the same one I have but here’s is covered in a starchy, peeling film that looks like dry skin. She’s been putting too much water in when she cooks rice, and has never cleaned it.
I make a quick bowl of miso and wonder what else I can get away with before she gets back. Snooping, I decide. I find a stash of old gummy bears and feel no shame in eating a handful.
Last night I heard scampering on the roof, and I knew it couldn’t be raccoons or birds. My LA friends confirm they are rats. Roof rats. The worst kind of rats. And now they’re back. And they brought friends.
Was I hasty in judging the crowds yesterday? Today didn’t seem as bad. But I overheard a booth worker in the West Hall saying today was actually busier than yesterday. Did I get used to it? Were there actually less people? Did I get acclimated to the crowd density and tune it out better than yesterday? Or did everyone else adjust?
Tomorrow will be the real test. I have a Nintendo tour, and plans to spend the rest of the day at IndieCade. Will the crowds hold out? Or will they diminish even more? The only way to find out is to show up at 10:00 AM tomorrow morning.
Holly Green is the assistant editor of Paste Games and a reporter and semiprofessional photographer living in Seattle, WA. She is also the author of Fry Scores: An Unofficial Guide To Video Game Grub. You can find her work at Gamasutra, Polygon, Unwinnable, and other videogame news publications.