An Undercover Journalist & Gamer’s First Visit to E3, Part Three

(Part one is at this link, part two is at this link.)

So E3 has come to a close and my legs feel like they’re about to sue me for abuse, but Day 3 rallied over Day 2 and it’s leaving an overall great experience about E3 for this average, ordinary gamer pass holder.

As we approached Day 3, it really did appear that for a person holding an ordinary gamer pass, it’s a little much to be here for three full days of the conference. After all, you’re not going to want to play every game you see; every “conference” or event isn’t going to appeal to you; and eventually you’ll run out of the things to “try.”

So it was as we arrived just after 9 a.m. for the final day. We were in the West Hall by 9:10 a.m….and the line for Luigi’s Mansion 3 for Nintendo was already over two hours of wait time. My son decided to go for it while I decided the opposite and set off to wander toward the South Hall.

It turned out that my decision would be advantageous for my other son who was not on the trip. Eli is autistic, and really wanted to come along, but this was his brother’s graduation gift trip. Since he couldn’t go, he apparently decided to do something that he does with movie theaters.

Eli makes his own movie theaters. He will take photos on his iPad of the interior of movie theaters where it shows the name and show times of movies, then imagines his own movie theaters. He will put the pictures in a particular order to lay out the movies. I still don’t understand why he does it, but he loves it, so I always allow him to snap those photos.

He decided to have his own E3. He kept asking me for photos of certain games and booths. I had to take several pictures of the Nintendo booth from multiple areas. He loved the photos of Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games.

But he kept asking me for a photo of a new Spyro game that was coming to Nintendo Switch. The game is made by Activision, not Nintendo, so it wasn’t at the Nintendo booth. And Activision didn’t have a booth on the floor for those of us with ordinary gamer passes…you had to be industry or media to even get in the door with Activision’s private rooms.

I thought since it was the last day of E3, I really had nothing to lose, and if I ended up getting tossed out for going into the “wrong area” that my son could still do his thing and I’d just chill at a nearby coffee place until he was done. So I decided to walk the level between the Halls where the private meetings took place, hoping to be able to get Eli that picture of Spyro he wanted so badly for his personal E3.

On the way, I ended up fulfilling one of the two goals of the week I had; shaking the hand and thanking Raha Bouda of Ubisoft. I wrote on Day 1 that it was a goal for me to do this because of some very kind things she did for Eli a few years ago.

Today, as I was heading to where Activision was meeting behind closed doors, I passed Ubisoft and on a whim asked one of the staff if they knew Raha…and she did! She said that Raha was really busy, but she would walk down the hall to where she would likely be and see if she had a minute.

About a minute later, she came back with Raha! I know it may seem foolish to some for my desire to thank her in person for being so kind to Eli, but I’m old school that way. When someone goes above and beyond for me or my children, I feel they more than deserve the respect of a personal thank you.

We had a very nice chat and she was very gracious. I can see why she’s had such a successful career.

After that, I really threw abandon out the window and went straight for the Activision area. When I arrived, the security guard standing at the door appeared to be asleep, so I took advantage and just walked right past and up to the front desk.

A woman greeted me and asked if she could help. I started to tell her about Eli when I noticed on the wall behind where I walked in was a giant sign…of the Spyro game Eli wanted in a picture. So I was able to snap a pic for a very happy guy back home. The woman with Activision actually said she might be able to send Eli some Spyro stuff and took down my address. Whether or not she does, I appreciated not being rushed out when they saw I didn’t have a special badge, and the “YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” I received in a return text after sending the picture made the whole thing worth it.

I continued on my walkabout (to quote Mick Dundee) and ended up at the “human claw game” that was set up to help inform people about the outstanding charity Extra Life.

I’ve given hundreds to this wonderful charity through a number of game streamers who’ve raised money for them because they support Children’s Miracle Network. CMN does incredible work with children’s hospitals around the nation and if you want to support a group that is actively working to help kids, you should check out Extra Life and CMN.

While chatting with a few of the Extra Life folks, I mentioned that I wouldn’t be able to do the crane because I weighed too much. (I’ve lost 75 pounds from where I was just a year ago, but I was still 50 pounds over their weight limit.) One of the staff put a bunch of papers on the counter in front of me and that it wasn’t fair I wouldn’t get a turn, so I should pick a prize.

I ended up winning a pair of PS4 games that my son didn’t have along with a gift card for Gamestop. Blew me away. (Blew my son away when I showed him as well.)

I ended up in a line to play Borderlands 3 because there was a very short line compared to how it had been during the week and the 2K staff gently nudged me to try it. The game is actually very impressive, and I’m glad I took a turn on it. I can see why my son was raving about it.

My son was finally through the line for Luigi’s Mansion 3 at this point, so we met for lunch, and I could see he had reached the end of the line. He told me that he didn’t see anything else that he wanted to do, and that we should just go back to the hotel. I told him that the place was still open for about six more hours, so he had time to sit in a line if there was a game he wanted…and he mentioned he wanted to check out the Pokemon games Nintendo introduced this week.

So he went to stand in line…and I wandered again. This time I ended up near the Bethesda booth, where I honestly didn’t plan to stop, because of how horribly I was treated a few years ago when I was working for a network and reached out to Bethesda’s folks. I’m not really a big fan of their games, other than Fallout, and I really despised Fallout 76 because of the horrific rollout of the game. I played it for two days (rented it from Redbox) and then never thought about it again even though Fallout 4 was a staple of play for me.

As I walked past the Fallout 76 area, I noticed half the game machines weren’t being played, and half chuckled to myself. One of the Bethesda staff struck up a conversation and invited me to give the game another chance, and she seemed like a really nice kid, I figured I would do it.

The game has vastly improved from where it was two days after launch. I’m not going to run out and buy it, because I still pretty much have lost all enthusiasm for Fallout, but I don’t have the same negative view of the game. If I saw it in a bargain bin in a year or so, I may drop five bucks to pick it up.

When I was walking away from the Bethesda booth, my son texted that he was done getting through the Pokemon line, and was ready to go. Thus ended our E3.

So…now that it’s all in the rear view mirror…how was I treated as a regular gamer at E3? Is it worth the cost? The time?

I would have to say….yes.

I’m not a hard core gamer like my son, but I found more than few things to capture my attention, and there were more than a few developers who seemed genuinely interested in my impression of their games when it was obvious I was way out of their age demographics.

Was I treated poorly because of my pass? Only a few times by a few security guards, who seemed really irritated in general by something and took issue with a father waiting for his son to get through the security checkpoints. However, outside of that, no major issues of being made to feel like a problem rather than a guest.

Now, I will say that there were some games friends of mine wanted me to check out that I couldn’t because the developers were only meeting with media or VIPs. I really would have liked to have been able to see Devolver Digital’s games. Activision, while I’m very grateful they helped me today, had a game I wanted to check out but couldn’t see.

So there is that negative to the gamer pass. You can’t see it all, you can’t try it all, you can’t experience the FULL E3. However, you can get more than enough, and you likely will feel like you had your money’s worth from the trip.

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