It was inevitable that E3 would end this way. Even before the pandemic put a pause on in-person gatherings, the Electronic Entertainment Expo was already on life-support as the larger developers had already put distance between themselves and the event to focus on their own presentations on their own time. And though E3’s eventual cancellation was all but written in stone, I still feel a great sense of loss. Which is odd considering I’ve never been to E3.
I’ve covered it remotely before. It was my first year of freelancing for a small video game wiki site that no longer exists and I was excited because this was, in my freelancer’s eyes, the big leagues. I was covering E-friggin’-3. This was event that I had dreamed of when I first decided that working an office job was no longer for me. I was still at that office job, watching the presentation live on YouTube, ignoring my actual work, while I rushed to get short 200 word blogs up about stuff like Hazelight Studios’ newest game No Way Out. And I figured that once I got a full-time games journalism job, I wouldn’t be doing this from a cubicle, but from the E3 auditorium itself.
I did eventually get that job, and I have been blessed to accomplish goals that were both on my bucket list like attend Summer Game Fest and interview Naoki Yoshida (a couple of times), as well as things that I had no idea would affect me as profoundly as they did like my interview with Flute Guy and “Snake Eater” performer Cynthia Harrell, and this silly little blog about Kirby.
But E3 was this monolith, my Everest, the one thing I felt needed to do to able to call myself a “real” video game journalist. And now it’s gone, possibly for good.
I’m sad not just because it’s a video game merit badge I’ll likely never earn, but because there are so many little things to see and experience that in-person events like E3 facilitate. I just got back from GDC, and I hold finding little indie games like 5 Force Fighters and Moonstone Island and having random, spur-of-the-moment conversations with game developers and my own peers in higher esteem than I do walking the show floor, or sitting through presentations and panels. E3 could have been that times 1,000.
I know that my idea of E3 was and is outdated. I also know that the event can be a massive burden for developers who have to take time out of their development schedule to produce the glossy demos and trailers E3 demands, not to mention the costs associated with flying and housing folks in Los Angeles. In that regard, E3’s cancellation is a net good. But if it’s brought back in the future as ReedPop’s statement suggests it will, I hope I’ll finally get my opportunity to go.