E3-Time Packin’, Packin’ in the E3 (Time)

The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is coming up soon, and I’ll be going this year! Yay! So I’ve been thinking about what I need to pack and bring with me. Going to E3 isn’t like a regular trip where you can just throw some clothes in a suitcase and go. I’ve been going to E3 for several years now, and I’ve collected quite a few handy tips on what to bring and do at the show. So I thought I’d share some with you in blog form. These tips are also good for other big gaming conventions, like PAX. And this blog will serve double duty as my own personal packing checklist. Ha ha! Oh, and if you can get the reference in my title, you win a solid.

Anyway, I’ve been going to E3 ever since 1996 when I was writing for The Dallas Morning News. And I did that every year until 2001, when they stopped taking free-lancers in the technology section of the newspaper (very sad day for me). I skipped going to E3 in 2002 and 2003 due to lack of funds. But after that I found a decent day job and soon after started writing for GamerDad.com (now GamingWithChildren.com). So I started going back to E3 in 2004 and went again in 2005 and 2006.

2006 was the last year I went to E3 for two reasons. One, I lost my job late in that year, so there’s the lack of funds thing. Plus, after 2006 was the year that E3 was scaled back and toned down, so it didn’t seem worth the trip to me. Three months after I lost my day job in 2006, I got a new one, so after a year of building up my funds and vacation time, I started going to PAX instead in 2008 through 2010. But last year after reading about E3 2010, it seemed like E3 was back to the way it was. So I decided that in 2011, I would give E3 another try! Keep in mind that even though I get my press pass for free, the rest of the trip comes out of my own pocket. But that’s OK! I consider going to E3 like a vacation (Disneyland for gamers), so I don’t mind. What’s the point of earning money if you can’t spend it and enjoy it every now and then? You only live once!

Anyway, enough history. Here’s some tips and insight on packing for E3!

Pack Two Suitcases

This is probably my most important tip. You can have one empty suitcase and put your full one in it so you only have to take one out there. But coming home you can fill up the empty suitcase with all the fun E3 swag you’ll get. Back when I first started going to E3, this was especially important as press kits came print only (before online really took off), and later on most of the press kits were on CD. Now all the press info is online, so you don’t have to worry about that as much. Even though it’s better that way (saves trees and such), I kind of miss the old print press kits. Sometimes they would get pretty creative in their presentation, and back then I would use the folders they came in to hold my notes in college. The CD kits were pretty fun, too. One time, Capcom’s CD press kit had a little interactive Servebot on it!


Most people nowadays probably just use their camera on their cell phone, but I can’t afford a really nice phone so my camera on mine isn’t very good. It’s just easier for me to use a regular digital camera, as I think they take better pictures anyway. I have a nice middle of the road easy to use camera that I use. I’ve taken lots of fun pictures at E3 in the past, and it’s one of my favorite things to do at the show!

Poster Tube

One of the more common freebies you might get at E3 or PAX are posters. Sometimes you might even get them signed by a famous game developer or artist. But if you roll them up and try to pack them in your suitcase or in the overhead bin on the plane, they WILL get crushed. But not so much if you put them in a cardboard poster holder tube first! You can get them at mailing places and UPS stores.


I like to carry around a backpack or drawstring bag at the shows to hold my more important paperwork and items. Lately I’ve been using a drawstring back more as they are lighter, easier to manage, and not as hot. Paper shopping bags are useful for holding and collecting all the E3 freebies at the show. Usually companies provide bags for you, but at last year’s PAX they seemed harder to come by. So I’ll bring some of my own this time just in case.


At E3 you’re always on your feet standing and walking around, so it’s important to stay hydrated. So I always bring bottled water and drink lots of it.


The food courts at the LA Convention Center are nasty, too expensive, and way too crowded. I’d rather spend my E3 time playing games, not waiting in line for nasty food that costs way too much. Usually what I do is eat a big breakfast and dinner, and just skip lunch at the show. But in case I get a little hungry at the show, I always bring a snack or two. Back when I was writing for The Dallas Morning News and E3 was more extravagant (almost overly so), I usually didn’t have to worry about lunch. Most of the time, Humongous Entertainment would invite me to eat lunch with them at the show. They made the Putt-Putt, Pajama Sam, and Freddi Fish games back then. They were awesome and I loved hanging out with them.

Gum and/or Breath Mints

I talk to people a lot at E3, and I don’t want to scare away all the nice PR professionals and booth lady helpers with my stinky breath. I don’t like most breath mints because the mint is so strong in them it makes me sneeze (I wonder if I’m allergic?). But I do like fruit Mentos and cinnamon or green apple flavored gum. Plus, chewing gum on the plane rides keeps me ears from popping!


If you walk or ride a bus or taxi, you don’t have to worry about this as much. But having a GPS to navigate around the huge city of LA is super helpful (just ask anyone who’s played LA Noire). Used to, our GPS was a laptop with a satellite detector attachment. But now you can get a GPS on your phone! Isn’t technology amazing?

3DS and PSP

This is a more recent tip. With the downloadable options of the current handhelds, sometimes companies will let you download wireless game demos at E3. Then you can play them on your own time. I probably won’t bring my PSP to the show, but I’m definitely going to bring my 3DS to see how many StreetPass hits I get! I can’t wait!

Other Packing Tips

Of course, regular vacation packing tips apply to E3, too. Like bringing proper clothes, comfy shoes, money, business cards, etc.

Other Helpful E3 Tips

Here are some other non-packing related E3 tips.

If you are scheduling meetings at E3, try and schedule them in the same hall on the same day. There’s a bit of a walk between South and West Hall, so you don’t want to have meetings close together in either halls or you might be late. For instance, I have all my Wednesday meetings in South Hall.

If you’re not familiar with the LA area, you might find yourself in a dangerous part of town if you’re trying to find a place to eat. What I’ve always done is eat dinner at Universal CityWalk. It’s a strip mall area outside Universal Studios and it has lots of restaurants. It’s a bit touristy, but at least you know it’s safe.

And don’t go to E3 alone! Bring a buddy! It’s safer and more fun that way. I usually bring a family member with me, like my dad. Since I’ve been blind in my left eye since birth, I need someone to help me get around sometimes. Plus I enjoy spending time with my dad and other members of my family. I know it may seem kind of weird for a grown man to say that, but I don’t care.

This isn’t really an E3 tip, just an observation. While the booth babes are nice and friendly and helpful if you talk to them, I think the PR professionals are way cooler. In fact, one of my favorite things about reviewing games free-lance is dealing with, and talking to, all the PR folks at E3.

Things I Don’t Like About E3

There are a few things about E3 that I don’t like, though. One, I’m not a big fan of LA. Now, if you live in LA, don’t get offended. I’m sure where you live it’s really nice. But around the Convention Center, it’s pretty dumpy. And Hollywood isn’t as glamorous as they make it out to be. Also, every time I think Dallas traffic is bad, I just remember how horrible it is in LA. Not looking forward to that. It may be better now that E3 is scaled back, but used to; the show was also really crowded and noisy. And finally, most (not all) gaming journalists I see at E3 and such almost always act elitist and snobby. I won’t point any fingers or name any names because I don’t want to hurt feelings (Luckily the people I write with now aren’t that way). Others may not MEAN to act that way, but that’s how they come across and the vibe I get. I hope I don’t act that way. If you think I do, please let me know so I can work on changing that. I want to be a friendly game reviewer!


Well that’s all the E3 tips I can think of right now. If you can think of any E3 or other convention tips, please share them in the comments section. Also, I know a lot about E3, so if you have any general E3 questions, ask away in the comments section and I’ll try and answer them!

This may be my last blog until after I get back from E3. So if you have any special requests, things you want me to try and look for at the show, please let me know in the comments section and I’ll try and see what I can do. Then after next week, make sure to read my E3 blog(s) at GamingWithChildren.com! Please pray that I have a safe trip there and back, and I’ll talk to you all when I get home! Later! –Cary

No Responses to “E3-Time Packin’, Packin’ in the E3 (Time)”

  1. Yo, Andrew – didn’t catch you at E3, but I’m curious to see what you’ve got to say about the offerings this year! I miss the old print-press kits as well…there’s just no character in when they hand you a business card. Or, even classier, Microsoft doesn’t print cards and just tells you the site.

  2. Oh Andrew didn’t write this article, I did. I went to E3 (Cary Woodham) and you can read my E3 articles in a couple of days hopefully! 🙂

Discussion Area - Leave a Comment

Tired of typing this out each time? Register as a subscriber!