Countdown to Blast Off! Destination: Cary’s E3 Universe!

The big Electronic Entertainment Expo is coming up once again, and I’ll be going this year as well. I’m really excited about it. I’d like to apologize that this will probably be my last blog for at least a week and a half, as I’ll be busy getting ready to go and once I’m there I won’t be posting anything until I get back. But when I do return, I’ll try and post my E3 coverage as quick as I can.  But before I get ready and head out for the show, here are my favorite memories of past E3’s I’ve been to!

I’ve been attending E3 for quite a while. When I started writing for The Dallas Morning News, I thought I’d try going since I was a member of the press and could get passes. This was back in 1996 or 97. I went every year until 2001, when they let me go at the paper. But then a couple of years later, I started writing for and I went again for a few years. But after 2006, E3 went through a few changes and cutbacks, so I stopped going for a while. Which was good because it helped me branch out to other events like PAX. But last year it seemed that E3 was getting back to the way it used to be, so I started going again!

E3 has changed a lot since the time I’ve started attending. I remember when the press room was filled with cubby holes with press kits you could pick up. Back then, press releases were on actual paper and put into folders. I used those folders to hold my notes in college! Later, the press kits were on CDs, but now everything is online and the press room is filled with computers for media to use. While having everything online means it’s easier to pack stuff home, I kind of miss the old days because the paper press kits would sometimes be really creative. Nintendo’s kits used to come in really nice binders, portfolios, and even backpacks!

And did you know that for a couple of years, E3 was in Atlanta, not LA? The first year I went to E3 was when it was in Atlanta. Since I have family in Alabama and Georgia, having E3 there ‘felt’ closer to home. Plus, when E3 was done, we’d drive out and visit family. That’s actually one of my favorite E3 memories right there. Here are some of my other favorite E3 memories:

Press Conferences

When I first started going to E3, they had keynote speeches before the show started. I went to a couple of these. The very first one I went to was when the Intel commercials had the people in colored clean room suits dancing to the Bee Gee’s Stayin’ Alive song. So for that first keynote speech, it started with a dance number on stage with people in those clean room suits. At the end of the dance, one of them took his mask off and it was the president of Intel! Since he was pretty old and couldn’t do all that dancing, they must have done some tricky stage switching to make him look like he was on stage the whole time! But because that was my first impression of E3, every time I hear that Stayin’ Alive song, I always think of E3. Another keynote speech a year later featured Tom Brokaw, but by then keynotes got pretty boring so I stopped going to them.

Nintendo’s Booth

The best game booths at E3 are the ones that keep you wanting to come back every day to see what’s new. Nintendo’s booth has always done that with their games, but sometimes other things have been memorable to me at Nintendo’s area. One year they had a talking animatronic Mario who would greet you as you walked by. There must’ve been someone nearby behind it who could see what was going on because you could have whole conversations with the Mario robot. That year I was still in college and I was wearing my UT hat with a big UT Longhorn logo on the top, and the animatronic Mario said, “It looks-a like-a bird a-pooped on you hat!” The next year they added a talking Wario statue, and it cracked me up when he said, “Go to the Nintendo Sports section to get some free popcorn! But you’d better hurry because I’m-a gonna eat it all! WHA HA HA HA!”

Later on, when Nintendo was first showing the DS, they had a press-only demo room with stations to try demos of early DS games. It was SO crowded in there and you could only pick one demo before having to leave. Luckily, a nice Nintendo lady saved a demo for Pac-Pix for me to play. How did she now I liked Pac-Man? That was the one demo I really wanted to try! The big surprise was after leaving the DS room, I got to meet and shake hands with the guy who does the voice of Mario and other Nintendo characters! Another fun memory I have at Nintendo’s booth is playing Wii Sports with members of the GamerDad staff.

Namco’s Booth

Namco is another favorite game company of mine, so I always like going to their booth. When Pac-Man World was being developed for the PSOne, it had a rocky development cycle. It started out being called Pac-Man Ghost Zone, then Pac-Man 3-D before settling on World. It was really the first game I got to follow from start to finish as a game reviewer, so even though it’s not the best Pac-Man game ever, it’s special to me for that reason. I also got to know the members of the Pac-Man World team really well. In fact, when Pac-Man World 2 came out, that was about the time that the newspaper let me go. I had to e-mail the team and tell them I wouldn’t be reviewing it, and to not send me a review copy. But the team sent me a copy of the sequel anyway and they all signed the box! I thought that was very nice of them. Some of the members of the Pac-Man World team went on to make other games like Capcom’s Maximo. I doubt that any of them read my blog now, but Brian Leake and Scott Rogers, if you ever read this, I’ll never forget you guys!

A few years later, Namco’s booth starting having a stage show with booth ladies talking about Namco’s latest games. I never really paid attention to them, but one time they were throwing out Pac-Man goodies to the crowd. I couldn’t catch them, so I was a little sad. But later, a Namco booth lady hopped off the stage and handed me a Pac-Man goodie. I thought that was really nice. I think a Namco employee must’ve told them I like to collect Pac-Man stuff. Another year, Namco had a giant Katamari ball at their booth and you could stick stuff to it. I brought some things to stick on it, and by the end of the third day, it had gotten pretty big! And for Pac-Man’s 25th or 30th Anniversary, Namco’s president cut a big Pac-Man birthday cake! I wish I could’ve gotten a slice, but it was too crowded. I also wish I could’ve gotten to meet Toru Iwatani, Pac-Man’s creator, or Go Shiina, my favorite game music composer (who also works at Namco). Maybe someday…

SEGA’s Booth

During the Saturn years, SEGA’s booth was kind of dreary. But in the Dreamcast years, SEGA’s booth felt like a nonstop party. One year, a graffiti artist was decorating the booth during the show to promote Jet Grind Radio, and they had a fun Space Channel 5 stage dance number as well. The year they did that, a funny yet embarrassing thing happened to me involving a lady dressed as Ulala. But I won’t tell you what it was because it was too embarrassing.  It was pretty silly! But SEGA is still cool at E3. They’re getting Sonic back on track, and I’m so glad they recently released Monster World IV here!

SNK’s Booth

Ever since I was writing for The Dallas Morning News, I’ve always had good connections with SNK. I’m not sure why that is, though. SNK used to have booths at E3, and some years they were really cool, with arcade cabinets you could play and everything. One year, they had one of SNK’s character artists signing posters of fighters he drew. I think his name was “Falcoon” or something. Only problem was the poster I got is of Mai Shiranui, and she’s NOT one of my favorite characters. Oh well. I also got a Fatal Fury hat that year. Another year when they were promoting the Neo Geo Pocket Color, I told one of the PR reps how much I enjoyed the recently released Card Fighters Clash. He had his NGPC and game with him, and so did I, so we spent some time playing that game with each other!

Cary Kicks Rayman’s Butt!

One year at Ubisoft’s booth when they were promoting a new Rayman game, they had a little movie theater where Rayman would tell you about him and his new game! I think behind the screen, the character was animated and voiced in real time using some sort of rotoscoping technology, because he was talking to us like he could see us. He even called me up on stage to talk with me personally in front of everyone! I was in front of a green screen, so on the monitor it looked like I was in Rayman’s world. Rayman and I talked for a bit and he told me to punch him right in the gut! So I did, and I kicked him, too. So yeah, at E3 I can say that I kicked Rayman’s butt! But then Rayman and I were friends again and even did a little dance together up on stage. Before leaving, Rayman told me to pick up a video tape after the show of us together on stage. When I showed that tape to my little brothers back home, it totally BLEW THEIR MINDS! I still have that tape somewhere.

Video Game History Museum

Another favorite booth was the Video Game History Museum, which showcased old consoles and arcade games you could play. I even got to meet David Crane there one year at E3. He created games like Pitfall and A Boy and His Blob. I liked it better when the museum was in Kentia Hall because it was quieter, but E3 doesn’t use that hall anymore so they’re in one of the noisier areas now.

Breakfast, Lunch, and Parties

When I wrote for The Dallas Morning News, I always wanted to review kids’ games. But they had a lady already doing that so I didn’t get to. That’s why I like writing for GamerDad’s site now, even better than writing for the newspaper. Anyway, back then, one of the best kid game makers was Humongous, creators of characters like Putt-Putt, Pajama Sam, etc. I wish they were still around. But back then, when I would visit them at E3, they always invited me to eat lunch with them! So I ate with them every day of the show. We did this for a few years; it got to be a tradition. It was always so much fun. I think their characters would make for a great Nick Jr. show.

While most people enjoy getting invited to press dinners and parties, I liked the press breakfasts I got invited to better because that’s my favorite meal of the day. One year a company was promoting some new Sesame Street computer products, and they had a Sesame Street themed breakfast to show them off! The tables were decorated with characters, we ate a blueberry muffin cake shaped like Elmo, and I even got my picture taken with Big Bird! We even got to take home some neat goodies, too. I never saw the products they showed off in stores, though. But then, the talking Big Bird plush that you could plug into the computer and it would say your child’s name was pretty creepy!

Another fun press breakfast I went to was promoting a PS2 fitness game called YourFitness. The game didn’t do very well because it was a little ahead of its time. But the breakfast had lots of yummy healthy fruits and cereals (my favorite kind of breakfast). And they had some ladies who worked at a famous LA gym showing off the game. They were really cool, and they wanted me to stay afterwards to show me more of the game. I wished I could have, but I couldn’t because I had meetings to go to, and I didn’t want to get too sweaty!

The first year I went to E3, I did get invited to Sony’s famous night party. I went, but the music was too loud and the food looked like it had been sitting outside too long. But it was still kind of neat being there because this was when the PSOne had been out for a couple of years and they were starting to really steal Nintendo’s thunder. It was a fun time because Sony was eager to adopt the new CD technology while Nintendo didn’t, and the PSOne’s possibilities seemed endless. Unfortunately, in future years I think Sony got a little too cocky. Another year when I showed my invitations to the party, Sony said they were fakes (they weren’t) and were really rude about it. But they were also rude that same year to the folks who run the Penny Arcade web comic, so I don’t feel too bad. But ever since then, Sony’s booth has always felt a little unwelcome to me.

Meeting Celebrities

Since E3 is in LA, sometimes famous celebrities show up, and I’ve met a few of them. I got to meet Gary Colman and Evil Kinevil before they passed away. I also got to meet the lady who was on X-Files, but I can’t remember her name now. Which is sad since I used to like that show when I was in high school and college. I also got to meet Stan Lee one year. I met some wrestler lady another year but I can’t remember her name either. Stacy something I think, I don’t know, I don’t get into wrestling. She was pretty, but didn’t look much like a wrestler to me, but what do I know? And as I said before, I got to meet David Crane and Charles Martinet, too.

People Are the Best

While playing the games at E3 is fun, my favorite part of any E3 is meeting all the nice folks there. PR reps, game developers, and even the booth lady helpers have always been nice and accommodating to me. One of my favorite years was when I got to meet other members of the GamerDad staff in person!

Since I’ve been blind in my left eye since birth, I’ve always needed a little help getting around LA when I go to E3. So I always bring someone along with me. Every year that I’ve gone, I’ve always brought my dad with me to E3. That’s my most favorite E3 memory is spending time with my dad. You can laugh at me all you want, but even though I’m a grown man, I still enjoy spending time with him.

Count Your Many Blessings…

When I was in college I was writing game reviews and other articles for The Dallas Morning News, and there were many good indications that I’d be doing that for a living when I got out of school. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out that way, and sometimes I get discouraged because of that. There’s actually a church hymn about counting your many blessings when you are down, so when I do get bummed out about not being able to write gaming articles for a living, I just remember the fun times I’ve had at E3. Each one of those memories is like a blessing. And when I see how many blessings I have, I realize that I’ve had many opportunities and experiences that many gamers don’t get. So I consider myself very lucky!

This year, my dad will be going to E3 again with me, and we’re arriving a day early in LA so we can go to Universal Studios in Hollywood! So maybe I’ll be adding a few new favorite E3 memories to my list! Please pray that me and my dad, as well as everyone else going to E3, has a safe, fun, and fruitful trip there and back. And when I return, please check back here for my special E3 coverage articles! Later! –Cary

No Responses to “Countdown to Blast Off! Destination: Cary’s E3 Universe!”

  1. I want meet Stan Lee…
    Happy to see you’re going again Cary. It’s always fun to see the show through your eyes and while I miss the trip and meeting people – I’m happy to see it from afar nowadays. Have a great trip and say Hi to your Dad for me!

  2. Absolutely. You should expect to see my coverage when I get back, around June 8. I wish I could do day to day coverage when I’m there, but I’m just too busy!

  3. No problems Cary, this site doesn’t require “up to the minute coverage” just our own take. Have a fun trip!

  4. It’s always fun to see the show through your eyes and while I miss the trip and meeting people – I’m happy to see it from afar nowadays.


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