E3 2015 is apparently going to let the public in this year. While it has been a life ambition of mine to attend the show, letting the general public into a games convention brings with it a number of problems. I looked back over my own experiences at Gamescom in Germany. Basically Gamescom is the European E3 and has three days open to the public. I found this small piece I thought up while crying to myself in a long queue. Despite being four years old, nothing changed in any subsequent years. If you are lucky enough to be going to E3, be warned.
Life Lessons in a Gamescom Queue
Last year at Gamescom 2010, a combination of poor high school German and over-eagerness led us to queue for 3 hours to watch an un-playable Black Ops demo of the stealth bomber level. In 2011, we were determined not to make the same mistake on our annual pilgrimage to sunny Cologne. However despite our best efforts we were faced with the same conundrums again.
This year it looks like Battlefield 3 was the holy grail to the general public. Every year we have been, one game is publicised above all others, either sponsoring the whole show or by having posters and publicity events in the surrounding city. Cologne was full of Battlefield 3 so it was a sensible place to start our journey. In fact it was our first stop for a cheesy Top Gun Photo, in sweaty jumpsuits, in front of the fighter jet. So far so good, but it was time for the first major decision of the trip, we decided to get one of the big two out of the way. MW3 or BF3.
The answer was more of a shock than a decision. BF3 had a queue that advised a 9 hour wait at the pointy end. The show itself lasted 10 hours, This is the kind of dedication needed to one game at the expense of your health and spine. Unfortunately being nearly 30, a ten-hour queue for a few minutes of Battlefield wasn’t an option. That only left MW3. We reassessed and played FIFA,PES and Forza 4 inside a nice hydraulic rig. But still the need to see one of the marquee games burned. When we returned home people wouldn’t be asking about the smaller games we played, they would need to know we played one of the big ones.The plunge was taken at 4.30 Pm when we joined the MW3, playable spec-ops queue. We had made sure to check it was definitely playable after last years debacle. The signs optimistically said 2 hours but experience led me to believe that this would be another Frodo-esque quest.
In this queue the whole of Gamescom became a microcosm. We saw the best of it and the worst of it. I am ashamed to say the best of it was when two booth babes were coaxed into doing an independent version of Just Dance in their highly unsuitable costumes. This took place in a glass cage and drew as big a crowd as some of the lesser games. This sums up my Gamescom experience. You go in full of hope but end up taking what joy you can while waiting for the big prize. More people came and went and I cursed the intelligent locals who had folding seats. I collapsed to the ground and read The Wheel Of Time on my IPAD. The dragon Reborn did not doubt himself as much as I did in this queue.
As we neared the business end of things I counted people leaving in groups of 22. Counting in front this should mean we would be in soon, it was now 7 pm and the show closed in an hour. Suited executives arrived from Activision to laugh and photograph the length of the queue. I cursed them as well. Bobby Kottick, one day you will have to queue.
The final hurdle approached. As we were within 10 spaces and 20 minutes from the doors closing I thought we were safe. Some had been trimmed from the rear by the hired goons in charge of the stand leaving us the survivors in the Quest. Then as if they were the enemies of all that were good, a group of teenage VIPs arrived.
Surely not. They strode in to the demo booth ahead of us, leaving rage and pain in everyone’s eyes. The multiple nations in the queue joined as one and swore. The goon in charge laughed. It was now a case of one more group to go in. By luck or perseverance we were in it. We had to watch inside as the VIPs blew each other up with grenades and spent the whole time jumping, their inadequacies taunting us. Then it was time, we took up the turtle beach headsets and began our 5 minutes with spec-ops.
In conclusion, I may have been a little dramatic a few years ago. The problems of letting the public into these events are clear for all to see. While nobody minds a small queue, having one at nine hours is as much a publicity stunt as it is a product of the environment. E3 should be kept trade only. There are a lot of important events that happen during E3 and if there are at least 5000 more people in the event it could grind to a halt. There will always be VIPs, executives and body odour issues at these events, why add to the madness by putting more people in?
It looks to be an attempt to get live Periscope, Twitter and Youtube feeds from the event floor. If you can get reception in the event, I would encourage you to resist and do a proper report and video update when you get home. The craziness of an event floor and the mood that you will be in, could ruin any work you are going to put out. My advice, take a good book, a well charged portable console, someone to talk to, a folding stool and a backpack full of water and snacks. Optional extras would be an obscene amount of cigarettes and some cans of deodorant. You will need it all.
Is anyone lucky enough to be going to E3 2015 or Gamescom this year? Let me know in the comments.