Going To E3? Here Are Some Tips And Hacks!
Next week is the Electronic Entertainment Expo, more commonly known as E3, the annual game industry trade show held in Los Angeles (and a couple of times in Atlanta) every year. Presented by the Entertainment Software Association, it is where game publishers show off their upcoming games to retailers, the press, and beginning in 2017, the public. I’ve been either exhibiting at or attending E3 almost every year since the event began in 1995 as the most successful trade show debut in American history. However, for some of you it is your first time attending E3, so I thought I’d provide you some tips and hacks to make your experience a successful one.
- Many of the bigger game companies hold their own press conferences and other events days before the official start of E3. Your E3 pass does not get you into these events, and unless you are a member of the press or in the industry, it can be tough to get an invite, so you’ll have to watch online. Be sure to follow E3 news at least a week before the start of the show to find out when these events are being broadcast so that you won’t miss them.
- E3 has no dress code so you can wear casual clothes. But if you’re there for networking or business, dress the part. That doesn’t mean you have to wear a suit, but avoid looking like a Comic-Con attendee.
- Parking at the Los Angeles Convention Center can be $20 or more and usually fills up by mid-morning. The off-site parking can also be very expensive, but becomes more affordable the further you are from the Convention Center, although that can mean a long walk. I usually leave my car at work at Hollywood, and take the subway to the Convention Center.
- There are plenty of games to play at the show, but they aren’t going to be the upcoming big releases. Those are typically demonstrated for you in a carefully rehearsed demonstration in enclosed theaters that you may have to spend hours waiting in line for. Decide ahead whether this is worth spending your time for. Personally, I’m more interested in meeting people; I can always see the game demo online later.
- Many exhibitors — especially the less-known own — give out swag at their booths. If branded pens and t-shirts are your thing, go for it, but remember you have to carry around that stuff all day. If you can, find an exhibitor who is giving out totebags to carry stuff in.
- Don’t eat in the cafeterias on the show floor. The food is expensive and poor-quality. Instead, go to one of the food trucks outside, or go to the restaurants and fast-food places across the street at LA Live. I usually also bring a water bottle and some granola bars to keep my energy up.
- Taxis are rare in Los Angeles, so if you plan on going to different venues throughout the day, you will have to rely either on your feet or on car transportation services such as Uber and Lyft.
- At least a month before E3, search the internet for “E3 Party List” or “E3 Party Guide” for sites that list the parties and other events that are going on at E3. Some events — usually those held at bars and restaurants — do not require reservations, but others (both free and paid) do, and can get “sold out” fast once their announced. If the site has a mailing list or other notifications, sign up for them so you don’t miss out on attending any events.
- Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to a famous game developer you recognize, but be aware that people are there at the show to work and will probably be too busy for more than a quick hello. Also, the show floor is much too noisy for holding a conversation.
- Bring business cards with you, with links to your portfolio site if you are looking for work, to give out to the people you meet.
- A lot of business gets done in the bar and lobby of J.W. Marriott Hotel, across from the Convention enter. Some people I know set up shop at the Marriott for all three days and never even make it to the tradeshow floor, because they have one meeting scheduled after another.
- Wear comfortable shoes, as those concrete floors, even with the carpeting overlays, can be murder on your feet after exhibit all day.
Do you have any more tips? Add them in the comments below!