Back left
Back right

Attending E3 Expo for the First Time

First impressions from a 17-year-old non-gamer

Jun 13, 2019

By: Alexa Stevens

On Tuesday, June 11th, I attended E3 for the first time, bringing with me no prior expectations of the convention and the events the day was to hold. I'd heard of the electronics convention in a larger context -- I knew that it served to provide a preview to convention-goers of all the video games that were to be released in the coming year. Not being much of a "gamer" myself, I asked no further questions, and simply went along for the ride for the sake of journalism and new experiences. As such, walking through the doors on Tuesday morning, at the start of the media and industry hours, I was surprised at what I saw and experienced.

Giant arcade game at E3Gamers can play on larger-than-life retro machines with Arcade1Up's displayCourtesy of Kidzworld

Everything was massive

Walking in, to name two, I saw a blown up version of Luigi's Mansion and a joystick-operated console displaying a Marvel game. Being five feet tall, I found myself looking up at a 90-degree angle as I walked. After the novelty of the craftsmanship wore off, I began to wonder how the displays had made their way through the same doors I'd just walked through.

Lego Star Wars photo op E3Convention-goers, like this one posing with a Lego Star Wars: Skywalker Saga-themed statue, found photo ops wherever they wentCourtesy of Kidzworld

The "larger-than-life" trend surprised me because, as I saw it from my limited engagement with electronic entertainment, society had been tending toward smaller devices until this year -- thinner smartphones, smaller laptops, handheld gaming consoles. However, E3 seemed to pose an exception to this rule.

Monster Hunter World: Iceborne E3 demoSome exhibitors created environments from the game where gamers could immerse themselves, such as this one, from Monster Hunter World: Iceborne.Courtesy of Kidzworld

There was lots of AR to experience

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) gave gamers the opportunity to "get outside" and "enjoy nature," as older generations are constantly begging Gen-Zs and Millennials gamers to do, while remaining within the air conditioned confines of the convention. As I navigated the area surrounding the long lines for one such AR exhibit, The Unreal Garden, I heard calls of "It's so trippy!" as convention-goers took off their goggles and exited the arena. From the sidelines, I watched video footage of people inside donning reality-altering goggles, reacting to seemingly nothing but plants and lights.

AR The Unreal Garden E3Exhibits like The Unreal Garden blended nature and technologyCourtesy of Kidzworld

Not only was everything on a large scale, but everything, too, was bright. Exhibitors provided a clarion call to their fans by illuminating iconic logos, such as displaying FORTNITE in neon rainbow letters. Astonishingly, I have never played Fortnite. To those who have, though, the display must have been an out-of-body experience -- drinking real-life versions of the game's "Slurp Juice," posing beside a giant, neon Battle Bus, and acting as a Fortnite character while playing games reminiscent of the gameplay, such as "Jump Royale," in which convention-goers stood inside an arena, jumping over a rotating post.

Fortnite dance boothStaff members engage in a Fortnite-themed dance battle during the media hours -- before the display was opened to the publicCourtesy of Kidzworld

It felt a lot like Coachella

There are only two places I've been in my life for which I can provide context against which to compare my E3 experience. The first being Comikaze, the LA comic book convention held in the same space as E3, and the second being Coachella, essentially a convention for music fans. The convention I attended this past Tuesday surprisingly bore more similarities to the latter than the former. First, like Coachella, everything was a photo-op. Instead of the iconic ferris wheel, there was the E3 sign on the outside. Second, every attendee had a few specific exhibitors they were there to see. While I went to Coachella for Billie Eilish, Mac Demarco, and King Princess, gamers came in droves for Nintendo, Epic Games, and Warner Brothers. Third, it was loud. I took in the convention in hour-long shifts, and I saw others doing the same as they took sensory overload-induced naps in quiet corners or upon the bean bag chairs of the press room.

Behind the scenes at E3Taking time out from sensory overload with other reporters in the media roomCourtesy of Kidzworld

It was eye-opening and a little overwhelming

I would consider my first E3 experience to have been enlightening, a little bit confusing, and inspiring. I never really thought much about video games. I saw them as an iconic part of Gen-Z and Millennial culture, I saw their evolution from Pong on the Atari to Super Smash Bros. on the Switch, and I saw the beautiful graphics and complex gameplay of the modern video game, but I never really put much thought into their development. In interviewing developers of games, I found out that most games can take up to two years from concept to market. The game isn't just graphics, but also the adaptation of these graphics to the user's actions.

My younger brother is not only an avid video game player, but he also creates video games in his spare time. Seeing the many steps he takes to create a simple game involving squares and circles makes me realize the myriad layers existent behind the new sequel to Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Not only were my eyes opened to the development process, but also to the gameplay process. I received a lesson in game controls when a Nintendo employee guided me through Pokemon Sword & Shield and Luigi's Mansion 3 on the Switch. The demos provided were likely intended for five minutes of play, but, unsurprisingly, I spent about thirty minutes on each game. I now know that a fire Pokemon cannot beat a water Pokémon, and grass absorbs water -- crucial skills.

With these new lessons in mind, I look at the world of electronic entertainment differently. I now embrace the intertwining of my generation's culture with video games, because the intricacies involved with their creation and gameplay make this notion a badge of honor, rather than a point of shame. I am grateful for all that I saw, and all that I learned.

Have Your Say

Have you ever been to E3, or a similar convention? If you went this year, what did you like? If you missed it, what would you have liked to experience? Let us know in the comments!