Escape from E3

Escape from E3
Game Industry Katamari

Jason Della Rocca | 23 May 2006 08:02
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This year, many of the government-subsidized pavilions have graduated from out-of-the-way Kentia Hall into the South and West Halls. A quick scan of the exhibitor page lists pavilions for Canada, the U.K., Nordic countries, Korea, Australia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Scotland, Singapore and Taiwan. And I suppose we can count the U.S. Army booth in the West Hall, as well.

These pavilions allow for many - often smaller - companies to distribute the expense of mounting a viable presence at the show. Many countries also provide some level of travel expense assistance in addition to the subsidized booth space. Nice.

In addition to their efforts to get local companies into E3, many governments also host receptions or events in parallel to the expo itself. On Tuesday, the U.K. Consulate General welcomed a few hundred guests to his posh estate on the outskirts of LA. Roughly at the same time, Quebec was welcoming guests to the hip Standard hotel for a cocktail. Wednesday evening, France held a nice open-air reception. The Canadian government hosted a breakfast networking and panel session early Thursday morning just up the street from the convention center. Korea held a lavish dinner party on Thursday night for 300 guests at the same time Singapore was doing the equivalent across the street.

And those were just the ones I had on my schedule. There were other similar receptions and events driven by the various governmental bodies throughout the week; certainly a nice change of pace over the traditional negative attention games get by government.

Social Circuits
I'm not sure if the E3 party scene should be considered as "other stuff" going on, as it is so integral to the E3 experience. A lot of value is derived from networking at these events.

Not counting the government receptions mentioned previously, I was aware of the following parties/hosts:

- International Game Journalists Association (Monday)
- Union Entertainment (Monday)
- Nintendo (Tuesday)
- Pandemic & BioWare (Tuesday)
- International Game Developers Association (Tuesday)
- Intel (Wednesday)
- Wedbush Morgan (Wednesday)
- Minna Mingle/Casual Games Association (Wednesday)
- Access E3 Party at the House of Blues (Wednesday)
- Vivendi (Wednesday)
- IGN (Wednesday)
- The Escapist (Thursday)
- Sony (Thursday)
- Ubisoft (Thursday)
- House of Moves (Thursday)

No doubt, there were others. It is just impossible to keep up. The good news is, if you plan your schedule right, you can go the whole week without paying for dinner or a single drink. The bad news is you'll take a physical pounding standing around and talking all night.

Art Appreciation
E3 attracts many noble efforts related to games, often angling on the artistic or social impact side of things.

The Into the Pixel exhibit - a personal favorite - shows off some sweet videogame art. Organized by the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences, Into the Pixel is juried and curated by experts from world-renowned art museums, cutting edge galleries and game industry veterans. Admittedly, the "In the Garden of Eva" piece from [i<Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence</i] held my attention longer than most games on the show floor ...

In addition to having a gallery of all the works lined up between the West and South Halls, there is a nice cocktail reception (of course!) to initially unveil the art and introduce the artists, jurors and organizers that were involved. Sadly, the game press barely picks up on it, and I have yet to see much in the way of coverage of the exhibit.

While the Into the Pixel exhibit is an official part of E3, there are many smaller off-the-record efforts going on. For example, there are usually a handful of documentary filmmakers at the show covering one aspect or another of the game business. This year, I did an on-camera interview for one doing a film on the controversy over booth babes and sex in games. Last year, another filmmaker was doing a piece on industry working conditions.

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