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E3 2018: The Nia Experience
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E3 2018: The Nia Experience

A journalist relates her first time experiencing the sights, sounds and surprising successes of E3 – on her own terms.

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Attending E3 was a whole new experience for me. Prior to embarking out to the world’s biggest gaming tradeshow I’d only ever dealt with the “business” side of gaming on the periphery; which meant emailing developers and talking with the occasional PR person. But I wanted to not only learn how to maintain these relationships moving forward, but to prove to myself and others this was a field I belonged in. My managing editor Nate Evans had warned me (several times, to be honest) that how I reacted to the show would be a big indicator whether I had the “right stuff” to keep going down the road I had chosen.

It was a long, long road to E3 2018, not without its bumps and curves. After spending countless hours of training, talks and more I finally had my plane ticket in hand and was on my way to join so many other gaming journalists and industry professionals for this once-a-year journey into the Mecca of the gaming industry.

Thankfully, I wasn’t alone, shadowing Senior Games Editor Cory Galliher to I wasn’t completely overwhelmed by the people and events we’d be meeting during the show’s highly compressed three day span. Still, I was going to be on my own for at least some of the time, including those meetings we’d arranged beforehand, so I couldn’t rely on him every second of every day (even if he was great at helping keep conversations going and picking out great places to eat while in the city). So what did I think of E3 2018?

I could stop and ramble on about the crowds and how frustrating it was for someone of a shorter stature to navigate through the twisting halls of the LA Convention Center, dealing with people running into me and having to hold onto Cory’s bag strap for dear life, using him as a buffer for those moments the crowds became untenable. I could describe the overwhelming emotions of standing on a rooftop in Los Angeles talking to developers about their games and seeing people from all walks of life showing off their creations – days and months and hundreds of hours worth of work that I had only a few minutes to look at before moving on to the next.

I loved every second of it, even if my calves were burning up from all the walking, even if getting lost in downtown Los Angeles for hours on end with the sun pounding down on me was an experience I don’t ever want to relieve. I loved the chaos of walking back onto the show floor and the expectation of finding something new to experience or meeting another person who was attending E3 for the first time just like I was.

I even loved hearing people and established journalists talk about the followers and friends they had, though it was intimidating when they threw around names like “Sony” and “Microsoft” like they were playing cards.

E3 is chaotic and intimidating. It’s not an experience everyone can handle. But you know what? I thrived there, even though I felt nervous half the time I was on the showroom floor with throngs of people and the other half passed out the moment we returned to our Airbnb. So much of what goes into even the best preparation can’t possibly prepare you for actually interacting with people on a level reserved for the very few, and to engage with others who share this unique passion that’s driven me forward for as long as I can remember.

While I was far from perfect, there’s nothing that can beat stepping into a room and talking to a developer who’s just as excited to meet me as I was them, to show me the game they’ve put so much hard work, sweat and tears into creating, a process that can take years with so promise of success at the end. I loved seeing their passion become a reality, fully realizing what a privilege it was to help present their creation to the world in ways that were fair and honest. I appreciated they took the time to talk to me and this always left me with a sense of accomplishment.

I could talk about how I felt like a rock star and how awesome it was to see the long line of people waiting to play the new Call of Duty, then being shown into a section reserved only for media who would be trying out the new game. And don’t get me started about being one of the first people on the planet to experience the cuteness of Little Dragons Cafe. Moments like that were pretty epic for me, but I had the most fun when I was on the floor and talking with people.

My E3 experience went smoother than I anticipated and it was far easier than I thought it would be. It’s intimidating to stand in a room full of professionals and realize I’m on their level and fast approaching new heights where I’ll be able to trade facts about new releases and dates without batting an eye. Yes, I was nervous throughout most of the experience, but I wouldn’t say no if I was given another chance to attend next year. I’m actually looking forward to it, warts and all. Because that’s what professionals do.

About the Author: Nia Bothwell