Episode One! The E3 Expo, held this year at the Los Angeles Convention Center, is the most important electronic gaming event in the world. Major software manufacturers arrive with no intention other than to flabbergast major game buyers. Lines extend around the block and anticipation is high.
Inside E3, hundreds of well-appointed and wildly expensive booths showcase the future of electronic gaming. TV screens the size of small houses broadcast stylized scenes of action. The floor is congested. The noise is deafening. It’s all so unreal.
Do I Have Your Attention? It should be mentioned that with thousands of products displayed - often for the first time – competition at E3 gets downright ruthless. Marketers want/need those-in-the-know to peruse their fine wares for just a split second longer than the rickety junk their adversaries have laid out not ten feet away. People get inventive.
Booth Babes, or Booth Divas as they are occasionally known, are a means of attracting the young and disproportionately male demographic. Clad as Space Age Cocktail Waitresses, Gladiatrixes, Samurai, French Maids and buff Surf Chicks, they play a unique role – the ultimate fantasy to be found in fantasy land.
Other means of drawing crowds are equally spectacular. The construction of a massive ring for Edios’ Backyard Wrestling promises spinebusters, hurricanranas and the potential that somebody might get bopped with a chaise lounge. For TrueCrime – Streets of LA, Activision has devised a ghoulish tableau evoking the aftermath of a high speed car chase and subsequent gunplay.
In strokes of both brilliant marketing and reverse psychology, Nintendo separates themselves from their competition by literally separating themselves from their competition. Their massive installation appears as an ultramodern hive that players must enter to reach the goodies within. The overall effect is startling. The eggheads at Nintendo realize that, amongst the din, a little peace and quiet speak volumes.
XBOXED! The easiest product to sell is, no doubt, the one that sells itself. As hundreds of game developers arrive with their up-to-the-minute creations, many of them may find themselves with an unusually easy few days. Indeed, the quality of the products is uniformly extraordinary.
It’s appropriate that Microsoft, the single most powerful name in computing, would kick-start E3, the biggest collective deal in electronic gaming. The manufacturers of Xbox take advantage of this position with dazzling previews of their upcoming releases.
After casting early glances on an impressive Doom 3, insiders treat themselves to hundreds of titles. Familiar faces such as Harry Potter, The Simpsons, James Bond and SpongeBob Squarepants emerge alongside some mean-spirited pro-beach volleyball players and what appears to be an extremely festive Mummy.
Microsoft, aware of a shifting cultural consciousness, promotes more topical applications of their pieces. The upcoming MusicMaster allows rec. room DJs to share sights and sounds with other Xbox devotees. Both LiveNow and LiveWeb encourage gamers to establish communities. XSN lets (virtual) sports enthusiasts compete live and online. However, rabid fan reaction to Xbox’s eagerly-anticipated Halo 2 proves, once again, that it’s all about the action.
Nintendo Advances! A good deal of excitement at E3 surrounds Nintendo’s new GameBoy Advance. The smart, compact casing seems reflective of the company’s design-conscious mentality. However, style amounts to nothing without substance and Nintendo has made the GameBoy Advance quite substantial. In addition to sporting several dedicated games, Nintendo’s newest enables players to connect online for such offerings as a four person version of Pac Man.
GameCube and GameBoy Advance loyalists will be jazzed by the sheer volume and diversity offered them. Star Wars: Rogue Squadron 3, which premiered alongside Mario Cart Double Dash and F-Zero GX, drops players into the unforgiving tundra of planet Hoth. Final Fantasy: The Crystal Chronicles and the newer Billy Hatcher And The Giant Egg delight stalwarts with snappy graphics and a familiar feel.
PlayStation 2! Meanwhile, a formidable crowd amasses in the Playstation2 section of town. Sony promises earth-shattering news.
It seems that Solid Snake, Grand Theft Auto, SOCOM: Navy Seals 2 and the most recent chapter of the speedy Gran Turismo series will be marketed exclusively to P2. In addition, the brand new Rise To Honor features a likeness of action film star Jet Li! Preview images are appropriately cinematic, with swirling perspectives and a noir vibe.
Not to be outdone, Electronic Arts declares their 2003-2004 product line-up will be available online and exclusively through Playstation2. To commemorate this announcement, a virtual golf battle occurs between the incomparable Tiger Woods and his most enduring foe, Cedric The Entertainer. Yes, that Cedric The Entertainer.
And In Conclusion… If the first day of E3 is any indication, the future should be plenty of fun.