E3 20 Years of Memories

The Electronics Entertainment Expo has always been the premiere convention for all the newest games and technology.  Year by year, gaming companies large and small journey to the mecca of gaming to show off their hard work and get the public excited for what they have to offer.  You could call this the gaming world’s Super Bowl.  As we prepare for E3 2015, it looks to be filled with exciting announcements and epic reveals.  However, there is something special about E3 2015.  This year marks exactly 20 years since the introduction of the event (though it’s on the 21st show), and we thought we’d take a moment to look back at our favorite memories of the event over those two decades.

Medal of Honor 2010 Banner

Dustin –  I personally have a few great experiences both from E3 and as a fan simply watching it. I’ll start off as a fan which was 2005 and 2006. This was the first year(s) I really paid attention to E3 and wanted to know every last detail. By this time I had already spent probably over a year talking with fellow gamers and predicting what the PS3 would be like,  and we were all super excited to finally see it. I was young and I remember sitting at my computer for hours listening to everything they had to say, and as soon as it was over I had to rush out and tell someone about it. Yet nobody was around that cared.

The only reactions I got from them was later (E3 2006) when the $600 price tag was revealed and their eyes nearly popped out of their head when I still wanted it. So I went back online and spent countless more hours talking with strangers about the possible extra HDMI slots, obnoxious amount of USB slots, raw power, and even made fake photoshop ads for people. (Remember when Sony first introduced PS3 in 2005 they didn’t have a playable unit, just models on display!)

One thing that really stood out to me was that Killzone CGI trailer…. Oh man I watched that thing 24/7, even after it was debunked! I also personally still remember the first time Resistance was technically shown. Lastly who could forget those ugly banana controllers?!

Yet that doesn’t top the first time I ever attended E3. Yes the absolute best perk of being a video game journalist is being capable of attending E3. The first time I ever went was with another website in 2010 and my friend happened to be working with me so he tagged along and my goodness it was heaven.  It was a nervous adventure, I was representing a site, I messed up my planning, my boss got mad at me (even though he didn’t want to admit it) but it was a hell of a lot of fun.

If you want a specific event from this, I believe Medal of Honor (reboot) was releasing at this time and EA had held a small little tournament within their E3 booth. I wasn’t expecting it to be honest, but they said my position in the room and I didn’t hear it, then a dev tapped me on the shoulder and said “hey man you won!” I got a sweet pair of Oakley glasses and my picture on the Medal of Honor wall.

At a later E3 (2011) when Vita was revealed, my girlfriend and I sat in line for hours waiting to play it. I was able to meet the team behind Resistance 3 and they noted I got further than anyone else playing it! While watching E3 is exciting and fun, nothing beats being there. You get to see the conferences from a new perspective with laptop screens lighting up the crowd, camera crews trying to get a good shot, and the crowd anxiously waiting to erupt for their favorite game.

Shigeru Miyamoto at E3

Jarod– 20 years of E3.  And 20 years of anything imaginable going down at the greatest gathering of industry devs and fans the world over.  And while each of them were great in their own right, for me there were a few standout moments that have etched themselves in gaming history, scenes forever seared into my gray matter from either the sheer power of their epicness or the abject horror of their failures.  All are equal in my eyes, though, for all are part of the legendary experience that is the Electronic Entertainment Expo.

E3 2006: Kazi Hirai Picks up a PSP but Drops His Dignity

The incredible moment when Kaz Hirai, CEO/President of Sony, did his absolute best to stoke the excitement of debuting Namco’s iconic Ridge Racer on the PSP.  And with the fiery unifying joy of Nobunaga in his heart, called out, “IT’S RIIIIIIIIDGE RAACER!”, to a crowd so chill that calling them disinterested would be an understatement.  Despite the extreme lack of fanfare, Kaz played it off well and continued, but I swear I saw a crow fly by after that announcement.

E3 2004: Shigeru Miyamoto Lights the Fanboy Fires

It can be said that no gamer possesses either the heart nor imagination of Miyamoto, the father of some of the greatest and most influential video games in history.  The man loves his work and we love him for it.  And in 2004, he proved it again with the epic trailer debut of Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess complete with resplendent Hylian Shield and Master Sword.  The crowd went absolutely berserk from start to finish and the grandmaster himself couldn’t have looked happier.  That day, it was damn good to be a gamer.

E3 2010: Attack of the Abominable Konami Press Conference

What if I told you that there was an E3 press conference that included excitedly bad English, strangely insulting game commentary, one million troops, Anti-Controller sentiment, Luchadores slapping one another, a Japanese body illusionist, an obviously-high Tak Fujii, creepy over-the-shoulder staring, and a dance game worship session?  Without a Blue Pill to swallow, we were forced to endure what became the Konami Conference from Hell: a display of creepy dev fandom that left everyone in attendance feeling a bit awkward (and a little dirty) with long silences, forced applause and the kind of sickly-soft laughter that cracks from your dry throat after those key moments in a Silent Hill game.

E3 2004: Blizzard Awesome-Bombs the Future / Microsoft Feeds the Shooter Beast

I close my fondest memories of E3 with my absolute favorite of all time, a dual-event, and one that would serve to predict my future as a gamer.  Blizzard Entertainment, the Irvine, CA based developer (whose unofficial motto of, “It’ll be done when it’s done.”) had been oddly silent since Battle.net landed in 1997.  Though announced in 2001 at ETCS with the first World of Warcraft imagery actually seen at E3 2003, E3 2004 marked the first that anyone had seen of the gameplay itself. Showcased in a legendary five-plus minute trailer fans finally witnessed the brilliance of what Blizzard had been cooking up behind it’s closed doors.  Without going into a total fanboy shutdown remembering this, Blizzard conquered our imaginations and the rest, they say, is history.

But it wasn’t over. Microsoft, who only two years previously made its XBox a true system contender almost exclusively on the back of the “killer app” Halo: Combat Evolved, at long last brought the next chapter in the saga of The Master Chief, the long-anticipated trailer for Halo 2.  I myself squealed with girlish delight when I first saw MC dropping bombs on Covenant Cruisers in deep orbit before hitting atmo re-entry like a boss.  It was the second part to a double whammy that made every future moment of frustration with Legendary Mode worth it.

Congratulations E3!  Here’s to 20 years and here’s to another 20 more!

star wars the old republic

Jordan – While others have March Madness and Playoffs to look forward to, E3 is what has me rushing for home, sitting on the couch and watching to see what happens next.  It’s a big deal for me every year, and despite having multiple opportunities to go, I’ve yet to make it out there in person (used up my flying time this year for Star Wars Celebration).  That hasn’t kept me from watching all the live feeds like a hawk, and feverishly checking the texts/tweets of my comrades who are there.  

For me, it really is an event to enjoy.  I cheer, loudly, jump up and down like it’s a sporting event, because it’s something that exciting to me.  So as I look back on the show over the years, it’s kind of hard for me to pinpoint the most exciting moments for me.  Most of the things that have stuck with me over the years have been console reveals, and Nintendo’s presentations.  Yes, Nintendo.  

Regardless of what you think of their system, it’s hard to deny that the House of Mario is fairly consistent in what they bring to E3, always offering up fist-pumping moments and a good show.  I remember literally jumping up and down several years ago when they revealed Donkey Kong Country Returns for the Wii.  I was so stoked to see that franchise come back, I couldn’t contain my excitement.  

Another amazing moment was the first trailer for Bioware’s Star Wars: The Old Republic.  While the MMO was still years away from the release, Bioware showed up to E3 with an incredible trailer (the one where the Sith crash into the Jedi temple and have a badass battle) that continues to impress even today.  I wasn’t able to think correctly after watching that trailer, and they hype that came after it was all too real.  It showed fans a little of what we’ve been wanting; a return to that Knights of the Old Republic era, while showing how it was different and ready to take us on an entirely different journey.  The trailers from Bioware on the following years were equally impressive, but nothing will top the wow factor of the first one.  

Every E3 is special to me, and even though most of my time these days is spent covering the event, I still hop on board the hype train for the conferences and enjoy myself as a fan.  It’s what E3 is supposed to be about, a celebration of gaming and a look ahead.  I hope everyone keeps that in mind in the years going forward.   

Zelda Wii U

Matt – Man, can you believe 20 years has passed?  I am still shocked that I will be standing on the floor of the biggest video game expo in the world!  With such a rich history, it’s hard to really think of just one moment throughout the last 20 years.  So, since all of my colleagues have recounted the earlier years I’m going to go with last year, E3 2014.  Last year’s E3 was absolutely incredible.  They brought such a cavalcade of great games that had the public cheering.  Furthermore, it was the freshman year of the next-gen consoles, the PS4 and XBOX One.

I remember watching all the press conferences Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, Ubisoft, etc.  Each premiering their next latest and greatest games.  The one moment I remember everyone gasping and clamoring for the most was Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda Wii U!  Even I sat there, choking up over the prospect of one of my favorite franchises becoming a completely open world!  

However, what was so cool though was getting to see the smaller games that would end up becoming the most highly anticipated games of the year.  Shadow of Mordor and No Man’s Sky.  These games blew up the Expo with their originality and their gameplay.  I remember seeing these and pointing out that those among everything else would be the show stealers for me.

I’m hoping at E3 2015 we get to find those little gems amongst the diamonds that turn out to be the greatest games of 2015 but it’s really going to be enough of an honor to be there to celebrate E3’s 20th birthday.

You’ve heard some of our fondest E3 memories, but now it’s time to hear yours.  Please share your favorite E3 moment from the last couple decades.