It is accomplished…(e3 2010 Part 1)

I’ve been here at e3 2010 for 72 hours and it feels like 2. From the amazing Cirque Du Soleil experience of Kinect to the rush of the keynote yesterday morning to the celebrations of last night, I now have to pause to reflect.

But before I reflect I must rave.  Bear with me a second.

To get down here to e3 I flew Virgin America for the very first time.




I have not had that good a domestic flight experience since I was a child and they used to take care of every little thing you needed and let you go into the cockpit during the flight. Everyone’s told me how good Virgin was but honestly their starry eyed enthusiasm looked more than a little cultish to me so I never went out of my way to fly them.  This time the cheapest flight to LA was Virgin America so I thought sure why not?

I arrived at the ticket booth to check my bag.  Not only was the ticket guy friendly, he was an Xbox fan.  We chatted about e3 and how many Xbox people he was getting to meet that day while he walked me through not just my baggage claim check but also what was available on the flight, the precise directions to my gate, and the quickest security line. I walked away feeling chipper and had to stop and wonder when the last time I actually enjoyed a conversation with a ticket agent was.

I got to the gate and the people behind the gate desk piped up and asked me if I was flying Virgin America today and I said I was. The girl said they would begin boarding about 5 minutes past the time printed on the ticket so don’t worry if they don’t call it out because the flight will leave on time.

I stood there once again startled by the fact no other airline in history had ever bothered to so much as say hello to me from the gate desk if I didn’t walk up to it first, much less provide useful information unbidden. I decided to tempt fate. Sitting overlooking the plane at the gate I tweeted:


Well it only got better.  Inside the spacious Airbus were comfortable leather seats, each with its own detachable screen for watching movies and ordering food.  The flight staff were funny and nice, the food was actually fresh and quite tasty.  You can order it simply from your seat just as if you were in first class, and swipe your credit card through the reader at the bottom of the screen.  The in flight Internet service allowed all of us to keep up with the US/ENG soccer game.

To end this rave, I may never fly again to a place Virgin America doesn’t fly to. It’s like I’m a beaten spouse who has suddenly discovered relationships don’t have to be abusive.

The best part?  These are also the people WHO WILL BE SENDING HUMANS INTO SPACE NEXT YEAR!

Anyway, this is supposed to be about e3.

People sometimes ask me what the worst part of my job is. I think when they are asking me that they are secretly hoping I’ll kind of look a little tired or sad and confess to them that sure, it’s getting to work on the Xbox and LIVE but that’s it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. That there’s a price pay.

Except it’s 100% every single solitary god damned thing it’s cracked up to me, and more so. I don’t say that to brag.  I am incredibly lucky and fortunate and thankful to do what I do. Every single day I come to work and try to perform as if all the video games fans of the world were wanting me to earn it, because any one of them would kill to be in my place.

But there is one part that’s tough.  And that part is knowing about all the amazing things that we work on, but not getting to say a single thing for months, sometimes more than a year, at a time.

The Cirque Du Soleil event was a fantastic way to explore the new technology of Kinect.  I got to attend the dress rehearsal on Saturday night and the full event Monday night.  Our space ponchos made us look more than a little spacey.  But the ponchos lit up at key moments during the event, turning the entire audience into a big projection screen the artists controlled with hand gestures from the stage.  I can’t believe, to this minute, that we managed to get a troupe as prestigious as Cirque Du Soleil to launch our new technology.

Our keynote went off very well too.  There’s been some who felt i wasn’t “big” enough, but I think they fail to understand the audience we were speaking to for much of the keynote was far far larger than the hardcore video game individual.  With integration of Kinect experiences to the dash, and partnerships with ESPN, our console is clearly an entertainment device anyone can use now.  I know the hardcore gamers and jaded gamer press types don’t want anyone to get peanut butter in their chocolate, but that’s simply not the future of consoles.  It has to be more than just great first person shooters (of which we have some great ones in Gears of War 3, Halo: Reach, and the Call of Duty franchise)

The new Xbox 360 is a great evolution of the device.  Whisper quiet, sharp looking and sleek.  I love it.  I know I’m supposed to love it, but I love it beyond that.  The Kinect experiences shown at the keynote are real. Not only are they real, people will get to try them on the expo floor. I can’t say this enough: The product team for Xbox really delivered. We now have a controllerless experience that is useful, easy, and fun. The cheers and gasps of surprise and applause from the audience were well earned. And it was a huge load off my mind to finally see this stuff out there where you can all see it, because we’re just getting started.

My breakfast is done and Nintendo just plucked all my nostalgia heart strings with their keynote and I want to go play with a 3DS. I’ll come back with expo floor reports and another writeup soon.

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