E3: E, cubed. 2011. Part 1. A Song of Things. Book One. A Thing of Songs.

I stepped out of The Original Pantry Cafe into a cold LA night. The wind was up and the sky was a white fog lit by….well lit by LA. A helicopter buzzed over, on it’s way to some important thing. In the distance I could see the JW Marriot as a gleaming tower into the sky, and just off to the left my own hotel a few blocks away. It was like Blade Runner. Coming to LA is always like Blade Runner.


My friends were all around me making their plans to get to bed safe, and I bid them farewell as I walked towards my own temporary respite just down the way. I’d just gotten into A Song of Fire and Ice: Game of Thrones: Book One.  A terribly fantastic book that has a fantastically terrible name for a book series. But I was tired beyond belief, and wanted to read a chapter or two before bed.

It’s late, and I looked at the blue neon of the Marriot climbing into the sky, just high enough to touch the smog line. The wind reminded me it’s unseasonably cold as the street people pled for money just outside the place where I stuffed myself on late night breakfast.

I never do this, since I was attacked a few years ago by a homeless person while I was giving money to another homeless person…but I handed the nearest person my last ten dollars as I walked back to the hotel.

All the pre-e3 presentations had been done: Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo. Every time I come here I marvel that that I’m in any way a part of it. E and I had been a part of the GiantBomb podcast earlier along with Jonathan Blow (Creator of Braid) and Gary Whitta (Author of Book of Eli as well as the new Penny Arcade partner on The New Kid).  We were laughing earlier at the Internet forum denizens proclaiming us mindless Microsoft shills. That keeps you grounded I suppose. A shill?  If I could count the number of times my (actually quite nice and awesome) PR team had butted heads for a dime I would be dimes richer.

For my part I was happy about our part, excited about the Vita more than I thought I would be, and the Wii U I thought was a bold maneuver in the crazy world that is the console wars. For titles, Uncharted 3 looked to be amazing and the video of modern titles running on a Nintendo platform had me seriously happy as a gamer. Battlefield 3, Modern Warfare 3, Skyrim, and Bioshock Infinite were my MUST SEE titles.

Wandering back to the hotel, I was puzzled by the Internet reaction to the Giantbombcast. I loved sitting on a couch, chatting with a noted screen writer and author, my friend Eric, the creator of a game I admired muchly, and the GiantBomb guys who held us accountable but also let us talk our side as well. Why would people assume we were shills when we spent so much time talking about games specifically and the fact there were certainly shortcomings in our platform?

Ah well, on the Internet forums no one knows you are a dog.

The whip of the wind brought me back for a moment. Earlier I had been in the Microsoft briefing room at the Galen Theater.  The pomp part and the grandeur are hard to deal with sometimes when you realize you’re a gamer who worked on the things being announced. To have such a spectacle unfold around your efforts and the efforts of people you respected is both a gratification and a surreal moment you can’t quite deal with.

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There was a lot of complaint about Kinect from the Internet-erati.  That’s ok.  If anything I’ve learned those most invested religiously in a platform are the ones most likely to hate announcements in regards to that platform if it doesn’t fit their narrow usage scenario. Good thing for them no one is going to turn off their Xbox controllers or anything!  And for those 10 million people who bought Kinects, well we were working on making that even better for them. We demo’d Kinect sitting down, Kinect sideways, new titles, hardcore titles, Bing voice search, TV, so many things to mention. So many things I had been dying to talk about for the past year, and now I could.  We’d made good.

A taxi honked at a passing car.

I actually don’t like LA. Well that’s not fair, I dislike some parts of it. Like any large city as culturally significant as LA I have come to only be exposed to those parts most people identify with because they are the parts most utilized. But downtown, all the stereotypes ring true here: The smoggy skyline, the ersatz body type that attempts to trade fitness for anorexia, the traffic, the impression that everyone who is here is only here to "get somewhere" in life.

It’s not really fair to judge a city by that, I know for a fact there’s places in LA where I have spent time with my friends that I really like. There’s a lot of my friends who live in the area I wasn’t able to see because of the chaos of timing that is E3.

So now as I observe my notes from the moment, they are from 3 am and even in downtown LA there wasn’t a car on the street. The intersection at 7th and Figueroa switched its lights and walk/don’t walk signs without regard. I had no reason to feel melancholy or alone, and I didn’t. I just felt odd as walked.

The past two days as I look at the scribbles of that moment, have been a blur. 48 hours have passed since my landing.  I’ve watched our announcements of new Kinect capabilities and new titles and work that over the past 12 months has coalesced into what I think is an incredibly solid delivery on promises of what Kinect could do, the Internet reaction cast aside.

I finalize this in the past, and post it in the future.  In my e3 timeline, tomorrow I will see Skyrim.  I will hold a Vita in my hands and play with it.  On my last day I will have a private demo of Bioshock Infinite.  These are the things I have planned.

I can say they came true. And I will speak of them tomorrow.

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