Direct From SF — 10 Years Of Attending E3

In just a few days, I’ll be touching down in Los Angeles.

Yes, it’s that time of year again, where thousands of folks from the Bay Area pack their bags and prepare for a week of sleepless nights covering E3.

This year’s E3 holds a special place in my heart, actually.

Next week, I’ll have attended E3 a whopping 10 times.

That’s a hard one to swallow, even for me. For 10 years now, I’ve battled with both high school and college professors to move finals around so that I could participate in what once was gaming’s biggest annual expo. Year in and year out, I managed to convince academia that E3 was worth pushing an important test back a few days.

E3 1998 was an important one, too. It’s where the near-final “Half-Life” amazed showgoers, the first trailer for the original “Prey” was shown, “Duke Nukem Forever” made an impressive appearance and Hideo Kojima wowed games with a look at his genre-defining “Metal Gear Solid.” I vaguely remember seeing the trailer.

At the time, I was 13. That’s ridiculous, right? I’ve always told people I was 15 at the time. But the math doesn’t lie. Just after becoming a teenager, I’d wrangled my Dad into flying into Atlanta, Georgia (where E3 was held twice before settling into the Los Angeles area for a long stretch) as a writer for the long-defunct website Gamerz Online.

It’s hard to find too much information about E3 1998 on the web. In 1998, online video game writing was still largely figuring itself out. But it was also the most dominant time for fan-run websites. Anyone could open up an HTML editor and become a writer. That’s still true today, but the competition (and talent) is much fiercer than it was 10 years ago.

The Armchair Empire says E3 1998 was where Sega started talking about the Dreamcast, showing off the famous Tower of Babel tech demo. Additionally, “Myth II,” “Oddworld: Abe’s Exodus,” “Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver,” “Magical Ray Earth,” “Fallout 2″ and “Heretic II” were some of the biggest games at the show. There are several personal favorites on that list. Fittingly, “Diablo II” was there, as well. Oh, and the debut of “Pokemon”!

It looks like E3 1998 was far more important than I remember it. That’s probably because I was so enamored with walking around and soaking in the energy than paying attention.

E3 has, for better or worse, radically changed in the last 10 years. It is no longer a circus. I miss that part of it. It’s one of the reasons I was so wide-eyed about games writing. Games Convention in Germany captures some of that energy, and I’ve heard the Tokyo Game Show does, as well.

Maybe it’s time to start saving for a trip to Japan.

[Image Credits: 3D Realms]