Tales from E3: The industry shares its favorite stories

M. Night Shyamalan

Shannon Drake, account coordinator at Evolve PR

Several years back, I worked for the WarCry Network and handled all their E3 scheduling.

One of my writers had a meeting with a free-to-play game publisher looking to break into the U.S. market. I kept getting updates from my writer that the guy at the booth was very, very interested in meeting “Shannon” and was asking all sorts of questions about me and getting really personal. Like “Oooh, what kind of things does Shannon like?” and “Do you know if Shannon will be free for dinner?” and was absolutely adamant that I should come by the booth.

The M. Night Shyamalan-worthy twist is that I’m a dude, and the look on the guy’s face when I finally showed up to the booth confirmed he was unaware of this.

Corey Wade, partner at Sandbox Strategies

Here is how I remember it: It was E3 2005, and I was working for Rockstar Games. Microsoft had arranged a live gameplay tournament for the recently released Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition, which was to be hosted by Snoop Dogg.

On the surface, it was a good idea. The game had a lot of hip-hop tie-ins, and apparently the fee Microsoft was paying Snoop was going to a charity of his. There was a little arena-type area with bleachers Microsoft had set up in the Xbox booth, and they were doing similar tournaments for other games throughout the show.

Midnight Club 3: Dub Edition

Anyway, they packed people into the arena in anticipation of the tournament starting, but Snoop didn’t show up. Someone eventually found him wandering around the show floor with a huge crew of friends and hangers-on, predictably heavy-lidded. After over an hour, they herded him over to the tournament area where he got up on stage and quickly made it clear he’s not exactly sure why he’s there. Eventually, two kids started playing the game against each other, but one of the controllers came unplugged, and the race needed to be started over.

For some reason, this enraged Snoop, and he walked off the stage muttering profanities. A quick-thinking J Allard [then-"chief experience officer" at Microsoft] then saved the day by running up on stage and taking the mic, and everything proceed reasonably well from there.

No idea what Snoop did next.

Cliff Bleszinski, former lead designer at Epic Games

I used to wear what were, effectively, pimp suits to E3. Bright, flamboyant, you know the deal. Back then, I was thinner than a rail, and no matter how hard I tried, the suits always felt like they were my big brother’s.

GerardoOne time, I was coming out of one of the halls, and none other than Coolio comes up to me and starts going “Riiiicooooo Suuuuuuuaveeeee.” (If you both know who Coolio is and what that song is, then congrats, you’ve dated yourself.) He grabs my arm and pulls me over to a random booth babe and introduces me.

I wish I could give you a more interesting finale to this story, but I was so confused by the whole interaction that I just said “‘sup” to the confused girl and went to my next meeting.

There was also the time I brought Joss Whedon and Nathan Fillion around for a tour on the show floor. They’d never been, and they found the whole experience a bit overwhelming. This was the year when Epic had a special Nvidia theater previewing Unreal Engine 3, and we showed them that demonstration as well. Both of those guys are gentlemen and overall cool people. When we left the convention center with Joss, he said to me, “In the last 20 minutes, I just saw more creativity than I’ve seen in Hollywood lately.”

Chris Grant, editor-in-chief at Polygon

Back in 2006, while I was still at Joystiq and before mobile Internet was as fast and reliable as it is now, a crew of Joystiq writers set up shop at the closest Starbucks to our hotel so we could assist the liveblog crew — which was using our one mobile hotspot — and break out stories from Sony’s now-famous 2006 PlayStation 3 press conference.

When we pulled into the parking lot, we learned that this wasn’t the kind of Starbucks we expected; it was a micro-Starbucks tucked into the corner of a laundromat. Now, my memory of that press conference in all its meme-worthiness — from Ridge Racerrrrrr to giant enemy crabs to “five hundred and ninety-nine U.S. dollars” — brings up equally fond memories of working for a scrappy “blog” doing everything we could to keep a solid Internet connection.

Also, that was the last time I saw a Starbucks in a laundromat.

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