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Remembering E3

The stuff we're leaving behind. Sniff.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

E3 is dead. Finished. Well, it's changing anyway - but who can resist a bit of summery hyperbole? Not us. Organisers the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) have decided to reshape it into something more intimate and less vast, expensive and sweltering. The result will be a show that still draws the industry together in Los Angeles, but "the emphasis will be on press events and small meetings between media, retail and development". You can certainly kiss goodbye to the phalanxes of booth babes, burgers and the bewildering sight of America's Army rolling around the entrance press-ganging the press gang into gawping at its hardware.

Everyone's experience of E3 is different. Eurogamer's lived through several, of course. We started attending properly a few years ago, and during that time we've been through more press conferences, parties and punishing late-night writing sessions than we care to remember. But there are plenty of things we do care to remember. So as the industry mourns the passing of the old-format show, we got together and came up with a list of some of our cherished memories. Iconic elements of E3's recent history intermingled with our own, which sum the show up for us, and prove that however much we moan about Los Angeles (and the concrete Convention Centre in particular), we will still miss it - and for more than just the games.

The Saddle Ranch - Even the discovery of Fatburger and BK's Triple Whopper struggle to dislodge the giant steaks, even bigger potatoes and "RIDE THE BULL" rhetoric from the list's culinary component. Although having sampled the Tokyo Game Show's teriyaki, elegant seafood and boiled vegetables we're well aware it's a guilty pleasure - and perfectly aligned to the show as a result.

Duke Nukem Forever - That amazing trailer. A timely demonstration that 3D Realms still had the talent to rival id Software, Valve and other contemporaries for pomp and programming. Yep, E3 2001's highlight probably.

The time we nearly didn't get the plane - Perched in LAX, we decided to hit the bar. Unfortunately, we really did hit the bar. Corona after Corona, washed down with Wild Turkey, saw us swapping stories until well after the plane had boarded and the barman had told us firmly that these were our last drinks. The editor, not wanting to be left behind, grabbed up his gear, and in the process sent a shower of glass from the half-drunk bottle he'd just clobbered flying all over the place. Not waiting to see what happened, your humble narrator simply legged it. We got home in one piece, albeit a very sore one.

Not the healthiest profession in the world.

Pitch invasion! - The first time the Super Smash Bros intro was shown for GameCube. The conference was held up because film crews stormed the stage to get shots of GameCube in a glass case.

The Sky Bar - One of our pals seeing Craig David's "private parts" in the Sky Bar. In fact, the Sky Bar in general was a highlight. Long live Microsoft expense accounts.

"I've no idea what he said. Say something about new features." Note to interpreters: we sometimes retranslate interviews ourselves after the show.

J Allard - In our various guises we've accosted him countless times. And he's always been deliciously indiscreet. Most memorably when he assembled the hacks for drinks one evening, bellowed "are you ready to get f*****?!" and started handing out cocktails. Pat: "Allard was completely ruined, and ended up grinding his arse into my crotch in a Hollywood club. That was the first year I'd given up drinking." We can't print the stories about the other ones.

The Kentia Hall - Some of us have still never been in there.

Being punched in the head by cameramen - We've a newfound respect for them after launching Eurogamer TV, but we still owe them a slap. Alas: never to happen.

Reggie Fils-Aime - "I'm Reggie." So you are. "I'm all about kicking ass and chewing bubblegum - and I'm all out of gum." He may have descended into caricature (and climbed the corporate ladder) since, but his E3 debut - in front of hordes of slavering fanboys at the unveiling of Nintendo DS - was difficult to forget, or top.

We sword this!

The Master Sword - Although Shigeru Miyamoto managed it when he emerged from darkness onto the stage wielding a Master Sword and shield. He was completely mobbed.

Giant enemy crab! Giant enemy crab! - And Riiiiidge Racer! Sony's most recent press conference went down pretty badly with the assembled hacks (even the PRs could be heard muttering indiscreetly about its content), but it did at least result in some of the best YouTube mash-ups ever witnessed. A minute they'd rather forget.

Drunken uncle at a wedding - Microsoft's learned a lot about how to do E3 since it first got into this, but we're hardly going to talk about the high points, are we? 2005's three amigos were symbolic of a brand trying too hard. 2006's quieter, more conservative outing in West Hollywood was the sort of turned corner that Sony will be looking for next year.

Air conditioning - A rare thing, but always welcome. "Can we turn off the AC?" a cameraman asked in an interview we were in once. As the PR started towards it, the subject interjected: "So my options are sweating myself to death on camera or battling to be heard? I'll take my f***** chances."

John Romero and the N-Gage dancers - Reduced to "proudly" demonstrating the N-Gage version of Red Faction, Romero surprised attendees with his diminutive stature and total inability to get anyone excited about his new project. A hilariously serious presentation of the N-Gage price and date followed, with a procession of earnest dancers really "feeling" the occasion. It was horrible. People still talk about it.

Johnny getting sent home - Refused entry to the US, handcuffed, held for 17 hours in appalling conditions in LAX and sent home in shame. We hired him as soon as possible, obviously.

The costumes.

The whooping - Us Brits used to sit in silence at press conferences staggered by the applause and shouting. At times it was like being at a pop concert. Obviously we held ourselves to a higher standard and just got drunk instead.

Our days off - Why shop for expensive tat when you can go to a firing range on the way to the airport? In Inglewood.

The costumes - Not just the women, obviously (although this wouldn't be much of an E3 list without them), but the outfits in general. Forget hotpants; give us a crazy vampire who leaps at people, Duke Nukem and countless blokes dressed as monsters.

EA's enormous panoramic screen - Apparently they just cart it around wherever they go, giving EA's stand an immediate recognition factor. It's always a warren of secret back rooms and stairways with logos plastered everywhere. Quite why EA would moan about E3 costs, if indeed they did, is unknown - after all, surely they just have to stick an '07' on everything and then go home?

Sweating for Madden - There were five-hour queues for the Nintendo Wii demo at one stage. It was like queuing for the gym - and the atmosphere inside the Nin-tent was "heated". We pitied the hired help. "Please use the handstrap," we were told dryly. "We've already had one guy throw the controller at the screen, and another hit someone in the head standing on the other side of the room." It's the Nintendo difference.

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