Eyes wide with excitement, they rushed forward, overcome by the myriad audiovisual stimuli vying for their attention as the doors beneath the banner reading “Welcome to the Electronic Entertainment Expo” swung open. Gaming industry journalists and analysts stood aside, taking in the annual tradition playfully referred to as “The Running of the Nerds.” With that, the show of the year for the video game industry was officially underway.
Hosted annually in late spring or early summer, the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is the interactive entertainment industry’s opulent celebration of itself. For one week, gaming names big and small converge to deliver one message to the world: “We matter.” That’s difficult to argue with market research group NPD having revealed earlier this year that consumer spending on gaming in 2011 exceeded $16 billion.
E3 used to be a sideshow, not a main attraction. Before gaming reached the mainstream success it enjoys today, it was something of a freak show. “Come see the geeks with their silly little games …” was essentially the message.
Those days are long gone. Gaming has grown during the past 15 years, and its industry show has grown with it.
And so the crowd of diverse ages and backgrounds stormed the gates, salivating over what lay beyond. Once the eager 45,000 or so squeezed through the doors, anyone strolling through the Los Angeles Convention Center was assaulted by bass pumping from speakers inside multimillion-dollar booths. If the stereos went to an 11 setting, then their volume dials had almost certainly been turned there and broken off.