My first time as an adult in Los Angeles, I felt I gained a new understanding of American culture. Having grown up and lived outside of New York City my entire life, it is second nature for my brain to wrap around Ghostbusters and Batman and Grand Theft Auto IV but now Chinatown, Factotum and the O.J. Simpson trial suddenly made a lot more sense.
The thing I didn’t understand about Los Angeles until this trip is that you are really only a couple of turns away from actually living through something that could be made into a movie or a book. Like last Tuesday night, for instance.
The show floor and the press conferences are only half of the E3 experience. Equally important are the parties, which start immediately after the doors close on the convention center and end in the early hours of the morning. Even the people who aren’t attending the bashes thrown by publishers and PR companies are getting dinner with friends new and old, or clustering in hotel bars. Like any kind of conference, E3 is about meeting people.
Chuck and I met up with Peter Rubin from Complex Magazine and headed over to a little cocktail hour set up by Complex’ advertising people at Rivera. Despite the delicious rum punch, lamb chops and an amusing conversation about how Complex and Saint’s Row are perfect for each other, we didn’t know anyone and the focus wasn’t really on videogames. We moved on before too long to the Bender Helper Impact party, conveniently located directly across the street at El Cholo.
There we found Mexican food, margaritas (in raspberry, pomegranate and mango) and more videogame conversations than you could shake a taco at. We were also supposed to find Unwinnable and Complex contributor Ebenezer Samuel there as well. Since one of our BHI PR folks was keen to meet him, we generally wound up talking about Eb, his
writing and his extremely fit physique. Then, around 8pm, we got a text from him that read, “In hospital tonight. Meet up with you guys tomorrow. Looooong story.”
That was the point the night started to go strange.
Did we go to the hospital to make sure Eb was all right? Nah – we got in a cab and headed off to Hollywood, for the Bethesda Softworks party at Saddle Ranch. There, more free drinks and conversation waited. Also, a mechanical bull.
In hospital tonight. Meet up with you guys tomorrow. Looooong story.
We elbowed our way to the bar and settled in. Chuck had a chat with Veronica Belmont while Peter and I discussed our gaming habits. Conventional wisdom is that, due to the cab ride to Hollywood (which is both lengthy and expensive), Saddle Ranch is the last stop on the Tuesday party itinerary. Our intention was to stay there and make a night of it, returning to the rooms at a reasonable hour and level of sobriety.
Then we turned around and saw Sam the Party Man standing there.
Flashback to Monday afternoon. Chuck, Eb and I had just gotten past security at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena for the Sony press conference. Before us was a network of bar tents and food trucks that stopped us in our tracks for a moment of contemplation. A voice interrupted us before we could decide on a course of action. It said, “You guys look like you need a drink.” It was Sam, red headed, grinning and with a beer in his hand.