E3 2011 – What We Learned

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Well, that was exhausting.

We made it through another E3. We played and demoed over fifty upcoming games. We sat through press conferences, survived parties, met dozens of brilliant people and talked about the world of videogames to the point of exhaustion. But beyond just the games each of us enjoyed, there were plenty of other lessons to be learned during our week in Los Angeles. We would like to share this knowledge with you.

We learned…

The best place to eat breakfast in Downtown L.A. is the Original Pantry.

That LAX is a gaping maw into the pits of hell.

Catwoman is 10 times cooler than Batman. Sure, Batman can fly around, but nothing quite beats Catwoman picking everyone’s pocket. Yes, she could pick ours too.

Our flight home had less turbulence than our hotel elevator.

What the opposite of Jumping the Shark is.

The question was raised on Thursday night, after the show was over when a group of us had gathered at our hotel bar for drinks and we were discussing everything from Tactics Ogre to anthropology when someone wondered why there wasn’t a clever idiom for when a mediocre show gets good. (Jumping the Shark, for those of you who somehow don’t already know, is a phrase used to describe when something becomes so ridiculous it is no longer possible to enjoy it. It gets its name from the infamous episode of Happy Days in which Fonzie, on water skis, literally jumps over a shark – possibly one of the most idiotic moments in the history of television).

Thus, the debate began. The question was put out on Twitter, but most of the respondents couldn’t get past the source material and regurgitated back shark themed crap. The best we came up with on our own was Bobbing the Couch, referring to the creeptacular scene in Twin Peaks when Killer Bob climbs over the couch.

When Stu Googled ‘opposite of Jumping the Shark’ on his phone, we learned the internet had beaten us to it. The accepted term for the moment when a mediocre show becomes great is Growing the Beard, in reference to Commander Riker growing his in Season Two of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Thank you, internet.

Growing the Beard

We also learned…

We can drink like Australians if we want to…but we can’t wake up like Australians.

People actually can jump in Los Angeles and it is easy to get up most curbs.

That Jack Tretton doesn’t apologize very well. Or Sony doesn’t apologize very well. Or the people who write the copy don’t do apologies very well.

Downtown L.A. is 50% less attractive once E3 is over.

That games like Prey 2 may look awesome, but upon further inspection might be an illusion.

How can you really tie the story of the first Prey to Prey 2? The original Prey was the story of a Native American – there was spirit walking and a Blue Oyster Cult song. Prey 2 is about an air marshal on a plane that crashes during the events of the first game. He blacks out for two years and wakes up to find he’s been making a living as a bounty hunter on another planet (go on, let that sentence really sink in).

They took a footnote from the first game and created a sequel out of it. I think they may have tacked the idea of a Prey sequel on to some kind of half-built sci-fi shooter at the last minute. Why is everything a spiritual successor these days, a la Bioshock Infinite? Prey 2 looks cool, it but would be a lot more believable if it were called Mace Griffin: Bounty Hunter 2.

Kick ass trailer though…

We learned…

The best seats in the Nokia Theater are all the way in the back. We had outlets for our Twitter-happy cellphones and cameras.

Tanks make everything more interesting.

That an egg sandwich is a foreign concept in the Los Angeles Convention Center food court.

Mexican Coca-Cola really does taste different.

That every word Shigeru Miyamoto says at Nintendo’s press events comes straight from a teleprompter.

Here’s a good bet: He never saw it until he walked to the front of the Nokia Theater. No wonder he always looks so surprised. Regardless, whoever writes those speeches tends to leave little details out – and perhaps that surprises Miyamoto too.

You know, like the fact that in all likelihood, you’ll only get one snazzy touchscreen controller with your Wii U. Or that you’ll still have to keep your Blu-Ray player around because Nintendo refuses to integrate a nice video player. Or the fact that the Wii U will apparently carry a graphics processor that doesn’t come close to blowing the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 out of the water – meaning we’ll still see plenty of ugly-looking games like Conduit 2 [Editor’s Note: I guess that’s why they were using Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 gameplay footage in those demo reels…].

Or maybe they actually did say that at Nintendo’s press event – but everyone was too full of Kool-Aid to realize it.

Wii U

We also learned that…

There is never enough Kobe beef for Shabu Shabu.

The most valuable thing you can ever pick up at E3 is that trusty little magazine with the entire convention layout in it. Shame we didn’t grab it until Wednesday.

The cops in Los Angeles are one of two extremes – really helpful or wife-beating insane.

Tomb Raider

We learned that mysterious islands are still satisfyingly mysterious in a post-Lost world.

Both the Tomb Raider reboot and Far Cry 3 are set on remote jungle islands filled with crazy people and mysterious ruins. We are pleased to report that, rather than make us roll our eyes, we dig it – further proof the Lost was on to something before it went completely off the rails.

Finally, speaking of Lost, we learned that we can’t wait to go back…


by Stu Horvath, Charles Francis Moran VI and Ebenezer Samuel