I haven't been to Los Angeles to see the big E3 video game show since 2001, so I thought I would fly down for a day and take a look! It was fun, about what I remembered, very noisy, very flashy, tons of "booth babes" promoting things. Two games that I have contributed to were shown in the big EA theater/booth, "Godfather" and "From Russia With Love", which drew some nice crowds. It was hard to pick a single game that stole this year's show, though, it seemed like this was a year of anticipation of the amazing new hardware coming out this year and next, the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3, that will hopefully take video gaming to the next level.
One thing I noticed in particular was the rise of the female hero in games, it seemed like every single game shown featured a large-busted, scantily clad female hero in some capacity. This seemed to have started with Lara Croft a few years ago and it was kind of fun, but come on, it would be nice to see a few more new ideas in the game business.
Speaking of large-busted, scantily clad women, E3 is famous for shamelessly serving up dozens of impossibly-proportioned, always smiling "booth babes" to draw your attention to one product or another, and this year was no exception. The single funniest example of this I found was a company promoting something called "Conquest", who spelled out their business strategy across the front of well-endowed girls' T-shirts. Namco had a lively group of girls who danced and threw swag to the cheering crowd as well.
The lighting at E3 is pure hell for photographers. It is very, very dark, with the occasional bright spotlight (sometimes colored) beaming down from directly overhead. Being unable to bring my flash unit in my small carryon, I resorted to shooting everything at ISO 800, 1600, or even 3200 without flash.
So, please forgive the dark eye sockets and occasional grainy look, I was able to get a few usable shots here and there even with the difficult conditions. I'm happy to report the girls were all friendly and professional, they always had a nice smile and a pose ready for anyone who happened by.
There was some celebrity presence at the show, I personally saw actor Richard Dean "MacGyver" Anderson give a talk on his latest efforts, and several of the Wayans Brothers were promoting a game. I'm told actor Sinbad and comic book legend Stan Lee were also there but I did not personally see them.
Microsoft's new console, the Xbox 360, was quite visible around the floor, they had playable demos of several upcoming Xbox 360 games, most of which looked really good in high definition, it's really going to be a big step up from the previous generation. I'm going to assume important announcements were made regarding the new consoles, I can't be sure though since with the nonstop throbbing music I couldn't actually hear any words spoken on the floor. I didn't see the Playstation 3, although there were quite a few promotional posters around the floor for it, I suspect next year will be the big show for that console. On the right are the different faceplates available to customize your Xbox 360 to suit different lifestyles.
Korean company NCSoft had a good-sized presence at the show, with their Lineage II, Guild Wars, and other games. Richard Garriott's "Tabula Rasa" was mentioned on a poster there but I didn't see it anywhere on the floor.
In between product demos, NCSoft had a performance art group called "Mutation" (Because evolution is too slow) doing some interesting athletic dancing while juggling flames and such.
ATI and nVidia were both at the show promoting their latest PC technology and their roles in the upcoming next generation consoles. ATI had their "Ruby" girls, while nVidia featured Star Wars characters in their area.
It's funny to see the different strategies companies use to get attention for their products. Some take the high road, some take the low road, I wonder how much of a successful E3 booth translates into sales of products.
EA had their usual prime position right at the entrance to the main hall, with a 360-degree theater showing demos of the latest games that constantly drew nice crowds. The huge Sean Connery painting drew my attention first. Also showing were the sports and racing games and the Sims.
Godfather had a lot more behind the scenes, visible to the public they had a giant Brando movie poster and a 360 degree 3D-rendered movie with scenes from the original Godfather film.
There must be a Chronicles of Narnia game coming out as well, they had nice set pieces like this minotaur.
There were quite a few military games at the show, from America's Army to Call of Duty, and several others, looks like realistic military shooters are really in this year. The crime genre was also big, the Scarface game was being promoted although they recently announced a delay to 2006.
Overall it was a fun show, a bit lower key perhaps than in some years, this is a transition year so companies are in the difficult position of balancing their promotions between last generation's games and the next generation. Since the next generation won't likely take over until next year, they need to get one more year's revenue out of some tired platforms. I expect next year will be dominated with amazing demos of what the new consoles can do when developers have had time to work on them a while.
These girls (in aqua) were promoted as twins, they were working with a photographer who would shoot people posing with them in front of a green screen which would be replaced with a fantasy setting on a computer and then printed out.
This girl (in pink and black) was part of the "Singles 3" booth, it looked like some kind of reality show/Sims takeoff where you observe single girls living together in an apartment, she had kind of an interesting Avril Lavigne look.
This girl (in red) is trying to look aloof, since she's playing a Roman goddess promoting the "Gods and Heroes: Rome Rising" MMO, which I actually worked on very briefly a bit last year.
This is Antonia Bayle from EverQuest 2, really nice model but the lighting was savage, I could not get a really good shot of her without those harsh shadows.
Sony Online Entertainment had a decent booth with girls and some kind of castle thing with a giant screen monitor, it must be quite annoying for their flagship EverQuest line to have been eclipsed in sales by Blizzard's World of Warcraft so quickly, though.
This was a nice new Batmobile from the upcoming movie "Batman Begins".