Funny To A Point – The Games Of E3 That No One Else Played

by Jeff Marchiafava on Jun 17, 2016 at 10:00 AM

E3 provides readers with a frenzied week of news, previews, and videos, but not every title gets its moment in the spotlight. For this week's column I'll be looking at six "games" that I can guarantee no else played at E3 except me, along with some pictures from the trip. You're welcome!

If I look grumpy in this picture, it's only because I had eaten literally nothing but donuts and pizza for two straight days. I don't know what Cork's excuse is though...

#6: Tetris
I played a pseudo match of this classic puzzler the night before my flight by trying to cram as much crap as I possibly could into my backpack and suitcase. The key to packing for a big work trip? Redundancy. What if I were to lose a contact lens? I can't stagger around L.A. half-blind for a week – better bring a backup pair. What if I lose one of those too? Better pack a backup for the backup. What if I lose one on the plane, and all my spares are in my suitcase because TSA doesn't trust that I haven't filled my lens solution bottle with rocket fuel or some other highly combustible liquid? Better throw a third set in my carry-on. And my glasses.

I repeat this process for everything on my packing super list: from pens (6) and notepads (3) to USB cables (2), and the all-important Emergency Pants – because not packing them is pretty much asking fate for some kind of diarrhea fit. Packing every conceivable item for every conceivable situation is really just a coping mechanism for the anxieties of traveling, and finding room for it all is a cinch if you've played a billion rounds of Tetris in your life.

I don't know what possessed Kyle to turn the previous image into a fake album cover, but you can expect The Jeffs' first single, "Whachoo lookin' at?!" later this summer.

#5: Papers, Please
This one's mandatory for anyone unfortunate enough to find themselves in an american airport, and the length of a game session is frustratingly inconsistent. Minneapolis' Humphrey terminal exists in a state known as a quantum superposition – it simultaneously contains a massive, slow-moving security line that will take you half a day to get through, and no line at all. Like Schrodinger's cat, it's not until you arrive at the airport and observe the terminal for yourself that one of the states materializes in our reality. I once got to Humphrey just under an hour before my flight was scheduled to leave, and security was so backed up that I had to run to the gate. Last Saturday, however, I got to the airport three hours early – and strolled through security in five minutes flat.

2K's free-throw court had a consistently long line of gamers waiting to publicly humiliate themselves.

#4: Crazy Taxi
In London, cabbies have to take a test known as "The Knowledge" before they can become licensed drivers. Passing the notoriously demanding exam requires committing London's 25,000 streets and 1,400 landmarks to memory, so they don't have to rely on a map when driving passengers. In Los Angeles, taxi drivers ask you to hand them your phone so they can copy the address of your destination into their 30-year-old GPS box, then rocket through the city at speeds that would make Evil Knievel pucker up. As with previous years, the taxi ride in from LAX was a stomach-churning reminder that the only thing separating Los Angeles from a Mad Max film is a Thunderdome. Actually, considering how nauseating taxi rides in L.A. are, maybe this entry would be better compared to VR.

The view from our hotel window pretty much sums up my feelings for Los Angeles...

#3: The Sims
Staying in a hotel for a week isn't like playing The Sims as much as it is being a Sim – you instantly move into your tiny new home while some mystical, unseen being worries about your comfort, hygiene, and environmental stats. Picking the right roommate for E3 is serious business; you don't want to share your bedroom with a despot like Dan Ryckert – not to mention your bathroom. This year I paired with Jeff Cork, who is an excellent roommate...even if his snoring makes me miss my parents' pugs.  

Behold the Game Informer E3 booth, in all its cubicle-like glory!

#2 Prison Simulator
Contrary to popular belief, E3 isn't just an endless series of game demos and parties. In fact, we at G.I. spend the first two days holed up in our tiny booth covering the developer press conferences, while the convention center's staff does its best to time the excessively loud construction to the most exciting game announcements. It's only a matter of time until everyone loses their minds, starts telling horrendously unfunny jokes, and begins plotting our mass escape. Not that it would take much to break through the booth's cardboard walls...

Every year a publisher puts up mirror decals in the convention center's bathroom. Why they want their game to be associated with the room you poop and pee in, I don't know – but I'm the one taking pictures in a public restroom, so I suppose I shouldn't judge...

#1: Don't Sh-- Your Pants (yes, that's a real game)
I don't know if it's the show, the food, or just L.A., but when it comes to staying healthy at E3, I'm batting .500. Granted, I've never actually had to use my Emergency Pants (their protective powers work just by carrying them around in my backpack), but just about every other year I seem to come down with something gross ailment. During my first E3, Microsoft's seizure-inducing freak show for Project Natal gave me such a terrible migraine that I threw up right after writing this gonzo account of the evening. A few years later I ate a plate of curry that, had I not spent all night puking it all up, probably would've burrowed out of my stomach like a baby xenomorph (I still can't eat curry to this day). This year I got off easy – a head cold caused me to start losing my voice the night we recorded the podcast, but I've managed to keep all my food on the inside, so I'm considering it a victory. Still, when the zombie apocalypse happens, I'm pretty sure E3 will be ground zero.

Despite my trials, tribulations, and flat-out neuroses, E3 is an annual trip I don't take for granted. The show is a chance to catch up with industry friends, hang out with my coworkers outside of work, and see and talk about the next big games the industry has to offer. E3 is challenging, exhausting, and a hell of a lot of fun. I hope you enjoy our content as much as we enjoy making it for you. Until next year!