Imagine the room around you spiraling inward as soothing celesta music transports you to a distant time and place. You’re in LA. It’s 2006 and you’ve just walked onto the E3 show floor. The crowds are buzzing with excitement for the Wii and the DS Lite. Jokes about the PS3’s $600 price tag are circulating, but anticipation of Sony’s powerhouse is hardly damaged. Flashing lights and costumed women accompany lavish displays of the slickest technology in the games industry. You are happy.
Now cue a cymbal crash and tumultuous drum solo. The splendor of E3 ’06 fades away and you’re in 2007… then 2008. You’re no longer at the Electronic Entertainment Expo – you’re at the “E3 Media and Business Summit.” The beautiful displays are gone. No one gives a crap about the Wii, Sony can’t stop talking about the PS2, and Microsoft is actually the highlight of the show. You frantically search for the exit and… find it easily, there are no crowds to fight, no cosplayers, no swarming booths...
Quick! Come back to the real world before you're crushed with despair! E3 may have become a giant suckfest, but there are alternatives. The following seven conventions are today's best gaming get-togethers.
What it has that E3 doesn’t
Try everything. Comic-Con International is packed with the fans and creators of just about everything we love. What began as a 300 person get-together in 1970 now attracts over 100,000 exhibiters and fans. It's geeky pop culture at its finest.
Above: Psychedelic Stormtrooper is cool and all, but the choice is obvious
While not technically just a games convention, Comic-Con contains enough gaming content to count (don’t let the name deceive you, the convention’s original focus on comics has expanded to include just about every aspect of geekdom). 2008's exhibiters included Electronic Arts, D3, Ubisoft, SCEA, and SOE, among others.
When? Where? Can I go?
Comic-Con International happens every year in San Diego. The next one’s July 23 – 26 at the San Diego Convention center. Four day passes are currently on sale for 2009 at $75 apiece. You may also want to check out WonderCon, the same organization’s San Francisco convention.