Surviving E3 2012

Whether or not E3 is still the games industry’s foremost gathering, or whether that honor has been usurped by shows like GDC or PAX, one thing about E3 remains true every year: It’s nuts. Whether you’re an exhibitor or a reporter, you can expect to run yourself ragged, staying on your feet for hours on end, scrambling to meet your various appointments while trying to wedge in just one more meeting in between the big presentations. Then, you’ll try to see just how much socializing you can do while trying to finish the rest of your workload that evening — assuming the Wi-Fi works in your hotel room — and convince yourself that 4 hours of sleep will be enough to let you get up and do it all again the next day.

This pattern of self-inflicted abuse is true for most conventions and expos, of course, but the brutal traffic of Los Angeles and the mainstream appeal of the biggest names in gaming makes E3 especially trying for even the most seasoned attendee. Thankfully, your friends at TriplePoint are here with another helpful set of tips and reminders to help ease the pain of next week’s quagmire.

Assemble a Survival Kit

Many of these tips may seem like no-brainers, but you’d be surprised how often one overlooks the obvious. Don’t get complacent; double and triple-check your preparations when you pack. There are some items without which your experience will go from difficult to deadly. Do not forget…

  • Anti-Bacterial Hand Gel (Avoid the convention plague!)
  • Refillable Water Bottle and Portable Snacks (e.g. granola bars). Do not count on booths to feed you; you don’t know when/if you’ll eat during the day.
  • Device Chargers. Keep these with you. You won’t want to return to the hotel to juice up your laptop or phone if it runs out.
  • Business Cards: You will always need more than you think. Stuff your pockets.
  • Shoe Insoles and Eyedrops, for the man or woman who is on their feet and staring at monitors for 10 straight hours.
  • Breath mints. Just… breath mints.
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Treat Your Phone Right

On the convention floor, your smartphone is your very best friend, giving you access to things like your schedule, your email, and more. You can expect to use it constantly, making it vital to keep it charged. As mentioned earlier, you’ll want to keep your charger on hand, but here are a few more tips for effective phone use during E3:

  • Download the official E3 app. Exhibitor directories, convention center maps, and shuttle schedules, all in one place, without having to lug around a paper guide.
  • Whenever possible, put your phone into airplane mode. Connections inside the convention center are atrocious, and trying to repeatedly connect to Wi-Fi will consume your battery like a ravenous electrical shrew.
  • Put the phone numbers and email addresses of all your intended contacts in your phone before the show. BEFORE.
  • Use your phone to make a note of your room number at your hotel. The credit-card-style magnetic keys given out at most hotels do not have the number on them.
  • Not sure which parties to hit during the evening? Check foursquare. People still use that.

Be Your Best, Prepare for the Worst

Finally, once you’ve finished with your material preparations, it’s time to go through your mental checklist. Though we in the gaming industry tend to stay in constant contact through our many tweets and emails, it’s the in-person gatherings like E3 that really resonate and create lasting impressions. Don’t be “that guy” this year, and remember the following:

  • Nobody can remember everything, not even you. Take physical notes on a notebook, lest you forget your preview impressions or your client’s directives after a long night of drinking.
  • Getting from place to place takes longer than you think, due to traffic both on and off the show floor. Always allow a window of 30-60 minutes when promising to meet someone for a meal, or a party, or a long night of drinking.
  • Prepare for some amount of disappointment: sometimes, not every appointment can be kept, and not every meeting will go off as planned. No matter how important your website or company is, someone is going to miss something with you at least once. You will usually get over this after a long night of drinking.
  • KNOW YOUR LIMITS. E3 can be a great time, with long nights of drinking, but if you’re going to party, be ready for the consequences. Nobody will care about the fellow out at 4 A.M. getting hammered — but everyone will remember the moron who missed his meetings because he was hung over.

Get your gear in order, check your schedule just one last time, and print out your boarding passes. See you next week at E3!