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E3 Unsuspecting
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posted by: Aaron Stanton
date posted: 12:00 AM Sat May 15th, 2004
last revision: 12:00 AM Sat May 15th, 2004

About a month of ago, I got a call from my editor. I'd spent that morning getting an early start packing for this year's E3, which meant I had printed instructions on how to short sheet beds, a list of how to identify bad Chinese food before ordering delivery (there were issues last year), and a little stone statue of my editor I was going to bow to three times a day during the trip in an attempt to earn favor. I was making sure it would be casually visible when I unpacked down in L.A. as I answered the phone.

Hey, Aaron,? my editor said. You were planning on going to E3 this year, right??

Ooooooohhhh yeah,? I said, putting away a balloon that would, if I had my way, be filled with water and dropped on an unsuspecting hotel mate's head while they slept come May. Duffman is going to E3.?

Good, good,? my editor said, and I immediately became suspicious. Normally such an outburst would be replied to with a silence, a momentary pause that I've come to think of as his coming to grips with Aaron? time. Most people develop this sort of defense when they've been around me long enough, and the fact that it was brushed aside so readily meant he had something on his mind. Something devious. Hey, Aaron,? he said again, you remember those game reviews you got in late a little while ago??

I nodded as if he could see me on the other end (you never know about these editors? they have powers). Which one?? I asked, happily enough, and this time there was a silence. Oh,? I said after a bit, You mean all of them.? Not good. Not good at all. I considered hanging up and running, but this man controlled my supply of video games. I dared not anger him. Duffman was very, very uneasy.

I want you to head up our E3 team this year,? he said, and you owe me. Get your people together.?

There it was. The blow. The crushing weight of responsibility. Not that going to E3 was bad , heck, the highlight of the year , but being responsible at E3? This meant more work for me. And if there is one thing I'm opposed to, it's work. He sensed my reaction before I had time to say anything (like I said? powers). You owe me,? he repeated, and there was nothing more I could say. He was right. I did owe him.

It wasn't until later that I had time to come to grips with my situation. Team? Most people had a hard time hanging around me for more than an hour at a time, let alone working with me on a team. I was like Link, setting out on my quest alone in a time of trouble, and E3 was my Zelda. And Gannon?.well?.the work that I had to get done, that was Gannon. Link, it turns out, was a bad example, but certainly the first warrior at the start of a Final Fantasy game, ready to venture into the world in search of more power and magic. Thinking of it this way, I felt energized, challenged, and sat down at my computer to send mental signals to Jessica, the white wizard.

Jessica, I thought. Jessica. You are to venture to L.A. You are to see many wonders and write about them. Within minutes, I had my answer; my e-mail/telepathy program chimed. Not a chance, she broadcast. Maybe if I'd known you for more than three days, you creep. Never e-mail/telepathy me again. Rejection. Once again, my plan to use E3 as a way to pick up girls had failed, and I was still in a quandary. Who else could go? I knew a lot of writers, but only a few writing gamers. I knew several gamers, but several of those just looked at me and started drooling when I mentioned E3, and the rest were less than interested in working for the privilege. No self-control, there. No discipline. And then it hit me. Steven, the mystic cave recluse of Moscow, the dark wizard's apprentice; he was a talented writer, and had a strong yet controlled interest in games. I made the great trek to his door on foot (an adventure of its own). I spread my arms at the entrance to his cave.

Steven,? I intoned, I know you are a great writer. Open thy door.? There was static as the radio inside was turned down, and a thud as (I assume) he dismissed whatever demon he was conjuring. The door swung wide.

Aaron,? Stephen said. I knew you would come, but I cannot help you.? He put his fingers to the corner of his temple, and took on the appearance of the great wizard from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I foresee a problem,? he said. I foresee my girlfriend graduating on those days.? Then a look of great pity came into his eyes. However, it would be fun, and you have traveled a great distance. I will see what I can do.?

Somewhat gratified, I went back downstairs to my room, and wrote a list of names. At the top I put Steven, with a little star. My reclusive roommate was a maybe. Excellent.

Two days later, I gathered all of my prospects in one place, and had them do battle amongst themselves while I ate food and drank wine. The winners, I figured, would not only have proven themselves capable fighters (important for dealing with rival game magazines), they'd have also shown themselves strong enough to survive four days in the close corridor conditions of an L.A. hotel. At the end, there were but three. Steven, the cave wizard and player of old-school Zelda, Skyler, the red headed boxer and champion of Fight Night 2004, and Blaine, the PC gamer and sparing partner for a Tae kwon do orange belt. All in all, it felt very much like a gathering for UFC.

Still, we needed a fifth member to share the writing burden after the show. No,? my editor says when I mention my candidate for the final prospect. Absolutely not. You cannot bring the waitress from the restaurant.?

But she was cute,? I whined.

No, Aaron.?

Really cute.?

I have a fifth member for you, so you don't have to worry about it anymore.?


There was a long silence, and I realized he was considering zapping me with his powers, so I let it drop. Who is it?? I asked.

He's one of our other writers, from Arizona. Eric. He'll meet you in Los Angeles.?

Ah,? I said, A paladin from the south. Excellent.?

There was an extended silence. What did you just say?? he asked at last.

Nothing. We're good to go, then.?

And so we were.