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EDITORIAL - Rick's Best of E3 2000
posted by: GF! Back Catalogue 10/2004 => 1995
date posted: 04:59 PM Sat Jan 1st, 2000
last revision: 03:34 PM Fri Sep 23rd, 2005

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By Rick Fehrenbacher Well, this week GamesFirst! will be featuring even more E3 coverage, this time covering the PC side of the street. Over the next several days, I\'ll be listing my E3 Best Ofs, starting today with Best Party, Booth, and Awards Presenter, and ending this weekend with my Best Games of E3 list. In the meantime, we\'ll continue to preview this year\'s upcoming PC and console titles from E3. Best Party: Sega. Everyone at E3 knows that an E3 party\'s not an E3 party until the GamesFirst! crew and/or Ice-T arrive, and both of us made the Sega soiree, which thus qualifies it as a Significant Historical Event. Even better, it was the rare E3 party that actually had enough room to hold everyone invited,though I did miss last year\'s spectacle of locked-out press and distributors rioting in the streets, or at least bitching a lot.

Most importantly of all, there was lots of free stuff to eat and drink, which is like The Prime Directive when dealing with the press. I swear, if Bobby Knight had just provided plenty of spring rolls and Corona at his press conferences, he wouldn\'t be having this little PR problem now. Dreamcasts were located around the floor, and between brews and schmoozing everyone got in some DoA 2 action. On stage, the Sega Space Channel Five girls more or less danced, Ice-T played a little DC, and Filter played a little music. Even though Sega\'s got to be daunted by disappointing Dreamcast sales (as of this writing, the head of Sega Japan had quit due to this) their party had an air of exuberant decadence about it that I could only admire. Whether this is confidence or just fiddling while Rome burns, time will tell, but it sure was fun. Biggest Eyeroller: When Richard Patrick, lead singer of Filter, attempted to taunt the crowd by sneering, So you think video games are important? It was a powerful moment, and I was forced to confront my own warped priorities. Al was just as moved, and we both decided then and there to give up video games, learn kung fu, go back to med school, and become monk pediatricians. Actually, Patrick\'s sarcasm was lost upon members of the crowd, who of course did think games important. On the other hand, the irony of Patrick\'s own position--that of MTV heavy rotation band pretty boy playing for big bucks while espousing some sort of moral superiority--was lost on no one. Except him, probably.

Best Booth,PC: GoD Game\'s Promised Lot. Most companies\' E3 booths are located in the LA Convention Center, a vast conglomeration of air-conditioned halls that hosts probably about a billion trade shows a year. So when Gathering of Developers decided to stress their independence by pitching their booth in the parking lot across the street, it signaled more than a different location,it proclaimed an entirely different attitude. For instance, you had to be 21 to get in, and they carded you at the gate. The ostensible reason for this was because of all the free beer and food,again, a genius press relations move,but it was clear that GoD also wanted to create an atmosphere of raunchy exclusivity. Their booth babes were really scary, too; most companies hire models who look sexy but sort of unthreatening, even while toting RPGs,they usually look like the girl next door, if the girl next door dressed up in polymer alien costumes.

In the GoD lot, it was just the reverse,the girls who IDed you at the gate wore schoolgirl outfits, but they also looked and acted like they\'d kick your ass if you tried to kite a fake ID by them. Most of GoD\'s young ladies were both physically impressive and full of attitude,many sported tattoos and piercings, which you seldom see at other booths. And 3D Realms\' Duke Nukem girls showed more butt than James Cameron at the Academy Awards. And oh yeah, in direct contravention of all LA etiquette, people actually smoked cigarettes in the Promised Lot, and instead of the ambient mall-like atmosphere of the convention center, the lot was hot and filled with really loud bands trying to play over the noise of traffic. Games were demoed in cramped Airstream trailers, and it was good to see dwarves everywhere,dwarves dressed up like Kiss, dwarves dressed up like Vikings, dwarves just hanging around acting surly. And unlike most booths, where the PR folks hustled around with earphones and clipboards like stressed Secret Service agents, the GoD PR people seemed utterly unfazed by the spectacle,granted, they could never find anyone you wanted to talk to, but they had a way of laughing it off that was pretty endearing.

Overall, the GoD lot had the feel of some demented high-tech county fair sideshow; if they took this act on the road, every kid in Indiana would run away with them. Nobody wants every booth at E3 to be like this, but it was nice to have one. Console: Sega again. I didn\'t get to spend a lot of time in the West Hall (where most console games are displayed) but the time I did spend there left a lasting impression. Unlike South Hall, where many PC companies vie for your attention, West Hall is dominated (as is the console market) by the big three: Nintendo, Sony, and Sega. Each booth takes up an enormous amount of floor space, and each has a very distinct personality. Nintendo\'s booth emphasized their unholy alliance with Pokemon; everywhere you went, attentive young ladies were handing out Pokemon cards and stickers and imploring middle-aged men to try some N64 game that featured talking to Pikachu. Eh. And Nintendo\'s color scheme,based upon the same primary colors found on the N64 logo,made the whole area feel like some futuristic preschool. Sony\'s area was the most disconcerting,while the PSX2 was one of the big stories of E3, there just weren\'t that many titles on display, and many of them seemed half-finished. The color scheme was a little off-putting as well,a sort of icy white, silver, and blue. Mostly, though, the Sony area just didn\'t seem to be much fun.

On the other hand, Sega\'s area was just one non-stop party. The Space Channel Five girls danced forever, celebrities made raucous appearances, loud techno-pop played nonstop, and gamers crowded around DCs. It was as if George Clinton had planned it all. And by the way, where the hell is that long-rumored Parliament/Funkadelic RPG? I mean, if Wu-Tang Clan gets a game . . . Best Presenter at Interactive Achievement Awards: It has to be Harry Shearer, who presented the educational game awards while doing the voice of Seymour Skinner, erstwhile school principal on The Simpsons. The Awards were held at the Biltmore this year, and again we members of the Fifth Estate were primed with free liquor and food (though, much to Brandon\'s dismay, no beer was served after the ceremony began). The Interactive Achievement Awards are the gaming industry\'s Oscars, and--even though the gaming industry rakes in more money that the movie industry--they\'re a lot more relaxed and unpretentious.

For example, nobody cares what Bruce Shelley\'s wearing or who Sid Meier\'s dating. And, of course, they did let us in. Martin Short did a pretty good job of hosting; his initial monologue was a hoot, but a Bill Gates skit later in the show was godawful. And the less said of the show\'s misbegotten virtual hostess, the better. As for the awards themselves, Brandon and I (who wagered on everything all weekend) managed to pick most of them, though a few of the choices seemed really weak. We agreed that both the PC and console Sports Game of the Year picks were wrong-headed (and should have gone to High Heat Baseball and Tony Hawk\'s Pro Skater), and were floored that the mediocre life-simulator The Sims,a game in which you can hardly blow anything up--was chosen Game of the Year. Acceptance speeches were blessedly short, especially those given by our Japanese brothers. Here are two of my favorites: Very happy.

Thank you, and Super Happy. Thank You. Such eloquence is precisely why the Japanese start learning English when they\'re nine months old. One of the best things about most of the presenters was that they obviously had no idea why they were there or what they were giving awards for. The Moment of Truth award goes to Delroy Lindo (recently of the Cider House Rules). After dutifully reciting a dumbass joke about how the only roleplaying he did was when his wife asked him to dress up like Duke Nukem, he cracked up laughing. I don\'t know who that is, he said. Great stuff, and the only awards ceremony I\'ve ever been to that I actually had fun at.