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Future Shock: W2 + E3 = ROCK

I wrote a column for The AV Club about my trip to E3, and it hit the web about an hour ago. It's my first foray into my version of gonzo journalism, and I'm really happy with the way it came out.

Take the largest video arcade you remember from your childhood. Now quadruple its size, put it in the middle of Shibuya Crossing, dim the lights, and crank the volume to 11. Toss in a bunch of celebrities, charge $300 for a stale slice of pizza and a soda, crank the volume up to 11 one more time, and you've got E3: the Electronic Entertainment Expo.

E3 started during the halcyon '90s, when Pets.com ruled the world. Now every May, gaming giants like Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony, and Sega gather at the Los Angeles Convention Center to present their newest hardware and software releases to a very select audience: about 30 percent entertainment media, 5 percent distributors, and 65 percent people who have managed to scam press passes so they can spend a day playing video games and checking out booth babes (who this year are required to wear nothing more revealing than miniskirts—the trade-show equivalent of burkas).

[. . .]

Four televisions, eight guitars, and a small crowd stood beneath a mockup that looked remarkably like a concert stage. I could hear Kiss' "Strutter" being played with varying degrees of proficiency as Gen-Xers rocked out in the highly anticipated co-op mode.

"Hey, isn't that Guit—" Spencer asked.

"Muh… guh… huh…" I answered, walking on autopilot to the front of the booth.

"Hi, I'm Wil Wheaton," I said, "and I love your game." Probably not the most professional way to introduce myself, in retrospect. "I'm writing about Guitar Hero II for The A.V. Club."

You can read the entire story at The AV Club, and while you're there, you can check out my Games of our Lives column for this week: Congo Bongo.

I feel really good about this column, and I'm really happy that the type of writing I've perfected over the years on my blog earned a spot in an actual print publication.

Oh, and if you think it's worthy: digg story. Thanks!

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Great AV Club story, Wil. With my car's muffler going south, my lawn mower not liking hitting a hunk of concrete and ten zillion square feet of brush to clear I know that wonderful "Oh Great, I'm A Grownup Now..do I have to be???" feeling.

BTW... you want retro? Check out the classic PLATO system at CYBER1.ORG . We were playing MMPG on mainframes back in '75. Scroll down the page and you can score a login to a fully-functional recreation of the classic PLATO. After you get a login (you KNOW you will...) check out "0empire", one the FIRST Star Trek MMPG games EVER.

Enjoy! GcB

Great piece, Wil. Love that ending.

I didn't get a chance to geek out with you over the history of gaming attractions since I had to leave before you finished and discovered it on my way out, but OMFG. I wish I had wandered across it earlier. I almost went back Thu just to play those all day!

OMG Wheaton you and your AV Club story totally kick ass - thanks for sharing the glory of E3 and your moment in the sun with us. I was getting into your story so much that as I was approaching the bottom of page one I was afraid that it would be ending there, and was relieved to see that it continued to a second page. Stories like that are exactly why I love reading your stuff.

Rock on dude! \m/

I actually did the www.e3insider.com website.. well, the backend at least.. I am graphically challenged..

Oh man, talk about harshing your buzz!

I really don't get the whole Guitar Hero thing, but your writing sure rocks.

Great article. One day I would love to go to E3 but reading your article, I feel like I was there, rockin along to Van Halen, Kiss and Rush. Also, loved the references to Mr Do!(old favorite) and Stargate. Just good stuff all around.

if they make spy hunter for cell phones, i will sign up for a million year contract.

great article, wil... i love your videogame writing. takes me right back.

and someone with more skills and free time than I have really needs to photoshop the pets.com sock puppet along with the newly worded banner into the final t-rex scene from jurassic park.

From the extremely random trivia department:

The thing I remember most about the movie Footloose was when they carted the Congo Bongo machine out of town... you know... for the kids.

Great article Wil, I was really impressed with your refusal to skip the queue for GH2, that was a classy move. Rock on!

Awesome article, Wil. It reminded me of when I was also dropping quarters at the local arcade, playing the classics. I had no idea that you used to play bass. Very cool.

Your story earned you a new reader. This guy. I read it, liked it a lot. Then I remembered from this E! special I saw a couple months ago you had a blog. And now I'm here. .

I read that article. Funny as hell. I can see where the fascination with Guitar Hero comes from. I was in my local store last night watching someone play it on a display model and sure enough, I found myself getting into it just watching. Almost makes me want to buy the game... and a PS2... and a TV...

Excellent E3 article, Wil. You really captured the vibe of being there, and being drawn to all of those booths/pavilions along the way to the Ultimate Goal.

Each time I read about you rocking out on GH or GH II, I can feel my urge to resist buying it dropping... one of these days, I know I'm going to take the fall, and just so you know, I will be blaming you!

That was a very interesting article, Wil. I listened to Molly Wood podcast about E3. She made it sound boring. You made it seem like something I would have enjoyed. (And I'm glad you were able to call your boys to share your score with them.)