So, you want how to do E3 right? Well, we’ve got the guide for you!
Every convention works differently, and each demands its own types of planning, from hotel choice to parking to event attendance. E3 has it has similarities with other conventions, but there are a number of peculiar factors we’d like to discuss.
You may ask: can you go without preparation? Sure! However, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the enormous number of things to do and see; there’s a lot going on for a first-timer to take in! We created this guide so your time at the event can be spent enjoying as much of the show as possible.
Let’s jump right in to the…
The Big Question: What is E3 like?
It’s hard to plan around an event you don’t understand.
E3 may sound mysterious: games are being announced, tech is being displayed, tons of people show up, but what really happens inside? What is there to do?
First off, remember the date and location. E3 happens every year at the Los Angeles Convention Center sometime around July. Considering these two pieces of information, expect a hot day in a large city. Be prepared for the downtown hustle, because you’ll be surrounded by skyscrapers and traffic! (We wish we could say it was “special event” traffic, but LA traffic will always be there, so…)
Next, let’s talk about the presentations:
Surprisingly, while these beloved showcases are tied to E3, they aren’t directly correlated with what happens inside the LA Convention Center!
Many of these reveals occur during the E3 “Coliseum,” a large venue for showcase events, which actually occurs at the Novo, a stadium located northeast of the convention center. Weird, right? If you want to sit in on one of the reveals or discussions, you’ll have to head away from the expo.
So, what happens in the convention center itself? Well…
We like to compare the main even to a theme park: you wait in line to for various “rides,” or in this case, a game that hasn’t been released yet! For 2019, this means you could test such games as Borderlands 3, the remake of Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening , or a new Monster Hunter DLC.
So, where do you find those game developers? If you look at a map of the convention, you’ll notice there are two main halls: South and West. Mind you, these aren’t separated by function, the main difference is simply what developers are placed where! You’ll have to check through each one to find which games to invest time in.
In summary: the exposition itself is mainly an area for gamers to demo titles and technology that haven’t been released yet. Be prepared for a hot summer day and a slight wait in line. But trust us, it’ll be worth it!
Let’s get to some practical stuff…
We’ll keep this section short.
There are numerous hotels, and a great amount of information about staying in them on E3’s own website. As you may imagine, many of the places they suggest are downtown, within walking distance of the convention center. Those options can be as expensive as they are convenient, and they disappear quickly! If you want a hotel in the area, make sure to book a room far in advance.
If you’re looking for something cheaper, there are many other hotels further away and numerous Airbnb options!
For parking, we highly recommend using the LA Convention Center’s parking garage or underground lot. You’ll pay around $25, but it’s practically an investment to have your car that close when it’s time to leave!
You can find the parking lots on the southern end, at locations we marked below. They will each have ample signage to direct traffic!
If you’re going to use unaffiliated lots, there will most certainly be options closer to the $10 range. We recommend getting there early to find the best spot. We came in at 11:30 a.m. and found things mostly empty, but at 3:00 pretty much everything had been taken. Ye be warned.
What to bring to E3
Surprising news: you don’t need that much.
E3 was designed with gamers in mind, and everything is well prepared for the large groups of people that wander the convention floor. The bare essentials are as follows:
- Comfortable clothing, especially shoes. Need we say more? No, of course not. You get the point already: don’t wear those cheap, uncomfortable flip-flops, you’ll hate yourself later.
- Personal effects. Wow, we’ve gone 2 for 2 on the “obvious” list. We’d recommend grabbing some cash money as well, but E3’s focus on upcoming games reduces their focus on merchandise. Frankly, unlike Comic-Con, there’s no real reason to prepare for the merchants’ hall or artists alley. They have no power here.
- A photo ID. Don’t be caught without one! You need this to get into the convention center, even after claiming your visitor’s badge.
- Charging cables. Pictures and videos will be taken, a whole lot of them. Don’t miss out on capturing a moment because your phone or camera went dead!
- Sunglasses or a hat. It’s hot, it’s summer. Protect your eyes and skin, please.
- Maybe a bag. There are many handouts at E3, you’ll want someplace to put them aside from your overflowing pockets. Just remember, there are restrictions on what bags you can bring inside:
Still, that’s about it! The convention has food, air conditioning, entertainment, and more. Frankly, if you walked from your hotel room in comfortable clothing, with a photo ID, visitors badge, and some lunch money, you’d be set for the whole day.
And if you’re the type of person that just doesn’t eat at conventions for whatever reason, you could even leave the food funds behind!
Final planning notes
A few more things:
Please enjoy this quick breakdown for your full E3 trip, divided into sections chronologically, day by day. These are suggestions that might just save your life! Metaphorically speaking.
Walk around the entire convention center, look at everything, and make a mental map of where stuff is located. You’ll discover that, outside the game lines, there are many things to be seen that don’t involve longer waits: you can sit down in an experimental haptic gaming chair, hop into an indie video game, or dance with a Fortnite cosplayer. All good things!
Have a plan from the very start. When there are shorter lines during opening hours, wait for one of your more pressing interests, like a large AAA title everyone wants to try. After that, grab lunch and check out some of the smaller attractions: walk through the video game museum, try some ancient consoles, or join a small multiplayer game of Smash (there are games of Ultimate scattered everywhere, trust us). If you have time, try another popular game!
Now that you’ve hopefully tried all the side stuff and walked around for two days, take a seat in line and wait for the rest of your big targets. Run down your list and see what demos you can fit into the remaining hours. Talk to people in line, enjoy the sights, take it easy!
Even if you don’t use our advice and plans to the letter (which we highly advise against; everyone’s approach should be personalized to their style), we hope this gives you a springboard to developing your own schedule, and a head start on understanding the convention’s consistency.
Thanks for reading, we’re excited for the year’s releases and can’t wait for next E3!