Press Pass: The Unlikeliest E3 Journalists
Matt Clark is a 29-year-old union staff representative and gamer from Dayton, Ohio. Like most gamers, he's always dreamed of being able to go to E3. Unlike most gamers, he actually got to live out his dream this year.
Clark was one of a handful of gamers that won the chance to help cover E3 as part of contests held by major media outlets. He earned his chance to help cover the show for 1UP.com with a tongue-in-cheek blog spot that made merciless fun of his fellow entrants. At the show, Matt filed dozens of blog posts on everything from his favorite games to goofy, man-on-the-street interviews about a fake game.
Matt Clark -- Union rep by day, game journalist by ... E3 days.
Clark said he'd been following E3 closely for over a decade and considered it "a gaming mecca." Even after years of mental preparation, though, he said he still wasn't totally prepared for his pilgrimage. "I guess I didn't anticipate the enormity of it," he said after the show. "I mean, it's just so much to take in. I felt like I had a serious ADD spaz-out the first half of the first day. Don't get me wrong, I knew it was going to be huge ... I guess I just never imagined how hard it would be to try and see everything."
Of course, seeing everything is a bit easier when you know how to use the somewhat magical powers of your press pass. "It probably wasn't until the end of the second day that I realized my badge may get me past some lines," Clark said. "I was waiting to see Dragon Age: Origins, and some EA guy comes up and says, "Uh, hey ? you don't have to wait in this line. We'll get you in right now." I thought ... what the f***?"
Being a game journalist means geeking out over meeting developers.
Clark wasn't the only contest winner to be overwhelmed by the size and spectacle of the show. "It was ... more over-the-top than I imagined," said Josiah Munsey, who won the chance to help cover E3 for Kotaku. "Specifically Activision's setup. All the projection screens playing at the same time and their pulsing sound was an overload."
Paradoxically, Munsey said E3's over-the-top sound and fury made him appreciate the more understated games on the show floor. "Suddenly, it becomes overly apparent that next-gen graphics are not enough to make a good game," he said. "[When] dozens of huge projections are throwing amazing graphics in your face and you have to start deciding which ones actually look fun to play." Munsey used his temporary position at Kotaku to call attention to some of those unique, fun-to-play gems, with posts on PixelJunk Shooter, Critter Crunch and Snapshot.
Being at E3 isn't just about checking out games, though ... it's also about checking out people. "The best part of the show to me was seeing Steve Wiebe [from "The King of Kong"] getting to a killscreen in real life," said Kenneth Pereira, who earned his trip to E3 courtesy of GamePro (and filed a single preview in return). "I don't think I'll ever see that again." Munsey was also a bit starstruck at the show, and said one of the best parts of the trip was "meeting random people, like Steve Wiebe, [Twin Galaxies head referee] Walter Day and the creator of Critter Crunch, Nathan Vella."
Aside from the "celebrities," just being among so many devoted gamers also made an impression on some of the contest winners. "I guess I didn't expect the sheer amount of people who were willing to just talk about games," Clark said. "I know it's a trade show ... but it's these people's profession. I can't count how many bad-ass conversations I had with random people after the day was over ... who seemed genuinely interested in what I thought."
Besides changing his throughts on those in the game industry, the show also changed Clark's thoughts on game journalists. "I think most of us have grown up believing that these jobs involved playing videogames all day and just f***ing around," he said. "If E3 is any indication, there is a SHIT-ton more to this." Munsey agreed. "I definitely have a lot more respect for game journalists after attending E3. There is so much to write about in so little time," said Munsey. Pereira said he was surprised some journalists "just write all day and don't even spend much time on the show floor." Sorry to burst your bubble there, Kenneth.
Kenneth Pereira was surprised that many journalists spend all of E3 like this.
So, with these newfound revelations about the lives of game journalists, are any of the contest winners considering a new career in the field? "Definitely," said Munsey. "I enjoy meeting the passionate people in the industry and learning about the newest advancements in new games." Pereira, for his part, thinks he belongs on the other side of the interviews. "After talking to developers, I would rather consider a career in the development side of a game," he said. "Working on a videogame would be my next dream after going to E3."
For Clark, though, there's still some trepidation about the realities of following your dream. "I guess I've kind of had this sense of dread that [this year] will be the only time I get to go [to E3]," he said. "I'm 29, married, I have two kids, and I live in Ohio. At this point, I can't really afford to start over [as a game journalist]. Still, if I could get a few freelance pieces in, I would be a happy camper. ... If I can give it a shot, I say what the hell? I don't have anything to lose."