Title: EA Studio Showcase 07
Posted: September 07, 2007 (08:44 PM)
Now that I've broken into the journalism crowd, I saw myself calmly along the landscaped pathways at EA Studio Showcase 2007. I must say this was my first convention/get-together/event in many ways (noob!), as I don't think my experience at Digital Life in New York two years ago really counts. I wasn't really there to play games but to compete in a DDR competition. I was owned, by the way.
In any case, getting into a media-only event with Chris Hudak, Joe Accorsi, and Greg Damiano was indeed several notches higher than the everyday casual event. After signing in, wrapping the media badge around my neck, pinning my nametag on my jacket, and wolfing down a lunch and several EA-labelled spring water bottles (my straight-out-of-college instinct went all "Free Food!"), I was ready to take in all the sights. There were plenty of banners along the walls: Boogie, Madden NFL 08, Boogie, and whatever EA can put on its resume. Various memorabilia littered the tech-school-esque atmosphere - a motorcycle, some artwork, modern architecture all around us.
And I must say, there was also a Starbucks in the cafeteria. Yeah, a Starbucks.
The world is ending.
First up on the schedule was the press conference in the auditorium. Our group was kind of late getting in, but Joe and I were able to snatch a seat in the back row of the dimmed room. I didn't know what to expect seeing the conference live and all with other industry luminaries. In all honesty, the conference started a bit slow and I crossed my arms every now and then, nudging my head to the side.
Then came Peter Moore, second day on the job as president of EA Sports. And yes, he held a controller for the PS3, his "new favorite console", and the Wii, his "other new favorite console". And yes, he called the PS3 controller cute, smiling off what he said while walking back to the decked table on-stage. It seemed that Moore was truly in his element discussing sports titles and chatting with Alex Smith of the San Francisco 49ers on the ins and outs of all things foosball. Really, I was just glad that he wasn't a humdrum speaker or some representative sent from Britian just for the accent (sorry, but it's ture) - and that he hadn't tattooed himself with release dates or anything manly-fake.
Despite an audio mix-up during Gameshow, it was one of the only games to catch my eye. As you can tell, I'm a hard guy to thrill - just who I am - and most of the what they showed was already at E3 and Leipzig. But back to the topic, whenever I'm on JetBlue, I play the trivia game with the rest of the passengers. It's an engrossing yet passive way to mingle with your fellow friendly fliers, and what sets Gameshow apart was that it had a live DJ. That means real-time trivia and (hopefully) updated questions - and the potential for a whole heck of a lot of online communal play.
A pretty entertaining display of skate by its chill developers, a comical skit with The Engineer in the trailer for Half-Life 2: The Orange Box, and the open-ended world of Burnout Paradise lit up the rest of the conference. The whole statement from EA this year seemed to setting games in a more life-like environment instead of set paths and goals. But perhaps the strongest statement came at the end of the conference, as the door swung open.
An assault helicopter was landing in the freshly mowed lawn at E3. Not many stayed at the end.
EA gots the cash.
After Chris and Joe took some pictures posing in the helicopter (I don't take pictures - I'm a ninja), I walked over to a few booths, catching a glimpse at The Sims (MySims, Castaway, Societies), the Simpsons spoof of a game, Burnout Paradise, and a whole gym full of hands-on demonstrations for Army of Two, Battlefield: Bad Company, Hellgate: London, EA Family Play, skate, and nearly everything else in the EA lineup. But best of all was walking back to the auditorium for some Rock Band.
There really is nothing like getting up on stage with lights and smoke to make people do absolutely whatever. Being well-versed at Guitar Hero, I tried my hand at the guitar sections on Hard and then Expert. It also helped that nearly every booth had a bar with alcohol, so I was already knocked up with some liquid courage. The buttons on the Rock Band guitar are depressed into the fretboard and the timing took a bit of practice to get right, but there was nothing that I couldn't figure out within a couple of run-throughs. Unfortunately, I wasn't all in charge - it is a band - and the random draw I got was horrible. The singer and drummer kept failing, and I just wanted to smack the plastic off on their skulls.
But I had my fix. I'm totally getting Rock Band.
A part of it was that Alex Navarro was watching me in spurts. I knew that if I hung around Rock Band long enough, he would eventually show up. There's a signal the game emits that only true drummers can hear.
But let's just say, it was weird. Especially since I saw Jeff, Alex, Joe Dodson, and Brad Shoemaker (and a few more GS staff people that I have forgotten in a haze) all over the place. I didn't want to act like one of those fanboys that come up to them and go all berserk when they have an assignment to complete. So I had to calm my inner urges and concentrate on being professional.
In any case, I didn't say hi to them except for Brad Shoemaker as he was playing guitar on-stage. I sort of said "Are you Brad Shoemaker?", since I couldn't really make out who "that guy" was, and without really knowing what to say, he just said "Yeah." This little, awkward escapade just made me keep my mouth shut for the rest of the day. But just for the record, Brad failed the guitar section once but then picked it up quickly on the next song. Nice job, dude.
Alex also failed at Rock Band on the drums. Not sure whether it was on Expert or Hard (I think Hard), and it was sad seeing him stare around for a while in low spirits, especially since he predicted that he would fail. But being who he is, he jammed it out on the next song - and it was awesome. Watching the GameSpot staff just be like all of us was a humbling experience - and I already know that, hey, they're human after all. But somehow, seeing people you respect throws what I know out the window for a minute. And it took awhile before I realized that which I already knew about them - just gamers that write and want to live the gamer life.
So I'll probably approach them more formally sooner or later. I mean, I'll be seeing them eventually at another conference. Once I'm comfortable in the media crowd, I'll feel ready to shake hands and exchange a few words.
You know, like a normal person named Nick.
Posted: September 07, 2007 (09:09 PM)
The first conference you ever attend is like that. Mine wasn't as grand a conference at all, and I was just there for the magazine, but it felt great and I was in awe as I met with industry veterans and also talked to other games journalists. Then I had to go back to work at the computer store the next day, which sucked. It's cool that this is your job now. Don't be afraid to keep the reports coming!
Posted: September 08, 2007 (09:13 AM)
Lucky. I've never been to a press conference.
And yeah, maybe the reason Peter Moore has two new favorite consoles is because he failed life at Rock Band, just like your fellow drummer and singer.
Posted: September 09, 2007 (06:27 AM)
Drummers are a cocky breed. It´s what makes us so much more awesome than the other people weilding lesser instrements. Thus we do not take loosing well!
Posted: September 09, 2007 (04:46 PM)
At the next event, find David Jaffe, fling your underwear at his head, and let out an ear-piercing girl-squeal. Developers like to think they're rock stars, so you'll make lots of friends that way.