This was my first E3, and I noticed some stark differences between that show and CES:
1) The Dress Code– As you mention, the typical E3 attendee runs around in a grungy gamer shirt, and you’ll occassionally see a polo or collared shirt. Meanwhile, shorts and flip flops were common. Not only is this unprofessional, but said gamer shirt eliminates any pretense of objectivity. On the flip side, CES is a far-more professional, business-oriented atmosphere. Attendees go business/casual-business, and a collared shirt and khakis are the unofficial minimum requirements. Suits and ties are common. It would be considered a faux pas of the highest order to go to Microsoft’s keynote wearing a “Windows Rox” shirt.
2) Demographics– This one probably comes with the territory, but CES sports a much older crowd. Whereas the typical E3 attendee looks like they’re just there to mess around and play games, the CES crowd is more business oriented. And I daresay more CES attendees have seen a woman (and been “intimate” with one). Again, E3 partially brings this on itself with its party atmosphere, but there’s far fewer booth babes at CES, and rightfully so. You’re there on business, not to try in vain to pick up a chick way out of your league.
3) Bias– Yes, there were some fanboy cheers when Microsoft showed the Halo trailer at this year’s CES. But by and large, you don’t see the same whooping and hollaring as you do at E3. As the author mentions, gaming journalists are in the business they love, but there’s something to be said for objectivity and being non-biased. The post E3 coverage of the 3DS from most publications reads like an ad. Hell, they’re doing themselves a disservice. Why would companies spend as much on paid advertising when they get 100% free advertising from fanboy journalists? I’m surprised Steve Jobs hasn’t figured this one out.
4) Free shit– E3 has a lot more swag than CES (though I’m told CES had more in the past). Let’s be frank here, though: unless you got invited to Microsoft’s press event (and thus, got a free X-Box), the free shit–t-shirts, stickers, pens, online codes–is not that great. It’s certainly not worth acting like drunken frat boys and sex-crazed adolescents just to get a crappy Rockband tee. Before E3, I read a number of “Survival Guides” urging attendees to run around grabbing as much free shit as they can before they do anything else. Really, people?? Really? There’s something about free shit that makes people lose their minds, but at E3, it’s out of control.
5) Food–E3 is just as much to blame for this one as the media. At CES, there was an orderly line for dispensing the box lunches. At E3, there was a gigantic mob surrounding the table, and was they started giving out the food, there was a stampede. And I saw plenty of people grabbing 2, 3, even 4 boxes. I realize some, or many of them may have been for friends, but an equal number may have been grabbing a second lunch. What are they, F***** Hobbits?? Lunch was supposed to start at 12:00. One day, I arrived at 12:06 and it was all gone. Is it any wonder they ran out so quickly??
I love the game industry, and would love to work for a gaming publication. But I won’t be going to E3 again–not anytime soon, anyway. If I want to chill with a bunch of unwashed fanboys supping at their creators’ tit, I’ll go to a Star Trek convention.