E3 2013: The Ultimate Survival Guide

This time next week, E3 will be all over. Blink and you’ll miss it. So are you sure you’re ready for the busiest week in the gaming calendar?

MCV is here to help. We’ve already provided you with a complete breakdown of the big press conferences from publishers and platform holders, some of which we’ll be streaming from this very site.

Ah, but what if you’re on the show floor itself, surrounded by sweaty bloggers and barely-clad ladies, the air filled with the noise of trailers, game demos, incessant chatter and the occasional anguished cry of a journalist who realises he’s going to miss his big interview?

Then you, friend, are in need of advice from the best. The survivors. The ones who eat E3s for breakfast (because they know it will keep them going for the rest of the day).

We’ve spoken to a mix of journalists and publishers to create this: the ultimate guide to surviving the insanity that is the E3 Expo, comprehensively categorised for your convenience. You’re welcome.


  • DO:Arrive early in LA, check in and spend the Saturday in Santa Monica, shopping, sunbathing in preparation for three days of carnage. (Stefano Petrullo, Ubisoft)
  • DO:Plan your time at the show but be prepared to be flexible. And ring ahead if you’re going to be late or miss an appointment. (Stefan McGarry, Sega)
  • DO:Know how you’re getting around.Find out when the E3 shuttles leave from your hotel, take advantage of transport between press conferences, and Uber installed on your phone, as it’s all too easy to get caught in a remote part of LA with no cabs around. (Guy Cocker, Wired)
  • DO:Group appointments around location – you will not get from the South Hall to the West Hall in five minutes, no matter how badly you want to see something or how fast you run. (Matt Hill, T3)
  • DO: Have a folder with every barcoded ticket for every event you’re attending. (Nick Cowen, The Guardian/T3)
  • DON’T: Fill your day with too many appointments. You won’t get any actual words written and you’ll probably ruin your shoes sprinting from one meeting room to the next. (Andy Robinson, CVG)
  • DON’T: Discover you’ve left your microphone at a publisher booth on the other end of the centre thirty seconds before you’re due to conduct a video interview.(Gillen McAllister, Gamereactor)
  • DON’T:Lose your receipts! (Stefan McGarry, Sega)


  • DO: Eat your own bodyweight in breakfast – it may be the only meal you get all day. (Nick Cowen, The Guardian/T3)
  • DO: Start hydrating as soon as possible if you expect to make it through all the evening events. (Mark Ward, Warner Bros)
  • DO: Go to Mel’s Diner and eat a meatloaf sandwich – it’ll keep you going all week [Disclaimer: may clog arteries]. (Andy Robinson, CVG)
  • DO: Head to Umami Burger one evening and try the Truffle Fries. (Dominic Carey, JCPR/Xbox)
  • DO: Grab one of the grossly unhealthy energy drinks handed out outside the halls to keep you going. (Mike Sawh, T3)
  • DON’T: Drink the non-descript large blue cocktails. And don’t overdo it on the red meat – your stomach won’t thank you for it. (Stefan McGarry, Sega)
  • DON’T: Think you can cure jetlag with booze – you can’t! (Nick Cowen, The Guardian/T3)
  • DON’T: Queue for Starbucks unless you have over an hour spare. (Shelly Pearce, Nintendo)
  • DON’T:Drink more than three cans of any generic energy drink. Last year I found myself unintentially shaking at the welcome desk around 4pm. (Stefano Petrullo, Ubisoft)
  • DON’T: Drink anything that’s sold to you in a vase. (Adam Merrett, Capcom)


  • DO: Wear soft, comfortable trainers if you’re running the convention center gauntlet. I tried breaking in new Doc Martens last year and was near-crippled for a month afterwards.(Gillen McAllister, Gamereactor)
  • DO: Wear flats. (Shelly Pearce, Nintendo)
  • DO: Wear deodorant and make sure you shower (even if the majority of people don’t). (Mike Sawh, T3)
  • DON’T: Wear UK clothes.It’s going to be incredibly hot so pack shorts, T-shirts, sunglasses so you don’t end up having to buy it out there. (Guy Cocker, Wired)
  • DON’T: Leave advertising cards in your E3 pass lanyard longer than 5 minutes as you’ll look like a tourist. (Matt Hill, T3)
  • DON’T: Wear tight jeans if you plan to ride the bucking bronco at Saddle Ranch. (Dominic Carey, JCPR/Xbox)


  • DO: Take the free energy drinks from the press room. You can sell them to the shitmunching US bloggers and make loads of money for duty free.(Gavin Murphy, Future Publishing)
  • DO: Collect as many freebies as you can and pass them off as thoughtful gifts to your colleagues back home. (Dominic Carey, JCPR/Xbox)
  • DON’T: Accept any free promo tshirts. They’re all XXXL and online journalists will probably blog about you if you get caught taking one.(Gavin Murphy, Future Publishing)


  • DO: Do have a wi-fi dongle. (Nick Cowen, The Guardian/T3)
  • DON’T:Rely on the Wi-Fi in any of the press conferences – you’re more likely to get internet access from a pedal bin. (Keith Stuart, The Guardian)
  • DON’T: Be fooled and think "free public wi-fi" actually means free public wi-fi. (Matt Hill, T3)
  • DON’T: Forget to charge every phone, tablet and laptop you use. (Nick Cowen, The Guardian/T3)
  • DON’T: Use a UK mobile.Calls, texts and internet from a UK phone are ridiculous in the US. Get yourself to T-Mobile and sign up for their $2 or $3 a day SIM card. You’ll get internet (2G, but fast enough for email and social networking) plus calls and texts. (Guy Cocker, Wired)


  • DO: Smile as brightly and greet as enthusiastically your last appointment at 3.30pm Thursday afternoon as you did your first appointment at Midday Tuesday. (Spencer Crossley, Warner Bros)
  • DO: Ask questions as you’re leaving a demo – you often find the best stuff out this way, and developers like it because it shows you haven’t been asleep. (Keith Stuart, The Guardian)
  • DON’T: Ask developers if there’s a ‘big-head’ mode in their latest game. (Stefan McGarry, Sega)
  • DON’T:Ask how many polygons there are in the weapon models. And don’t stand up at the end of every demo and ask, "yes, but is it ART?" (Keith Stuart, The Guardian)
  • DON’T: Feel bad about bullying German/French/Spanish journalists in round-table interviews. They’re not real people and don’t feel pain like you and I.(Gavin Murphy, Future Publishing)
  • DON’T: Bother booking any roundtable interviews involving a translator. You will grind your teeth to dust while Eurohacks ask multi-part questions about the minutiae of the game’s timeline, the answers to which will be entirely unusable, at the end of which you’ll blurt out your one killer question the response to which will be: "we hope to be able to say more soon". There is no soon. Soon will never come.(Tim Clark, Future Publishing)


  • DO: Find time to relax.Have fun after the show but remember there are other bars than the Saddle Ranch. (Stefan McGarry, Sega)
  • DO:Go to the publisher parties, and stay to the end, then attempt to extricate industrial secrets from drunken employees. It really works! (Keith Stuart, The Guardian)
  • DON’T:Gamely attempt the bucking bronco on your first night at the Saddle Ranch, thereby ensuring you spend the next three days with chronic groin pain. (Keith Stuart, The Guardian)
  • DON’T: Go to Sadness Ranch more than once. (Stefano Petrullo, Ubisoft)


  • DO: Remember that in the USA, 20 per cent is the standard tip,coffee in some diners is bottomless anda lot of diners have Wi Fi. (Nick Cowen, The Guardian/T3)
  • DO: Overpronounce your English accent for extra attention and sympathy when lost/drunk. (Adam Merrett, Capcom)
  • DO: Jot down a UK PR phone number for every appointment you have – no matter how big a fish you think you are in your homeland, the US will not know you exist. (Matt Hill, T3).
  • DON’T: Expect a smooth ride in any of the cabs – brakes are used liberally! (Stefan McGarry, Sega)


  • DO:Remember to phone home. Hearing the voice of a loved one can prove remarkably calmative when you realised you’ve accidentally deleted the audio file of your interview with Don Mattrick in which he admits Xbox One will not only prevent you from playing used games, it will also periodically fire a laser at other entertainment products which Kinect has detected in your living room. (Tim Clark, Future Publishing)
  • DO:Excercise. It helps with everything: jetlag, fatigue, hangovers. Half an hour in the hotel gym each morning will solve everything, and if nothing else, will make you feel like you’ve earned that boozy dinner at Chateau Marmont. (Guy Cocker, GameSpot)
  • DO: Bring your 3DS for inifinite StreetPasses. (Adam Merrett, Capcom)
  • DO: Forget about your tight interview schedule for a moment, take a minute on the show floor and absorb the atmosphere. Remember why you fell in love with this industry in the first place. (Gillen McAllister, Gamereactor)
  • DO:Give at least half an hour to IndieCade – go on, it’s such a bloody lovely breath of fresh air. (Keith Stuart, The Guardian)
  • DO: Most importantly, remember that no matter how jetlagged, over-worked or cynical you are, you are privileged to be there. (Stefan McGarry, Sega)
  • DON’T: Think that having a plane ticket means you don’t have to check in for your flight! (Nick Cowen, The Guardian/T3)
  • DON’T: Moan about the show, lack of this, lack of that… we work in an amazing industry. (Stefano Petrullo, Ubisoft)
  • DON’T:Don’t go to bed too early either as you’ll be up in the middle of the night. (Stefan McGarry, Sega)
  • DON’T: Go to Vegas before E3. (Adam Merrett, Capcom)
  • DON’T:Swallow jacuzzi water.I was with someone who accidentally did this last year. They spent the rest of the next day in bed. (Guy Cocker, Wired)
  • DON’T:Forget enough cash for a cab driver tip – they may drive off when you’re only halfway out the car and knock you out. It happened to me at E3 2011. (Simon Miller, Videogamer)
  • DON’T: Expect to get any sleep. (Gillen McAllister, Gamereactor)
  • DON’T: Fall in love with a booth babe. She will only break your heart. (Gavin Murphy, Future Publishing)

Image Credit: Organiser, Suitcase, Saddle Ranch, Freebies. All others from Wikimedia Commons.

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