Gaile's E3 Diary: Part Two
Part Two: Player Meet-Up in Mission Viejo
10:40 A.M. - Wake up, Starbucks, and ready to write. I escape the room to allow for bed-making and towel replacement, and then wander outside to a shaded gazebo where I write a compilation diary for "The E3 Experience." The sun is shining, there's a breeze from the Pacific, and a few palm trees rustle overhead. This is definitely a not-too-shabby way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
4:25 P.M. - Emails checked, documents filed, and fingers tingling from some furious posting on a couple of particularly vociferous threads, I get ready for dinner at one of my favorite Indian restaurants in the US. No doubt the dinner will be excellent, but it's the after-dinner portion of the evening that promises to be the most interesting.
7:20 P.M. - After a meal of chicken korma, shrimp coconut curry, and ginger chicken kabob, it's time to head down to Mission Viejo and Howie's Game Shack, where I will participate in the NCsoft Player Meet-Up. This is the event that we mentioned on our website a few weeks ago, the one that resulted in more than 150 sign-ups from our site alone. At first I'm a little surprised at that number, for I didn't realize that there would be that many Guild Wars fans within driving distance of Mission Viejo. Then I stop to consider that when a game sells more than a million copies in its first five months, there are probably a few hundred fans within driving distance of that weather station in Antarctica. :)
8:35 P.M. - I check in at the door and learn that several people have been asking whether I'll be attending the event. I'm given various descriptions—"He was really tall," "She had on a beige top"—but scanning the room it looks like an impossible task to find the GW fans. Or it looks that way until I realize that the fans will surely be showing their colors in the images on their computer stations!
9:05 P.M. - I have completed my first circuit of the room and have given skill pin sets (Pins #1 and #2—the E3 pins) to all those who are playing Guild Wars. Some know about the pins, some haven't a clue what they are, but all seem pretty happy with the gift.
9:30 P.M. - There's an all-hands meeting in the back room at Howie's, where we learn the schedule for the rest of the evening. The agenda: Play games, talk with folks, and help give out swag. Seems pretty easy to me! An array of Chinese food sits on the table; Howie is doing his best to ensure that we are well fed. I eavesdrop on a group of Howie's staff members who are arguing about games and trying to one-up each other on which are the best. One of the managers—clearly the brightest of the bunch—calmly states, "Dude, I don't have time for that game. Keep it if you want. I only play Guild Wars. You should know by now, it's all about Guild Wars."
10:10 A.M. - The place is buzzing as gamers pack the waiting area. They're ready to pounce once a computer becomes available. There are 200 stations up and running, but there are a lot more than 200 people in the room, judging from the standing-room-only conditions. Of course, the size of the crowd can be attributed to a couple of things: It's Saturday night, finals are over for a large number of students, and, perhaps most significantly, the floor is dotted with reps here from many games in the NCsoft line. Even the décor has an NCsoft (specifically, City of Villains) theme. However, as I look around more closely, I don't see a single decoration for Guild Wars or Guild Wars Factions. "Humph!" I think. "Apparently, someone forgot to send over some of the excellent GW promo goodies!" I make a mental note that I should consider carrying a supply of posters, standees, and oversized boxes on my travels, even if that means hiring a pack yak. After all, our standee is prettier than their standee. ;)
11:20 P.M. - I find that I've had the pleasure, all evening, of meeting new friends and old: First, a couple from Southern California who belong to a long-time Guild Wars guild. They tell me of their guild leader's difficulty in getting Internet service in Australia and we message back and forth for a bit. Secondly, a gentleman who sent The Frog a Christmas present last year, a man whose gracious words about the game and the community, are still fresh in my mind. Then, a young girl with whom I've chatted in-game calls out over her shoulder, "Hi, Gaile, nice to meet you!" before she quickly turns back to her duties as party healer. Two guys are playing a Canthan mission; three others are running through Ascalon, and one of them points proudly to the others and says, "They hadn't played Guild Wars before tonight. I'm showing them the ropes." I get a chance to chat with a Guild Wars webmaster from years ago, one of the attendees at our Community Day who is now working in the industry. I answer a few questions from one of our current fansite folks. At the next prize giveaway, someone starts dancing when he wins a copy of Guild Wars.
1:50 A.M. - As the event winds down and players begin to depart, I spot a bunch of partygoers wearing new shirts—City of Heroes, Auto Assault, Guild Wars. Many hold a copy of a game or two, Art of Guild Wars books, and other swag. Judging from the smiles and the loot, it's definitely been a fine evening—and a fine E3—for everyone.